Sunday, June 21, 2009

Casual Listening - Sarah Jarosz, Major Lazer, Cacique '97

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

Note: Sorry about the delay on this one – I’ve been having medical issues this week, now behind me. Next week I’ll be on vacation, so there’ll be two weeks worth of reviews when I get back. Oh, and happy birthday Casual Listening, now two years running.

June 19, 2009

! Sarah Jarosz -- Song Up In Her Head (folk)

Jarosz is one of the most talented of the next generation of bluegrass-inspired stars. A full-throated singer, compelling songwriter, and formidable instrumentalist on both banjo and mandolin, she's got a boundless future in music; don't wait for it -- her work now is already amazing.

Listen to Sarah Jarosz "Tell Me True"

! Major Lazer - Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do (electronic)

This is the album to out-cool all of your cool friends this summer. Inspired by Jamaican dancehall beats, Major Lazer uses an unbelievable range of samples (horses, cell phone rings, and of course plenty of lasers) to construct postmodern party music. The grooves are heavy, and sure to inspire nodding heads across the world.

Listen to Major Lazer "When You Hear the Bassline"

* Cacique '97 - Cacique '97 (world)

The Portuguese band Cacique '97 is further proof that the Nigerian jazz-funk style known as afrobeat has become a truly international phenomenon. A big horn section over a driving bassline and multi-layered vocals means Cacique '97 can hold their own among the best Afrobeat bands anywhere in the world. Besides, doesn't everything sound more laid-back in Portuguese?

Listen to Cacique '97 - "Eu Quero Tudo"

Rhonda Vincent - Destination Life (country)

Although Vincent is best known for classic bluegrass, she's got some countrypolitan ballads on this release that Dolly Parton herself would be proud to sing. A couple of Southern gospel tunes round out an exceptional set of roots music.

Listen to Rhonda Vincent "I Can Make Him Whisper I Love You"

Laura Izibor - Let the Truth Be Told (R&B)

Izibor has an enormous voice and a taste for retro-styled soul that set this album apart from the crowd. Hammond organ and horns evoke the Memphis sound, with a clear focus on the vocals.

Listen to Laura Izibor - "Shine"

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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