One of my pals commented to me on a certain social media platform: “And I know that I’m no one’s target demographic, but there’s so little content out there that I’m interested in consuming. You?”
Actually, sour as I am, I find a LOT of new or relatively recent content I really like. And old stuff I’ve never heard or had a chance in previous eras to explore.
For instance, I’m a big fan of Abigail Washington — and how she’s actually got Bela Fleck interested in acoustic banjo again! A double win! — both with Fleck and on her kind of outside-y solo efforts.
Huge fan of Crooked Still. Loved the Everybodyfields. I liked KC Chambers and Shane Nicholson (together, not separate). I like me some Frank Fairfield from time to time.
Imagined Village is someone I’m still exploring. Very interesting stuff at times. Still like Iron & Wine/Sam a lot. Hazmat Modine is pretty cool.
I like some of Janell Monae‘s neosoul stuff a lot.
A friend turned me onto Jessie Baylin. Her wall-of-dreamy album, Little Spark, is worth study for fans of slick AOR pop. (Me, I like her previous, non-reverb-drenched Firesight album better. But if you want to study slick.) [In the too me-too category, I just tipped to Molly Burch, whose latest sounds like they were doing everything they could to steal the sound of Baylin’s ‘Little Spark’ album. Pretty obsessive copying and pretty lame, actually, but instructive… someone probably said, ‘I want THAT sound’ — and, sadly for them, it wasn’t that hard to do.]
Jill Scott‘s got a lot going on.
I know it’s not cool to like Laura Marling (and I’m certainly not a fan of the Mumfords) but I have a soft spot for the trying-not-to-be-so-glamourous blonde. Lianne La Havas has some real charms. Lizz Wright‘s great! Melody Gardot is another artist I know it’s not hip to like, but screw that. She works for me.
On the world front, I fell in love with (Trio) Los Trevi, from Guadalajara. Don Checho, their accordionista, was just a delightful accompanist. (Some later things have a lesser player.) Great harmonies, too.
Totally hypnotized by Malena Muyala. Oh, man. Entrancing.
Been getting into the legendary guitarist Mundell Lowe. Never had any of his wax. He’s pretty hip.
On the old discoveries front, put Linda Perhacs is right up front. So cool!
Going on… Big fan of Nneka, the Nigerian hip hop/neosoul singer.
Novalima is very cool latin/world mash.
Ollabelle (with Amy Helm) is pretty irresistible, I think, ultimately — but I’m distrustful of anything that high calorie. But they do it really well, I have to say. The guy’s voice is serviceable if not too memorable but Amy is great.
It’s not always my favorite music, but I do love watching Tedeschi/Trucks play… fine singing and supernatural slide… that guy is freakin’ smooth. He must dip that thing in butter.
I’ve been exploring the outer fringes of the cumbia scene (psychedelic cumbia, techno cumbia, rap cumbia). Some fun stuff.
Old discovery: Oscar Aleman. I knew of him but he is so much more than just the Latin American Django. But there’s that.
Pokey LaFarge is guilty fun — but, you know, he might be way too precious — but he’s really, really good at it. I can’t help but enjoy him, high concept and all.
Old rediscovery: the Prisonaires. Those guys had soul. “Walkin’ in the Rain,” “A Prisoner’s Prayer.” Yep. Soul.
Rhiannon Giddens. What can you say. She’s the Gaga of roots/Americana. In multiple ways, if you think about it. 😉
Brit archivist/folkie Sam Lee is really someplace else. And I like it.
Sharon Jones. Sainted GODDESS of funk and soul. Nuff said.
Still not sure how I feel about the Shook Twins. Sometimes I really like them and others, not so much.
Solas are nice!
The Staves, you’ve probably heard on PHC. Very dreamy.
BIG fan of the W. African ‘blues’ and other bands, Tamikrest, Tinariwen, Toumast, Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba (VERY cool), Rokia Traore, Toumast, Boubacar Traore, and Ali Farka Toure (of course).
The Ethiopiques compilations and collections (volumes and volumes) are priceless. Listening to the very cool “Seqo Meno” by Tlahoun Gèssèssè right now.
BIG fan of the Unthanks. Maybe even bigger fan of the Moulettes. Oh man, that’s my kind of ‘folk music.’
Agnes Obel, brings a sometimes austere sense of mystery.
Valerie June is another African American woman working (sometimes) in roots/country turf. Her striking visual aspect is a real contrast to her down home country singing. But she’s also been pushing into broader fare — but still with a distinct country twang.