February 25, 2021

Pom Poko – Birthday – Bella Union

By Kristi Kates | March 30, 2019

From Norway hails the avant-garde indie-experimentation outfit Pom Poko, which snagged its name from a popular Japanese anime. Expect influences galore in Pom Poko’s music; the band includes everything from math-rock and West African beats to punk and groovy funk. Opener “Theme1” bellows its lyrics over precise guitar riffs, while “My Work is Full of Art” is a very apt name for the vibrant compositions this group cranks out. ***

The Gloaming – The Gloaming 3 – Real World Records
The third effort from this group of Irish and American musicians was produced by Thomas Bartlett, known for his work with St. Vincent and Michigan native-turned-indie-musician Sufjan Stevens. Recorded in NYC, it takes the best of both countries’ influences and fuses them into a contemporary mess of classical/jazz/post-rock/folk melodies. We loved the fiddle-heavy, vintage feel of “Bronwyn Leigh” and the way it blends into the complementary “Doctor O’Neil.” Other standouts include the poetic “Reo” and the spare arrangement of “Meáchan Rudaí.” ***

Norah Jones – Begin Again – Blue Note Records
Not to be confused with the Keira Knightley/Mark Ruffalo movie of the same name, the latest from jazz-pop diva Jones brings together a half-dozen previously unreleased “low pressure” (her words) tunes she recorded over the past year, including her new single “Just a Little Bit.” This is pretty much a grab bag of soulful folk and pop tracks from the singer, with a wide variety of genres and sounds sharing space, including collaborations with Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) and Thomas Bartlett (aka Doveman). ** ½
James Morrison – You’re Stronger Than You Know – Stanley Park
Having already snagged a BRIT Award and a massive duo with Nelly Furtado (the track “Broken Strings”), it’s definitely time for Morrison to make a big showing with a set that showcases his personal affinity for Motown and soul music, as well as his own emotional-sandpaper vocals. With a real, open sound that’s enhanced — as opposed to stifled — by studio production, the collection includes the motorcycle-rev guitars of “Power” and the grooving “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” with its powerful female backing vocals. ** ½


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