Thursday, August 27, 2009

Casual Listening -- Matisyahu, The Very Best, Imogen Heap

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

August 28, 2009

Matisyahu – Light (rap)

Matisyahu’s musical utopia seamlessly fuses rap, reggae, and cosmopolitan pop in a sonically adventurous, politically conscious cocktail. Thickly laid percussion tracks keep the party moving.

Listen to Matisyahu “We Will Walk

The Very Best – Warm Heart of Africa (world)

Call it “Africa: The Remix.” Malawi vocals shine over percussion, synthesizers, and samples with a bounce that sets it a step above most crossover efforts. Guests include M.I.A. and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig.

Listen to The Very Best “Warm Heart of Africa

Imogen Heap – Ellipse (rock)

While “quirky female singer-songwriter” describes an awful lot of artists these days, Imogen Heap’s new album is top shelf. Vocals counterbalance electronic sounds to deliver songs that crack with the pain and joy of relationships.

Listen to Imogen Heap “Earth

Roy Hargrove Big Band – Emergence (jazz)

Hargrove has one foot in classic big band styles and one in modern jazz harmony. He’s obviously enjoying the expanded possibilities, from a standard like “My Funny Valentine” to a Coltrane-meets-Ellington art piece like “Requiem”

Listen to Roy Hargrove Big Band “Requiem

Mariachi El Bronx – Mariachi El Bronx (Latin)

There’s an additional layer of romance to mariachi that’s sung in your native tongue. This set of English-language tracks has the tunefulness of Simon & Garfunkel set to trumpets. A fun concept well-executed.

Listen to Mariachi El Bronx “Cell Mates

Skillet – Awake (rock)

Heavy rock just this side of metal, with plenty of hooks amid loud, distorted guitars.

Listen to Skillet – “Hero

p.s. The music’s old, but the recordings are pristine on Woody Guthrie’s box set My Dusty Road. If you’re a Woody fan, it’s priceless. If you’ve never really spent time with Woody, this is the collection to get. Here’s This Land is Your Land.

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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