Thursday, September 24, 2009

Casual Listening - They Might Be Giants, Claudia Cunha, Volcano Choir

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

September 25, 2009

* They Might Be Giants – Here Comes Science (kids)

If there’s anyone that could make science cool…it’s probably Beyonce or someone like that. TMBG only intensifies its nerdy allure through pop gems with titles such as “I Am a Paleontologist” and “Photosynthesis.” Still, my money’s on this album for cementing the fascination of a younger generation with phenomena like solar plasma

Listen to They Might Be Giants “Why Does the Sun Really Shine?

And courtesy of Lee Winkelman, one of our Casual Listeners, a recommendation for another great new kids rock album: “Worser” by Duplex! You can catch one new song from the album here, and the whole thing for sale here.

* Claudia Cunha – Responde a Roda (world)

Cunha has the attitude to pull off perfect Bossa Nova: a fine balance of laid-back and playful that seems to underlie all good Brazilian music. The arrangements are smart, using snappy percussion, quiet guitar, accordion and musical bow.

Listen to Claudia Cunha – “Baiao Dividido

* Volcano Choir – Unmap (folk)

Angelic choral tapestries stretched over neo-rustic frames – it’s no surprise that a key architect of this Midwest pastorale is Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. The hypnotic background patterns are reminiscent of classical minimalism. A little guitar, stray thumb piano, and lots of love.

Listen to Volcano Choir “And Gather

Crayon Angel: A Tribute to the Music of Judee Sill (folk)

Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of Judee Sill before either. She was a shooting star of a folk singer in the ‘70s who wrote beautiful melodies that deserve to be revisited. An able cast of young singers (Ron Sexmith, Beth Orton, etc.) provide gentle re-visions of these works.

Listen to “Jesus Was a Cross Maker” from “Crayon Angel”

Adam Steffey – One More for the Road (bluegrass)

Solid traditional bluegrass, alongside a few contemporary riffs. The instrumental tunes in particular add a welcome bit of harmonic adventurousness.

Listen to Adam Steffey “Deep Rough

Dan Tepfer/Lee Konitz – Duos With Lee (jazz)

Konitz has been a household name in the jazz world for 50 years. Tepfer may be the next one. Tepfer’s classically inspired compositions for saxophone and piano have an appealing sweetness. Konitz is still in fine form, although it’s Tepfer that sets the pace of this album.

Listen to Dan Tepfer & Lee Konitz “Elande #2 (Bb)

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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