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Jessie Ware - Tough Love

Jessie Ware – Tough Love

Jessie Ware’s sophomore album comes a mere year and a half after her fantastic debut Devotion finally hit the U.S, and continues her exploration of R&B and electronic based pop music.  Tough Love is a mellow album that should make the perfect accompaniment to a winter afternoon spent under a blanket with a good book and your significant other, at least until “Keep on Lying” and its vaguely calypso beat (which oddly works despite sounding like a programed beat on an early Casio) kicks in and you put the book aside. 

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SOLSTØV

Walking alone this evening in an isolated spot in Texan hill country, dusk falling, a deer flashes across my path and halts a few yards away, quivering. I stop and we trade stares for a while, my stillness not quite assuaging her agitation. A bat passes erratically. A sudden movement behind me catches the corner of my eye, and I turn just as a fawn, perhaps a foot and a half high, almost stumbles into my legs. It looks up at me for a long, fragile moment, and bolts away. The moon grows brighter in a vast sky as the last light fades, the gathering night filled with air and glow and darting life and tensile peace. As I walk on I’m listening to Solstøv by Pjusk, an album not from Texas but from Norway, yet evocatively descriptive of such a night as this, a night of peace and vastness and life and surprise and glory. This walk and this music will now live together in my memory.

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Allan Kingdom - Soundset 2014

Allan Kingdom – Soundset 2014

Soundset 2014 brought an opportunity to speak with the Twin Cities own Allan Kingdom.  Allan’s been working on breaking into the local scene for a few years now and is starting to see snowballing success.  In addition to his first performance at Soundset (three years after he attended as a fan then swore he wouldn’t go back until he was a performer), the real life Allan Kyariga was named to First Avenue’s Best New Bands of 2013, got a cover story with local indie newspaper The City Pages, created an official remix of Poliça’s “Chain My Name”, and is in the process of readying two new releases.  Allan and I chatted about achieving childhood goals before even being old enough to drink legally, getting inspiration from the world around us, and what it means to be ‘The Northern Gentleman.’

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27

May

2014

Photo Review: Soundset 2014

By Craig McManus. Posted in Concert Review, Hip Hop, Rap | No Comments »

Soundset 2014

Once again, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend meant Rhymesayers Entertainment’s Soundset festival at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota.  2014 saw Soundset sell out its 30,000 tickets for the first time through advance ticket sales, and the massive crowd was treated to a perfect day of hip hop both with regards to the weather (highs in the upper 70s and partly sunny) and the music (from classics like Nas and Cypress Hill to a fresh from jail Wiz Khalifa).  Head below for a photo review of the day (more photos are available on MiG’s Facebook), and check back in the next couple of days for MiG interviews with Lizzo w/Lazerbeak and Allan Kingdom.

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21

May

2014

Soundset 2014

By Craig McManus. Posted in Hip Hop, Rap | No Comments »

Soundset

This weekend, I will again be attending Rhymesayers Entertainment’s Soundset in Shakopee, Minnesota.  So keep your eye here over the next couple weeks for photos and interviews from this fantastic hip hop festival.


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Pjusk - Drowning in the Sky

Pjusk – Drowning in the Sky

I visited Ulsteinvik recently, and found time for an all-too-brief hiking excursion up along the cliffs under the guidance of a local school principal. As we clambered up steep slopes in the gathering dusk, buffeted by a stiff wind, keeping an eye out for patches of ice amid the heather, talking about fishing boats and hidden reefs, I realized that Pjusk were playing in my head. Listening to music in its country of origin is one of the perks of traveling, and I had been punctuating my trip around Norway with Terje Rypdal, Jan Garbarek, and Biosphere, among others. But now that I was out on the bare hillside, surf threshing below, all human habitation out of sight, and the iPod safely back at the hotel, it became evident again that somewhere in my brain Pjusk’s music has become what the Norwegian landscape sounds like.

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Porya Hatami - Shallow

Porya Hatami – Shallow

 

I’ve been listening a lot to Porya Hatami recently, and it has been a delightful experience. It all started with a bandcamp sale by the Flaming Pines label to celebrate their third anniversary – a different album was offered for free download every two days. That drew my attention to their wonderful Birds of a Feather 3″ CD series, and to the first in that series, The Black Woodpecker by Porya Hatami, and that led me to his impressive new CD on Tench, which I will review below. But first a few words about The Black Woodpecker, since that was the piece that tuned my ear to Hatami’s sounds.

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31

Mar

2014

Interview: Life in 24 Frames

By Craig McManus. Posted in Indie, Interviews, Rock | 1 Comment »

Bitter End

Life in 24 Frames is a Sacramento, California based band founded in 2008 by guitarist/lead vocalist Kris Adams.  Over the years the band has evolved into a 6 piece (Adams, Richie Smith – Guitar/Backing vocals, Andrew Bernhardt – Keyboard/Backing vocals,  Malory Wheeler – Organ/Backing vocals,  Jason Brown – Bass/Backing vocals, and Joe Strouth – Drums) and built a large local following via their brand of folk based indie rock.  Following the release their second full length album, Bitter End, on March 25, 2014, I chatted with Kris Adams via e-mail about storytelling through music, the difficulty of the label based music business, and Sacramento as a music town.

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Lucius in Minnesota Public Radio's UBS Forum

Lucius in Minnesota Public Radio’s UBS Forum

Indie pop band Lucius has been on a long tour in support of their debut album Wildewoman, which has brought them to the Twin Cities on a couple different occasions (if they perform near you…GO).  This trip through they are playing a sold out show at The Cedar this evening, but found time this afternoon to stop by The Current for an in studio performance in Minnesota Public Radio’s UBS Forum.  I was lucky enough to get to go and I brought my camera.  More photos are available on MiG’s Facebook page.

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23

Dec

2013

Top 23 of 2013: Stephen J Nereffid

By Stephen J. Nereffid. Posted in Classical | No Comments »

Yes, top 23: this was a very good year of classical releases for me, and it turns out that the number of albums I want to mention doesn’t correspond exactly with the number of fingers and toes I possess. To buck convention even further, I’m not going to rank the albums, aside from my favourite of the year. The usual provisos apply; the list is some distance away from being representative of the year’s classical releases as a whole.

littleprince#1. Petitgirard: The Little Prince
Laurent Petitgirard conducting
(Naxos)

A mysterious, sombre and beautiful ballet from 2010, based on the classic book. Petitgirard makes use of a choir and a handful of instrumentalists; if I describe the music as like a softer, French-accented Philip Glass, this doesn’t do it justice but at least might give you some idea of the sound-world.

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