Broaden your musical horizons in 2006
Entertainment Weekly, that bible for the "tell me what to think" crowd has released its dull and pointless list of the best music of 2005. No offense to list-sitters Fiona Apple, Kanye West and others, but I would like to suggest that if you aren't already musically adventurous, that you strike out some new territory for a new year.
I don't really want to make a list of the best, because there were so many amazing releases in 2005...nor do I claim that my suggestions are better than EW's....just a bit more interesting because so few people know about them.
Some of my highlights for the year:
Up and Down by the Palm Wine Boys. This SF Bay Area-based band released a quiet, fun little album that quickly became one of my favorites of the year. It's melodic folk/pop/West African Palm Wine music that cannot help but improve your mood. Honest. Trust me.
Chavez Ravine by Ry Cooder. This concept album about the destruction of a Latino neighborhood to make way for LA's Dodger Stadium is a musical buffet. A wide variety of musical styles, all of them played with flair and panache, make for a truly varied and engaging listen.
Celtic Crossroads, yet another wonderful Putumayo compilation. This one features glorious vocal harmonies, tight playing, and a sweet and captivating selection of music. And speaking of compilations...
Swing Around the World, also from Putumayo, is a fun, funky, hip-shaking, grin-inducing gas. You'll smile, you'll dance around the kitchen, you'll have a fine old time. Truly one of the most joyful, playful releases in ages.
Prototyp by Hurdy-Gurdy. Two members of Nordic superbands Garmarna and Hedningarna team up for a crazy, delicious, original selection of instrumental songs all created by morphing sounds of hurdy-gurdies into a sort of ancient/modern synth mix. Too hard to describe, just listen.
I know, that's only five...but I have work to do.