LGBT Pride Month Playlist

June 25, 2012

A recent article in Billboard magazine entitled “Gay & R: Marketing, music and the LGBT community’s mainstream clout,” by Andrew Hampp talks about the buzz being created by bands and artists who play gigs at gay clubs and have impacted the culture. Here is a playlist of songs and artists to celebrate Pride month.

True Colors/ Cyndi Lauper

here were a few years in the mid-’80s when one couldn’t go out for a cup of coffee without encountering Cyndi Lauper in one form or another. Her videos were playing constantly on MTV, her music was everywhere on the radio, and, best of all, children were even dressing up as Cyndi for Halloween. In retrospect, it was a Lauper-ish time but it was all over quite quickly; in fact, the period in the ultra-limelight didn’t even span the period covered by two album releases, which means that this follow-up to her smash debut album was relegated to the also-ran pile, with sad results such as only one sort-of hit single (the title track) and nobody apparently interested in imitating the skirt she wore on the back cover photo, which seems like it is made of slashed-up concert posters. Kind of a shame since so much love and attention went into this album. -All Music Guide

We R Who We R/ Ke$ha

Ke$ha says she was inspired to write “We R Who We R” by news stories of a rash of suicides among gay youth. She told Rolling Stone, “I was really affected by the suicides that have been happening, having been subject to very public hatred [myself]. I have absolutely no idea how these kids felt. What I’m going through is nothing compared to what they had to go through. Just know things do get better and you need to celebrate who you are. Every weird thing about you is beautiful and makes life interesting. Hopefully the song really captures that emotion of celebrating who you are.” The song includes the lines “You know we’re superstars, we are who we are.”

All Time Low/ The Wanted

e first boy band to score a number one without the aid of reality TV since Blue in 2001, five-piece the Wanted have played a big part in resurrecting the previously dying genre. The fact that first single “All Time Low” didn’t receive huge X-Factor-style publicity, and was even snubbed by Radio 1, makes their success even more impressive. Their self-titled first album suggests that chart domination isn’t unlikely to end soon. With an eclectic sound taking in indie, rock, dance, and pop, the Wanted are truly a modern boy band. – All Music Guide

Born this way/ Lady Gaga

It was inevitable that Born This Way would be an escalation of The Fame,it was inevitable that Gaga would go where others feared to tread, it was inevitable that it would be bigger than any other record thrown down in 2011, both in its scale and success. This drumbeat, pulsating as insistently as Eurodisco, is so persistent that there is an inevitable feeling of anticlimax upon hearing Born This Wayfor the first time and realizing that Lady Gaga has channeled her grand ambitions into her message, and not her music. Gaga has taken it upon herself to filter out whatever personal details remain in her songs so she can write anthems for her Little Monsters, that ragtag group of queers, misfits, outcasts, and rough kids who she calls her own. – All Music Guide

Raise Your Glass/ P!nk

Released in 2010, Greatest Hits…So Far!!!rounds up the great majority of these hits, bypassing some singles — her debut “Most Girls” and “You Make Me Sick,” “God Is a DJ,” “Funhouse” and, most regrettably, “Feel Good Time,” her Beck/William Orbit-written entry for the Charlie’s Angels II: Full Throttle soundtrack — but hitting all the blockbusters (“There You Go,” “Just Like a Pill,” “Trouble,” “Stupid Girls,” “U + Ur Hand,” “So What,” “Please Don’t Leave Me”) while adding two new entries to her canon: the rabble-rousing “Raise Your Glass.” – All Music Guide

Trespassing/ Adam Lambert

The heart of Trespassinglies in the first two-thirds of the album, when Lambert is strutting like a glam-disco diva, sparring with Dr. Luke and Pharrell Williams, belting out his hooks with an easy confidence. And he’s got some great hooks here, too: big, bright, insistent hooks powering songs that revel in their sleaziness. Even if these songs never grace the charts, they sound like inevitable hits and prove that Lambert is a genuine pop star who has now left American Idol far behind. – All Music Guide

It Gets Better/ Fun.

