Today we reviewed New York ensemble Red Baraat‘s new album Bhangra Pirates and said “Bhangra Pirates is the most successful attempt to package that energy yet for Red Baraat, ecstatic and frenzied, turning each individual listening at home into a full audience.” In our book, that makes the record a PopMatters Pick as Red Baraat has finally managed to capture their astounding energy and virtuosity as performance artists on record.
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Peter Mulvey is a true musical craftsman, developing and refining his approach through genre experimentation and 25 years of hard work writing and playing all over the world. Even after 17 albums, Mulvey’s creative juices continue to flow strong. Noted singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco who has produced Mulvey’s new album says, “Mulvey has been honing his craft for many a decade, and it shows. He can play some badass guitar, sing to touch your heart, and write a song that will knock you down, and by knock you down, I mean lift you up.”
Canada’s Del Bel are known for their downtempo pop-noir that owes more than a small debt to trip-hop. The group’s new album III will release April 7th via Missed Connection Records and Del Bel has a fresh new single in “Only Breathing” to whet your appetite for the full-length. This is subtle, layered, complex music that rewards multiple listens given that it’s nearly orchestral in its scope. Frontwoman Lisa Conway was combating some writer’s block in finishing up the record, and like many artists, she began to question herself and her work. That’s what “Only Breathing” is about, but you wouldn’t ever surmise from the music that Conway struggled with the song as it’s a moody and masterful display of her mesmerizing voice and all of the glorious musical parts that fill in the tune.
Chicago’s JC Brooks attracted major critical acclaim for his band’s soulful music following two superb releases on Bloodshot Records. Now, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are working under the title of their frontman and they’ve moved over to Rock Ridge Music for a new album, The Neon Jungle, that ratchets up the rock side of their sound. On “Drive”, we see JC Brooks blending soul and funk with post-punk and rock. It’s a broad sound freely drawing from multiple genres in popular music, you know, kinda like Prince. Heading for Prince territory offers the band a rich terrain to experiment and further develop their unique sound. JC Brooks says, “I feel like we carry that ethos with the genre-mixing blend of soul music we write, and the punk aspect is more about our DIY determination to get out there onstage and engage with our live crowds on a visceral level.”
“Our motivation is to be different than [what] we were,” notes Nuno Gonçalves, and boy he isn’t kidding.
Answering a question asked back in 2011 when PopMatters visited the Gift in Spain, the keyboardist and lead songwriter of Portugal’s the Gift has made it clear that no two albums will sound the same. Amazingly, over the course of two decades, the band has kept this promise.