Diandra’s 2016 in Music

Esperanza Spalding was inspired by her alter-ego Emily for this year’s album, Emily’s D+Evolution. It’s refreshing to see an accomplished and eccentric jazz musician appear in mainstream locations, with a Target album exclusive and an appearance in the Uniqlo catalog. [Full disclosure: I work at full-time at a Uniqlo location, and saw her not just in the catalog, but also in one of the promotional videos that plays on rotation on the store’s screens]. Farewell Dolly [1] sounds fine as is, but  I’ll take Amy’s word [1] that the songs benefit from a live performance, as shown in this video for Ebony & Ivy:

While looking for videos of Spalding’s music, I clicked on the recommended video of Benjamin Clementine’s soulful lament I Won’t Complain.

Thanks for the recommendation, YouTube.

Black Mirror viewers might recognize Alev Lenz’s moody new song Fall into Me from the third season finale, Hated in the Nation.

Yet there are also notable songs from her current album, Two-Headed Girl: Planet [Bandcamp] and A Minute [Bandcamp]. She also appears on Anoushka Shankar’s latest album of collaborations [MV].

For more singer-songwriters working with complex, multilayered sounds, try Agnes Obel, with Stretch Your Ears [Bandcamp], Trojan Horses [Bandcamp] and Golden Green [Bandcamp]; as well as instrumental pieces Red Virgin Soil [Bandcamp] and Grasshopper [Bandcamp].

Benjamin Biolay is reliably unpredictable with his idiosyncratic brand of nouvelle chanson. Palermo Hollywood is named after the Palermo neighborhood in Argentina featured in the video for the title track [MV]. Much of the album was recorded in Argentina, with Argentine musicians, including veteran reggae artist Alika on the irresistibly danceable number La Noche Ya No Existe [1]. Though I’ve listened to Biolay’s music for over ten years, I was still taken by surprise by the cumbia-chanson blend in Masterchef [1], though previous albums did have brief Argentine-inspired moments here and there. Palermo Spleen [1] is a truly odd cinematic tune, with Morricone-like whistles and horns, with an operatic turn at the end that continues in C628.

While I usually stay clear of typical ‘80’s pop sounds, whether they be tributes or actual artifacts of the era, Radiation City’s swaying song Butter [Bandcamp] somehow ensnared me into playing the song on repeat. Oil Show [Bandcamp] shows off an unabashedly bubbly side, while Milky White [Bandcamp] has some funk strut. In Brazil, Céu released another quiet, breathy album, Tropix. Though her style doesn’t quite match mine, I do appreciate the wistful sound of Sangria [1], which melts into a light dance track in Perfume do Invisível.

Note: Epilepsy warning.

Diandra Rodriguez

Proudly Latinasian NorCal American.

2 Responses

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