A half-dozen cool things in music, from two points of view:
“Drone, Not Drones.” Those who yearn for Low’s meandering Vernon Yard Records days can be forgiven for engaging in a bit of schadenfreude at the volatile reaction the band received for its 30-minute version of “Do You Like to Waltz?” at Rock the Garden. I’d bet this was the first and last time you’ll hear a song break the 10-minute marker on 89.3 the Current.
The return of disco. Daft Punk made it hip, but artists like Jonas Rathsman, Classixx and others have been resurrecting it on the down-low over the last couple years, with labels like French Express expertly curating the cream of the crop. When wubstep artists like Skream and Benga start talking about it, a sea change, for better or worse, can’t be far behind.
Riding the Night Bus. “Night Bus” is an aesthetic made popular by Canadian DJ CFCF. It relies on slowed tempos and downpitched vocals to create an ethereal sound reminiscent of a late-night transit ride. Recommended: “Mist/Rhythm” and “Night Bus I & II” mixtapes.
Jonathan Westmark, Minneapolis
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, First Avenue. Although extraordinarily self-conscious with her look and mannerisms, Karen O was convincingly punk and passionate with her singing. The edgy racket made by guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase framed her emotions perfectly.
“Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle.” Drawn from concerts in London, New York and Toronto, this 34-song collection not only shows the heart-tugging depth of her songwriting but also the talents of her singing children, Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright (who dominates). Other invaluable contributors include Norah Jones, Emmylou Harris and Antony. Very moving.
Carolina Chocolate Drops, Minnesota Zoo. With their spirited old-timey presentation of blues, bluegrass, minstrel music, ragtime, country and other vintage styles, this acoustic quartet was like a live class in the history of African-American music. Exceptional.
Jon Bream, Star Tribune
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