August 30, 2006 Vaughan was, arguably, the foremost interpreter of Brazilian music in jazz history. Recorded three years before she died, Brazilian Romance is her equivalent of Johnny Cash's American Recordings — full of contemporary spirit, propelled by a timeless voice.
August 28, 2006 Bob Dylan is 65, an age at which many people expect to slow down. The revered songwriter is doing the opposite. In the last two years, he's launched his own weekly satellite radio program, the Theme Time Radio Hour. This week brings a CD called Modern Times, the first new songs Dylan has released in five years.
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August 25, 2006 The backbeat of Gov't Mule's "Mr. High and Mighty" is a heavy-lidded blast of '70s stomp-rock — Foghat's "Slow Ride" functions as a not-so-distant cousin. But rather than extol stoner virtues, the song expresses indignation over the doings of the craven and powerful.
August 23, 2006 It's stupefying that Karen Dalton remains, even in this crate-digging age, largely unknown: She was a singer of transfixing nuance and uncommon emotional control. If her debut album appeared new today, Dalton could have easily become a phenomenon of at least Madeline Peyroux proportions.
August 16, 2006 Many contemporary listeners know Ry Cooder as the producer and guitarist behind Buena Vista Social Club, the 1997 project that revived the careers of long-forgotten Cuban ballad singers. Lost among his early works is an eclectic little under-loved gem: Boomer's Story.
August 16, 2006 In the crowded field of indie rock, a band's first few albums are crucial. They establish the band's sound and expand its fanbase. But Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards breaks those rules with its second CD, All This Time. Instead of sticking to its workmanlike gritty blues rock, the band has developed a more open, expansive and personal sound.
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August 15, 2006 As with many of the pianist and chamber-pop composer's songs, "I Don't Feel So Well" only becomes compelling as it goes along. Step by careful step, Vienna Teng builds the song outward, until what began in an 18th-century manor in old Europe becomes a gaudy bit of dance entertainment in a boisterous Buenos Aires bar.
August 9, 2006 Even if you've never sought out the music of Donny Hathaway, you've probably felt his presence: His low-key, insistent way of interpreting a song has been emulated by virtually every contemporary soul and R&B singer. But still his records remain under-appreciated.
July 26, 2006 Lenine immortalizes a local legend in a song that deftly connects bits of old and new Brazil. The beat has funk in it, but also elements of maracatu, the northeastern Brazilian rhythm Lenine has helped to modernize with percussion loops.
July 21, 2006 This week, the pioneering Brazilian band Os Mutantes will perform in this country for the first time. The group came to prominence in 1968, as part of the Tropicalia movement that polarized Brazil. The band got back together earlier this year, performing for the first time since 1978. Critic Tom Moon is among the faithful who's been waiting for this reunion.
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July 18, 2006 Record producer Gregory Page was sitting in the back office of an Ocean Beach coffee shop called Java Joe's on an open-mic night when he heard what he thought was a female singer with a beautiful voice. He went into the shop and discovered that the voice belonged to a man: a folk singer and songwriter named Tom Brosseau.
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July 14, 2006 In 1998, Argentine singer and songwriter Juana Molina walked away from a TV-acting career to explore music. She's toured constantly, opening for David Byrne and others. Her new, eerily beautiful CD is titled Son.
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July 11, 2006 Those familiar with Radiohead's Thom Yorke — the great rock poet of anxious despair, whose internal dialogue revs like a thousand engines stuck in neutral — might be skeptical of any attempt to give his inner doomsayer the day off. But he's determined to try.
June 21, 2006 Keane's new Under the Iron Sea opens with a song called "Atlantic," a promising burst that all but announces, "We are now wriggling out of the imposing shadow of Coldplay."
June 6, 2006 The deluge of songs immortalizing the wrath of Hurricane Katrina continues with the release of a collaboration between Elvis Costello and legendary New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint. The delivery is mostly coy and cool, the groove a classic example of Toussaint understatement.
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