Fun.’s debut album Aim and Ignite was an interesting blend of seemingly divergent styles topped by a healthy dose of grandiose ambition and performed with a precise abandon. The trio made an album that was truly progressive and also super catchy and fun. The follow-up, Some Nights, ramps up the ambition and sonic bombast, but also manages to be even more powerful and impressive. The album is overloaded with strings and horns, backing vocals, keyboards, and programmed drums surrounding Nate Ruess like a clamoring crowd, but never drowning out his innately sincere vocals and painfully honest lyrics. He has the kind of voice that could cut through any amount of noise, not by using volume but honesty. Even when he’s fed through Auto-Tune, you know he’s telling you the truth all the time.- All Music Guide

All the Lovers/ Kylie Minogue

By time of Kylie Minogue’s eleventh album, 2010’s Aphrodite,she had been releasing records for over 20 years. Most artists who’ve stuck around for that long end up rehashing their past catalogs and/or growing stale, but Kylie manages to avoid these fates by constantly working with new collaborators, keeping up on musical trends without pandering to them, and most importantly, never taking herself too seriously. The squiggly synths of the massively catchy “All the Lovers,” the sighing background vocals and spiraling harpsichord-esque synths on the ominous “Closer,” and the heavenly extended breakdown on “Looking for an Angel” are the kind of hooks that reward repeated listens.- All Muisc Guide

Take your Mama/ Scissor Sisters

The eponymous release is a gleaming composite of epic, unabashedly pretty ’70s songwriting and fancy-pants disco hedonism, reflecting the decadent dance-pop afterglow of all that George Michael wrought. This flirty, satiny sexuality tingles in every lyrical inch of Scissor Sisters, as the Sisters save their subtlety for the songcraft. Opener “Laura” is a swaggering, absolutely irresistible update of vintage Stevie Wonder, illustrated with piano breaks and a honking sax. “Take Your Mama” chirps in a high register, a honky chateau dreamland of the Beta Band covering Elton John. -All Music Guide

Sing it Loud/ K.D. Lang and the Siss Boom Bang

k.d. lang turned her back on the country-influenced music that first earned her fame with 1992’s Ingenue, and while she’s been making consistently fine albums since then, lang’s career has often seemed either eclectic or rudderless, depending on how you wish to look at it; she’s made a series of albums that have jumped from one stylistic vantage point to another, never settling in one place for long, and while they all feature her genuinely remarkable skills as a vocalist and often impressive songwriting, one rarely gets a sense of stylistic growth from her work since Ingenue, if only because she seems to be starting from scratch each time out, without building on what she’s done before.- All Music Guide

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Rochester Summer Music Scene Playlist

June 19, 2012

The city of Rochester comes alive with music every summer with some great events that showcase a variety of bands and artists that are as diverse as the community. The 16th annual Party In The Park kicks off every Thursday evening from 5-10 PM  for ten weeks starting on June 7 through August 9 at the Riverside Festival Site on the corner of Court Street and Exchange Boulevard across from the Blue Cross Arena. All concerts are FREE! The Big Rib BBQ & Blues Fest starts Thursday July 12 and continues through Sunday July 15: lunch, dinner and live music! Highland Bowl concert highlights include Wilco and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. Here’s a sampling…

I might/ Wilco

The Whole Love is the work of a band that’s stylistically up for anything, from the edgy dissonance of “The Art of Almost” and the moody contemplation of “Black Moon,” to the ragged but spirited pop of “I Might” and the cocky rock & roll strut of “Standing O,” but more so than anything the band has done since Being There, The Whole Love sounds like Wilco are having fun with their musical shape shifting.- All Music Guide

My Body/ Young the Giant

The West Coast jazz-evoking album jacket of Young the Giant’s self-titled debut doesn’t exactly paint an accurate picture of the California quintet’s breezy modern rock sound, but it does complement it quite nicely. Here’s a band signed to a heavy metal label, whose music is anything but, and which actually excels through recurring shows of subtlety, not force. That’s not to say Young the Giantdon’t know how to rock; tracks like “My Body,” “Garands,” and “St. Walker” plug the guitars in and crank them up to that “tough but hooky” sweet spot inhabited by the Kings of Leon and sometimes even My Morning Jacket. -All Music Guide

Boom Boom/ Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds

The Dirty Birds navigate every twist and turn Sister Sparrow throws their way (or is it the other way around?) with ease. Check it out: here we have some smoky big-smile reggae (“Boom Boom”, “Vices” – Blondie lives!); over here we find 70s-vintage bluesrock reminiscent of J. Geils on a hot night (Arleigh’s harp-blowing brother Jackson channels Magic Dick on “Quicksand”); and over here we find a few things that just can’t be labeled so easily (the tango-on-acid of “Baby From Space”, for instance), but are fun nonetheless. And through it all are woven threads of sexy funk. Bottom line: this album is just plain fun. – Jambands.com

Pockets/ Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad

This one is about as straight-up as roots reggae gets: one-drop and rockers rhythms, socially conscious lyrics, and dubwise production flourishes are all in evidence here, and if the politics get a bit ham-handed sometimes, the grooves are relentless and powerful. Highlights include the excellent one-drop anthem “All Night Music” and a fine sufferer’s number titled “Pockets,” and the slow, thick rockers groove of “World War” is also excellent. – All Music Guide

