Archives for August 2015

3 albums from around the world.



Ibeyi is the debut album from the French Cuban twin sis­ters of the same name. Their father was the Cuban drum­mer Anga Diaz, who played with Irakere and then the Bue­na Vista Social Club, while their moth­er is the French Venezue­lan singer Maya Dagnino.

Hav­ing spent their lives shut­tling between their home in Paris and Cuba the music they pro­duce is a heady mix of vin­tage Cuban influ­ences and a con­tem­po­rary north Euro­pean indie vibe. And is dom­i­nat­ed by an Afro-Cuban beat that man­ages to be at once extra­or­di­nar­i­ly com­plex and tech­ni­cal and yet irre­sistibly alluring.

Yet there’s a sub­dued feel to the album, born of the fact that a num­ber of the songs address their father, who died when the pair were 13 – they are in their very ear­ly 20s now – and their old­er sis­ter who died soon after.

The Buena Vista Social Club.

The Bue­na Vista Social Club.

Not that it is in any way a depress­ing album, mere­ly some­what under­stat­ed. There’s a spir­i­tu­al force behind the songs, albeit a sub­tle one, and one that’s both pre-mod­ern and non Euro­pean – I’m striv­ing valiant­ly here to avoid the word “prim­i­tive”.

The result is indi­etron­i­ca fused with hiphop of the RnB vari­ety, under­scored by African rhythms and Cuban swing. You can see the video for the sin­gle Riv­er here.

Rhi­an­non Gid­dens won a Gram­my as part of the roots Amer­i­cana group Car­oli­na Choco­late Drops, but she only real­ly came to promi­nence after her show steel­ing per­for­mance in the film Anoth­er Day Anoth­er Time.

The Coen broth­ers had hoped to repeat the suc­cess of O Broth­er Where Art Thou with this filmed con­cert of the OST album from Inside Llewyn Davis. The for­get-the-film-enjoy-the-sound­track ploy failed to catch fire this time around, and the result­ing fol­low up film was large­ly ignored. Which was a shame, as Anoth­er Day Anoth­er Time was a lot bet­ter than it might have been giv­en the input of the one of the Mum­fords. What it did do was to intro­duce the world to Rhi­an­non Gid­dens, whose per­for­mance of a Scot’s Gael­ic reel is jaw-drop­ping – you can see her per­form it in Glas­gow here.

Rhiannon Giddens Tomorrow Is

Rhi­an­non Gid­dens Tomor­row Is My Turn.

Tomor­row Is My Turn is her debut album out on None­such and is pro­duced inevitably by T‑Bone Bur­nett. It moves effort­less­ly from cov­ers of The Dublin­ers, Pat­sy Cline and Dol­ly Par­ton to Odet­ta and Nina Simone, going from protest, jazz and gospel to coun­try and pop. The result is a time­less, mod­ern Amer­i­can songbook.

Once in a blue moon, the plan­ets align and the uni­verse con­spires to pro­duce an album that has clear­ly been record­ed just for you. I came across Imam Bail­di, named after the stuffed aubergine dish from the east­ern Mediter­ranean, thanks as ever to the uber reli­able All Songs Con­sid­ered pod­cast from NPR (reviewed ear­li­er here).

The Imam Baildi Cookbook.

The Imam Bail­di Cook­book.

The Falireas broth­ers grew up in Greece lis­ten­ing to the Rebetiko 78s that their father sold in his record shop. Rebetiko is a mix­ture of late 19th cen­tu­ry Ottoman Greek, Turk­ish and Balkan influ­ences that mar­ries the sweep­ing, plan­gent melodies of the coun­try with the urban con­cerns of the ports and cities, invari­ably cen­tred around the sounds of the bouzou­ki. It re-sur­faced in the café music of Greece and Turkey in the 40s 50s and 60s.

All of which the band fuse with thump­ing 21st cen­tu­ry RnB, funk, and hiphop. Intox­i­cat­ing. I’ve start­ed off with the sec­ond of their three albums, the Imam Bail­di Cook­book, and am doing my very best to lim­it myself to but two or three plays a day. Some hope. You can hear Bus­ca Rit­mo from the Cook­book here. And a track from the 2014 album Imam Bail­di III here.

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