Anna Domino’s Mysteries of America (1990) went largely unnoticed by the general public (like much of her other work). It was a shame, since the album contained some of the most beautiful compositions put together by a recording artist at that time. Today the album still stands the test of time, its ethereal, autumnal warmth radiating the kind of gentle sensuality reserved for Eric Rohmer films. Americas’ most gorgeous number was “Paris”, a lovely paean to the city of lights that featured the most popular elements of chanson (chiming guitars, accordion) and was built upon a circular, hypnotic rhythm of Latin percussion.
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I had the pleasure of listening to “Top Notch”—the new digital single from Manchester Orchestra, out earlier this month—way back in April of 2013. The band previewed a few tracks from the then-untitled album COPE at a concert sponsored by HTC in Los Angeles. COPE is finally due out April 1, 2014, a full year later. That show was an absolute treat, and remains the best argument I can think of for buying an HTC device, but I ramble.
As we were jostled around by the folks dancing up front, I turned to my wife and said, “This album is going to be heavy.” “Top Notch” seems to confirm that hypothesis.
Ruby’s erotically-charged shuffle of downtempo grooves, distorted guitar breaks and menacing sways of dark, curdled jazz opened up a new vein of post-feminist angst on their debut album, Salt Peter (1995). Scottish singer and songwriter Lesley Rankine, who had just signed off on her duties as vocalist for the bluesy thrash punk outfit Silverfish, traded in the shrieks and screams for a voluptuous timbre of deep, sensual warmth that still belied the bitterness of her past musical incarnation.
An all-star line up of Turkish rappers delivers an old-school hip-hop throwback with “88 Bars”, a mid-tempo shuffle that features the talents of Rahdan, Ados, Adil and others. Recalling the days when ghettoblasters ruled and the iPOD could only have been the designs of science-fiction, “88 Bars” gives us a generous sampling of Turkey’s top MCs and features some nifty DJ cuts courtesy of Güney Uğurlu. Rahdan Vandal, whose normally meditative approach to rapping has produced some of the most haunted hip-hop to come out of Turkey, toughens up on his cameo for some terse verbal exchanges. The lone female in the bunch, Derya, is a particular standout; her cool-to-the-touch delivery brings to mind the streetwise sass of Neneh Cherry.
Iconic French actress Isabelle Adjani made a name for herself early on in her life, taking the lead in François Truffaut’s The Story of Adele H, a role that would earn the actress her first Academy award nomination in 1976 and bring her to the attention of cinema-goers worldwide. Adjani continued her streak in highly successful films and gained notoriety as one of the world’s most skilled actresses whose deeply nuanced and textured performances belied the impossible beauty of her icy, cool and mysterious exterior.