The Roots of Chicha 2: Psychedelic Cumbias From Peru Various Aritsts
Barbés

Author:
SAS

To understand The Roots of Chicha 2, you must first understand what chicha is. Named after the Peruvian corn beer, chicha music ferments traditional Peruvian music in urbanizing electrification. With a bit of psychedelic distortion on guitars and the best in Andean rhythms, chicha came to life in the 1960s and 1970s in the new slums of Lima, Peru.

On The Roots of Chicha 2, the second in this series exploring chicha music, you'll hear upbeat, psychedelic guitar riffs and solos in the keys of Peru. You'll hear vocals in Spanish, complicated, trancy rhythms, rock bass and the odd dub-like background addition. All of the music on Chicha 2 is from the years 1968 to 1981. Whether you like South American music or psychedelia, whether you seek music of the people or you seek something groovy, chicha music will grab your attention. The CD comes with a booklet of information on the music and the bands featured on the album.

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Conquistadors of War Brian Chupp, a.k.a. Gregorian BC
Gregorian BC

Author:
SAS

Gregorian BC has got that dream-like sound that all music acquires if you are very sleep deprived. With a voice as deep as Danzig, and a romantic, sword-wielding persona, Gregorian BC (Brian Chupp) takes you on an underground gothic adventure over the centuries and straight though grimy cities and haunted countryside. Heavy on the chimes and electric guitar washes and stone-castle-echo vocals, the music really is as dramatic as Chupp means it to be.

However, the title, Conquistadors of War, is somewhat hard to forgive. The conquistadors were terrible, selfish, cruel people who tormented and killed many in the Americas. It doesn't seem like that's what Chupp is going for, though. He says, "I've been called the Conquistador of Music because, like the sixteenth century Spanish knights, I like to go into uncharted territory, conquer and create something new." So, he's a warrior from days of yore who uses the aesthetic he likes in spite of political taboos. One thing is certain: being true to your intuitive desires is key in music-making, and Chupp really is 100 percent ohming Gregorian style.

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West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, 4 CD, 1 DVD Collectors Box Jimi Hendrix
Experience Hendrix / Columbia Legacy / Sony

Author:
SAS

This anthology draws you up and through the history of Jimi Hendrix's playing, from the time he began as plucky studio musician who refused to keep his guitar under control, until he became the young master we will always remember. The spirit that goes into every one of Hendix's songs is incredible. If he is playing an angry song, he give it all his rage. If he's playing a love song, he imbues it with his deepest passion.

Never has Hendrix's career been laid out so comprehensibly. The first CD is all music he played for other people. He was a background musician, but he could barely hold back. The second and third CDs are his well-loved classics. But the fourth CD shows us everything - it contains mostly live cuts. It reveals his truest and surest playing. The extensive liner notes that come with this collection (54 double-sized glossy pages) aren't even necessary for understanding the progression of his music. All you need is the music itself. Of course, a bit of history and an entire DVD of extra material is always welcomed. Jimi, you'll always play so loudly in our hearts.

Editor's Note: These four albums scared the shit out of me. They are beyond heavy. The fourth album shows Jimi at his best, when he was free to play the guitar for ten minutes straight, proving, beyond a doubt, that nobody is a guitar hero like Hendrix was.

Single of the Week: "Star Spangled Banner"

BEST ALBUM OF THE WEEK!

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The Union Elton John & Leon Russell
Decca /Rocket / Mercury / Universal

Author:
Sophia A. Strosberg

Leon Russell was on of Elton John's great influences - but then the great pianist has influenced many solo musician and bands. Elton John, however, wasn't satisfied with that - he wanted to play with the master in order to find more inspiration and to give back to the person who gave him so much. And so The Union happened. And it leant a little funkiness to Mr. John's music.

Piano music is already beautiful, so hearing it played by two greats at the same time seems to fill your mind with more notes than you thought existed - and yet both pianos are somehow able to combine into a single songline. John and Russell have very different characters that balance quite well - the smooth and the rustic. The lyrics are sweet and loving, of course. Special guests include Brian Wilson, Neil Young and a fun song with Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and the MGs.

