a review of cool new music
by Jeff Pinzino
First of all, a special thanks to Yesh Pavlik and Jason Lusk, who did a fantastic job pinch hitting while I’ve been away tending to a new baby. You’ll hopefully be hearing more of them from time to time.
! The Decemberists – Hazards of Love (rock)
Meticulously orchestrated from start to finish, the Decemberists unspool a grand, dark fairy tale. You’ll hear chimes, pedal steel guitar, a children’s choir – everything but the kitchen sink. Seamless transitions between songs cast a spell that is Merlinesque in its evocation of an Avalon long ago and far away.
Listen to The Decemberists “The Hazards of Love 1”
! Wynton Marsalis – He and She (jazz)
On He and She, Marsalis paints impressionistic jazz above an emotional core of blues. His five-piece band holds the tension of yin and yang as it travels the full emotional arc of developing love. Spoken-word interludes are like snippets of love letters that inspire the music that follows.
Listen to Wynton Marsalis “A Train, A Banjo, And A Chicken Wing”
* Phil Kline – John the Revelator (classical)
Kline fills the form of the Latin mass with a cultural pastiche that includes shape-note singing, delta blues, avant-garde a capella and Gregorian chant. An equally broad range of texts work together to produce sublime robes from modern cloth. Powerfully performed by the 6-voice male chamber choir Lionheart and the Ethel string quartet.
Listen to Phil Kline “Sanctus”
* Amadou & Mariam – Welcome to Mali (world)
In fusing Malian traditions with psychedelic-tinged rock, this duo does for West African music what Santana did for Latin music in his day. Electric organ and pedal-effects- happy guitar join a horn section and several hand-drums to create a formidable music machine.
Listen to Amadou & Mariam “Welcome to Mali”
Keri Hilson – In a Perfect World (R&B)
Booty-shaking club tracks with superior hooks and strong vocals. A stable of guest stars including Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Timbaland, and other rap royalty will ensure the album gets noticed; the strength of the music ought to guarantee heavy airplay through the summer.
Listen to Keri Hilson “Return the Favor”
John Rich – Son of a Preacher Man (country)
John Rich does mainstream country with a populist bent – songs that speak to and for rural
Listen to John Rich “Shuttin’ Detroit Down”
In the blog this week: Some gems we missed – Bela Fleck, Anne Akiko Myers, Hiram & Huddie, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs.
* highly recommended
! highest recommendation