With banjos blazing and foot-stomping galore, the English quartet Mumford & Sons are back with their highly anticipated second album Babel. Their gritty and triumphant take on folk rock has seen unparalleled success around the world in the past few years, which has consequently built high expectations for their follow up to the commercial success of Sigh No More. After all, it’s pretty hard to top a musical journey that has included playing at the Grammys with Bob Dylan and performing for President Barack Obama at the White House.
While January may be the technical start of each new year, those of us who can’t shake thinking of life in terms of school reserve September as the real start of the year, even if we’ve left behind textbooks and classes years ago. As the hot summer months turn colder with the arrival of autumn, September is when the expectation of change hangs in the air (or here in Southern California, we have to be satisfied with blistering heat turning to a medium heat as we enter fall). So if we think of September as a fresh start, music lovers have a lot to look forward to because autumn is set to bring an array of exciting new releases. Here is a rundown of albums, in no particular order, that you can look forward to:
The current state of a majority of mainstream R&B/Soul music in the States is rather discouraging when compared to its heyday, as it’s now comprised of little in the way of refreshing or original-sounding talent, so who knew that a young London artist raised by Ugandan parents could inspire a little hope for this genre by building off the styles of venerable singers like Otis Redding, Bill Withers, and Marvin Gaye. The artist is Michael Kiwanuka, and there is a lovely hazy quality to his debut album Home Again as if it’s straight out of the 1960s or 1970s, thereby evoking a timeless quality. Kiwanuka’s music can be described as rootsy, folk-inflected modern soul with hints of jazz and contemporary R&B.
Hi everybody and welcome to the third edition of Project Rhythm Seed’s Free Music Friday for 2012. Sadly, we received news of Etta James’ passing this morning in Riverside, California. She died of complications from leukemia at age 73. The singer had one of the best and most versatile voices in the business. Her songs, often drenched in strings, were big winners for Chess Records. Some, like her signature hit “At Last” went on to be absolute staples. Etta was inducted into both the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame and the Blues Hall Of Fame. Over the course of her career she won four Grammy awards, one of which was for best jazz vocal performance, which she won in 1995 for the album Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday. Etta died with her husband and sons at her bedside. This edition of Free Music Friday is dedicated to her. Rest in peace Etta!
Amnesty International is preparing to release Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International. The 4-disc collection – set for release on January 24, 2012, in North America and January 30 internationally – contains 76 newly recorded Bob Dylan songs by more than 80 artists. Chimes of Freedom can be pre-ordered here.
A special two-disc version of Chimes of Freedom will be available at Starbucks beginning January 24, while supplies last. This special edition, curated by Starbucks, will feature a total of 31 tracks.
As I’m sure most of you are now aware, Steve Jobs, visionary genius and CEO of Apple Corporation, died yesterday after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. Although news of this sad event is spread across the internet today, some of you might wonder why we have decided to write about it on Project Rhythm Seed. After all, we are a music site. We don’t really write about the tech world, or about general news stories.
From heartbreak to honky-tonking, from Jesus to gin mills, Hank Williams wrote about life’s deepest truths and sang with an ethereal authority on such unforgettable songs as “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I Saw the Light,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “Cold, Cold Heart” and many more.
When Hank Williams died, at the age of 29, in the back of his Cadillac sometime early morning on New Year’s Day 1953, he left behind a scuffed, embroidered brown leather briefcase, which he used to carry bound notebooks, among other items, darkening their pages with lyrics and song ideas. Some were fully finished, some just started.