[album] SUPER TARANTA
Super Taranta is an amazing introduction to the genre of gypsy punk. When I travel the world, this is the album that I want to be the soundtrack. Give it a listen; you’ll know just what I’m talking about. I’d suggest you begin with “Wonderlust King” (yes, that’s “wonder” not “wander”). The band sounds like the type of people who would just as soon buy a round of drinks as set your car on fire. The music is so fun-loving and raucous that you’ll want to take part in igniting said car. They’ve even got a song for after the rabble-rousing, titled “Alcohol,” which will resonate with anyone who’s ever had a hangover. Perhaps you have a love for the accordion and fiddle, both underused instruments in modern music? Well, you’ll find solace in Gogol Bordello’s strong Eastern European influences and wide variety of incorporated musical instruments.
[album] THE SYMPHONIES: DREAMS MEMORIES & PARTIES
Emily Wells is one of my muses; whenever I find myself in a creative funk, I play this album. What makes Wells’ stand out amongst modern musicians? For one thing, she plays the violin. Her album is a crazy concoction of folk, hip-hop and classical music, stirred together with her whispery voice and poignant lyrics. Sometimes the music is so beautifully creepy that you half expect it to start playing while you walk through dark hallways in the dead of night, while something brushes your shoulder. Wells’ creative artistry shines throughout the album, and encourages yours to shine too: one of the tracks encourages you to write your own lyrics. Wells demonstrates that the word “symphony” isn’t just for stuffy, pretentious music anymore—her electronic beats and classical overtones will have you beating off your creative funk with a baseball bat.
[album] MODAL SOUL
It’s a shame that we’ve come to think of Japan’s only exports as smart technology, sugar-infused schoolgirls and tentacle monsters. By doing so, we’ve ignored their diverse music scene. Nujabes is sure to appeal to two different types of people: people who can appreciate good music and anime lovers (in fact, Nujabes’ music has been featured in the cross-genre anime, Samurai Champloo.) Nujabes hails from Japan, but the appeal of his music is international. He takes phat beats, sick samples and then adds live instrumentation. The result sounds like smooth jazz sipping margaritas on the beach with Miles Davis, all the while getting ready for a rap battle. The opening track, “Feather,” is a perfect example of Nujabes’ hip-hop stylings. If you think “Fi’ty” is the epitome of hip-hop, please stay away from Nujabes. I don’t want to be responsible for your head exploding from awesomeness overload. Maybe you’re intrigued, but are worried that you’ll be lost in translation. Fear not: Modal Soul, along with a majority of Nujabes’ music, is in English. MTW