Editor's Note: Race and hillbilly music collided and became real rock 'n' roll. Elton and Leon truly and deeply capture the rock 'n' roll feel.

Single of the Week: "If It Wasn't for Bad"

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Maita Remixed Luisa Maita
Cumbancha

Author:
SAS

Luisa Maita is the perfect candidate for getting plugged in with some electronic remixes. None of the organic texture of her Brazilian music is removed by the seven DJs working on the seven tracks of Maita Remixed. Rather, it is set out to float effortlessly atop Brazilian-influenced beats, made mostly with samples from traditional instruments.

If you are ever wondering what that chill but fascinating world-electo music is, Maita Remixed is it, and taken to its highest potential. She's already jazzy and the vocal noises she makes on top of her regular singing lend itself perfectly to this use. This isn't more of the same kind of healthy-food-cafe music, either. The DJs use cutting-edge techniques to create a sound that is up-to-date enough to be played in any San Francisco lounge. What, a little dubstep, AutoTune? Yep.

Single of the Week: "Desencabulada"

ARTIST TO WATCH

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Powerage AC/DC
Albert / Epic / Sony

Author:
SAS

Wait, this album isn't new. It came out in 1978. But AC/DC are still hipsters playing the grossest music. This album is already burned into most of our heads, but in case it's not, and you want a version that has been digitally remastered to erase previous production error, Powerage is once again available.

Just in case you've forgotten how bluesy AC/DC really was, Powerage is there for you. Just in case you forgot how gracefully they played with hectic abandon, Powerage is there for you. Just in case you wanted to wail out to the ultimate rock 'n' roll on your air guitar, pull out your air amp and your new copy of Powerage. Seriously, though, this is some quality stuff, from just two years before they Bon Scott died and before AC/DC did all that "Highway to Hell" "T.N.T." stuff. So enjoy some hard rock that still bears traces of the blues and is entirely danceable.

Editor's Note: AC/DC captured and still owns the world of kids who can't find love, a job or a home, who are totally lost and isolated, and blame everyone else for their pain. And that is why they are still, after all these years, incredibly popular.

Single of the Week: "Up to My Neck in You"

LATE BUT GREAT!

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The Peter Yarrow Sing-Along Special Peter Yarrow
PBS

Author:
SAS

The Peter Yarrow Sing-Along Special is Peter Yarrow, of Peter, Paul & Mary, live with special guests doing the folk sing-along thing to the max. From "Polly Wolly Doodle" to "This Little Light of Mine," you'll hear Peter along with the likes of Mary Chapin Carpenter, Keb' Mo', Noel Paul Stookey, Billy Jonas, and Bethany & Rufus. Its a family folk-song party with a positive, anti-war bent.

Peter's focus is on the possibility of multiple generations enjoying the same kind of music together. If you've ever wanted to float back to childhood on the breath of Puff, the magic dragon, or roll home with this old man, or if you have children that love sing-alongs, the return of Peter after the passing of Mary Travers is certainly a blessing.

Single of the Week: "Lullaby Baby Blues"

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Flockaveli Waka Flocka Flame
1017 Brick Squad /Asylum /Warner Bros.

Author:
SAS

Waka Flocka Flame is covered in blood and tattoos, at least on the cover of his new album, Flockaveli. He's doing his best to be as horror-rap and gangster as possible, probably so that people can fantasize about living the rough lifestyle. Or possibly, people who live that lifestyle will love his music. Hard to tell. The words themselves are violent by not particularly disturbing, though the vibe is just riding the edge of a fight about to break out. The beats are like well-orchestrated, evil haunted house music with high-hat and bass. It's not funky. It is guaranteed to scare the kiddies.

This is Waka's debut album, although he's not naive to the music business - his pop was Gucci Mane's manager when Gucci was still with So Icey Entertainment. Something about how extremely one-directional the album is makes it seem overly polished, and for that reason a bit contrived. But if you'd like an album that makes your guts pump adrenaline throughout, Flockaveli could be it.

Editor's Note: This is a dark picture that holds us like glue. It opened my eyes to street lines I didn't know of in my New York City world.

Mighty, Mighty!

