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electronic MUSICIAN


March 16, 2012

Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars
Radio Salone

Radio Salone feels like everything good about radio (still a strong influence in African musical culture)…the excitement of being glued to the dial waiting for what they’re bringing next, with fresh-familiar references—reggae, tenory soukous guitar, West African majesty—and that thing that makes this everyone’s music. From the funky analog imprint of producer Victor Axelrod (Amy Winehouse, Sharon Jones) to the way hands hit drums on the “Goombay” interludes— when this band tells you to shake your booty, you do. These tracks don’t strive for perfection but achieve it anyway, in their honesty and ease.
Leah Jones

Nick Waterhouse
You Can’t Say That
Innovative Leisure

How can 25-year-old SF bandleader Nick Waterhouse be such an old “soul”? Following throwback powerhouses like the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, Nick’s debut is as Gold Star Recording retro R&B-styled as it gets without having a time machine in your studio. This approach really only works if it’s the band making the record, not vice versa; mission accomplished here. A great collection of stellar big-boogie talent sounds both silky and gritty.
Craig Dalton

Other People’s Problems
Fat Cat

Forgiving the monotonous spokenword vocals, Londonbased Breton’s old-school cut-up, stompfoot electronica is a revitalizing antidote in these days of Pro Tools conformity. Collaging samples ranging from queasy strings, harp, and seaside found sounds to overheard conversations and industrial noise, Other People’s Problems comes on like Coldcut by way of De La Soul.
Ken Micallef

The Carolina Chocolate Drops
Leaving Eden

The latest album from retro string/jug band the Carolina Chocolate Drops was produced by the Americana Association’s reigning Artist of the Year, Buddy Miller. Like Miller’s other productions (Robert Plant/Band of Joy, Solomon Burke, Patty Griffin), this music is warm, joyful and authentic without being a bit dusty. Of course, it helps that these three young musicians are brilliant players and powerful singers with a palpable connection to the history and beauty of this music.
Barbara Schultz

Steve Thomas
Audnoyz Project Volume 2

Somewhere between 2001: A Space Oddity, Kraftwerk, and Tangerine Dream lies recordingindustry expert Steve Thomas’ Audionoyze Project, a self-described “aural journey for the inner eye.” It’s a beautifully rhythmic journey of electronica surfing waves of ambient vocal and instrumental passages. Listening to this fresh approach to multicultural instrumental influences, you start feel like you are experiencing synasthesia, seeing the music. A natural work for filmmakers to explore, this genre-breaking collection pleases, startles, and stimulates the mind.
Craig Dalton


Fifteen-year-old Jasmine van den Bogaerde (aka Birdy) is a seriously old soul channeling haunted songs and angelic vocals in her slight teenage frame. Already a star in England for her rendition of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” Birdy covers songs by Fleet Foxes, The National, Phoenix, and James Taylor. She sings with the kind of passion and depth of soul that typically come from years of a life well lived. That a teenager pulls off this feat of time travel is nothing short of a revelation.
Ken Micallef

Todd Snider
Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables
Aimless Records

Todd Snider’s genius lies in his ability to see more than one layer of irony wherever he looks, to express this musically. His new album points a sharp stick at greed and selfishness, and other human failings, without ever losing a sense of humor. Made in his friend and frequent collaborator Eric McConnell’s Nashvillearea home studio, the arrangements are a bit more fragmented (bordering on psychedelic) than much of his studio work, but Snider is always worth listening to, word for word.
Barbara Schultz

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