March 7 2011
Mariza "Dona Rosa" Fado Tradicional
Fadista, Mariza has gone back to her roots with an album that is both bravely sparse and, at just 35 minutes long, mysteriously brief. Over the last 10 years she has transformed the fado scene, bringing the traditional "Portuguese blues" to an international audience, and in the process has extended her musical range. With only an acoustic guitar trio to back her powerful and passionate singing, this album is one for fado lovers.
Etran Finatawa "Aitimani" Tarkat Taaje / Let's Go!
Etran Finatawa was formed as a band at the time of the 2004 Festival in the Desert near Timbuktu. The literal meaning of their name is ‘the stars of tradition’. They are the first group to use the songs and music of the Wodaabe tribe in a modern context; which is to say they highlight call-and-response vocals with an overall Desert Blues vibe that other Malian bands such as Tinariwen are acknowledged masters. Moreover, The traditional Wodaabe chants are a remarkable blend of choral polyphony and high tenor solos. They wear their traditional long embroidered tunics, leather hose and turbans with ostrich feathers as they would at their annual desert festivals. They adorn their faces with yellow spots and stripes to enhance their looks, and accompany their vocal music with the traditional calabasse (gourd) drums and a slow motion type of movement verging on dance and hand-clapping. While you'll have to use your imagination for their appearance, you can catch a vibe on this particular track...
La Femme "Sur La Planche" La Femme EP
This band almost begs the question: who ISN'T listening to lo-fi French surf rock these days? They sound so cool you might wanna pretend to be that hipster, but one listen will make you wonder why you haven't heard more like this. La Femme, are far from the beach in the Biarritz section of Paris where they work on a sound that can be many things; from dark and aggressive to buzzingly happy. Their name must come from the fact that the frontwoman is the only lady of the lot though this five-piece is not what I'd call dainty.
La Cumbia Chicharra "Mala Maria" Radio Grenouille vol. 1
This last band is the one I know the least about, though I do know their latest appears on a nice little comp out of Marseilles called Radio Grenouille vol. 1. If we can have micro-scenes in the US that play everything from African garage rock to Peruvian Chicha, why shouldn't France have French bands that bounce cumbia for their daily bread? I thought this cut extremely catchy and exuberant, nice energy to end the set...