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Mt. Desolation Mt. Desolation
Cherry Tree /Interscope /UMG

Author:
SAS

Mt. Desolation is a side project fronted by two guys from the UK band Keane, Tim Rice-Oxley and Jesse Quin. It's got a full sound, yet it somehow maintained a calming feel. A banjo plucks here and there, an organ pops up, violin plays; a glockenspiel and a vibraphone are each in the mix. There are plenty of vocals and even more band members. But you'll become nostalgic as you listen. You'll want to think, you'll want to sway, you'll miss your one-time lover.

This is the fantastic debut album for Mt. Desolation, but don't forget that these guys have been making music with Keane since the late 1990s, and have plenty of inspiration built up and ready to spill. Easy does it, but their love for a multitude of instruments keeps this album fascinating to your frontal cortex as well.

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The Reason Why Little Big Town
Capitol Nashville / EMI

Author:
SAS

Little Big Town is a country rock group with all the trimmings, the best being their four-part vocal harmonies. Their singing seems at times to blast you like a blustery rural day. At other times it soothes with mellowness. The music in the background is pretty typical, as is the song writing. Overall, you're going to hear the sound of a fine band with an out-of-the-ordinary amount of attention paid to harmony.

It is completely radio-worthy stuff, though, and it's sticky enough to get in your head. Country music, in this day and age of burgeoning urban dissatisfaction and pastoral fantasizing, is bursting at the seams. And what Little Big Town has to offer on The Reason Why and their other albums is a non-heirarchical approach to band organization. Besides, they really do have some catchy bluegrass moments.

Editor's Note: This is a country manifesto. I'm deeply into country music, and they create something that hits the spot.


LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!

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How the Caged Bird Sings The Brute Chorus
Tape

Author:
SAS

Spare style - a snapping, small drum kit, bass, and eventually some echoing electric guitar fill in the sound behind the calling vocals. With the first song bluntly about Lazarus, the rest of the album soon follows with plenty of other references to the bible and G-d, though none of them imply that The Brute Chorus are actually believers: "If I had a wife / did her love come between us / did she kiss me like Judas / the tear in her eye / did she lay me like Judas one last time / and leave me to die." In fact, these Londoners are probably like the rest of us. They are sex-loving, in trouble, and curious.

You'll hear influence from the post-punk era. Add a touch of raw old-time blues and some longingly spoken storytelling, and cook it slowly in a lonely cauldron. It's pretty, gray-sky music. Could this be a replacement for the Violent Femmes? No, The Brute Chorus has a sound all its own, and it's sneaking into your frontal cortex, giving you a complex.

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Now This War Has Two Sides Derrick Jensen
PM Press /Trade Root

Author:
SAS

You won't know this from the premise of Now This War Has Two Sides, but Derrick Jensen is hilarious! He is also intensely in touch with sadness, despair urgency. He wants to move us to make a change in this crazy, screwed-up world. He wants us to fight back. This is a tour through the philosophy of those against industrial civilization. And at the end of the tour, you won't be sitting back in your seat wondering where to get more popcorn. You'll be ready to act.

Derrick Jensen is the author of A Language Older Than Words, Culture of Make Believe, and Endgame. In his work, he explores why the world is the way it is, and how we can make a difference. Really make a difference. Why read - or listen to - Jensen above other activists or philosophers? He is articulate, descriptive, full of interesting anecdotes, and he really tries to get to the root of the matter. Very quickly, he dispels the notion that letter-writing campaigns are going to change the world. So watch out.


POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK

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Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty Big Boi
Island Def Jam / UMG

Author:
SAS

Big Boi loves ladies, funk and fun. One-half of Outkast, Big Boi is showing us once again that he can hold his own. His lyrics on Sir Lucious Left Foot... The Son of Chico Dusty are fantastic, every bit as fresh as anything he's written. His metaphors and images and references are so on, and his flow wouldn't fail if he was rapping in his sleep. He's carefully updated his sound to escape from the 1990s and the first decade of the millennium. In this futuristic world, one must be carefully when selecting producers and beats. But The Son of Chico Dusty is full of fire and spit and funk and odd vocal samples, (including something that sounds like "O, Fortuna").

