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Best of New Music (May 2014 Edition)

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A periodic list of some of the most exciting, newly purchased CDs for our circulating collections.

The Mysteries by John Zorn (2013)

OK, could you just stop what you're doing and listen to me for a sec'? Great. Thanks. I'd like to tell you about a genuine work of art, one that will brighten your very soul with music, with delightful harmonic and timbral interplay; one that will make you swear that God invented air just so music could move around in it. The instrumentation here is a trio: harp, guitar, and vibraphone. All compositions are written by John Zorn, whose musical thinking is so far above anything you could categorize it boggles the mind. But this isn't about breaking the mold just to demonstrate you can. No! It is about orchestrating the most wonderful pieces of music one can conjure, plain and simple. The result is amazing. I've always heard classical music is good to play for babies, for developing minds. This recording makes me understand why. Do yourself a favor, if you love music, and check this out! (PREVIEW)

Living Room Sessions, Part 1 and Part 2 by Ravi Shankar (2011)

I'll assume most of us know a little something about Ravi Shankar, and the rich, musical tradition he has come to represent. These albums are, to date, the most organic and natural recordings ever made by Shankar. Yea, I said it...certainly the most intimate. Gone are the cheering crowds of his live concert albums. At 91 years old, Shankar invited his friend and favorite tabla player, Tanmoy Bosse, over to his house to record. The resulting sets of ragas are just sitar, tabla, and the purity of two old friends jamming in their living room. At the time of the recording, Shankar had been seriously studying and playing the sitar for over 70 years. That alone makes these sessions worth checking out, and it comes through amazingly.  (PREVIEW)

Saudade by Thievery Corporation (2013)

To start with the title, "saudade" is a Portugese word that is difficult to translate into English. It is a beautiful word, that refers to a sweet yet sorrowful sense of longing for people or places one once felt at home with; a distance we've all felt, sometimes not of anything specific, from the pleasures and contentment of yesterdays past; a place in time to which we long to return. Yes, perhaps "longing" comes close.  So poetic, and a perfect word to sum up this wonderfully lush, bossa-nova-filled, infinitely mellow treasure of songs: it's like touring the Amazon jungle in an ox-cart filled with pillows; or like the statue of Christ the Redeemer, high above Rio, slowly emerging from a bank of clouds. (PREVIEW)

Prayers on Fire by The Birthday Party (1981)

Punk rock was supposed to tear the system down. The music was a weapon for dismantling, questioning, at the very least mocking, the vapid, consumerist, conformist, capitalist, culture that destroys creativity and stifles the human spirit in the interest of corporate greed. But  if punk is supposed to tear it all down, surely it was inevitable it would eventually turn on itself too, on the musicians themselves, on the fans. Here, the power is unleashed to an extent that obliterates everything, everything. After this, there can only be rebuilding; there is nothing left to tear down. Now THAT, is punk rock! (PREVIEW)

Held In Splendor by Quilt (2014)

Well-crafted, psychedelic, jangly pop songs. Something to listen to while your mind floats downstream, enraptured in the colours of a dream. If that description is indicative of the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows", well, yea, exactly.  (PREVIEW)

 

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