Paper Boy/ Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers

Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers come up with combustible jazz-rock arrangements revealing the influence of Steely Dan (notably on “Paperboy”) and Brian Wilson (“Michael Raphael”), used to support sometimes bizarrely humorous lyrics, as signaled by the opening song, “The Black Rats of London.” Old-time Hornsby fans who fell away over the years might want to give this one a listen; it’s closer to his singer/songwriter self than he’s been in many years. -All Music Guide

It’s 2 A.M./ Shemekia Copeland

Copeland continues to prove herself as one of the strongest young talents in the blues on this disc. While the material itself isn’t as strong as that on her stellar first album, she still invests her all in tunes like the blasting “Not Tonight” and the romantic “Love Scene.”-All Music Guide

American Slang/ The Gaslight Anthem

With their hearts on their sleeves and their feet planted firmly in the garden state, The Gaslight Anthem’s third album, American Slang, plays out like an offering to Springsteen, the patron saint of heartland rock. The feeling on this album is considerably more relaxed. All of the punk rock tension and urgency have been replaced by a more patient and heartfelt mood. This change of pace really gives the listener the ability to sit back and take in the scenery on their musical Rust Belt road trip, making for a more moody, understated experience.- All Music Guide

Let Them Knock/ Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

Because soul music — and this isn’t neo-soul, or contemporary R&B, but straight-up Stax and Motown brassy soul — is so much more than the actual lyrics themselves; it’s about the inflection and emotion that the vocalist is able to exude, and Jones proves herself to be master of that, moving from coy to romantic to defiant easily and believably. The magic and power of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings: their ability to convey passion and pain, regret and celebration, found in the arrangements and the tail ends of notes, in the rhythms and phrasing, and it is exactly that which makes 100 Days, 100 Nights such an excellent release. -All Music Guide

Lost in a Crowd/ Rusted Root

Rusted Root’s debut album is an agreeable collection of post-hippie folk/rock. Drawing from The Grateful Dead, Phish and Graceland-era Paul Simon in equal measures, the band can certainly work a low-key groove, spinning out solos and singsong melodies at well. They haven’t perfected their songwriting yet — many of the songs sound underdeveloped — but their music sounds mature and hints at their potential.-All Music Guide


Rap Playlist

June 15, 2012

Here are some songs from rap artists that the library has acquired recently.

Talking to Myself/ Chiddy Bang

Electro-loving, hip-hop crew Chiddy Bang are skipping the intro and celebrating success, busting out clever, almost-Outkast party numbers like “Ray Charles” or bleeping chip-tunes style on the very Atari “Baby Roulette.” These playful diversions seem like second album stuff, plus “Mind Your Manners” isn’t that “Opposite of Adults”-type calling card single that made their 2010 Preview EP so necessary, but the second-line tunes and deep tracks have grown in strength with the wistful soul-searcher “Talking to Myself” becoming a surprise key highlight. – All Music Guide

Black Crowns/ Tyga

Cool ruler Tygasurprises with the slow and royal “Black Crowns,” a majestically soaring number that lasts over five minutes, one of which is given to a heartfelt answering machine message from mom. Growth since his previous effort is obvious, both for the good (writing skills) and an arguable definition of bad (Penthouse Forum might even balk at some of the aggressive sex talk here), meaning Careless World is a case of happening label meeting able artist, so just let the expensive tape roll and leave it to the audience to sort out. In this case, it’s well worth it.- All Music Guide

Drown/ Ja Rule

“Drown” feels like misplaced sober talk, even with great lines like “Please help me/I tested positive for being a sh*t.” Strange to gravitate toward the party and crossover numbers on an album that aims to be honest over all else, but with a little effort from the listener, PIL2can be rearranged into something much more sensible, maximizing the impact of the dark numbers. Of course, anyone who’s had a regretful relative, friend, or associate hauled away by the cops knows that unfinished feeling, and that PIL2  is much more than Ja Rule rushing to state his case before the doors slam is way above admirable.- All Music Guide

Tom Edison/ Diggy

“Tom Edison” presents the thrilling, not chilling, sound of a riot going on in advanced science class, and if “The Reign” is the usual starry-eyed, half-tempo closer these teen-aimed, pop-rap albums offer, Diggy’s hard push to make it sound distinctive is more attractive than your crinkled nose and jaded opinion. Kid-tested and parent-approved, this well-done debut makes hating on Diggy as ridiculous as it sounds.-All Music Guide

