Little Joy is the Echo Park, L.A.-based trio of Binki Shapiro (vocals, guitar, glockenspiel, percussion), Brazil-born rocker Rodrigo Amarante (vocals, guitar, piano, bass, ukulele, organ, Mellotron, percussion), who is on loan from Los Hermanos, and Fabrizio Moretti of the Strokes (drums). Their sound is respectfully filled with old-school melodies and harmonies. Their 2008 freshman release Little Joy, produced with Noah Georgeson (Joanna Newsom, Devendra Banhart), has all sorts of little pleasures. The title "Play the Part" has a clear and simple beauty.
Artist: Little Joy
Song: Play the Part
Album: Little Joy
Alva Noto is Carsten Nicolai, a German musical-installation artist. Noto's sonics are emotionally ambient yet mathematically precise. His tools are predominantly computer-based, using technology as his voice/avatar. His collaborations include Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda, and Ryuichi Sakamoto. Noto's work with the brilliant Sakamoto on the composition "Siisx," from the 2005 Rev-EP, is eerie and exquisite.
Artist: Alva Noto
Flamenco singer Enrique Orozco was born in 1912 in Cadiz, Spain, and grew up in Seville. In 1934, during Spain's Civil War, his career started to take off. His collaborations include Manuel Vallejo, Jaén, Jose Cepero, and Jacinto Almadén. His accolades include the 1964 Award for Cartagena and the 1987 National Award for Masters. Orozco passed away in 2004 but his glorious music runs deep and wide. The title "No Tuviste Compasión," from the collection El Flamenco a Través de la Discografía, Vol. V, is a romantic and aching chronicle.
Artist: Enrique Orozco
Song: No Tuviste Compasión
Album: El Flamenco a Través de la Discografía, Vol. V
Chanteuse/guitarist/songwriter Rokia Traoré was born in Mali, West Africa, in 1974, daughter of a diplomat. Traoré is rooted artistically in local Bamana traditions, which include a belief in spiritual rebirth, and she benefited from many other musical cultures as a child traveling with her parents throughout the world. Grammy winner Ali Farka Touré took Traoré under his wing in 1997, and she cut her first album the next year. Her accolades include the 2001 Kora All Africa Music Award for Most Promising Female and a 2004 BBC Radio 3 World Music Award. The title "Sara," from her 2004 release Bowmboi, possesses a mystical force.
Artist: Rokia Traoré
Composer, guitarist, and vocalist Luiz Bonfá was born in 1922 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a child, Luiz taught himself guitar, and by the age of 12 he began classical studies with Isaias Savio. By the '40s he was performing on radio shows, and in the early '50s he was enjoying his first hits. Bonfá's songs have been covered by Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughan, George Benson, and Tony Bennett, to name a few. Collaborations include Marcel Camus, Ithamara Koorax, and Eumir Deodato. With dozens of albums to his credit, Bonfá's oeuvre is vast and worth knowing. Start with "Amor Sem Adeus" (Love Without Goodbye), from his lofty, starry-eyed collection Solo in Rio 1959.
Artist: Luiz Bonfá
Song: Amor Sem Adeus
Album: Solo in Rio 1959
Burlap to Cashmere
Brooklyn-based Burlap to Cashmere was formed by cousins John Philippidis (gifted and charismatic lead guitarist) and Steven Delopoulos (vocals, guitar) in 1995. Members have included Mike Ernest (guitar), Theodore Pagano (drums), Roby Guarnera (bass), Josh Zandman (keys), and Scott Barksdale (percussion). Flamenco, Greek folk, Afro-Cuban, and pop influences are on their high-voltage musical menu. Their accolades include 1998 and 1999 Dove Awards. The title "Divorce," from the band's 1998 release Anybody Out There?, is worth a listen.
Artist: Burlap to Cashmere
Album: Anybody Out There?