Around the world in three minutes
Cristal (Tinha Algum Vinho Ainda) - Cristina Branco
I expected something different from Portuguese fado singer Cristina Branco when I saw her last Saturday at The Old Town School of Folk Music, something more authentic. That was my mistake, of course--an American unreasonableness that demands quaint adherence to tradition from the cultural ambassadors of those smaller European countries. What Branco does is put a contemporary spin on traditional folk music. And if when accompanied only by piano, Branco occasionally veers into Norah Jones territory, she also sings with a sly confidence that reels you in and insists you rest awhile. Branco's even better when the tasteful Portuguese guitar's got her back. From Ulisses.
Dread Effigy - Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice
Wooden Wand & The Vanishing Voice are in love with the sound of sound. And by that I mean, noise. And they're willing to plumb any depth to find said noises--the bottom of Appalachian ditches, the backs of Mississippi Delta blues clubs, the endpapers of ancient hymnals. "Dread Effigy," from the group's latest LP, is a little more coherent than some of their products, seeing as it offers actual, uh, structure. I mean, for all those low groans buried in the mix (sounding like, what, mating whales?), this is a pastoral folk song. And, dare I say it, a pretty one. From Gipsy Freedom.
The Golden Boy - Shelby
Laugh, giggle, titter all you want at neo-new wave. The joke's on you. Deep hooks, driving guitars, shimmery synths, heavy high hat action and a yearning white boy croon, this is the song you'll download and remember. From The Luxury of Time.
Music Television - Tom Vek
Here's where Tom Vek eliminates the middleman, releasing a chunky remix without troubling himself to record the original. This plays to his strengths, actually, which never have been lyrics, but arguably (I'd argue, anyway) are beats. Ready-to-wear, out-of-the-box, dance friendly, kind of retro--if it's not too soon to freeze-dry and frame the early 90s. From Nothing But Green Lights EP, iTunes.
And speaking of music television... Sydney techno-pop duo The Presets get your ass in gear good and proper. Like an artifact from the mid-80s, this extremely self-referential video has first generation video games, fatuous dance moves and a singing fetus in utero. Yes, a singing fetus:
Are You the One, The Presets
Real Windows Quicktime
The Presets are currently touring North America, including a bunch of shows supporting Ladytron.
Finally, while I'm not normally one for dreamy soundscapes, the former film geek in me loves a single-cut clip with an elegant tracking shot that eerily captures the silent spaces of a hectic sushi restaurant. During the course of Shrift's first album Lost In a Moment, British vocalist Nina Miranda sings in English, French--and to bring things full circle--Portuguese:
Lost In a Moment, Shrift
Go to Shrift's artist page, see left sidebar.