Sunday, April 20, 2014

CD Review: Hanami's 'Philomelos'

Smugglers Records

UK's Hanami brings us an energetic, avant-garde, and folksy recording with gypsy and troubadour-type songs of a wayward music duo. The music seems experimental and alternative, which is some of the appeal. The ten songs contain great folk rhythms, minimal instrumentation and production cues, and yearning vocals. The song titles are as diverse as the music, such as "Into The Mystic," "Long Gone Mobile," and "Go Tell Someone Who Gives A F***." The delicate melodies are jaunty, poetic, and cafe-worthy, which are all positive traits. The artsy-folksy musical constructions are somewhere between Neutral Milk Hotel and Gogol Bordello. Anyone with an interest in folk-driven alternative music will love Hanami. Discover them today! ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Various Artists' 'Bombay Disco'

Various Artists
Bombay Disco
Cultures of Soul

Bombay Disco celebrates the 1970's disco-inspired music of India's Bollywood scene, along with North American influences that shimmer with notions of dance, cinematic instrumentals, and infectious rhythms. There are thirteen different tunes on the album attributed to about a half-dozen artists. You will hear Usha Uthup, Bappi Lahiri, Kishore Kumar, Amit Kumar, Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, and Salma Agha. The music is steeped in filmic constructions with strings, synth, drums, and a frolicking bass. The music is suspenseful and danceable. Bad is not one of the words to describe the album. Instead, astounding and memorable come to mind. Anyone familiar with suspense, spy, and thriller films of India's Bollywood past will love the music on Bombay Disco. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Meikhaneh's 'La maison de l'ivresse'

La maison de l'ivresse

France's Meikhaneh produces intriguing music inspired by Central Asia, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East. The group incorporates a little Central Asian throat-singing on "Jaran tsagaan aduu." Maria Laurent's sweet vocals and her stately morin khuur (horse-head fiddle) combines to form a unique blend of vocal and instrumental music. Maria is joined by Johanni Curtet on guitar, dombra, various chants, as well as Milad Pasta on tombak, daf, and udu drum. The music is more French inspired with wistful melodies and breezy vocals on "Mellekdal" and a more somber tone on "La fille qui tourne dans une piece blanche." "O leite e o pao" contains more of a flamenco or Portuguese flair. The final track, "Talyn theme," is an improvisational masterpiece with glorious instrumentation and enigmatic vocals that are sweet, sincere, and traditional. Meikhaneh is a group based in France, but their repertoire originates from other world regions. At any rate, Meikhaneh knows how to make an album that is entertaining, memorable, and highly-recommended. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: C.S. Crew's 'Funky Pack'

C.S. Crew
Funky Pack
Cultures of Soul

Funky Pack is a reissued album from the late 1970's group, C.S. Crew, which are based in Nigeria. There are nine tracks in all featuring some of the funkiest funk to ever come out of Nigeria. "Bread Power" is littered with funky beats and raw sounds that get the body moving. The growling vocals are mostly throaty, but some of the vocals are a little lighter. The music is produced from drums, gonga, bass, guitar, alto sax, tenor sax, trombone, trumpet, moog, and string synth. "Doin' The Good Thing" continues in the funky vein with throaty vocals and fluid bass-lines for a truly aural fixation. The ballad-esque, "Living Together," cements the group's reputation for creating reflective tunes with funk, rock, and blues all rolled into one, satisfying concoction. Afro-funk fans will love C.S. Crew's reissue, but anyone with an interest in Nigerian music will love it. African music rules! ~ Matthew Forss

Thursday, April 3, 2014

CD Review: Steve Kroon's 'On The #1'

Steve Kroon
On The #1
Kroonatune Records

Queens and Harlem-based music connoisseur, Steve Kroon, has been wowing crowds for a few decades and continues to do so on his latest and fifth recording, On The #1. The new nine-track release contains instrumental tunes with Latin and jazz percussion-themed compositions arranged by Oscar Hernandez, Igor Atalita, James Shipp, Donald Vega, Bryan Carrott, and Marty Sheller. The music is steeped in jazzy horns, congos, flutes, vibraphones, piano, and other assorted instruments. The melodies and rhythms are laid-back, danceable, and relaxing--all at the same time. Steve's inherent knowledge and performance of the music is unmatched in today's Latin jazz scene. Years of music-making and performing shine through on Steve's latest release. It is called On The #1 for a reason--since I cannot think of any other number it deserves. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Christos DC's 'Long Road'

Christos DC
Long Road
Honest Music

Washington DC-native, Christos DC, releases a new album steeped in Jamaican reggae, R&B, and urban grooves that are ready to excite listeners seeking for something more. The new fourteen-track release features some down-tempo grooves, jazzy bass-lines, and hip-hop inspired elements for a truly contemporary recording. Christos DC's varied instrumental accompaniment and laid-back vocals provides a rich musical product that should win over everyone that listens to it. The groove-induced hooks of "Lovely Lady," "Just Talk To Me," "Another Day," and many others, solidifies Christos DC's mark on the musical world in a very positive light. The vocals are akin to Jack Johnson and John Mayer with more of a reggae voice throughout. At any rate, Long Road is a great musical journey that begins and ends with Christos DC. ~ Matthew Forss

Sunday, March 30, 2014

CD Review: Charlie Dennard's 'From Brazil To New Orleans'

Charlie Dennard 
From Brazil To New Orleans

Charlie Dennard takes listeners on a jazz journey through lounge, boogaloo, fusion, and Brazilian music throughout the nine long tracks on the new album. As the title of the album implies, Charlie brings us a mix of jazz-inspired tunes with an homage to Brazilian composers and the multi-cultural powerhouse of southern Louisiana. The instrumental tunes are full of jazzy melodies and rhythms that contain punchy horns, folksy percussion, and contemporary jazz elements. The lounge jazz feel of some of the tracks is permeated with some Brazilian fusion and improvisational elements, which only adds to the enjoyment of the entire album. The piano offers some meditative influences on "Asa Branca" and "Senhorinha." The bluesy side of jazz rears its head on "Valsa Luisiana." The smooth jazz and Afro-funk fusion of "Africa Mae" is stellar. Overall, Charlie releases a great final product, which bridges the gap between Brazil and New Orleans from a musical standpoint. ~ Matthew Forss