There’s something about this time of year. And, no, I’m not going to mention the weather, the holiday razzle-dazzle or the childhood memories of televised holiday specials. It’s now the seasons of lists. That’s right, it’s time for the “Best of” lists to begin! So, on this week’s World Music Show (12/2), we’ll be staring the season off right on cue.
And what a year it’s been, in terms of World Music at least. Over this past year, I’ve gotten ahold of so much great music that annual “Best of” show will stretch out through the entire month! However, with each show, there’ll still be other great music from past years mixed in.
So, load up the sleigh, grab some cocoa or light the fire because it’s time to begin our shoveling out the pile of great World Music (and this selections will be in no particular order).
In this past year, we saw the releases from at least two bands who had a pretty lengthy, shall we say, resting period between CDs. I’m talking about Forro in the Dark and Mosquitos. Both these bands, both trios in fact and both rooted in Brazilian music, took some time in releasing new music.
For fans of Forro in the Dark, the wait for new music (they did release a covers CD in 2015) was an epic eight-year wait! But the wait was worth it. Their newest CD, called Sandcastle is filled with catchy and experimental beats this band of Ex-Pats is known for. There’s some funk, some soul and even some Ska beats mixed into their latest.
Not to be outdone in the waiting category, the trio Mosquitos waited 10-years before releases their latest CD called Mexican Dust. On this outing, their signature Bossa Nova/Indie Pop sounds are still present—and still sound fresh. The band took the hiatus in order for two of the members, husband Chris Root and wife Juju Stulbach, to try and find a permanent place to call home to set some roots down. They’d been living in both New York, parts of Brazil and even in Mexico. But it’s in these travels that they were able to create their latest album.
The Ladama Project is lining up to be in my top five releases of the past year. This foursome of fierce females hail from all over South America, which is only part of their story. They’re dedicated to empowering women to excel in not only music, but in arts, business and education. While out on tour, they hold seminars and discussions on how to achieve successes on these realms, while at the same having a great concert. Their music is uplifting and full of styles and attitudes that showcase their immense talent.
Piers Faccini is another artist who’ll be making the top cut in my list. His music is soulful while at the same time enlightening. His recent I Dreamed an Island release was written in real-time, which was a way of harnessing the energy of what was going in the world at large at the time—from the touts of the U.S. Presidential nominee’s wish to “Build a Wall,” to Drone strikes, Faccini’s music hit the right note. Plus, he comes from an artist background, which lead to him producing some great videos.
Along the same vein is the artist Alex Cuba. Like Faccini, is style is poetic. His strengths lay in his soulful guitar playing, lyrics and voice. Each time I hear a track off his multiple-Grammy-nominated CD Lo Unico Constante, I keep finding new twists and turns to love. And also like Faccini, I got to interview him for the show—and he, along with Faccini are just great people to talk with.
La Misa Negra is a band to keep your eyes and ears open for. Their self-titled release is a powerful collection of Cumbia beats. This could be thanks in part to leader Marco Pollo Santiago’s love of Heavy Metal/Punk and Thrash music. However, with that background, don’t think this Oakland, Ca based band’s sound is harsh and full of screaming. On the contrary, it’s full of big sounding horns, big drums and upbeat danceable tracks.
When I first started listening to Nina Miranda’s newest CD, Freedom of Movement, I was blown away by the diversity of styles. This English/Brazilian musician goes all over the map in terms of sounds—but it’s not a cacophony of disaster. Miranda pulls it together into a seamless wonderland of sound, with tracks about Surfers and being Lost in Manchester. And like Faccini, she’s also got an artistic background.
Now, there’s just a sampling of what you’ll hear on the first of the “Best of' shows. Also featured on this week’s show are some of my other favorite new releases, including these from: Imelda May, Lila Downs, Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas, La Vida Boheme and the incredible big Ska sound from Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, who have found a way to mix in Latin beats into Ska.
Find out who else I’ll be featuring by tuning into the World Music Show Saturday at 8:00 p.m. on 88.9 WCVE Richmond Public Radio. Stream the show via this website and see live, streaming track listings too. Follow the show on Twitter @wcveworldmusic and on Facebook at The World Music Show on WCVE.