Roman Holiday/ Nicki Minaj

Vaudeville-hop opener “Roman Holiday” where the rapper/singer adds performance artist to the list by doing a British constable impression over knotty electro. A handful of equally inspired numbers that come from this angle of gangsta-girl-in- a-post-wonky-pop-world add to the excitement, and with RedOne and a batch of other innovative producers providing a kaleidoscope of beats, the first half of the album is an amusement park for production lovers. – All Music Guide

5 Star/ Yo Gotti

Gotti’s membership in the gangster elite is validated as Rick Ross shows up on the grinding “Harder,” and when “Cases” delivers the back-in-court blues with a slowed-down 2 Unlimited sample, this recently crowned Don proves he’s clever enough to deserve it. Tack his two-year-old single “5 Star” to the end in its remix version and the album is scatter-shot to its last breath, but the thrill of watching this hood star threaten to supernova is a real high, one that comes with no life-ruining side effects or any chance of Sosa’s men storming your mansion.- All Music Guide

Going No Where/ Obie Trice

Be it busting the Gucci heads for their lightweight threads (“Petty”) or declaring his comeback over an Eminem beat (“Going No Where”), rapper Obie Trice never falters on Bottoms Up, his first release since leaving Em’s major-label imprint, Shady. If it weren’t for all the respectful “thanks to my Shady family” talk during the Dr. Dre-produced intro, you’d never know he was off the label, as this long-delayed effort retains the polish and punch of a major-label release, and with Eminem also offering a verse on the great stuttering and stopping reggae-hop track “Richard,” it’s like 2003 all over again.- All Music Guide

Fire Fly/ Childish Gambino

Nerdy wonders and insightful laughs are the reasons you want to visit Camp Gambino, but you’ll stay for the lush, surprisingly large production from Donald Glover and Ludwig Göransson, along with the thrill of untangling it all for hours on end, separating the incredibly cool moments from the touching ones and figuring out how this “actor who raps” packaged it all sensibly in a concept album about summer camp that doubles as his showcase debut. Try it and be stunned or submit to it and be satiated; Camp is like the Drake, Cudi,and Kweli camps all offered their best, but it’s really just Gloverand his overwhelming bundle of talent, taking indie hip-hop to new levels after spending the day working alongside Chevy Chase. Remarkable. – All Music Guide

Gold/ Common

The best moments are bathed in a warm radiance that fosters a comforting, uplifting mood — intensified by hooks from James Fauntleroy II and samples of the Impressions, Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, Graham Central Station, and gospel Kenny Loggins — that recalls 2005’s Be. “Gold” is particularly vivid, where he crams a post-birth visit from “three wise men,” trips to France and Sybaris (rhymed with syphilis), and references to Hot Tub Time Machine and “Stan.” However, the content isn’t exclusively cerebral, uplifting, and/or surreal. – All Music Guide

Say It With Me/ Chris Brown

By the time F.A.M.E. was released in March 2011, the album’s variety of styles was already known. A total of five songs, including the slinking pop-R&B of “Deuces,” had hit various singles charts. On the earnest ballad “Up to You,” the Michael Jackson/SWV- sampling “She Ain’t You,” and the remorseful “All Back” (written and produced by Timothy Brown, one to watch), Brown plays to his strength as a boyish, romantic pop-R&B singer, while “Say It with Me” shows that he can handle harder grooves that are more R&B than pop. This all makes F.A.M.E. the equal of Forever, if not slightly better, and it hints that Brown’sbest is yet to come. – All Music Guide


WBER’s DJ Kelsey Ladies of Rock Playlist

June 6, 2012

Kelsey went with the female-lead theme on this playlist. Some new, some old, but all the ladies run the show!

I found you/ Alabama Shakes

Pitched somewhere between the retro-purist vibe of Sharon Jonesand the nervy revivalism of Jack White, Alabama Shakes possesses a curious character: they’re rooted in the past but it’s clear they’ve learned their moves musicians removed some three or four generations from the source. Instead of playing like refractions from a hall of mirrors, Alabama Shakes’ 2012 debut Boys & Girls emphasizes how American roots music is now grounded in the ’60s notion of blues & soul, all filtered through the prism of ’70s classic rock. And it’s not just that Heath Fogg tears great, gnarled riffs out of his guitar while the rhythm section of Zac Cockrell and Steve Johnson hit the downbeat with a brutal force — lead singer Brittany Howard phrases like a rock singer, playing up vocal affections with glee, ratcheting up the drama by laying hard into her elongated phrases.- All Music Guide

