- Novalima: Karimba
The third album from this Lima-based electro-Peruvian collective is a sunny-sounding, danceable romp suitable for club or beach, and definitely welcome in the midst of a deep northern winter.
- Sia Tolno: My Life
From an earlier review:"Tolno dips into various African music styles on the album, and the instrumentation and arrangements might force you into guess after guess about the music's origins. Let's just say that it comes across as modern African music -- with some funk here, some balafon there, and a whole lot of powerful vocals in various languages, often delivering conscious lyrics..."
- Henry Cole & the Afro-Beat Collective: Roots Before Branches
Afrobeat jazz? Based on the Puerto Rican bomba rhythm, this album brings the spirit of Fela Kuti to the new world, fusing those influences with Cuban rumba, US rock and jazz, and R&B.
- Sambasunda Quintet: Java
The latest from our favorite Bandung-based band brings ten tracks of mostly traditional music (and a track from 3 Mustaphas 3's Sabah Habas Mustapha) that are given a slightly modern twist, for an accessible and engaging musical romp across the island of Java. Oh, and speaking of green isles, check out the track "Paddy Pergi Ke Bandung (Paddy Goes To Bandung)" -- in which Sundanese music meets Ireland.
- Kora Jazz Band: Kora Jazz Band and Friends
We're still deeply digging this album which graced the November charts and our Best of 2011 list. Piano + kora + a bunch of musicians who know how things are done. Sublime.
- Leni Stern: Sabani
I'm going to have to sit down and have a chat with Leni Stern some day. The German-born musician does west Africa up right on this recording with Malians Haruna Samake and Mamadou Kone, along with a few other friends. Stern will be touring the USA in February.
- Vagabond Opera: Sing for Your Lives!
The mention of the Timbers may elicit a chorus of boos here in Western Washington, but here and throughout the known world, there's nothing but admiration and no small amount of awe at the Portland-based klezmer-steampunk-Vaudevillian conundrum known as Vagabond Opera. They're so good at theater, drama, costumes, antics, and storytelling that it's actually possible to overlook their amazing musicianship. But don't.
- Soul Rebels Brass Band: Unlock Your Mind
New Orleans is the USA's best counterbalance to Serbian brass bands, and I'd put these guys on stage in Guca any day of the week. Sizzling energy, a sense of humor, and booty-shaking rhythms are the order of the day. Check out the cover of "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" and the party anthem "Night People": "When the day world goes blind / Night people do fine" indeed!
- Barika: Remember
The New-England-based septet brings a big, multicultural sound on their debut album. Bandleader Craig Myers' kamel n'goni gives the outfit a distinct west African flavor, though other global influences and no small dose of rock make it great listening for ears more interested in borderless grooves than ethnomusicological purity.
- TriBeCaStan: New Deli
"I've been mulling the end of 'world music' as we knew it for a couple of decades, and this album adds fuel to that argument," we wrote in a recent review. This is another one not for the purist, but definitely for lovers of great instrumental music and adventurous cover songs.
24 January 2012
Top 10 Global CDs, January 2012
SoundRoots / Spin The Globe Top 10 Albums, January 2012 edition