Best tracks: Långt Härifrån (#4), Fråga Stjärnorn (#2), Vill Du Veta Vem Jag Ar (#7)
You don’t need to understand Swedish to appreciate the melodic folk-rock tunes by Scandinavian’s answer to Sarah McLachlan. Åkerström is a hugely talented musician, playing the flute, piano and guitar as well as providing vocals. Her voice is gorgeous and accessible — these are songs you can actively listen to or play as the background music for a low-key dinner party. En Bit På Väg (On the Road) is a compilation of her best songs from her first three albums. Since then she’s come out with five others, including this year’s excellent Visor Från Förr & Nu.
Best tracks: Empty House (#3), This Is My Life (#4), Big Storm (#12)
Wow! This album is a stunning musical achievement — except for track #5, Human Condition, which is so inexplicably horrible that we think it was included on the album and made the title track as the result of some sort of lost wager. With that one exception, all the tunes on this album are rich tapestry of global sounds. Lead singer Olga Helm (pictured above) is from France, but sings in English, sets her songs to Middle Eastern beats and makes heavy use of Celtic instruments. We didn’t like this album on the first listen mostly because we didn’t know what to make of it. Who in their right mind, we initially asked, puts bagpipes to Arabic riffs as Shai No Shai does in Big Storm? Countless listens later we still find our appreciation growing for this, one of our all-time favorite albums. Except for track #5.
Best tracks: Every Poet Wants To Murder Shakespeare (#1), A Mindless Pop Song (#11)
We have to think that this band never made it big in part because they are a bad example of what to name a band. The tracks on this album, though, are fabulous. Fun harmonies and catchy rhythms combine on tunes that build from a base. The songs’ hooks pull you in from the first cords, the lyrics then keep you listening. Who would have thought that a tune called A Mindless Pop Song could make a profound and ironic statement on the state of modern music? Sadly, none of The Bad Examples’ other albums match the music genius of Kisses 50 Cents. Even more sadly, The Bad Examples don’t tour much anymore (though lead singer Ralph Covert does). Absolutely go and see The Bad Examples if they do play a gig near you — they put on quite the lively show.
Genre: jazz and ska fusion Best tracks: More Whiskey (#4), Tilt-a-Whirl (#9)
If you are either a jazz or ska purist then give the New York Ska Jazz Ensemble a pass. If you like your music genre-bending (as Spot Cool Stuff does) then this is an alum for you. Background ska riffs frame jazzy trumpets and scorching piano solos to create a sound that’s more ska than jazz. Indeed, most of the ensemble members are from well known ska bands, including Rick Faulkner and Jonathan McCain (the Toasters), guitarist Devon James (the Skatalites) bassist Victor Rice and keyboardist Cary Brown (the Scofflaws).
How to take a walking tour around a city while you are on vacation but not look like a tourist? Bring along your iPod and headphones and let the Audissey audio walking tours lead you around. Downloadable tours are currently available for a handful of American cities including Chicago, New Orleans and Miami’s South Beach. Tours are presented by real locals, though a few of the sound more like unreal stereotypes of locals — click through to the Audissey website and give a listen for yourself. The Ausissey tours do include some tidbits not found in the old fashion tree-killing guidebook, offered at a mere $10 per download.
This DVD comes hot on the heels of Live Nation’s successful soundboard series of CD’s more commonly know as “Instant Live”, and is a veritable nirvana (excuse the pun) for fans of “The Cult” as it gives you the chance to catch the band up close, minus overdubs, in a sweaty theatre. Filmed in High Definition and partly shot by fans this release captures “The Cult” live at The Fillmore East, at the end of their 2006 US tour. With much of the set list unchanged in format and content across the whole of this tour, this 17 track DVD captures the band largely as they were when this tour hit the UK in the September of the same year. One thing you have to be aware of with this DVD, the third official release from “The Cult” is that it fails to deliver where their previous DVD outputs have excelled. This package comes with a minimalist presentation and with a poorly balanced soundboard mix that simply doesn’t go anywhere doing the bands powerhouse live delivery no justice. But for completists of “The Cult” (like myself) this is essential stuff. This set is both heavy on nostalgia and heavy on the aforementioned drum and vocal mix. The touring house band of John Tempesta (drums), Mike Dimkitch (guitar), and Chris Wyse (bass) playing perfect foil to the dynamic duo of Duffy and Astbury.
Let’s cut to the chase, bruthas and sistas – ‘Mouthful Of Love’, the 2004 debut album from Texan terrors Young Heart Attack, was friggin’ awesome! Now, I’m no Jack Kevorkian when it comes to medicinal knowledge but, I’m pretty sure that songs like ‘Tommy Shots’, ‘Over And Over’ and ‘Misty Rowe’ had an effect on the listener that was akin to adrenaline shots to the ear. There wasn’t a bad track on the album. And then, inexplicably, they were gone. Or so it seemed.
This site is free?! Audiophiles who want to discover new music, or simply don’t know what they are in the mood to listen to, would pay a lot for Musicovery.com. (And, indeed, the site has a premium membership that streams higher quality music). What’s so cool about Musicovery is the interface. Select the genre(s) you want to listen to and your mood from a matrix of energetic to calm, dark to positive, and your suggested song starts playing on a page with a a sort of flow chart to similar tunes. Give it a listen and try not to get addicted.