Be Easy/Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

Sharon Jones, the big-voiced lead singer of the Dap-Kings — a band that recently began making its name known outside those enthusiasts of the Daptone label and the reaches of the soul community thanks to appearances with Amy Winehouse and work for Mark Ronson, including a version of Dylan’s “Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)” — is no music-world neophyte. 100 Days, 100 Nights is just her third full-length with the Dap-Kings, but Jones has been singing on and off since the 1970s, without much of a break until she began working with her current label. Meaning, she’s certainly paid her dues, and she has enough life experience behind her voice to make the words she sings sound that much truer. – All Music Guide

Eat the music/ Kate Bush

The album is a continuation of Bush’s multi-layered and multiple musical pursuits and interests. If not her strongest work — a number of songs sound okay without being particularly stellar, especially given Bush’s past heights — Red Shoes is still an enjoyable listen with a number of diversions. Opening song “Rubberband Girl” is actually one of her strongest singles in years, a big and punchy song served well with a horn section, though slightly let down by the stiff percussion. “Eat the Music,” another smart choice for a single, mixes calypso and other Caribbean musical touches with a great, classically Kate Bush lyric mixing up sexuality, romance, and various earthy food-based metaphors. – All Music Guide

Dirty Paws/ Of Monsters and Men

Of Monsters and Men’s 2012 full-length debut, My Head is an Animal, features more of the Icelandic band’s acoustic-driven alt-rock featured on their 2011 EP Into the Woods. Showcasing the dual singer/guitarist/songwriters Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttirand and Ragnar Pórhalsson, the album also displays the six-piece ensemble’s grand and anthemic style with a bent toward passionate folk-rock uplift and more layered, introspective moments. In that sense, the band brings to mind the work of such similarly inclined contemporaries as Arcade Fire, Angus & Julia Stone and Mumford & Sons. – All Music Guide

The Re-Arranger/ Mates of State

Giving a record a title like Re-Arrange Us might imply some kind of shift in sound or approach but on Mates of State album of that title, there is nothing of the sort taking place. In fact, the album continues along the path the band has plotted out over their last couple releases with more piano and less organ, a glossy, slick feel that’s radio ready and super-hooky tunes that are both sing-along friendly and emotionally powerful. “Help Help,” with its ’80s synths and fuzzed organ; “My Only Offer,” with a majestic piano part and beautiful vocals from Kori Gardner; and the positively exuberant “Jigsaw” are the kind of songs indie rock bands would kill for. Gardnerand Jason Hammelare becoming adept at creating big, shiny records with a real-life heart beating beneath. -All Music Guide

Us/ Regina Spektor

Maybe it’s just the preponderance of piano in her music, but Regina Spektor sounds more like a traditional singer/songwriter (in the best sense of that phrase) than her anti-folk contemporaries. A few of Soviet Kitsch’s songs, like “Poor Little Rich Boy,” concentrate on the childlike, mischievous side of Spektor’s sound that puts her in the love-it-or-hate-it category for some listeners. Still, Spektor is an engaging performer throughout the album, and despite her arty quirks, she’s never pretentious. She originally self-released Soviet Kitsch nearly two years before Sire released it, so it’ll be interesting to hear what she does next. -All Music Guide

That Phone/ Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

This self-titled set is very polished — from cover photo to last note, it’s designed to scale the Billboard charts — yet it offers a representative showcase of the band’s strengths. And while it doesn’t come off as spontaneously as their live gigs, it’s not supposed to. The glammed-up Nocturnals are still a tough, few-frills rock band, and despite his pedigree, Batson  — who co-wrote six of 13 songs with Potter here — gets that. The mid-tempo numbers — the soul-drenched “That Phone” and the blazing “Only Love,” with its infectious bass line and distorted guitars — work to fine effect. In sum, this the most representative outing from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals to date, and displays, however slickly, a heady quotient of strut, crackle, and groove. – All Music Guide

Graveyard/ Feist

With Metals , Feist responds to the surprise success of 2007’s The Reminder with a whisper, not a bang. She treads lightly through a series of disjointed torch songs and smoky pop/rock numbers, singing most of the songs in a soft, gauzy alto, as though she’s afraid of waking some sort of slumbering beast. Whenever the tempo picks up, so does Feist’s desire to keep things weird, with songs like “A Commotion” pitting pizzicato strings against a half-chanted, half-shouted refrain performed by an army of male singers. But Metals does its best work at a slower speed, where Feist can stretch her vocals across finger plucked guitar arpeggios and piano chords like cotton. – All Music Guide

Oh!/ Sleater Kinney

Having consolidated their strengths with All Hands on the Bad One, Sleater Kinney revived the ambition of The Hot Rockon their sixth album, One Beat. John Goodmanson gives the group its cleanest-sounding production to date, which brings out all the new trappings in the ever more sophisticated arrangements. Carrie Brownstein’s vocals can be a bit precious at times, and the pointed 9/11 observations make the occasional feminist sloganeering sound like nothing the group hasn’t done better elsewhere. But if you’re already on board with their idiosyncrasies, One Beat is another triumph from a band that seems to produce them with startling regularity. -All Music Guide

