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Album Reviews
Friday, Oct. 15, 2010

Land of Fire

Growing up in Ghana, Mohammed Alidu lived in a world of rhythm centered on the talking drums of the bizungs, the hereditary percussion masters. With Land of Fire, Alidu follows the path of many recent African musicians into Afro-pop, blending the age-old rhythms with Western instruments and contemporary...
Album Reviews
Friday, Sept. 3, 2010

Shoshan (EarthSynch)

Like many people on a journey, Shye Ben-Tzur found connections between what he found and what he thought he left behind. The Israeli rock musician became entranced by Indian music and made for India to learn its intricacies. But once he arrived, he discovered that the mystic chords connected with his own...
Album Reviews
Sunday, July 4, 2010

Las Vueltas que de la Vida (Rosazul)

Daniel Cros is a Spanish pianist and singer who, after a career in rock, discovered the music of one of his country’s former colonies, Cuba. His fifth album, recorded with Cuban expatriates as well as jazzmen from Cros’ homeland, conjures up the florid yet bittersweet emotions and rhythmic tempi of Cuba in an elegant...
Album Reviews
Monday, Feb. 8, 2010


On any sunny day on the beaches of Santa Cruz, Calif., a crowd might gather to hear a true world music hybrid, SambaDá. Formed by Brazilian immigrants and their Yankee neighbors, the band distills the easygoing lilt of bossa nova into a rock-funk format, with carnival rhythms and echoes of more ancient...
Album Reviews
Monday, Feb. 8, 2010

Mouth of Mars

On her second album, Jen Gloeckner digresses occasionally into the elastic whiplash chords of rock, or slips into a harsh-tongued vocal emulation of Americana. Mostly, Mouth of Mars is a layered, largely acoustic sequence of soundscapes involving febrile and agitated strings, percussive echoes and surreal...
Album Reviews
Monday, Dec. 21, 2009


If Milwaukee is nurturing another American Idol contender, let it be Jayne Taylor. On her new CD, Firecracker, the 17-year old songbird tackles a batch of mostly pre-Beatles rock, pop and country tunes associated with Wanda Jackson, Brenda Lee and Buddy Holly. She hits all notes beautifully and displays...
Album Reviews
Monday, Nov. 2, 2009

La Bodega (Astar Artes)

Totó La Momposina grew up with the music of Colombia’s coastal region, formed from the currents of Spain, Africa and Native America in colonial times. She is a soulfully expressive singer, fronting a band whose pounding African percussion provides the power for chanted choruses...
Friday, Oct. 23, 2009

Local Author Honors the Dead

Wisconsin has contributed men (and eventually women) to every American war since 1812. In The Wisconsin 3,800 (Dog Ear Publishing), Milwaukee researcher Tom Mueller explores the Badger State’s casualties in World War II. The book uncovers some interesting facts. Our first death in that war...
Album Reviews
Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009

Tales of ’69 (Rising Son)

Along with all the repackaging and retrospection it triggered, the 40th anniversary of Woodstock sent archivists scurrying for lost material from 1969. Recorded in concert, Tales of ’69 finds Arlo Guthrie in his storytelling mode, spinning many pointedly “groovy” asides in between numbers. Variations of some songs...
Album Reviews
Friday, June 19, 2009

Soul of My Soul (Mighty Sound)

Covering miles of musical ground on Soul of My Soul, Michelle Shocked works the tougher precincts of alt country and vulnerable balladry, and ventures toward old-school soul and new-wave rock, leading the way with her strong, confident vocals. Topically, Shocked opens painful personal wounds, searches for spirituality and...