A taste of what’s to come, musically speaking
November 3, 2006
Following are reviews of recent CDs by acts coming to the valley in the weeks and months ahead.Brazilian Girls, “Talk to La Bomb” produced by Brazilian Girls and Mark Plati (Verve Forecast)Brazilian Girls could only come from one place – and it ain’t Brazil. The quartet emerged from downtown New York, and if you envision the lower N.Y. club scene as impossibly sexy, cosmopolitan, intelligent, hip, dark and modern, then you have a pretty good sense of what “Talk to La Bomb” is all about. The quartet (no Brazilians, one girl) makes music suited for the club crowd; even when it slows down, it has a palpable pulse. But Sabina Sciubba sings in a sultry cabaret style, and she’d sound smart even if she didn’t sing in five languages. The songs – yes, actual songs, and not electronica riffs – conjure the politics (“Sweatshop”) and fears (the title track) of these insecure times.Brazilian Girls make their Aspen debut Thursday, Nov. 9, at Belly Up.
Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, “Living Like a Refugee” produced by Chris Velan (Anti-)When Tom Petty sang to his pained lover in “Refugee,” her status was a metaphorical one, one that a good pop song might have relieved. On “Living Like a Refugee,” Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars sing of the real thing. The group came together in the Sembakounya Refugee Camp in Guinea, united by having been forced from their homes by the civil war that wracked Sierra Leone for a decade. A pair of filmmakers visited the camp to make a documentary about the significance of music to the refugees. What they encountered – musicians in a mud hut, playing around an oil lamp, on battered instruments – made for a good story. But the music stood on its own, and two songs from “Living Like a Refugee” were recorded there. (The rest were recorded in Freetown, the Sierra Leone capital, during a U.N.-sponsored trip.)A mix of roots reggae and West African goombay, the album is a persuasive shout-out against war, and a reminder that the human spirit can hope – and sing – even in the worst of circumstances.Sierra Leone’s Refugee Allstars make their Aspen debut Nov. 23 at Belly Up.
Edwin McCain, “Lost in America” produced by Noel Golden (Vanguard)On his ninth album, “Lost in America,” South Carolina native Edwin McCain rocks too hard to be a folkie, is too dissatisfied to be a member of jam-band nation, doesn’t twang enough to be alt-country, and is too gutsy to be a pop singer. All of which puts McCain in the middle of a lot of crisscrossing roads.”Lost in America” features three songs co-written with Maia Sharp, who appears with McCain in Aspen.Edwin McCain performs an acoustic concert Dec. 2 at the Wheeler Opera House.
Taarka, “Even Odd Bird” produced by Taarka and Billy Oskay (Omnivine Records)Taarka brings associations with two other groups. One is the New Mexico folk-rock band ThaMuseMeant; both bands are led by the duo of mandolinist David Tiller and violinist Enion Pelta. And on “Even Odd Bird,” there is just as strong a link between Taarka and the David Grisman Quintet. The quartet makes tuneful acoustic music that draws from a variety of sources, especially bluegrass, jazz and folk. Taarka does substitute more of a European gypsy flavor for the Grisman Quintet’s South American accents.The Taarka duo of Tiller and Pelta plays Saturday, Nov. 4, at Steve’s Guitars.Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org