King of the World/ First Aid Kit

Described as the Swedish answer to the Pieces, sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg,aka First Aid Kit,blend autumnal folk and wistful ’60s Americana, and have gathered a pretty illustrious following since their cover version of Fleet Foxes’  “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” became a YouTube hit back in 2008. The medieval-tinged opening title track and the infectious hand claps and mariachi horns on “King of the World,” the latter of which features guest appearances from Conor Oberstand the Felice Brothers, are convincing forays into rousing nu-folk, while it’s impossible not to be charmed by the low-key dreaminess of “In the Hearts of Men” and the campfire singalong of “This Old Routine,” both of which bear the hallmarks of the long Scandinavian dark winters.-All Music Guide

Soft Shock/ Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Never content to stay in one musical place for very long, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs take their restlessness to the limit on It’s Blitz!– and wind up making some of their most contented-sounding songs. As if to prove one more time that they’re not just the architects of New York’s early-2000s rock renaissance, Karen O, Nick Zinner and Brian Chase strip away the guitars and explosive dynamics of their early work even more thoroughly here than they did on Show Your Bones.  The serenity in It’s Blitz’s ballads feels worlds apart from Show Your Bones in a much less obvious way than the album’s outbursts. But between the violently happy songs and the softer ones, this is some of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ most balanced and cohesive music.-All Music Guide

Only if for a night/ Florence + the Machine

2011’s Ceremonials, which found Florence + the Machine expanding on their already expansive sound, helped to further propel the ghostly Brit into the spotlight, and on MTV Unplugged, she’s come full circle, allowing fans a peek into the bombast while providing the aging, acoustic show with a little defibrillation. Mid-tempo tracks like “Only If for a Night,” “No Light, No Light,” and “What the Water Gave Me,” the latter of which finds Florence Welch in full control of the room by the song’s second half, are soulful, spooky, and bold, allowing room for both Welch and her machine to strut their stuff without sounding like a murder of caged crows.-All Music Guide

Silver Lining/ Rilo Kiley

Under the Blacklight, Rilo Kiley’s 2007 major-label debut, is surely designed as the Los Angeles quartet’s entry into the big leagues, the album that makes them cross over to a mass audience — or perhaps it’s just meant to make their now de facto leader, Jenny Lewis, cross over, since it plays as a sequel to her 2006 solo stab, Rabbit Fur Coat, as much as it plays as the successor to 2004’s More Adventurous, putting the former child right out front, bathing in the spotlight. Lewis, sings lead, confirming that he’s now firmly in a subservient role to his former paramour, who dominates this record the way Natalie Merchant used to rule 10,000 Maniacs, leaving the impression that the band is now merely her support group. -All Music Guide


WBER DJ David’s Goth Playlist

June 4, 2012

“There’s a lot of misconception over what Goth music is.  This is due in large part because there is also a Goth sub-culture, and many people that are part of it don’t necessarily listen to Goth music, but perhaps a related genre like EBM, Industrial, Future-pop, or Metal.  Goth tends to be slower, has it’s roots in the post punk scene of the late 1970s, and often times has dealing with depression as a central theme.”- DJ David

Prayers for Rain/ The Cure

Arguably the most extreme song on an extreme album, “Prayers for Rain” more than anything is the heart of Disintegration, an evocative, wounding portrayal of emotional desolation as gripping as any the Cure ever created. Indeed, in some ways it’s the flip side of “The Drowning Man” from Faith or the song that immediately follows “Prayers for Rain,” “The Same Deep Water as You.” There, where the overriding metaphors were being crushed in watery depths, here the absence of water becomes the chief image.- All Music Guide

Too Much 21st Century/ Bauhaus

It’s perhaps appropriate that Bauhaus’ first new studio album in 25 years is also, apparently and finally, the last. After following their 1998 reunion tour with a second in 2005 and after that eventually led to the band debuting a full range of new songs on the road, the signs for a possible new future seemed strong, but in a weird echo of the past the quartet once again disbanded before an album release. However, perhaps the best and most surprising thing about Go Away White is that it doesn’t resemble any other Bauhaus album — rather than trying to recapture the past, the four members sought to meet in the middle where they had ended up, at least in part.- All Music Guide

