A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
R&B. This genre is exemplified by neo-traditional masterpieces such as Charles Bradley's forthcoming "Victim of Love," the beat-driven cool of Solange Knowles' "True" EP, Usher's performance at SXSW with indie rock vets the Afghan Whigs, Justin Timberlake's trippy "The 20/20 Experience" and our local Purple Guy's muscular resurgence with 3rdEyeGirl. Today's rhythm and blues is as various as it is voracious.
Brother Ali, "Work Everyday" video. His rhymes and soul-and-strings beats from last year's "Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color" get paired with documentary footage of him in activist mode. Witnessing the rapper praying in a mosque, protesting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker with Tom Morello and Jackson Browne, and getting cuffed and arrested at an Occupy Homes protest is visual poetry.
Low, "Holy Ghost." Backed by members of Trampled by Turtles, drummer Mimi Parker sang this song of devotion from the group's Americana-infused new album "The Invisible Way" at the Fitzgerald Theater, and her powerful voice bathed the room in warmth.
REED FISCHER, City Pages music editor, Minneapolis
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Ana Moura, Dakota. The Portuguese fado star had the packed house in her sway with her hips, waist-length hair and that dusky, dramatic voice. Captivating.
"The Girls' Room," Sirius XM. For last weekend only, it was nonstop girl power, with girl groups (the Shirelles and Shangri-Las to Blondie and the Bangles) and solo voices with the same sensibilities (Lesley Gore, Diane Renay). Good fun and good history lesson. How 'bout a full-time station?
Touré profiles Questlove, New York magazine. Calling the Roots drummer the Pope of Princeland, the Prince biographer chronicled Quest during unofficial Prince Week in New York. Not only did they focus on the Prince tribute concert at Carnegie Hall but also black male sexuality as Quest delivered a lecture on Prince's "Sister" at New York University.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune