Musically, man should not live by mainstream bread alone. A well-rounded, nourishing diet ought to include regular servings of artists who don’t make the cover of Rolling Stone and albums that don’t dominate the pop and hip-hop charts.
With this in mind, here’s a sampling of the recordings I’ve been sandwiching between the latest releases from Gaga, Sade and the cast of “Glee.”
“Paint Your Face” — Sliimy. This 21-year-old Frenchman with the crazy nickname is the gay male answer to Gaga, Katy and Britney — and there’s a delicious cover of the latter’s “Womanizer” on his quirky electro-pop debut to prove it. Sliimy is signed to Perez Hilton’s new music label (but we won’t hold that against him) and the buzz is growing exponentially. By this time next year it’s entirely possible he’ll be the new Kesha (but we won’t hold that against him either).
“All In One” — Bebel Gilberto. The new album from the New York-born Brazilian vocalist is a warm and seductive collection that takes its upbeat cues from the singer’s own life. She’s engaged to the album’s engineer and executive producer and her joy can be heard everywhere on this Verve debut. Gilberto, who is the daughter of bossa nova legend João Gilberto, alternates between English and Portuguese on this set but her voice remains a loving caress in any language.
“Lungs” — Florence + The Machine. This stunning debut is proof that Florence Welch, an art-school dropout from South London, has the goods. Her evocative songwriting and soaring vocals thrill on this exuberant goth-pop winner. The album sounds dense and deeply layered, but Welch says the material is, at its core, quite simple. “Everything is about boys! The whole album is about love — and pain. People see my lyrics as crazy, but to me it’s an honest, heartfelt album.” Highly recommended!
“Lost In The 80s” — The Lost Fingers. This Canadian trio reinvents the hits of the Me Decade in the style of a hot jazz band of the ‘30s. The album contains raucous, inspired takes on hits by Michael Jackson, George Michael, AC/DC, Technotronic, Bon Jovi, Samantha Fox and more. The set is a sure-fire party pleaser so definitely put it on when it’s time to liven things up a bit.
“Yesterday You Said Tomorrow” — Christian Scott. Before the ripe old age of 30, trumpeter Christian Scott has created the best instrumental jazz album I’ve heard in quite some time. The disc opens with “K.K.P.D.,” a blast of dark harmonies and taut rhythms, before completely switching gears with the melodic “The Eraser,” a reworking of the title track from Thom Yorke’s (Radiohead) 2006 solo album. From there, Scott moves from strength to strength, referencing Miles Davis’s second quintet, Coltrane’s quartet and Mingus’s band — all from the ‘60s.
“Normal As Blueberry Pie: A Tribute To Doris Day” — Nellie McKay. As a vocalist, Doris Day possessed a depth and interpretive skill that has largely been forgotten due to her super sunny personality and the aura of unflappable optimism that surrounded her. Like every great tribute album, this love note from Nellie McKay invites new consideration for its inspiration. While that alone makes “Normal” worthwhile, the fact that it’s a beautifully realized set of standards makes the album a grand slam home run. : :
This article was published in the March 6—March 19 print edition.