Love Will Tear Us Apart/ Joy Division

A chilling tale of love set adrift with an equally cool, precise accompaniment, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was the last single recorded by Joy Division, mere months before doomed front man Ian Curtis committed suicide in May 1980. It’s presumed — perhaps rather hastily — that the lyrics are autobiographical, an insight into Curtis’ fragmenting marriage and his growing relationship with a Belgian girl who followed the band. Whatever the nature of the material, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” functions as an insight into what made Joy Division the most unique band during the era of punk aggression and extremism. -All Music Guide

Tear You Apart/ She Wants Revenge

Los Angeles Joy Division -obsessed duo She Wants Revenge blend electronic beats with goth pop misery on their self-titled Geffen debut. DJs Justin Warfield andAdam “Adam 12” Bravin may have crafted the post-punk equivalent of XTC alter-egos Dukes of Stratosphear’s psychedelic rock tribute Chips from the Chocolate Fireball, but there is suspicion as to whether or not it was intentional.-All Music Guide

Temple of Love/ The Sisters of Mercy

One of England’s leading goth bands of the 1980s, the Sisters of Mercyplay a slow, gloomy, ponderous hybrid of metal and psychedelia, often incorporating dance beats; the one constant in the band’s career has been deep-voiced singer Andrew Eldritch. -All Music Guide

Rats/ Rasputina

Rasputina’s supernatural approach in making music is impressive, because it’s independent of the goth rock that came before the band and especially alone in the current mainstream. It’s practically primitive, but positively so. Cabin Fever, Rasputina’s third studio album, casts a dark dream-scape of lush string arrangements and grating cellos, and Melora Craeger’s sinister scowl is at its best.-All Music Guide

Metal/Gary Numan

The most popular of all the Gary Numanalbums is undeniably 1979’s The Pleasure Principle. The reasons are simple — there is not a single weak moment on the disc, it contains his sole U.S. (number one worldwide) hit, “Cars,” and new drummer Cedric Sharpley adds a whole new dimension with his powerful percussion work. The Pleasure Principle is also one of the first Gary Numan albums to feature true ensemble playing, especially heard within the airtight, killer groove of “Metal” (one of Numan’s all-time best tracks). – All Music Guide

Cuts you Up/ Peter Murphy

“Cuts You Up” ranks as both an unexpected American pop hit – doubtless few people who saw Murphy delivering personal exorcisms ten years earlier with Bauhaus’s “Stigmata Martyr” could have guessed this might happen – and a perfectly logical radio-friendly winner. The brighter, less storm-cloud-ridden visions of Murphy solo had already been clear to those following his career, and “Cuts You Up” manages the fine trick of translating that new spirit into a truly accessible way without once sounding pandering. Benefiting from a crisp, straightforward slice of shimmering eighties pop-rock arranging, topped off with Paul Statham’s simple but lovely synth-violin part, “Cuts You Up” starts off strong and doesn’t stop, Simon Rogers’ production being especially lovely on the sparkling, whooshing chorus.-All Music Guide

Spellbound/Siouxsie And The Banshees

The charging, acoustic guitar-led “Spellbound” was a pivotal single in Siouxsie and the Banshees’ career. After early, clangorous singles like “Hong Kong Garden” and “Metal Postcard,” personnel instability and a changing musical climate made Siouxsie and the Banshees seem kind of tired and beside the point. However, “Spellbound” leads off 1981’s revitalized Juju with a new, cleaner sounding and much more direct ? even poppy! ? melodic bent.  Kinetic, memorable and exciting, “Spellbound” gives notice that Siouxsie and the Banshees had outgrown their dreary post-punk past.-All Music Guide

Ghosts 28/ Nine Inch Nails

Roughly a year after Year Zero  — a year marked by lots of sniping with his record company first about their clueless promotion then devolving into a tirade about their general uselessness — Trent Reznor broke free of Interscope/Universal and became a free agent, releasing music where and when he wanted. To celebrate his freedom he released the four-part Ghosts, a clearinghouse of 36 instrumentals all created during the years he crafted Year Zero. It should come as no great surprise that Ghosts then plays like a sketchbook, a place whereReznor jotted down sounds and textures that flitted across his mind and then either took them no further, or decided to spin them into something entirely new for the full album.-All Music Guide

The Host Of Seraphim/ Dead Can Dance

Dead Can Dance combine elements of European folk music — particularly music from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance — with ambient pop and worldbeat flourishes. Their songs are of lost beauty, regret and sorrow, inspiration and nobility, and of the everlasting human goal of attaining a meaningful existence.-All Music Guide


The Jazz Starts Here Playlist

June 1, 2012

Every spring, the Central Library Arts Division obtains as many music recordings that reflect the upcoming Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival that will take place at the end of June. Here is a playlist of albums featuring some of the big acts that will be playing at the festival this year.

