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Best of Patron Requests: Music (February 2012 Edition)


This list is a monthly compilation of my own personal favorite patron requests for music. I hope you will check out some of the great music that Library users have suggested we acquire!

Provided are some great preview tracks for each. Just click on the titles to be taken to the catalog. 

Green Rocky Road by Karen Dalton


Karen Dalton's early recordings are a time machine. Though these recording are from the early 60s, the spirit conveyed is much older. Dalton really did live in a shack; she really didn't have electricity or running water; she really did ride horses and play her long neck banjo on the back porch just to pass the time. Since the 60s folk revival was in full swing, she soon moved out of the shack and into New York City. Dylan declared her his favorite singer; critics observed she was a “pagan mother goddess rooted in this planet.” But from there, the scene was not at all kind to her, perhaps in part because she never seemed to care much for commercial success.

Dalton never liked recording studios. I can imagine she felt that recording technology had changed music, even corrupted it. It changed how people related to music, why people made it,  and for whom. For some, it became a vehicle to fame and fortune; for others, the recording studio became a magician's box of tricks. But before all that, music used to sound like this. Dalton's wholly natural delivery speaks of someone making music for one reason and one reason only: to translate their humanity into sound waves so it can float through the air and into the ears of anyone sitting on the back porch with her. It is a sharing, a communication of emotion... her simply saying, "this is how I feel right now." And the playing of music, these days, is rarely conveyed so completely unadulterated as these recordings. It's a beautiful, rootsy album not to be missed. (PREVIEW >>)

Smoke Ring for my Halo (Deluxe Edition) by Kurt Vile

There are too many critics that have already sung the praises of Kurt Vile. What more could I possibly add? It is my honest opinion that decades from now, Vile's music will still be widely respected. He will be known as the poet of his generation, and the one who gave a voice to the feelings of his time. His music is that good. The truth is, the Library already bought this record; however Matador re-released it with an EP only available on vinyl until now. If stoner-folk music sounds good to you, then check out the preview on this one from the EP. It makes me beautifully sad! (PREVIEW >>)

Nigeria Special: Modern Highlife, Afro-sounds & Nigerian Blues 1970-6 by various

There are a slew of these retro African pop compilations coming out these days, but I'm here to tell you this is the one! Assembled as if to show the vast array of styles that emerged from Nigeria in the 70s, as well as the decades before and after. It's all here, and every last track has a completely different personality, all as entertaining as a jug of palm wine. (PREVIEW >>)

Mondo Beyondo by Ursula 1000

This electronic dance music of the rather fat-bassed and highly-sampled variety presents tracks that are often hectic and evocative of some carnival scene out of a campy B-Movie. It's audible cotton candy made out glow sticks, translated into a series of ones and zeros, and then reconstituted through the speakers on the listener's end. Yes, I admit it, technology and music sometimes do work wonderfully together! (PREVIEW >>)

Alight of Night by Crystal Stilts

I can see through the smoke that hangs in the room... yes, it is the Crystal Stilts! Are they on a stage or in my dream? Or maybe, on a stage in my dream? Am I in college? Don't I have an exam tomorrow? Why am I wearing skinny jeans? There are cigarette butts all over the floor and the sound guy is nodding off and everybody's just standing still because that's what people do at concerts these days, but it's OK, it's just weird is all. It still sounds pretty great. They came here to put me in a mood and they did it! And that is a freaking art success story. (PREVIEW >>)

Weather by Me'Shell NdegéOcello

Me'Shell NdegéOcello has used her talents to support a plethora of causes, from AIDS charities to raising Hope for Congo's women and girls as they face conditions of extreme violence. She even contributed an essay to the recently celebrated It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living, a collection of essays edited by Dan Savage in response to recent suicides of bullied teens from the LGBT community. All of this and more reveals someone who remains an optimistic and active member of the human race. Her personal integrity and desire to give something meaningful back to the world carries over into her music. Take my word for it. (PREVIEW >>)

1969 by Pink Martini & Saori Yuki

Pink Martini is a miniature orchestra made up of musicians that are so good they can basically do whatever they want. Add to this a love for the diversity of music traditions from around the world and the ability to bring this music to life as it is, as it was meant to be. Pink Martini first came to my attention when I was searching for a perfectly lovely, yet rather obscure song from an Italian movie from the 50s called Anna. The song was "El Negro Zumbon" (aka the theme from Anna). Here is the song from the movie. Now, here is Pink Martini's version. I KNOW, right?! It sounds like the same version, but with better recording quality and very subtle additions, like that beautiful vocal harmony part that sneaks in once in a while. And who would know this song besides a few early Italian cinema buffs if it weren't for Pink Martini rescuing it from the jaws of obscurity and giving it new life? In1969, they teamed up with Saori Yuki, who has a long established career in Japan that goes way back to, you guessed it, 1969. So I suppose Pink Martini came across her music and wanted to once again revive the sound and broaden the limits of its local appeal. It's strangely satisfying. (PREVIEW >>)

El Rego et ses Commandos by El Rego

Anyone know how to say "Hit it and quit it" in Yoruba? And don't tell me to try Google Translate because I already tried that. This i yet another sampling of 70s West African music, this time from a single group headed by Benin's funk master, El Rego. This guy is practically a national hero and had an impact and output that rivaled that of Nigeria's better-known hero, Fela Kuti. It's very close to an African version of James Brown, but somehow cooler and fresher as he flows through French, Yoruba, and English lyrics as effortlessly as 'Ses Comandos' flow through musical influences. They got somethin,' makes me wanna shout! It's Super Bad! (PREVIEW >>)

Mind Bokeh by Bibio

The album has all the trappings of some nerdy music equipmentphile pulling various elements together, throwing them together with a vague pop sensibility, running it all through a bunch of samplers and digital doodads, and seeing what comes out. The result is equal parts fantastic and varied. It's a digital circus! It's funny to try and share just one representative tune as a preview, so different is the first track from the second, etc. Keep tinkering, Bibio! It sounds great! (PREVIEW >>)


American Common - Barn Dance - Horse costume and band, Digital ID 1652413, New York Public Library


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