Fresh Air: World Music
Golem Ain't Your Grandparents' Klezmer
The New York City band Golem describes its music as punk-klezmer. On Tanz, they mange to find new ways to balance urban irreverence with folk tradition.
Fight Sound With Sound: Grateful Dead's Arena Combat
In 1974, sound engineer Owsley Stanley crafted a superior live experience with an enormous conglomeration of amps and speakers called the Wall of Sound. Dave's Picks Volume 9 captures this era.
Before He Joined Congress, A South African Janitor's Disco Past
Penny Penny put down his broom and picked up a mic for his 1994 debut, now reissued.
Will The Real Llewyn Davis Please Stand Up?
Dave Van Ronk's autobiography inspired Joel and Ethan Coen's new movie about a '60s folksinger. Though he died in 2002, a new anthology ought to help give Van Ronk a long-needed boost.
Europe Swings The Body Electric
What had been an infrequent novelty — mixing electronic and '30s beats with scat and big band-ish horn solos — has become more and more common among European dance musicians and producers. Critic Milo Miles looks at two compilations that highlight...
Sylvester: 'Mighty Real' Disco Star Deserves A Modern Spotlight
A new collection of disco numbers, Mighty Real: Greatest Dance Hits, showcases the career of Sylvester. Music critic Milo Miles argues that Sylvester — an openly gay, superstar costume-wearer from the start — was not only a pioneer, but also someone...
Festival Au Desert: Music Of Peace Not Silenced By War
For a dozen years, a music festival that highlights the music of Africa has been held near Timbuktu, Mali. This year, a nationalist uprising and ongoing battles made the Festival au Desert impossible. A new recording from the most recent event helps...
Yo La Tengo: Decades In And Far From Fading
The indie-rock favorite's new album, Fade, demonstrates that the group is all grown up but not at all stuffy. The album's music and words add up to pure affirmation of life and living.
Tunes To 'Work Hard, Play Hard, Pray Hard' To
Critic Milo Miles says that in this new collection of music from between the world wars, "the currents of long-ago lives come through: the drudgery of the work that demanded the release of the party, which then required the penance of prayer."
Samuel Yirga Ushers In A Golden Age Of Ethiopian Music
Yirga finds his way into Ethiopian standards, displays his flair for jazz over solo and ensemble pieces, and performs effortless homages to vintage soul. He holds everything together with voracious talent that helps him savor each musical flavor.
Analog Players Society: A Party Cooked Up In A Studio
The Analog Players Society provides some of the best evidence since the rise of Vampire Weekend that formerly exotic international music — particularly African rhythms and accents — has become an everyday part of modern popular tunes.
Boban i Marko Markovic: Irresistible Party Music
The various music styles of Eastern Europe's Roma people, formerly known as gypsies, have become favorites with audiences around the world. Milo Miles says no group does a better job of blending tradition with innovation than the ensemble led by Boban...
Paying Tribute To San Francisco DJ Cheb I Sabbah
For decades, San Francisco DJ Cheb i Sabbah has explored numerous fusions and reconfigurations of North African, Middle Eastern and Indian music styles. He's now in the midst of a health crisis, and many of his musician friends are lending support...
A Sure-Footed Collection Of 'African Blues'
A new anthology from the Putumayo label celebrates the variations in African blues. Critic Milo Miles says the collection is delicate, airy and strong all the way through.
From Dominican Roots, Bachata Is Here To Stay
During the last 20 years, bachata has risen from the back country of the Dominican Republic to take its place next to salsa in concert halls. Milo Miles considers bachata's humble beginnings and the continuing appeal of its simpler side.
Hugh Masekela: Wedding Songs That Don't Sound Blue
South African trumpeter and band leader Hugh Masekela has released more than 30 albums since his American debut in 1961. The concept behind his latest album, Jabulani, is deceptively simple. It's a collection of South African wedding songs which...
El Rego: A Singer From Benin With Soul And Funk
For many years, the search for unknown or forgotten soul singers has dug deeply into music archives. But surprises still turn up. Music critic Milo Miles says this year's best discovery is a West African singer and bandleader named El Rego.
Iron Butterfly Stretches Its Wings On 'Fillmore East'
The psychedelic band has a complex legacy that goes beyond its big hit, "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," critic Milo Miles says. A newly released concert recording from 1968 provides the best chance in decades for a fresh look at Iron Butterfly.
'Turkish Freakout': A Musical Turkish Delight
Milo Miles reviews a compilation of overseas grooves that carry on psychedelic styles long after they were dropped in the U.S.
Two Experimental Rock Bands Stay True To Their Roots
The New York trio Battles and the Chicago-based experimental rock band Cheer-Accident come from very different directions. But critic Milo Miles says that both groups have recently put out their most appealing records, without losing their cerebral...
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