Slipstream/ Bonnie Raitt

Slipstream provides ample proof of hust how much fans have missed Bonnie Raitt since 2005’s Souls Alike. The album was recorded over a period of a year at Ocean Way in Hollywood and at Joe Henry’s Garfield House. The four tracks cut at Henry’s studio in 2010 and 2011 include two of his own songs, and two covers of Bob Dylan tunes (“Million Miles” and “Standing in the Doorway”) from the latter’s Time Out of Mind. Raitt’s voice has never sounded better. She’s expanded her lower range with an expressiveness that is soulful, rich, and rings emotionally true — though she’s sacrificed none of her higher register. Her voice can command and reveal a devastating tenderness.- All Music Guide

Little Broken Hearts/ Nora Jones

Exorcizing the ghost of a failed relationship via the time-honored tradition of the breakup album,Norah Jones luxuriates in beautiful misery on Little Broken Hearts. Liberated by the separation but not quite ready to let it go, Jones achieves a curious subdued tension here, dressing unadorned confessionals in softly stylized studio noir created with the assistance of producer Danger Mouse, who collaborated with her the year before on the collective Rome. Seeming opposites — the classicist meets the futurist —  Jones and Danger Mouse are well matched, as both artists are not as set in their ways as their individual reputations would suggest.-All Music Guide

Radio Music Society/ Esperanza Spalding

Esperanza Spaulding’s fourth album, Radio Music Society (a companion piece to Chamber Music Society in name only) is one of enormous ambition — polished production, sophisticated, busy charts, and classy songwriting — that consciously juxtaposes neo-soul and adult-oriented jazz-tinged pop. It employs a stellar cast, largely of jazz musicians, to pull it off. She produced the set, with help from Q-Tip on a couple of numbers, and wrote all but two songs here: a cover of “I Can’t Help It” (a Michael Jackson cover written by Stevie Wonder ) and Wayne Shorter’s “Endangered Species.” -All Music Guide

Rare Bird Alert/ Steve Martin & The Steep Canyon Rangers

From the earliest days of his comedy career, Steve Martin has incorporated the banjo into various aspects of his act, and fellow banjo players have spoken with reverence of his skills for decades. But in recent years he has put a renewed focus on the instrument, and he won a Grammy for his album The Crow in 2010. Rare Bird Alert came along a year later, and it’s a full-fledged country/bluegrass album consisting entirely of Martin originals and recorded in collaboration with the Steep Canyon Rangers. – All Music Guide
The Very Best of Diana Krall/ Diana Krall
The Very Best Of Diana Krall collects a nice cross-section of tracks the pianist/vocalist recorded beginning with her 1996 breakthrough album, All for You, and moving through to her 2006 effort From This Moment On.  While this is primarily a compilation for fans of the sophisticated, jazz standards-oriented Krall, Verve does earn some kudos for including at least one cut from her deeply personal and subsequently not as popular effort The Girl in the Other Room. Also featured are cuts from her stellar 2002 concert album Live in Paris. If you’re a fan of straight-ahead jazz with a heavy dash of romance and haven’t checked out Krall’s work, The Very Best is superb place to start.- All Music Guide
Bossa Nova Stories/ Eliane Elias
Eliane Elias returns to the music of her native Brazil with this collection of bossa nova favorites, though there are a few American standards and pop songs recast as bossa novas as well. The pianist has grown in confidence as a vocalist over the course of several CDs, developing a sexy yet never overdone style that beautifully complements the music. Elias proves herself as a talented singing pianist, effortlessly switching between English and Portuguese lyrics. – All Music Guide
Middle of Everywhere/ Pokey LaFarge
Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three have no plans of stopping their mission of spreading the joy of early American music to the masses, exemplary in the accomplishments of their most successful year to date. The group has continued to received praise from NPR Music, having the honor of recording for the popular NPR video series Tiny Desk Concert, all while playing nearly 200 live shows across the country, including a second appearance at the renowned Newport Folk Festival and a first time performance at the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, Tennessee. -Artist’s Representative
For True/ Trombone Shorty (Troy Andrews)
Chock-full of cameos — in the manner of modern hip-hop recordings — it is an extension of Backatown but not necessarily in sound. It’s perhaps crisper in production, but the musical diversity more than compensates. In addition to trombone, Shorty plays trumpet, organ, piano, drums, synths, and, of course, sings. They are tighter, even more confident, and perhaps even more adventurous here. Though Shorty handles some tracks playing all the instruments himself, or with a guest or two, OA bear the lion’s share with gravitas. “Buckjump” is the first clue that this is part two — it could have been the closing track on Backatown. The Rebirth Brass Band guest and play a big funky horn chart as Shorty’s big trombone solo greases the skids.- All Music Guide