Someone once said that April is the cruelest month. The following five releases will easily make even the rainiest April day seem like a day at the beach and make one realize that summer is not too far away.
The Liberty of Norton Folgate
The beloved English band of the famed two-tone movement called it a day in 1985 and then thankfully reunited in 1999. It waited until 2005 to release another album but is back again. The band’s ska-inflected pop is back with a vengeance on one of its most richly realized recordings with the help of its former producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. The band evokes a certain recent historical time and place on the ambitious ten-minute title track. This album is so good that one hopes the band doesn’t wait very long again before its next release.
On its third album, the French collective proves it is the ultimate cover band. Again mining 80’s pop and rock, this time the band does more straightforward and varied arrangements. It still has its signature jazz and bossa nova feel and in some cases enlists the lead singer from the original band it is covering. Provocative, sophisticated, sensual and international in its approach, Nouvelle Vague proves that a group does not have to write its own songs to be something truly special.
All In One
This is the fourth full-length album from the daughter of Brazilian bossa nova legend João Gilberto. As on her previous records, Gilberto has an ability to add the right electronic modern production touches to make her sound more than just a faithful updating of authentic Brazilian music. There is even a John Barry/James Bond movie-like feel on some tracks, which would make her a good candidate to do the next Bond movie theme.
This is only the second album from Brazilian wunderkind Ceu. Like Gilberto, Ceu brings a distinctly modern approach to her mostly Brazilian sound. However, unlike Gilberto, Ceu draws from reggae and other world music sounds on this gorgeous, languid and lush album. Easily one of the most promising artists on the world music scene today, Ceu is someone to watch for.
It would be very easy to dismiss the son of actor and one-time talk show host Alan Thicke as a slick, packaged pop singer. Yet, a careful listen to the evolution of this artist, to paraphrase the title of his second album, reveals a distinctive white soul singer, determined to grow as a vocalist. This new album is his most daring and successful album yet. Thicke moves from icy-cool, electro neo-soul to moist-hot r&b and at times conjures up the deep, sex-drenched passion of Marvin Gaye. This is one case where an artist’s image does not disguise his talent but instead may hamper his true calling as an emerging superstar singer.