Tuesday, May 24, 2016
A medley of their hit--album. Turkey is a tough country for me to find
music that I like. It's not traditional enough to have the raw
brilliance of their brethren Turkmen across the Caspian Sea, and not yet
modern or hip enough to get the true meaning or feel of indie music
that most of Europe contributes to nicely. In short, Turkey is between
worlds without clear direction. These guys Babutsa show a way out,
though, definitely worth listening to...
Thursday, May 12, 2016
Bangladesh is probably one of the world's least understood countries. From its previous alliance with Pakistan to its cultural Bengali kinship with Kolkata, there are no easy comparisons nor explanations. Bangladesh is sui generis, its own deal with its own brand. Though part of the Indian cultural subcontinent, Bangladesh is to SE Asia as Pakistan is to NW Asia, i.e. much less uptight, much more laid-back and accepting of an increased role for women, no veils required. And so it is with the music, too. Any country worth its counter-culture credentials has at least one classic rock superhero who can go experimental in order to inspire others to their own potentials. In Bangladesh that role is played by Faruk Mahfuz Anam aka James...
Monday, May 02, 2016
Turkmenistan is the connection between modern Turkey and the ancient homeland up near Mongolia, their linguistic cousins to this day. Unfortunately the country's political reputation places it about halfway between North Korea and Belarus. That's too bad, because otherwise it would be an interesting place to visit, I've just got a feeling...
Friday, April 29, 2016
The Bahamas has some pretty good music, though, as elsewhere, much of the older stuff is better than the newer. But what does this have to do with the 'barefoot bandit'? He ended up there after his youthful crime spree! I missed all this at the time, must've overslept...
Monday, April 25, 2016
Tuvalu just might be the place to go, if you want to experience truly natural Polynesian culture. Hawaii gets more tourists in a day then the entire population of Tuvalu, which is sinking, by the way, or rather: the waters are rising over them. Better hurry! Fafine tinogalli!
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Australia is legendary for its music, of course, on a per capita basis every bit the equal of the US or UK, Gotye or Tame Impala or Courtney Barnett ample proof of that. But who knew that Australia had a country music tradition complete with capital at Tamworth? And if American country music had its origins in the hillbilly traditions of Appalachia, this is pure 'western', complete with cowboys and sunsets. Best of all: they celebrate the land and rural life, far from the city and liking it that way. Move over, First Aid Kit. This is the real thing. Who cares if the cows are mostly sheep?
Friday, April 15, 2016
The United Arab Emirates is not generally where you go when looking for traditional Arab culture--that's Yemen. Nor is it where you usually go when looking for Arab popular culture--that's Lebanon. UAE is best known for its pampered princes, oil wealth and a resident population less than half of which is native-born--no connection there. Typical music in UAE consists of a dozen or more blokes singing what sounds like battle hymns of the republic, and the presence of women is almost nil, resigned to window dressing in the few music videos that feature an actual narrative. That doesn't mean there is nothing, though, and this lady embodies it well...
Friday, April 08, 2016
Austria is easily lost in the European shuffle, what with only 8.5 million souls, but once upon a time it was one of the main players, and not long ago it was. One of my early revelations as an international traveler was that, "We listen to the same music as you: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and all the rest." Huh? Can that be true? But why? Is rock-and-roll a condition of the English language? Hmmm... But that's not so true any more. As the American music scene stagnates, Europeans are taking up the slack. Maybe they just needed some time, yeah, that's it, time...
Monday, April 04, 2016
Ukraine has lots of good music, which you probably already know, if you're a fan of hard-rocking party-hearty Gogol Bordello or the mostly-femme-freak-folk project Dakha Brakha aka ДахаБраха that have both struck world music gold in the last decade or so. Interestingly the former is nowhere to be found on random searches of Ukraine music, though the latter is all over, as well as an apparent spin-off project Dakh Daughters (no, they're not really so ethnic themselves, but literally riffing on it). But I like Zapaska. She's fresh. The title of the song means "there are no fish."
Monday, March 28, 2016
Argentina is so lost in its own legend, that it's hard to find music there that isn't tango, or in some way related to it. So about the best that you can do is 'neo-tango' or some other such fusion genre that attempts to go beyond the typical sex-and-sultriness that qualifies as a musical genre when combined with the same three chords in the same minor keys over and over and over. That means Bajo Fondo or Gotan Project, and from there it's a toss-up. I get to talk about Gustavo Santaolalla or Lunfardo 'slanguage'. Both are ex-pat groups, the former in LA, the latter in Paris. Gustavo Santaolalla is a renowned award-winning LA producer and film composer in his own right, and on this song paired with Argentine rock legend Gustavo Cerati. Did I mention that Argentina also has rock music? BTW if you listen to much tango, you'll need to pick up some Lunfardo, in addition to Spanish, which specializes in 'vesre', reversing syllables to ensure exclusive intelligibility only with the inner circle, usually criminals. Thus 'tango' becomes 'gotan'. Get it? Clever, huh? Hmmm...