Aaron Parks

February 23rd, 2009 by Andrew Ladd

jazz // rock

Aaron Parks was born in Seattle “” though he currently lives in Brooklyn with the rest of his taste-making hipster brethren “” and you can almost hear the city in his music. The pitter-patter of rain in the cymbals, the grey swoop of fog in the guitar, and the occasional glimpse of sun in the piano; “Nemesis” is a Mt Rainier in the haze, and “Roadside Distractions” is a fish flying through the air at Pike Place Market. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it all. But either way it’s a nifty album “” take a listen and see for yourself.

A city’s worth of sounds.
Aaron Parks – Nemesis
Aaron Parks – Roadside Distraction
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Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra

September 2nd, 2006 by Andrew Ladd

african folk // kora // mali beat

From the liner notes:

The Symmetric Orchestra reflects the spirit of Mali’s new democracy since 1992— a spirit of equality, and creativity. There’s a public in Mali today that loves traditional music — griot music — but not the griot milieu. With the Symmetric, they feel free to enjoy this music without the obligations of tradition. And this gives us the freedom to present the tradition in new ways.

That quote is enough, I’m sure, to make any Cultural Studies critics reading wet themselves, and I’m going to give them a little more: TDSO is one of those deftly textured creations that evokes equal parts timeless and contemporary, diffuse and situated. Try listening to the soft chants on ‘Mamadou Diaby’ without thinking of Four Tet, and the virtuoso piano on ‘Africa Challenge’ without hearing the tango. It’s beautiful.

A well-crafted blend of all-over sounds.
Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra – Mamdou Diaby
Toumani Diabate’s Symmetric Orchestra – Africa-Challenge
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Fredrika Stahl

December 21st, 2009 by Julija

jazz // pop // chanson

The repertoire of Swedish singer-songwriter Fredrika Stahl consists of elegant jazz compositions and dreamy vocal textures. “Monumental Mismatch”, the opening track of Tributaries (2008), possesses this certain element of playfulness and simplicity that works so well with Fredrika’s flirtatious jazz approach. Accompanied by accordion and delicate piano arrangements, lyrical “Pourquoi Pas Moi” is a true homage to French chanson, while her yearning vocals bring to mind the critically acclaimed Lisa Ekdahl.

Gentle jazz for a wintry afternoon.
Fredrika Stahl – Monumental Mismatch
Fredrika Stahl – Pourquoi Pas Moi
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Kira Neris

December 15th, 2007 by Kyle

nu-jazz // downtempo

At 11 years old, Hervé Poudoulec begins hearing and feeling music over the radio. His mind collects fragments and wonders what to do; pondering from Rock to House, Dance and Jazz; amassing over 4000 samples before experiencing The Cinematic Orchestra’s ‘Motion‘ – helping to align hidden vibrations. Kira Neris graciously strides from downtempo and jazzy affairs to voluptuous dance vibes with an earnest underlining.

Marvelous samples enriched in soulful harmonies.
Kira Neris – Open Doors
Kira Neris – Un Été Sans Fin
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October 12th, 2006 by Julija

intimate pop-rock // folk // chanson

Mansfield.TYA is a duo of musicians Julia Lanoë (voice, guitar, piano) and Carla Pallone (violin, piano, harmonium, voice) from Nantes, France. The duo was seen and noticed for its intimate, beautifully tensed music at the openings of such artists as Cat Power, Erik Truffaz, Camille, Elysian Fields, Cocorosie and others. Their album June (2005) is a magnificent combination of dark and sombre yet beautiful ballads with folk elements enveloped in a romantic and melancholic atmosphere. The raw and sincere vocals and instrumentation are comparable to the fine collaboration of Shannon Wright and Amélie composer Yann Tiersen. Or to quote one of the reviews it is une possible réponse française aux Cocorosie.

