Monday, November 17, 2014

CD Review: Torsha Lynn's 'Inappropriate'

Torsha Lynn
Inappropriate
Self-Release

Links: Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud

Dallas, Texas singer, Torsha Lynn, knows how to create edgy, urban beats and flowing verbage that does anything but stay grounded. The new album, Inappropriate, contains some 'super' hits with the dance-friendly, "Supa Badd." This is a contrast from other songs, such as, "So Wrong," "Down South," "Keep Me," "Space Age," and others. These songs are more urban, R&B beats with some dance elements, but the main gist of the songs stems from a deep, urban influence. Torsha's vocals are rather fluid and edgy with a sound akin to Rihanna, Tamia, or Aaliyah. "Super Human" begins with a little piano introduction and Torsha's emotive vocals with neo-classical string accompaniment for an urban ballad result. "Lady Sings The Blues" also begins with a piano intro, but there are some electronic dance elements that set this track apart from the previously-mentioned song. There is a dance element to the song, but the entire song flows with a slower tempo and more electronic embellishments. "Down South" is a frenzied, electronic display of dance and urban R&B elements, which provides an awe-inspiring chorus with a male, backup vocal that is a little distracting in a deep, vocal register. Still, Torsha amazes listeners with a solid and mature release. 4.5 Stars (out of 5 Stars). ~ Matthew Forss

Friday, November 14, 2014

CD Review: Amira Medunjanin's 'Silk & Stone'

Amira Medunjanin
Silk & Stone
World Village

Hailing from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Amira Medunjanin is a sensational singer that brings a neo-operatic tone to the mix. The folk songs are punctuated by jazzy stlyings, world travels, and relaxing vocal elements. The breezy songs are emotive and full of beauty. The nine tracks contain scintillating guitars with oud, piano, kanun, and double bass for a truly delectable release. The poignant vocals are clear, powerful, and mature. The plaintive ensemble instruments are very moving with instrumental sections that abound throughout the album. Fans of Balkan opera, folk music, and European music will love Silk & Stone. The music is smooth like silk and solid as a stone without any deficiencies. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: TriBeCastan's 'Coal, Again!'

TriBeCastan
Coal, Again!
Evergreene Music

Christmastime will never be the same once this is released. The folks of TriBeCastan continue to amaze us with a world fusion of sorts, but this time it revolves around a holiday. There are some basic Christmas favorites here with some tongue-in-cheek stuff going on, including "Silver Bells," "Little Drummer Boychik," "Good King What's His Name?," "Carol Of The Bells," "Jingle Bells," and "O Little Town Of Bethlemayhem." The instrumental tunes might have a few spoken words throughout the entire album. The music is loosely based on the Christmas classics, but the main melodies and rhythms are all there. In this case, the group brings together a world presence with a multitude of gifts, including instruments as diverse as a royal benju, fujara, citera, khomak, yayli tambur, and others. The lilting melodies capture a bit of a South Pacific or Hawaiian feel on some of the tunes, while jazzy and layered elements create dizzying possibilities on others. Who knew 'coal' could be this fun? This is an excellent stocking stuffer for the eclectic music fan. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: King Ayisoba's 'Wicked Leaders'

King Ayisoba
Wicked Leaders
Makkum Records

Born in Ghana, King Ayisoba is an accomplished kologo player and vocalist. The kologo is a two-stringed lute with a very organic sound somewhat aligned with a n'goni. The ten-track release features a few guest artists, including Ayuune Sulley, Solomon Abusoro, Zea, Mbo, Banasko, and Isaac. Besides the kologo, the music incorporates other indigenous instruments, including the sinyaka, gulugo drum, doo (horn), xylophone, dondo drum, and djembe drum. The rhythmic vocals and diverse instrumentation produces an entrancing result that is akin to gnawa music. The scintillating kologo is plaintive, energetic, and emotive--all on the same recording. Some of the vocals are similar to some of the Mongolian and Siberian utterances, but that is where the similarities end. This is a distinctly African release that is refreshing and contemporary. Fans of Ghanaian music, North African tunes, and percussion instruments will love Wicked Leaders. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: The Nile Project's 'Aswan'

The Nile Project
Aswan
Self-Release

The Nile Project brings together eighteen musicians from several countries, including Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan, that present traditional music with contemporary rhythms. The North African instrumentation is rather indigenous and vibrant, which stems from the rustic masinko, traditional drums, some strings, a sax, and numerous voices. This recording is a live album recorded at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts that captures the energy and life-force of the music in all its splendor. Heady rhythms, wild vocals, and swirling melodies entrance listeners from around the world throughout the fifteen tracks. Fans of North African, Ethiopian, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern music will love Aswan. It's accessible for young and old listeners alike. Head over to Africa with The Nile Project as your guide. You will definitely not be disappointed. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Syre & Fresko's 'Gonna See Miracles'

Syre & Fresko
Gonna See Miracles

Links: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud

The husband and wife duo, Syre & Fresko, hail from Melbourne, Australia and present us with an excellent five-track EP, Gonna See Miracles. The contemporary release encompasses a slight rock feel with anthemic sounds of pop and alternative leanings throughout. "Broken Fragments" is a rock anthem of intelligent lyrics, great guitar hooks, and full-on vocals with bass, guitar, percussion, and electronic effects. "Gonna See Miracles" opens with spacious sounds of guitar, swishy percussion, and a classic, almost Western vocal arrangement. However, the chorus is purely rock and pop-driven with both male and female vocals. "Plastic Dreams" possesses an electronic sound with a full sound that is rock-laden with vocals that are all-encompassing and memorable. "Ruth" begins as a more laid-back guitar and vocal tune void of any percussion. The folksy melody is a bit country-esque with the whining dobro-like instrument. Syre & Fresko both lend locals on this tune. "Tightrope" begins with swishy sounds and female vocals with electronic bell tones. The airy vocals and lack of much percussion throughout the first half of the song gives way to a more robust rock sound with a stellar chorus and climax. 5 Stars (out of 5). ~ Matthew Forss

Monday, November 3, 2014

CD Review: Atlas Maior's Double Release 'Palindrome'

Atlas Maior
Palindrome [2-CD]
Self-Release

Texas-based, world music fusion group, Atlas Maior, releases a double-album, Palindrome, which an improvisatinoal journey on the wilder side of fusion. The band is comprised of Charlie Lockwood on oud, Joshua Thomson on alto sax and flute, and Ted Camat on percussion. The result is very complex, yet laid-back release, with loads of aural textures that weave in and out of consciousness. The entrancing release arouses North African, Middle Eastern, European, and North American musical elements on the jazz, avant-garde, and new age sides of the spectrum. There are fourteen tracks in all with names as diverse as the song elements, such as "ouduo," "Booted and Looted," "Half-pipe Blowhole," and "oodaqq." The instrumental release is perfect for fans of adventurous world music. ~ Matthew Forss