Magdalen Jenne: This track starts out with some really good initial ideas and then fails to expand on them. It doesn’t really need to, though: the sludgy instrumental break dissolves the song’s structure—the riff, the faint whiffs of piano at its upper registers—and replaces it instead with a pointedly ugly crescendo hurtling towards the end of the track. The dynamic shift is there, and even if you spend the whole first listen waiting for a chorus, the frustration in the fact that it never comes is a satisfaction in its own right. [7/10]
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Ari Rosenschein: These NYC smartasses drop a badass slice of synthpop like it ain’t no thing. Terrestrial radio should wise up and realize “Crime Cutz” is the “Staying Alive” of our time. I am quantifiably cooler from my exposure to this funky, funky gem of a jam. [8/10]
Ari Rosenschein: Are you kidding? Renaissance man Karriem Riggins slays on the traps over a medley of J Dilla tracks. Check it out on the youtube, man! J. Rocc’s subtle turntablism is just a 360° degree shot away. Seriously, though, this improvised mind meld would be just as compelling without seeing behind the curtain. The best things in life are free. [7/10]
Eva Salina grew up immersed within the Balkan music community that highly revered the work of Serbian singer Šaban Bajramović, whose work in the 1960s and 1970s made him a star among Yugoslavians, the Romani and the diaspora of both groups. Salina studied Balkan singing from a young age and first traveled to the Balkans at the tender age of 12 to study the culture. Performing steadily around New York, Salina got the idea to record a tribute to the legendary Bajramović, but filtered through her own NYC jazz and worldbeat influences. Salina also secured the involvement of noted area bands such as Slavic Soul Party!, Kultur Shock, and the Klezmatics to help work on the tribute. “I Barval Pudela” is the first single from LEMA LEMA, which releases today. It’s a gorgeous tune that highlights the complex singing style employed in Balkan music and shows off Salina’s stunning voice.
Austin singer-songwriter duo Penny and Sparrow move from delicate folk to rough-edged Americana on their new album, Let a Lover Drown You. Vocalist Andy Baxter and composer Kyle Jahnke met while roommates at the University of Texas at Austin. The intensity that comes with living together contributes to the closeness and tightness of their harmonies, which have been compared on occasion to Simon and Garfunkel. “Makeshift” highlights these talents brilliantly and leans toward the folk end of Penny and Sparrow’s musical spectrum.