Thursday, July 2, 2009

Casual Listening - Parissa & Iman Vasiri, Levon Helm, Masada Quintet

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

Special double feature!

June 26 & July 3, 2009

! Parissa & Iman Vasiri – Simplicity (world)

With pro-democracy demonstrations igniting across Iran, many Americans are getting a crash course in the history and politics of that country. Consider this disc extra credit. Even without knowing Farsi, you can still sense the sublime joy in Parissa’s interpretation of the poetry of Rumi. Iman Vasiri’s virtuosic playing of the tar, a plucked instrument that is a distant cousin to the Indian sitar, displays the best of the Persian classical tradition.

Listen to Parissa & Iman Vasiri "Chahar Mesrab, Avaz"

! Levon Helm – Electric Dirt (rock)

Helm manages to rediscover the exuberance for American roots music that defined his work with The Band, and 40 years later he’s produced an album that’s every bit as good as those classics. His folksy ballads and blues are almost giddy, lifted by a brace of musicians mixing electric guitar and organ with mandolin, harmonica, and vocal harmonies.

Listen to Levon Helm “Growing Trade

! Masada Quintet – Stolas: The Book of Angels Volume 12 (jazz)

An energetic set of jazz impressions of Jewish themes. Saxophone giant Joe Lovano joins John Zorn in powering a superb ensemble. Spacious and introspective.

Listen to Masada Quintet “Haamiah

* Naledge – Chicago Picasso (rap)

Score another exceptional album for the Chicago School of Hip Hop. The self-proclaimed “brainiac” unleashes a powerful lyrical flow that explores the micro-geography of the South Side. Like Kanye, Common, and Lupe, Nalege is smarter than the average bear, and dismisses gangsta posturing in favor of a self-consciously square but real vision of his world. Nalegedge won’t insult your intelligence – let’s hope that’s a trend that catches on.

Listen to Naledge "Blessed By God"(explicit)

Wilco - Wilco (rock)

For a band that’s earned a reputation for avant garde heartland rock, this album’s a crowdpleaser. Compelling melodies surrounded by sculpted sound – 31 flavors of guitar, keyboard, drums, vocals, and the occasional gong.

Listen to Wilco "Wilco (the song)"

Paulina Rubio – Gran City Pop (Latin)

If and when Latin music finally penetrates the American mainstream, I’m guessing Paulina Rubio’s voice will be one of the first you hear. She’s a Spanish-language Madonna, to the point that you assume she’s singing in English. And can you say infectious? There’s a reason the rest of the world can’t get enough of her.

Listen to Paulina Rubio “Causa y Efecto

Rana Sahota – Khadke Glassy (world)

Sahota plays serious Bhangra, the Indian popular dance music that’s had a huge influence on everyone from club DJ’s to Bollywood composers. With crackling drums over a keyboard orchestra and urgent vocals, this is a modern masala that lingers on the palate.

Listen to Rana Sahota - "Don’t Say No"

Regina Spektor – Far (rock)

A satisfying set of quirky piano-pop from the artist that blazed the trail for the Lilly Allen’s and Katy Perry’s of the world.

Dinosaur Jr. – Farm (rock)

One of the most influential bands of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s still sounds great today. With a characteristic sound of heavy, fuzztone guitars and straightforward pop-rock tunes, Farm is an album built to last.

Listen to Dinosaur Jr. - "I Want You To Know"

Budos Band – The Budos Band EP (world)

Big Apple Afrobeat with a ‘70s retro vibe. Instrumental tracks dominated by a big horn section and electric organ. Super-groovy.

Listen to Budos Band “Mas o Menos

Ben Weasel – The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (rock)

A glorious live punk album. Ben was the ringleader for many years of the Ramones-inspired Screeching Weasel, and his solo stuff keeps to 3-minute, 3-chord fast/loud gems.

Listen to Ben Weasel “Slogans (explicit)

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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Unknown said...

sounds so delicious! Thanks


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