From electronica to classic bolero, Music Director Mark Shikuma reviews new arrivals to the KHSU studios.
ELECTRONICA: Brooklyn-based electronica duo Xeno & Oaklander release their fifth record, Topiary, a moody collection of brooding electronic alt. pop (NPR Music, special video).
FOLK: Singer-songwriter Ana Egge collaborates with the indie roots-folk rock band, The Sentimentals, for an impressive new release, Say That Now (Hearth PR album info sheet).
JAZZ: German native, Indian-based pianist, composer and arranger, Monika Herzig, assembles an international all-female ensemble, including bassist Linda Oh, flutist Jamie Baum, guitarist Leni Stern and percussionist Mayra Casales, for an excellent Whaling City Sound debut, The Whole World In Her Hands (Jazz News link). Pianist-composer Brad Mehldau delivers a subtle, yet beautiful, new release with his trio, featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, entitled Blues And Ballads (All About Jazz review link).
ROCK: Iconic singer-songwriter Paul Simon, working with longtime collaborator-veteran producer Roy Halee, releases his new work, Stranger To Stranger – probably his most contemporarily arranged recording to date, recalling his earlier 2006 collaboration, Surprise, with Brian Eno (Rolling Stone review link).
My favorite releases of this week are both debut releases by female singer-songwriters.
NY-based Margaret Glaspy releases a whip smart indie release, Emotions And Math, with a minimal arrangement (mostly guitar, bass, drums) that is both raw and refined (not to mention Glaspy is a superb guitarist) (New Yorker review link).
Hailing from the Netherlands, Annelotte De Graaf, who goes under the moniker of Amber Arcades, wrote and home-recorded a number of songs, while working for the government’s immigration service, and she eventually sent some of her songs to The Men’s Ben Greenberg, hoping to record with him in NY. Impressed with the de Graaf’s songs, Greenberg agreed, assembling members of Quilt and Real Estate as her backing band. The result Amber Arcades’ strong full-length debut, Fading Lines, filled with indie-post punk pop gems (Drowned In Sound review link).
WORLD: Originating from Cuba, the Latin American bolero, a type of ballad, gained widespread popularity throughout Latin American, primarily from the 1930s through the 1960s. Puerto Rico’s most well-known voice of the bolero was Sylvia Rexach. NY-based group, Miramar, led by its principal members, vocalists Rei Alvarez, and Laura Ann Singh, with pianist Marylysse Simmons-Argandoña, produce an excellent tribute to the late Puerto Rican vocalist (and brazen figure), Dedication To Sylvia Rexach, released by notable NY-based label, Barbes (All About Jazz review link).