You'll hear guests including Gucci Mane, Sleepy Brown, Joi, Jamie Foxx, Khujo Goodie, George Clinton, Too Short and B.o.B., all of whom contribute to an album without filler, especially if you are into the R&B tracks. The beats are from Organized Noize, Scott Storch, Big Boi himself and a handful of others, including his old buddy André 3000.

Editor's Note: Big Boi creates a masterpiece of erotic persuasion.

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Many Great Companions, 2 CD Set Dar Williams
Razor & Tie

Author:
SAS

Dar Williams has been a standard-setter in modern folk music since she began making music in the 1990s. Her poetic words, simple but elegant guitar compositions and calming demeanor has doubtless inspired hundred or thousands of aspiring singer-songwriters. She can be heard in college dorms, in rural homesteads, in urban apartments.

Her work isn't odd. It isn't quirky. It is precise and put-together. But that doesn't mean it can't express the some of the strongest human emotions. On this double-album, Many Great Companions you'll get a wide range of her best stuff. The first CD, "Songs Revisited With Guitar and a Few Friends," contains new, all-acoustic recordings of old songs played with several of her folky friends, including Gary Louris and Sara Watkins. The second CD is a "Best of" album, and encompasses her electrified songs as well as guitar-picking, cello-backed ballads.

Editor's Note: Most love songs are just calculated Top-40 attempts at fame. They have nothing to do with real love. Dar Williams captures exquisite love.

Single of the Week: "As Cool As I Am"

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Matt Bailie Matt Bailie
True Vibe / EMC Nashville

Author:
SAS

Cute country boy Matt Bailie is pricking up hearts with his upbeat romancers on his new self-titled album. Bailie isn't messing around when it comes to getting the love message across. Perhaps it's because love is still fresh in his 23-year-old heart. Bailie has a real country twang, and it shows in his lyrics, too: "I'm just an old hat, old boots, old jeans / I bought you this beer here just in case / you'd talk to a blue collar boy like me... I'm gonna be somebody wait and see / I'm like an old Chevy truck with Cadillac dreams. He is able to capture charater and play it out in song.

This is just the beginning for Matt Bailie. His charming persona is going to get him a lot of fans, and he's keeping with a reliably tasteful style of country music in the background - just a touch of the blues goes a long way.

NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK

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Olympia Bryan Ferry
Dene Jesmond / Astralwerks /Virgin /EMI

Author:
SAS

SInce his beginnings with Brian Eno, Bryan Ferry has been a British-dance pop star, obsessed with elegance. His music is still new wave. Well-produced, with strong melodic themes and his wavering romancer voice, Olympia shows us once again his love for pretty things and pretty women. He's getting up there, so it's cool to hear an album of original music coming from a place of such experience. But it's hard to forget that in his personal life, he tends toward the aristocratic.

Still, his ability to construct a song out of sythesizers, layered vocals both male and female, little guitar doodles and strong 1980s beats goes a long way. It's a pleasureable listen, and it's not the least because he cares deeply about the final sound of the music and the abiance it will create. You'll feel like you're in an echoing cave lit up by crystal chandelliers.

Editor's Note: Brian Ferry began his solo career while Roxy Music was in full flower, and at times he has come to the glam-rock thrill of Roxy on his own. As Brian Ferry always understands, the fundamental things apply, as time goes by.

Single of the Week: "Reason or Rhyme"

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Living Proof Buddy Guy
Silvertone / Jive / Sony

Author:
SAS

"I'm 74 years young / there ain't nothin' I haven't done / I've been a dog, I've been a donkey / I've chased some tails, I've left some tracks / I know how to have fun / 'cause I'm 74 years young." Thus starts Buddy Guy's rad new album. But then it gets even better: "Gzzgzgzgzggzgzgzgz." That's his guitar. Coming from the man who influenced Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, Living Proof is indeed proof that a master is alive and well and still breaking open blues guitar at the seams.

This is not the same old, same old. Guy shreds the crap out of the guitar, presenting us with a wall of jazzbluesfuzzrock screaming, pleasurepain let-it-all-out wailing. One song with B.B. King and one with with Carlos Santa round out the album. Don't ever stop, Buddy. You inspire all guitarists everywhere.

