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My Picks for the Best of 2014

My Faves for 2014

My Faves for 2014

Sure, I'm jumping on the bandwagon for an annual "Best of" list for this week's World Music Show (12/27). However, unlike the other music websites, including the big ones (like NPR), my list is more, shall I say, homegrown. This means my list features songs, and artists that I was lucky enough to get ahold of either through sheer begging or through the goodwill of artists and/or record labels. However I came across this music, the list is filled with some great tracks that not only came out this year, but are also on my favorites list. Plus, this is my last show of the year--show #51, so I like to mix it up in terms of what I play.

Ziggy MarleyIn the first hour, we'll hear some new Latin music and some African and Jamaican tunes from these artists (in no particular ranking order):

  • Silva--this Brazilian artist basically created a new sub-genre of music called Brazilian Dream Pop. Think ethereal, think melodic, think good vibes.
  • The Brazil Connection: This is a CD that re-imagines pop and rock standards by adding some Brazilian beats. Re-done music can either be superbly executed or a shamble of sound. These guys did a good job.
  • Da Cruz (off "Six Degrees of Brazil Vol. 2"); The song off this compilation, "Boom, Boom, Boom," is high-energy, melodic and full of head-bopping beats. In fact, I should put this on my workout track list.
  • Ceu (also off that same CD) does the song "Ave Cruz," a song that has been done by many. But with her voice and style, it's just magnificent!
  • Undersea Poem (again, off Brazil Vol. 2) is another moody sort of song that is like a film score to a Brazilian Western. This duo were once the trio known as Mosquitos.
  • La Chiva Gantiva has a powerful sound that emotes rock, rap and a mosh-pit at a punk carnival. A fun, lively band.
  • Somi (pictured below) is a singer from Lagos whose voice is similar to another powerful singer from Africa, Angelique Kidjo (who we'll also get to hear and who will also be paired with Somi). Off her debut CD, called "The Lagos Music Salon," you'll get to experience the force of her unique voice.
  • Oy is a band based out of Berlin that features a Swiss-Ghanian vocalist. Their sound mixes elements of music from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and South Africa, so there is a lot of beats packed into their songs.

Closing out the first hour will be music from a new Ziggy Marley CD (pictured above) and some amazing throat singing from the late Kongar-ol Ondar and the band Dirtwire (which features members of Beats Antique).

SomiNow you may ask, as to why I save some of my ultimate favortes for the second hour of this "Best of" show. Well, it's simple. In this hour, it'll be a mix of new and sort of old. Here's the run-down, starting with my #1 favorite.

  • Bebe. This Spanish, Alternative Rock-n-Roll singer is just amazing. I first heard her off a Putumayo label CD a few years ago. I liked her voice then, but thought, "ya, she's pretty cool." But after hearing (and playing her entire CD "Un Pokito de Rocanrol" on my show over a few weeks, I have to say that she basically kicks butt. She's fierce. She's a chamelon. And she's just plain cool when it comes to pushing the edge.
  • BossaCucaNova is a trio that is near and hear to my heart. They of course, open up every one of my World Music Shows. But, what I like about them the most is that they continue to explore and find new ways of hearing the classics in Brazilian music. Like, Bebe, I played their entire CD (two tracks at a time) over the coure of weeks.
  • We Are Enfant Terrible didn't have a new CD this year, but I was lucky enough to get a copy of their latest CD (thanks to a good pal of mine). I contiunally get enamored by their musical stylings.
  • CRO was another new artist introduced to me by the same friend who got me turned on to We Are Enfant Terrible. His German rapping is fun and catchy.
  • Sudden Death of Stars is a band who surprised me. Sent to me by the label Ample Play (home of Cornershop), this band has a mix of 60s and Latin sounds that is really unique. Great for headphones.
  • Seun Kuti continues to surprise me. You know, it's one thing to get a few great songs out if you're the son of a famous artist (in his case, Fela Kuti). But it's another if you're able to maintain and carve out your sound separate from a namesake. Seun does this. We'll hear a track off his new CD "A Long Way to the Begining."
  • Matsuki Ayumu is another unique artist. This former child prodigy from Japan is cariving out a unique career for himself. He likes to explore new sounds while at the same time pay homage to styles from yesteryear, namely British pop, ala the Beatles.
  • Yokan System is a duo who is also off the Ample Play record label. Though I've only heard one song from them, I'm intrigued. Their sound is moody, almost film-score like. 

Well, there's the breakdown for my "Best of" show, circa 2014. Do yourself a favor and tune in to actually hear these artists, which you can do Saturday at 8:00 p.m. on Richmond Public Radio, 88.9 WCVE or online via this website. Get show updates via Twitter @wcveworldmusic. Thanks for tagging along this past year. Happy New Year.