Thursday, October 8, 2009

Casual Listening - Osso & Sufjan Stevens, Califone, Me'Shell Ndegeocello

Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

October 9, 2009

Slightly abbreviated this week to make time for the Dudamel premiere. Who’s Dudamel, you ask? Tune in next week for full report.

! Osso & Sufjan Stevens – Run Rabbit Run (classical)

A song cycle of compelling modern compositions arranged for string quartet and based on the Chinese zodiac. Its composer Sufjan Stevens is better known in other circles, although his classical training shows through in pieces of both great resonance and dissonance. Originally written as an electronic piece, members of the Osso quartet have reinterpreted it for live instruments. Listening without access to the original, one can only speculate what was lost and gained in translation. The current work holds its own as a piece of serious music.

Listen to Osso & Sufjan Stevens “Year of the Horse

* Califone – All My Friends Are Funeral Singers (rock)

It’s no ordinary musical mind that says “I picture this song accompanied by a theramin and a bucket of bolts.” Understated vocals and acoustic guitar are petrified in an amber of experimental sound, reminiscent of Wilco at its most adventurous. Albums like this are why headphones were invented.

Listen to Califone – “Polish Girls

Me’Shell Ndegeocello – Devil’s Halo (R&B)

Ndegeocello’s cosmic visions hail from the same galaxy as Sun Ra and Jimi Hendrix. Her fearless experimentalism is belied by easy melodies and steady grooves.

Listen to Me’Shell Ndegeocello “Love You Down

Maria Muldaur: Garden of Joy (blues)

As the unemployment rate continues to climb, people are finding new meaning in the hard-times rags and blues of the Great Depression. Maria Muldaur is an able blues traditionalist, and she brings real emotion to these rarely performed laments.

Listen to Maria Muldaur “Bank Failure Blues

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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