Editor's Note: Slash-and-burn guitar solos are the specialty of this Louisiana-born Chicago blues god, whose string-sizzling sides for Chess in the 1960s made a particularly strong impression on Hendrix and Clapton. This man is a true back-to-basics guitarist who has captured the blues right there with B.B. King. If you want to hear the true blues, pick up this album.

Single of the Week: "Thank Me Someday"

SO NICE GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE! (created by the original NYC D.J., Jocko, 1955)

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El Duque de la Bachata, CD and DVD Joan Soriano
iASO

Author:
SAS

"The Duke of Bachata" is a master of the bittersweet Dominican guitar style, blending melancholics with hope and love, danceability with imagery and bachata with an African influence. Joan Soriano's playing and singing is captured live on this CD, and the music rings with the energy and near perfection of a truly passionate master of the art.

The quick pace of some tracks is balanced with romance in other tracks. Soriano's inspiration is contageous, and his sense of humor doesn't get lost in the serious meaning behind the music. Soriano grew up in a farm villiage in rural Dominican Republic, but now plays all over the world. The style he has developed over the years is not just technically gorgeous, it is something that truly feels good to hear. His rise to fame is possibly more of a treat for us than even for him.

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The Music of Central Asia Vol. 7: In the Shrine of the Heart - Popular Classics From Bukhara and Beyond, CD and DVD Various Artists
Aga Khan Trust for Culture / Smithsonian Folkways

Author:
SAS

The music of Central Asia is every bit as interesting as you might guess. And the "popular" music of Central Asia, while not on many Americans' radar, has elements anyone could recognize as music that appeals to a common taste. In the Shrine of the Heart - Popular Classics From Bukhara and Beyond exposes us to a variety of the urban musical traditions of the region. Most of the songs consist of instrumental playing - from the ghijak to the doyra drum to the accordion - and voice, sung clearly in the emotive and haunting keys so often associated with Central Asian music.

Spiritual songs and love songs stand side by side, and both male and female musicians and vocalists contribute to its tracks. Along with the music comes a 48-page informational booklet and a DVD that will help you further your knowlege of the region and its music even more.

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The Incredible Machine Sugarland
Mercury Nashville / UMG

Author:
SAS

Sugarland's new album is certainly country, and it probably gets airplay on country stations. But The Incredible Machine is almost steampunk in abiance. Not that it is at all gothic. Rather, it's kind of hip. It's got accordion sounds and ringing guitars, scatting and rhythmic singing, syncopated beats, a touch of purposeful AutoTune and other aural surprises.

One thing that's not a surprise is the fantastic singing of the male-female duo Kristian Bush and Jennifer Nettles. Her voice is stunning, and his adds just the right amount of balance. At times when they are both singing, you might think you've found the perfect human tone. Sugarland is creative and fun. They are determined to give us something that hasn't been done before, so enjoy this collage of a country base with a genre-bending foreground.

Editor's Note: Every time I hear this album, it means something else to me.

IF YOU LOVE MUSIC, YOU'LL LOVE THIS!

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My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy Kanye West
Roc-A-Fella / Island Def Jam /Universal

Author:
SAS

What Kanye West is doing here is living up to the fact that this was, collectively, the most anticipated album of the year. It's huge, it's epic, it's a theatrical feat to the caliber of the great operas of the nineteenth century. It's also vulgar at times, at least to ears that are used to his earlier stuff. Even his political stuff is raunchy. But the overarching story he is telling is so poignant that even uncomfortable moments are worthwhile. And there's something to be said for not glossing over reality, for really laying out one's life experiences, no matter how taboo. His guests help with this lyrical expansion as well. Keep an ear out for Nicki Minaj, the RZA, Jay-Z and so many more important voices.

Kanye West is somehow still putting out music with the vocal samples that have been his signature for more than a decade, and yet the sound of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is still absolutely up to date. There's a great mix of dance beats and absolute creativity. He brings us some more of his tribal drums, and just a touch of the AutoTune that dominated 808s & Heartbreak. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy proves that West is a composer, not just a producer. He can sure put out an epic solo album. Get ready to hear these bangers for a while to come.

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