Thursday, October 28, 2010

You Don’t Know Jacksoul

And neither did I, until a couple days ago. Thanks to the CBC, I’ve been introduced to a number of excellent groups from our neighbors to the north (or to the south, from here in Detroit). And here’s another one. Jacksoul. This group was founded by Haydain Neale in Toronto, in the mid-1990s. The band produces a catchy blend of R&B, jazz, soul, and just great music. But the real focal point is Neale’s voice. And, what a voice. Unfortunately, Neale was involved in a serious car accident in 2007 and was in a coma for several months. He made a miraculous recovery, only to die of lung cancer two years later. But I’m glad his music will live on. Now, at least you know a little bit about Jacksoul, and Haydain Neale.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Invest in Real Estate

The quartet Real Estate formed in 2008 and has been hailed as one of the best bands in New Jersey. “Faint praise be damned”, as the Bard of Avon so succinctly put it. Their unique brand of surfy lo-fi pop sound is perfect cruising music. It’s catchy and toe-tapping in a slow-mo sort of way. They're sort of a Manuel Galban goes American rock. To date they only have a self-titled cd which was released in 2009. Hang ten, Dudes!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pure Poetry

As most of you know, I tend to post new, relatively obscure bands and musicians. This week, I’m going to make an exception. I recently heard an interview with Natalie Merchant discussing her latest recording and I was very impressed. Natalie was the driving force behind 10,000 Maniacs and has had a successful solo career since the group broke up in 1995. However, she hasn’t released anything in seven years, and her latest, Leave Your Sleep is a dandy.

She sets poems, rhymes, and lullabies to music, with great success. The words are taken from the likes of Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, Robert Graves, and traditional English and American sources. The instrumentation is a diverse musical odyssey, ranging from The Wynton Marsalis Orchestra and Klezmer, to Appalachian folk and Celtic music. And leading it all is the rich, mature voice of Natalie herself. It’s a two-disc set well worth waiting for.

P.S. If you like what you hear, do a search for Natalie Merchant Leave Your Sleep on youtube. There are many songs including a 30 minute concert of featuring music from the cd.

Friday, October 1, 2010

As Good As It Gets

When it comes to warm, inviting electronica, it’s hard to beat Ulrich Schnauss. His music combines the soundtracky sounds of Vangelis with the, dare I say it, New Age lushness and relaxing feel of Enya. He likes to keep a mysterious profile so not a heck of a lot of info is available about him, but I know he’s a producer from Berlin, Germany. His debut recording arrived in 2001, and he’s released three cds since then. His music features synthesizers, layers of sounds, mainly softer beats, and excellent production values, along with relaxing, sensuous vocals.