Oumou Sangaré

Seya [World Circuit/ Nonesuch] For her fifth album, Malian songstress Oumou Sangaré has concocted an intoxicating mixture of traditional and modern elements. For much of the album, bass takes a back seat to indigenous instruments such as balafon, the beautifully buzzy West African xylophone, but where bass does pop out, it makes the overall blend all the sweeter. Sekou Ba unleashes stellar Fela-like funk on album opener “Sounsoumba,” and Sekou Kante’s unyielding groove makes the momentum of “Wele Wele Wintou” utterly exhilarating. Elsewhere, Guy N’Sangue personifies good taste with staid, steady accompaniment.
Author:
Publish date:

Seya [World Circuit/ Nonesuch]

For her fifth album, Malian songstress Oumou Sangaré has concocted an intoxicating mixture of traditional and modern elements. For much of the album, bass takes a back seat to indigenous instruments such as balafon, the beautifully buzzy West African xylophone, but where bass does pop out, it makes the overall blend all the sweeter. Sekou Ba unleashes stellar Fela-like funk on album opener “Sounsoumba,” and Sekou Kante’s unyielding groove makes the momentum of “Wele Wele Wintou” utterly exhilarating. Elsewhere, Guy N’Sangue personifies good taste with staid, steady accompaniment.

Related

The Avett Brothers I And Love And You [American]

When producing this North Carolina folk-rock band’s latest, producer Rick Ruben was likely reminded of his work on the 1994 Tom Petty album Wildflowers. Like Petty on Wildflowers, the Brothers brilliantly blend rock intensity with folk jangle, making timeless tunes with memorable melodies. Bob Crawford brings up the bottom, moving serious air through his upright. His contributions are at times stark and spare, leaving sonic space for brothers Seth and Scott Avett to play off each other. The Avetts have a knack for lyrical elegance and harmonic style, and their band, rounded out by cellist Joe Kwon, seems to have mastered the art of framing the Brothers’ work.

Johnny Gimble, Celebrating With Friends [CMH]

Texas swing has never swung harder than it does on Celebrating With Friends, where celebrated fiddler Johnny Gimble pairs up with pals Vince Gill, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and others. Johnny’s band is seriously smokin’, fanned into a fury by Johnny’s son Dick Gimble on bass. Dick’s doghouse solo on “Sweet Georgia Brown” is sweet as a peach, Johnny’s fiddle and mandolin work is delish, and the album’s electric and steel guitar playing is stellar. The album’s deep swing just goes to show that headbanging isn’t just for the edgy set—crank up the Gimble and you’ll be wobbling your noggin like a dashboard bobblehead on a country road.

Vampire Weekend Contra [XL]

The idea of a bunch of upper-middle-class kids from New York City playing grooves rooted in African popular music styles like Congolese soukous and kwassa kwassa might sound anywhere from suspicious to abhorrent, but Vampire Weekend’s earnest indierock take on those genres absolutely works. Down low, Chris Baio plays it cool for much of the band’s sophomore record, but where he does eschew minimalism for chops—like on “Holiday,” a rollercoaster ride of a tune—it’s sublime. “Cousins” is another workout, with bewildering 16thnote flurries that will leave you wondering how the heck he does it. It’s definitely a disc worth checking out.

Mew: No More Stories Are Told Today The World Is Grey I’m Sorry I’m Tired They washed Away Let’s Wash Away [Columbia]

This morphean music might slow you down, but only a fool would sleep through Mew. The Danish rock band hit a bump when founding bassist Johan Wolhert bowed out in 2006, but it’s done well here to call up Damon Tutunjian and Bastian Juel for support. A luscious, lofty lullaby of dreamy ditties, this disc displays the best elements of good shoegaze: compelling songcraft and perfect pacing. Aside from the spastically funky “Introducing Palace Place,” there’s little in-your-face bass. It totally works. If you missed the band’s latest North America tour, take the time to bone up on this batch of well-made music. Next time, you’ll want to stay up and sing along.

Wilco

Wilco [Nonesuch] John Stirratt is one lucky dude. It’s not that he’s undeserving—on the contrary, Stirratt’s string of recordings with Wilco have threads of sheer brilliance, where the bassist’s tone, time, and taste tie the whole band together. I just have one gripe: as singer/songwriter Jeff Tweedy’s partner since the early days, he seems to have a deathgrip on one of the coolest gigs in rock, and it doesn’t seem fair to the rest of us. First, there are the songs: spacious soundscapes where Stirratt can step out and strut his stuff, or lay back and let his uber-talented bandmates take the lead. Then there’s the gear. Stirratt has scored some of the sweetest vintage rigs and basses around. The man has all this, and without the headaches of having a high profile like Sting or Paul McCartney.