Like a prophetic vision from above, or at least a good waiter, I come to you today bearing the latest and greatest gifts of my ongoing quest to find and share the best music there is. I now open up my metaphorical tray cover to reveal four steamy and delicious albums that are not only musically scrumptious but also perfect for the fall season.
Elis & Tom – Elis Regina and Antonio Carlos Jobim
From legendary Brazilian composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and Brazilian jazz singer, Elis Regina, comes an extraordinary album of bossa-nova delight. The record opens with Águas de março, a brilliant series of descriptions of Brazil’s rainiest month, March, and the “cascading waters” that flow through it all. It ends with yet another description of nature, in which Regina and Jobim accompany each other in the singing of “Inútil Paisagem” (a useless landscape). “What’s the point,” asks Regina, “what’s the point of so much sky, what’s the point of so much sea?” Jobim answers: “It means nothing by itself.”
Velocity: Design: Comfort. – Sweet Trip
Listening to Velocity, I feel obliged to question what I truly know of music. The first track, Tekka, sounds as though some alien, a stranger to any form of melody or rhythm, was forced to listen to hours on end of songs 6th graders made on Garageband, spun in circles, then given an electronic drum machine and asked to just go crazy. The rest of the album, although made in the same spirit, is slightly more reasonable. Amidst the frantic percussion and raging synthesizers, there are moments of surprising clarity. “Baby, let’s design new comfort,” sings frontman Valerie Cooper on Dsco. “Close your eyes until the logic’s gone.” The lyrics read like a robot performing an awkward attempt at intimacy.
The Clown – Charles Mingus
I imagine one feels as a villain in some 50s noir film would, having just outrun a detective and confronted by some mysterious former lover, while listening to The Clown. Charles Mingus surely hits a resonant note with those nostalgic of the post WW2 boom, grimy street corners, and the looming threat of Communism. It’s an interesting, rowdy and jazz-filled album, and with Mingus on stand-up bass, it is not to disappoint.
Pink Moon – Nick Drake
“Theo, I love you, I appreciate you, I dare say I need you, but can’t I get just one normal album?” After recommending a record that is completely in Brazilian, another that sounds as though an EDM producer made a passive-aggressive mixtape for an ex-wife, and yet another of avant-garde jazz that requires excessive patience to tolerate, one might hope I would discuss a “normal” album. Yes, I have (rather begrudgingly) ignored my other contenders for this prized spot (a list ranging from experimental folk to new age disco) and instead chosen Pink Moon as one of my favorite albums of this school year. The album is a classic in the realm of folk, from singer-songwriter Nick Drake. Drake has the voice of a man one might expect to see reading bedtime stories to children. He is, in fact, well known for his narrative-based music (be sure to listen to Man in a Shed). He accompanies himself with a simple acoustic guitar, which he makes incredible use of throughout the record.