The Pleasantness of Sound

Did you there’s a word for it? Euphony. The opposite is cacophony. Now, there’s may be lots of excitement to be found in cacophonic music, but when we’re busy, stressed, tired or in a bad mood, euphonic music might do the trick to change that. There’s a lot of euphony in my blog list already, and with the 83 new tracks introduced to you today, the level of what we Norwegians call “vellyd” is definitely going up.

Here is a link to the updated blog list.

Flag_of_Denmark.svgWe only have to go to neighbouring Denmark to find the first example. Yellowbellies normally refer to people from Lancashire in England, but Yellowbellies are definitely Danish, and have been at it since 1996, but it is with the two albums since 2013 they have been getting the attention they deserve. The Danes have an affinity for boy bands, or rather men bands, playing their very own brand of Danish melodic pop, and Yellowbellies is a fine example, with their new album “Anywhere but here

Brad Melhau Trio

Brad Melhau Trio

USA flagBrad Mehldau and his trio have produced accessible jazz for a long time, with both newly written material and jazz standards on the rich and varied menu. Their new album, Blues and Ballads, is filled to the brim with lovely, lazy swing piano jazz, and Mehldau’s lean back piano playing can make you soar over the roof tops. Give it a try, it works. A instrumental version of one of my favourite tunes of all time, Little Person by Jon Brion, is the highlight for me.

Veronika Harcsa of Club de Belugas

Veronika Harcsa of Club de Belugas

250px-Flag_of_Germany.svgAnd when you’re into the rhythm, let old favourite Club des Belugas take over. It has to be said that their new double album, Nine, is a bit disappointing overall, but in between the band soars to new, or at least to old, heights. It is hard to sit still when Club Des Belugas really start to swing. On Nine the band also experiments with lots of remixes of other artists’ music, and with some classical music, but it is the Latin rhythms that work best.

Angela McCluskey

Angela McCluskey

Scotland.svgIn the same vein as Club des Belugas we find Scotland’s Angela McCluskey’s music. She immigrated to California and performs there for the most part. The Roxy Sessions, her new album, offers a wide mixture of music, from music hall-inspired music to sultry Brazilian-inspired tunes.

 

 

Conor OberstUSA flag

Conor Oberst is recognized by his trembling voice and the solemnity of his lyrics and his performance. I loved his previous album, and was surprised to hear how stripped down and sad sounding Ruminations is. And somebody gave him a mouth harmonica for Christmas. BAD mistake! Still, the American singer offers indie pop well worth listening to, and I have picked six impressive tracks that I am sure will go down well with regular listeners to my blog.

King Creosote

King Creosote

Scotland.svgStaying with instruments that should never ever be given away at Christmas, the bagpipe King Creosote is using on Astronauts meets Appleman is less obtrusive than Oberst’s mouth harmonica. The music on his new album is very difficult to pin down; the only ting tying the songs together is King Creosote’s constrained voice. He sounds as if he is suffering when singing, but it somehow creates an effect worth listening to. His last album was a homage to his home country, this time the lyrics are considerably more introvert.

Leonard Cohen

Leonard Cohen

Canada FlagOn to an artist whose voice is everything but constrained: Leonard Cohen’s last album recorded before he sadly left us a few weeks ago, is without doubt among the best albums of the year. I started to listen to You want it Darker before Cohen died, and was mesmerized by both the lyrics from an old man at the end of his life, and the heart achingly beautiful songs, performed with a presence rarely found these days. Listening to the album again after Cohen died, added a different level for this listener – in just the same way David Bowie’s last album did earlier in the year.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga

USA flagBut Cohen’s album isn’t the only truly great new release this autumn. Lady Gaga has grown up, just like Rihanna earlier this year, and released an album that has annoyed many reviewers who clearly wanted her to go along the pop path she was on. But the Lady is a brave artist, and recorded Joanne, transcending genres and re-inventing herself as an artist. I hope many of her avid fans stays on the new path with her, and others now come on board the Lady Gaga train. Because this train is worth travelling on. There is truth and compassion in every song and every performance, and it is bloody great pop music. Euphony!

  England flagBut Gaga isn’t the only lady in the bunch. Lady Nade is a British soul and jazz singer in the Nina Simone tradition. It takes time to get used to her dark and slightly shivering voice, but you cock your ears and listen, no doubt this is something out of the ordinary. Her new album, Hard to Forget, has the occasional forgettable song, but there’s a lot of gold here.

  England flagAnother female singer with a very special voice is Bess Atwell, one of the prettiest voices I have heard in a long time, tender and tough at the same time. The material on Hold your mind is also excellent, a mixture of pop and folk, terrific melodies performed in her inimitable style. This is clearly one of this year’s pleasant surprises.

Alysha Brilla

Alysha Brilla

Canada FlagThe Canadian singer Alysha Brilla is obviously influenced by music from more than one continent. On her fourth album, Human, there is traces of her father’s Tanzania, but also of pop-rock from the 60s and a considerable amount of Indian influence. She turns it into a delicious stew, enriched by her interesting vocal performance that somehow fits any genre she pounces on. There is so much energy and playfulness on this album. Love it!

Wilco

Wilco

USA flagIf Alysha Brilla could wake you up in the morning, Wilco could easily put you to sleep. I don’t necessarily mean to that in a derogative way (although let’s admit it, Wilco can be a bit boring at times). I am impressed with lead singer Jeff Tweedy’s ability to sing so laid back that you would expect him to fall over on his back at any time. The rest of the band slows down and stays as quiet as he. The result is mostly a relaxed country-induced indie music it is hard not to like. Their new album is called Schmilko.

And where Jeff Tweedy leans back, James Vincent McMurrow aims high, mostly into a controlled falsetto. I was a fan of his country folk style on his previous albums, but the R&B he does to perfection on his new album We Move, is equally worth listening to. I have said before that I am not too fond of male falsetto voices, but who would I be if I couldn’t make an exception for brilliant singer songwriters like McMurrow?

   Flag_of_Wales_2.svgIan Shaw comes from a long line of musicians, with both his father and grand-father professional artists. That alone cannot explain the incredible musicality of Ian Shaw. He performs jazz with such an ease and lightness, and still with an intensity that makes him one of the most interesting jazz crooners in the world today. For those of you who are above average fond of jazz, go to both the whole album Theory of Joy; the rest of you will get you appetite wet by the selection of seven songs I have made for you.

With 83 new songs, 36 will have to go (don’t ask me to explain), and this time Tanita Tikaram, Mull Historical Society, Lucie Silvas, Jacob Bellens, Willie Nelson and Twin Danger bid farewell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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