So fragile and très triste.
Mansfield.Tya – Mon Amoureuse
Mansfield.Tya – Pour Oublier Je Dors
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Aurgasm@Bumbershoot: Day Three

September 7th, 2009 by Julija


Anomie Belle
We started our morning with the hypnotic strings and vocals of Anomie Belle. Anomie Belle is classically trained violinist and songwriter Toby Campbell, who toured North America with such artists as Little Dragon, The Album Leaf and legendary trip-hop artist Tricky. “Down”, featured here, displays her Trip-Hop experimental aesthetics, while its production brings to mind the clear and smooth downtempo vibe of Zero 7.

Anomie Belle – Down

Oren Lavie
Featured on Aurgasm two years ago, Israeli born Oren Lavie gave a warm and intimate performance that didn’t disappoint. Attached below is Aurgasm’s favourite track “Her Morning Elegance”, which was recently featured on Brian Williams’ “Inside the Obama White House” Special on NBC.

Oren Lavie – Her Morning Elegance

We were happy to catch probably the most playful and colourful show of the festival, Aurgasm’s favourite Lenka. Despite Franz Ferdinand playing at the same time, Lenka had a full house and her music was received with much support and enthusiasm.

Lenka – The Show

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Mayra Andrade

February 5th, 2008 by Paul Irish

cape verdean // worldbeat

She was born in Cuba, grew up between Senegal, Angola, Germany and finally settled down in Cape Verde. You can feel the influence of all these locations her music; a soft and friendly accessibility met by a very developed melodic intellect. In much of her music, she sings in Cape Verdean Creole, which is a derivative of Portuguese. She’s not surprisingly up for Best Newcomer in the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards. Her song “Lua” is a warm tropical treat; while “Regasu” is a somber ballad in the style of Cuban son Cape Verdean Morna. (Thx, Andre!)

Sweet music from the African Cape’s barefoot diva.
Mayra Andrade – Lua
Mayra Andrade – Regasu
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April 4th, 2007 by Paul Irish

brazilian folk // electronic indie

If you’ve been paying attention Cibelle (see-BELL-ee) has already caught your attention, I’m a little late on this but didn’t want to not post this songstress. São Paulo raised Cibelle crafts tunes that tell stories embellished by an instrumentation that won’t disappoint; ½ her album was produced by ½ of indie folk outfit Tunng. Her approach to song construction (somewhat explained on her myspace) reminds me of The Books and Psapp. You won’t hear her lovely vocals in Portuguese in the songs below, but that’s a treat, just the same.

Innovating on old-world beauty.
Cibelle – Waiting
Cibelle – Green Grass
Cibelle – London, London (feat. Devendra Banhart) (video)
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Ben Sollee

June 21st, 2008 by Michelle

cello pop // acoustic folk

Ben Sollee, cellist for the band The Sparrow Quartet, recently released his aptly titled debut, Learning to Bend. Whether he is plucking the strings, or playing his cello like a percussive instrument, Ben’s truly unique playing style belies his classically trained background. Though the entire album wanders between bluegrass, folk and jazz, his deep Southern influence is unmistakable. Soulful vocals, combined with his sharp lyrics (seen in his politically critical “A Few Honest Words” and adaptation of “A Change Is Gonna Come”), result in a deeply honest, playful, and ultimately hopeful debut album.

Soulful vocals and unexpected melodies.
Ben Sollee – A Change Is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke cover)
Ben Sollee – How To See The Sun Rise
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September 11th, 2004 by Paul Irish

synth-pop // electro

Driving electro bassline. Enough synth action to fulfill your inner moog. My cohort Molly turned me onto these electro-boys from the States. Their lead, Keith Ruggiero, helped produce a couple songs for Erlend Øye (Kings of Convenience). He also wants to completely dispell the idea that Soviet is “electroclash”. This song will make you glee-ful, guaranteed.
Latch your ears onto the chorus at 1:02. It’ll make you makeOUT.

Soviet – Breakdown