- Artist: Rodrigo y Gabriela
- Album: 9 Dead Alive
- Country of Origin: Mexico
- Released: 2014
- Genre: Rock, Nuevo Flamenco
- Available on: Spotify, Google Play, Pandora, Amazon, iTunes, YouTube
- Recommendation by Ian Magnuson
Play this and I DARE you not to start tapping your feet. Would you believe that this is only two people playing two acoustic guitars? Mexican guitarist duo Rodrigo y Gabriela are amazing. I might not have believed their digital (read: fast fingered) prowess had I not seen this TED talk (yes I watch a lot of them) of the two of them alone on a stage. 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.
Rodrigo y Gabriela are both from Mexico City, Mexico and were exposed to this smorgasbord (I’ve never had the opportunity to spell that out before) of music while growing up. They met at a young age and I can only imagine that their incredible synergy is a product of this long relationship. In 1999, they did what many of us might not do and moved to a new country not knowing any of the native language. Hanging out in Dublin, Ireland for ten years, they began to tour as Rodrigo y Gabriela after dabbling in a few smaller rock groups. They started to gain notoriety even in the USA after appearing on the Late Show in 2006 and their career has only soared since.
Their most recent album, “9 Dead Alive” is a tribute album with, according to Twitter “each track [being] a personal celebration of individuals who have passed on, but through their deeds and words still resonate in the 21st century.” Notably, Soundmaker, the song linked above is a tribute to the Spanish inventor of the modern guitar, Antonio de Torres Jurado. Other notables include American activist and freed slave, Harriet Tubman and Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, perhaps defining “world music” for us.
Recommended Tracks: The Soundmaker, Misty Moses, The Russian Messenger
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."