All day long we watch videos, and with the YouTube revolution the whole world is at our fingertips, plus we get constant emails from other publicists letting us know about something new coming out. So now we figured that we'd pick our four favorites each week to share with you all. Enjoy, and spread them around!
Alsarah & the Nubatones - Habibi Taal
It's hard not to fall head over heels for Alsarah. Her music mashes up vintage East African pop with retro African fashion, old Egyptian Arabic roots music, and Sudanese songwriting. Alsarah moved to New York in the 90s and is now based out of Brooklyn, but she tours all over and her latest album, Silt, is just a delight in every possible way. Her music bridges North and East Africa by virtue of her Nubian heritage, but she's also a relentless traveler, musical explorer and ethnomusicologist. Plus that beat! That voice! This song! Everything about her song "Habibi Taal" is joyous, full of North African sunshine and hope.
The Barr Brothers - Half Crazy
Montreal roots band The Barr Brothers have built the perfect formula for their music: one part country blues backbeat, one part psyched out rock guitar, one part swooningly lovely harp music, and one part kicking ass and taking names. Seems like a strange formula, but actually it's copped from the music of West Africa. The Barrs love the desert blues of Tinariwen and Bombino, but hell anyone who hears that music will love it. Guaranteed. And the Barr Brothers do it justice, bringing a cosmopolitan Montreal vibe to their influences and recognizing that these same influences drive the beat, but they need their own vision to make it special. Half Crazy's off their upcoming new album Sleeping Operator which flips back and forth between hard psychedelia and the kind of fingerstyle guitar work and floating vocals that you just want to snuggle up with.
Mai Dhai Band - Sarak Sarak
SXSW dropped their first round of official artists for 2015 and dang if there aren't some great world music folks there! All new to me, which is refreshing. Just picked up this great video of "Mai Dhai" and it's an incredible fusion of gypsy jazz and Pakistani folk music. I actually can't find out much more than that; it's a collaboration by the Piphany Project, a young group of musicians and filmmakers based out of Pakistan. I think this is a fusion of European gypsy jazz with Indian gypsy roots out of Rajasthan. But really, this music speaks for itself. Elder Rajasthani singer Mai Dhai is just amazing.
Son Little - The River
Roots blues soul singer Aaron Livingston (aka Son Little) got his first break with literal breaks: arranging songs around the breakbeats of indie hip-hop producer RJD2 and collaborating with The Roots. Now he's out on his own with an intense blend of urban blues, gospel handclaps, old-school soul singing, basically the backroads of American roots music that have always inspired everyone all the time even if no one wants to admit it. I caught Son Little live at Pickathon this year and it's not like this is some James Brown shit. He's not sliding around the stage, making his music into an intense performance. He prefers to let his songs just burn on their own. And they burn so hot. And they burn so slow. Check out his new single "The River" to watch his music heat up.