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Fusing traditional music of the “Kel Tamsheq (as the Tuareg people call themselves)” with modern western rock music, they’ve created a fascinating and enigmatic sound that certainly feels at home in the desert of Kidal.
Perhaps they serve as some fairy-tale like mirror reflecting the best of us, or perhaps it just illustrates the deep cultural heritage we share as countries. Either way, Jack Broadbent, of “rural England” as his website ambiguously notes, has (or at least will likely) joined the ranks of previous masters like Jimmy Page, Mick Jager, and Eric Clapton as those who just “get it”.
It’s difficult to explain the dynamicity of Totorro’s Home Alone. The four-piece band originated in Rennes, France. Home Alone represents a notable departure from post-metal toward the guitar-driven textures of post-rock and the complex rhythmic structures of math-rock.
Yosi utilizes a great deal of environmental and acoustically scintillating sounds to start off many of his tracks. For example, “Bubbles” begins with bouncing rubber balls on what is probably a wooden floor and “Wandering” leads us in with a stroll on a crushed gravel pathway.
Using only two acoustic guitars, the duo mashes up a wide array of genres including jazz, metal (track Misty Moses has some very Metallica-y riffs), flamenco, rock, and whatever-the-hell “world music” means together to create a powerful auditory journey.
"Shintaro Sakamoto feels like an audible version of Japanese fashion. Having both Western and Eastern roots, its eclectic combination creates a whole that seems to be greater than the sum of its parts."
"Their beats may sound somewhat familiar as their music is often sampled, perhaps most famously by Grandmaster Flash himself. Reflecting upon my timeless sentiment, the band almost confirmed my thoughts saying upon their breakup that “their music arrived in the U.K. long before its time”."
"If you’re looking for some of the best blues music around, there are some obvious places to look: Chicago, New Orleans, Detroit… but Belgrade? I wouldn’t have believed it until I heard her but Ana Popovic of Belgrade, Serbia, could probably be Europe’s Susan Tedeschi.
"Keeping with a longish British tradition of mastering American music styles (such as the Rolling Stones growing up on early American blues music), Gibbons styles his music as something that might feel at home in the height of the Motown era. He jumps from R&B, to poppy rap, to smooth funky ballads, and even some jazzy backbeats, all in the same album.
"I’m starting to feel a bit homesick for a place I've never been after watching the official music video of "Africa". Its dazzling shots of the African savanna, sprawling metropolises, and, most importantly its lively and beautiful people show a side of Africa we unfortunately rarely see here in the United States."
"Some of Stromae’s more powerful songs including “Papaoutai” (a play on words mostly meaning “Father, where are you”) and “Quand C’est” (Who is it?), tackle difficult subjects of missing one’s father (his was killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1996) and his mother being stricken with breast cancer. The videos are moving, chilling, and often just down right creepy – a favorite English word of my roommate – and you miss half of his performance ability by only listening.
"Pescado Rabioso is both familiar and unique. There seems to be a love of interesting guitar licks but a preference not to overdo them (or do them enough in my opinion!). Each song has this wonderful progression that rarely revisits a previously-played instrumental portion, save for the occasional song with a chorus. This is where the folk background becomes quite obvious as they are not only telling a story verbally but musically as well."
"Tabula Rasa is a Latin phrase that often means “Blank Slate”. The literal English translation means a slate that has been cleaned or erased. I think it was a great title for this international collaboration because it makes the listener drop their reservations, or their preconception about certain genres. I want you to do the same. Who would have thought that an American banjo could blend so well with Classical Indian and Chinese styles?
I first came across Glen Hansard when I heard his version of Bruce Springsteen’s Drive All Night featuring Eddie Vedder and Jake Clemons (E Street Band, Clarence Clemons’ nephew). It’s a passionate, eight-minute ballad, with a distant piano and guitar accompanying Glen’s and Eddie’s powerful vocals, along with a great saxophone solo by Clemons. Bruce Springsteen is one of my music heroes, and this rendition blew me away, so I had to find more from Glen.
The opening track Yekermo Sew starts with a Latin melody on overdubbed saxophone and jazz guitar, adding a distorted guitar in the background without consuming the rest of the song, almost like a Carlos Santana tone. I Faram Gami I Faram gives off a bossa nova feel (Brazilian samba with heavy melody), accompanied by light vibraphone and vocals. Mulatu comes along with deep funk bass and a reggae beat.
If you threw funk, soul, some Chicago blues, punk, a bit of jazz, and a smattering of ska into a blender, you might get something that sounds like King Khan. The band really defies genre pigeonholing with their funky beats, international horn section, and the “Indian James Brown” front man belting out some soul that you might have thought could come from the states.
"Roses is her most dramatic and personal album so far with sweeping orchestral arrangements that highlight her voice and artistry. As the first two are relatively simple arrangements of piano and her voice. However, there is a variety in genres and styles as "I Don’t Want To Break Your Heart" is the most upbeat and features Canadian rapper Allan Kingdom."
"From their humble beginnings playing concerts exclusively to their rather active and official-looking touring of the German speaking world, ‘Boy’, stylized ‘BOY’, have come a long way since meeting each other on a prestigious music course Hamburg ten years ago."
“A breath of fresh air” – a term that I feel is often overused, but I have no problem using that phrase for Lianne La Havas. As someone who tends to get entrenched in too much music (if there is such a thing), she gives me something new to look forward to. Lianne is an English singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from the greater London area."