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jacques_brel

“Discovering” Jacques Brel

As I perused our station’s labyrinth of a record collection in search for some “European” music a couple of days ago, I found a record from an artist with a name that rang a bell, but with a track-list that truly seemed foreign. I soon remembered that I had heard the name “Jacques Brel” in Amanda Palmer’s song “Ukelele Anthem”, explaining the slight sense of familiarity; other than that, I had no clue who he was. But I figured, if one of my favorite singers digs his music, it should be decent, right? So I played it and listened to “La Valse À Mille Temps”, which I chose at random.

This tune was stuck in my head for the rest of the evening, and as I naturally do after listening to such an exceptionally incredible piece of music, I immediately read Brel’s biography (on Wikipedia, of course) while listening to his most popular songs on Spotify. Not only was Brel a singer in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, but this godfather of French chanson also starred in various French films. Additionally, he was the original mastermind behind the classic “Ne Me Quitte Pas”, which has been covered by Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, Barbra Streisand, and literally countless other artists.

Of course, through all my internet-searching I learned one main thing; that this so-called “discovery” of mine was far overdue, and I (and everyone else, in my opinion..) need to listen to his music whenever possible.

Something about Jacques Brel’s work truly stands out. I am familiar with the more modern side of French music – also known as nouvelle chanson – and while I’ve always enjoyed it, something has always felt missing. Nothing ever beats the classics, I suppose! (Even Amanda Palmer’s cover of “Amsterdam” didn’t click with me…but I digress.)

I found his music on the 9th of this month, exactly 34 years after his death. There is no doubt in my mind that his music has left an impact on the world that transcends age and time, and that it will never leave us.

a tribe called red

An Electric Pow Wow (free download!)

Take some dubstep-influenced beats, overlay them with Native American tribal vocals, and you get Pow Wow step, the genre A Tribe Called Red uses to describe their debut self-titled album. Hailing from Canada, the Native American DJ crew combines the traditions of Pow Wow music with the rhythms of today’s electronic scene, creating a remarkable collection of tunes that really can’t be heard anywhere else. The entire album can be downloaded for free at http://www.electricpowwow.com/ .

jovanotti

Jovanotti’s “Italia 1988-2012″: A 24-Year Retrospective

Through ATO Records, Italian singer-songwriter and rapper Lorenzo Cherubini, better known as Jovanotti, has finally issued his first U.S. release after over two decades of being in the business. This compilation album that includes the greatest hits of his career so far, aptly titled “Italia 1988-2012″. Initial tracks like “Con La Luce Negli Occhi” and “Sulla Frontiera” are very energetic and contribute to the album’s generally light-hearted feel. Meanwhile, other tracks like “Mi Fido Di Te” and “La Porta É Aperta” take it down a notch and show Jovanotti’s softer side, complete with acoustic guitars and even some backing vocals. With Jovanotti’s own nonchalant and distinct style of rapping in just about every track, this quasi-greatest-hits-collection is not to be missed.

israeli flag

Weezer…in Hebrew!

It is very common for contemporary World Music artists to remake popular American songs while still staying true to their culture. With YouTube, it’s been easier than ever to find up-and-coming artists sharing their cultural talents in a more mainstream medium. The Sharon Holzman band is an example; they have covered Weezer’s classic hit “Say It Ain’t So” in their native tongue, Hebrew. In doing so, they have taken a song that has been played a seemingly infinite number of times on commercial radio over the past decade and have given it a refreshing twist. Check it out!