Utne Reader Music Sampler December 2009

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Utne Reader Music Sampler December 2009

The tracks for the December 2009 sampler are no longer available.Please visit the latest sampler for more tracks! www.utne.com/sampler

Every month, Utne Reader presents free, downloadable music gleaned from current releases on independent labels, curated by senior editor Keith Goetzman.

Dave Rawlings Machine
Dave Rawlings is best known as folk singer Gillian Welch’s guitarist, but he’s got a mind–and a sound–of his own on A Friend of a Friend (Acony). His songs are less stark than hers, with fuller arrangements, but they are no less meticulously crafted.

Boban and Marko Markovi? Orkestar
Boban Markovi? is a king of Balkan brass band music, which dresses up gypsy-style melodies with bright, punchy horn arrangements, and Marko is his protégé son. There’s a little of the Old World and a little of the New World on “Sljivovica” from their new album, Devla: Blown Away to Dancefloor Heaven (Piranha Musik).

North Mississippi
On Things About Comin’ My Way (Black Hen), a host of roots-minded artists, from the Carolina Chocolate Drops to John Hammond to Madeleine Peyroux, pay tribute to the music of the Mississippi Sheiks, the legendary string band behind the song “Sittin’ on Top of the World.” The North Mississippi All-Stars lend a gritty vibe to their contribution, “It’s Backfirin’ Now.”

Alela Diane
Up-and-coming folk singer Alela Diane has followed up her excellent album To Be Still by collaborating with like-minded artist Alina Hardin on the six-song EP Alela and Alina (Rough Trade). Together, their pliant voices are at once eerie and enrapturing.

Erik Deutsch
On Hush Money (Hammer and String), keyboardist Erik Deutsch mixes pop and funk into his good-time instrumental jazz, where the groove is always the thing.

Le Vent du Nord
On “Octobre 1837,” Quebec’s Le Vent du Nord celebrates a French Canadian uprising against British rule, which pretty much epitomizes the band’s deep Québécois pride and captures the spirit of their album La Part du Feu (Borealis).

Chuck Prophet

Roots-rocker Chuck Prophet left the country–for Mexico City–to record an album that looks at America from the outside, literally. The title track from ¡Let Freedom Ring! (Yep Roc) contains a taste of his stinging commentary set to big guitar riffs.

Group Bombino

The intense electric-guitar sound of the Sahara desert’s Tuareg people owes as much to Hendrix as to any strictly African source. Group Bombino’s musicians sometimes play on borrowed instruments, but on Guitars From Agadez Volume 2 (Sublime Frequencies), they clearly own this vital, raw music. (Purchase the album here.)

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