You can stream the French-Cuban sister combo Ibeyi’s (Naomi and Lisa-Kainde Diaz) first LP over at NPR’s First Listen. It’s a cool record that blends rich R&B, nu-soul and Afro-Cuban rhythms with polyphonic backing vocals and harmonies. It’s only in this era where music can birth sounds like this, mixing different cultures, beliefs and genres into the vast description-less, melting pot that modern music has become. The ladies come from a grand musical tradition too — they’re the daughters of famed Cuban percussionist, Anga Díaz, who was a member of Buena Vista Social Club. The closest companion to this style of sound may be the great Zap Mama. One of my favorite tracks is a piano-based song called “Ghosts”, which you can hear below. (Or watch Ibeyi perform the song live thanks to Deezer.) You can follow the duo at facebook and twitter. The album is out February 17th via XL Recordings. – David D. Robbins Jr.
Feast on falsetto and gentle electronics on this new seductive love song from Glendale, California’s mAsis called “Make Me Higher”, which is also the name of their upcoming EP release. The song is a soulful dreamscape about love: “Your warmth is my sunlight / Your truth is my air / Feeling free to live with arms open wide / Always knowing you’ll be there.” Note: All lyrics are unofficial. – David D. Robbins Jr.
What can I say I about this new Inti Rowland track, but that it’s one of the best songs I’ve heard this year? I was stunned when I first heard it. It takes only a few seconds into “Masks of Winter”, right when the strings and the guitar rhythm kicks in to hear what makes it so pretty. It reminded me of some of the more sedate and seductive Belle and Sebastian tracks, but for the lush, teeming strings that build into a full-on chorus at the end of the track. Yes, there are touches of Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyan, as the promo copy suggests, with hints of The Low Anthem and the more luscious vocal harmonizing of Mutual Benefit. The arrangement of “Masks of Winter” is marvelous — textures are ornate, refined and complex as might befit an artist with years of experience — or in this case a musician with a few friends accenting a record with cello, violin, dulcimer, fluglehorn and cornet. “Masks of Winter” is a single off the artist’s upcoming release, 17th Century Japanese Aviary, out April 13th. It was recorded in six days in a converted chapel in the Scottish Highlands. You can listen to a second track, the solemn “Mongolian Hunters” at bandcamp. This record is Rowland’s third release, following Eyes Of A Starling EP (2012) and The Ballad Of The Ballroom Ghost EP (2011). Follow Inti Rowland at facebook and twitter. – David D. Robbins Jr.
The soulful Jessie Ware just posted a stylish new video for her song “Champagne Kisses” from off her 2014 release, “Tough Love”. The video was directed by Christopher Sweeney. You can follow Jessie Ware at facebook and twitter. Note: Images are screen captures from the video. – David D. Robbins Jr.
There’s some so charming about the impassioned, breaking vocals of Chicago’s Jimmy Whispers, on his beautiful, short-but-sweet, new romantic track “Heart Don’t Know”: “Baby, when I come back, when I come back / I need you / Tell me all the things I need to know / Ohhh / I don’t need to know / Ohhh.” The song is simple enough, with a consistent, repeated organ rhythm that comes back full circle to the chorus, wrapped in a heartfelt elegance. There’s a loneliness in the vocals, which are slightly muted behind the instrumentation, imbuing the voice with a kind of fragility or shyness. But there’s also a steadiness to the pace that gives this love song a steadfast persistence too. “Heart Don’t Know” is featured on the upcoming release, Summer In Pain, out via Moniker Records where it’s available for pre-order. Jimmy Whispers is scheduled to open for Ariel Pink on February 17th in Chicago at Thalia Hall. Follow Jimmy Whispers at facebook. You can listen to the title track on bandcamp. Note: All lyrics are unofficial. – David D. Robbins Jr.