Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

 February 19, 2010

 I think we’ll be ready to launch the new website in a week.  Expect a slew of special features as a kind of Grand Opening.

 ! Nick Curran and the Lowlifes – Reform School Girl (rock)

In the beginning, there was Rock & Roll.

Before the art form got micro-marketed as classic rock, shoegazer, dream pop, and a hundred others, there was one sound that set the world on its ear.  That’s the sound Nick Curran plays with uncompromising energy.  You can hear echoes of Little Richard in Curran’s bluesy shout, and the rhythm drives hard underneath.  There’s even enough edge in the lyrics to make parents nervous.  Curran drinks deeply from the source of rock & roll, and listening gives you the same rebellious thrill that launched a cultural revolution almost 60 years ago.


Listen to Nick Curran and the Lowlifes “Tough Lover


* Preservation Hall Jazz Band – Preservation (jazz)


The kings of New Orleans-style hot jazz team up with a slew of name artists for charity.  Tom Waits, Merle Haggard, and Ani DiFranco are all here, but it’s Andrew Bird’s whistling solo that steals the show.


Listen to Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Andrew Bird “Shake it and Break it


* Dessa – A Badly Broken Code (rap)


 Dessa’s hip-hop persona is stripped of braggadocio, leaving clear stories told in straightforward language.  Breakbeats are layered with eccentric instruments (hammered dulcimer, bassoon) to surprisingly hip effect.  Dessa’s rap won’t sell sneakers, but it has the potential to inspire a thousand young street poets.


Listen to Dessa “Children’s Work


Jaga Jazzist – One-Armed Bandit (jazz)


These Norwegian fusionistas are advancing the flag of jazz without limits.  Broad instrumental range – electric guitar, flute, marimba, harpsichord, electronics – wash in a tidal wave of jazz-rock instrumentals.  Shifting keys and time signatures bring complexity to songs that still have clear hooks – M.C. Escher in sound.


Listen to Jaga Jazzist “One-Armed Bandit


Joyo Velarde – Love & Understanding (R&B)


Velarde’s debut draws heavily from 70’s funk and soul – lush and occasionally psychedelic orchestration.  Her voice is impassioned both with romantic love songs, and love-the-world songs.  There’s a lot of hope in her music.


Listen to Joyo Velarde “Build This World



* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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