Music: Polica -- Give You the Ghost

The best-in-music 2012 lists are coming out every day on music blogs, which is a great chance to pick up on music that you might have missed throughout the year. Even better news is that the AADL has many of the albums on these lists.

Polica (pronounced POE - LISA) is a band from Minneapolis led by singer, Channy Leaneagh, with co-producers Ryan Olson (Gayngs) and Jim Eno (Spoon). Give You the Ghost is their solid debut release, and it makes me think of what the Blade Runner soundtrack would have sounded like if it were written by Florence + The Machine. For a 9 minute snapshot of Policia's story, music, and live show, check out this mini-documentary on youtube.

Polica's songs are about loneliness, separation, and desperate situations. Leaneagh has a powerful yet ethereal voice, carrying lyrics like "wind, you roll me like a viper / time, you lead me to the fire" without sounding melodramatic. Producer Eno contributes polyrhythmic drum patterns and a rich array drum sounds, like his rolling use of floor toms on the third track, "Violent Games". Olson's use of distorted guitar and a mix of keyboard sounds adds texture unlike anything else in music today.

Ravi Shankar, sitarist and Friend of The Beatles, has died

Ravi Shankar, India's most famous sitarist due to his embrace of and collaboration with many well-known Western artists, especially the Beatles, died yesterday in California.

In 1952, Shankar performed with Yehudi Menuhin and 15 years later they recorded West Meets East. In 1965, George Harrison began sitar lessons with Shankar. When Harrison then used the sitar on the Beatles' 1965 album, Norwegian Wood and its popularity took off.

Other notable Western musicians who worked with Shankar were: saxophonist John Coltrane (who named his son Ravi]; Jean Pierre Rampal (flutist); and composer Philip Glass.

Two DVDs highlight Shankar's influence on the world of music: Ravi Shankar in Portrait was a live concert that took place in London on July 22, 2012 in Union Chapel. Exactly five months later, again in London,Concert for George was filmed. This event honoring George Harrison was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 22, 2002.

Shankar, who had undergone heart surgery last Thursday, was 92.

The Best of 2012

If you have read all of the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012, you could certainly find something on 100 Notable Books of 2012.

Here is the NPR Complete List of Best Books of 2012 which includes Graphic Novels That Flew Under The Radar, Nancy Pearl's Picks For The Omnivorous Reader.

As the days get shorter and there is just too much to do, try Jane Ciabattari's picks of Short Stories To Savor On A Winter Weekend. For a bit of seasonal reading, there is A Wintry Mix: Alan Cheuse Selects The Season's Best.

The thoughtful and expert picks in Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2012, and the Library Journal 2012 Best of Genre Fiction are always right on. Bear in mind also, The Guardian(UK) Best Books of the Year for some adventurous reading.

On the road this holiday season? Track down one of these Top 10 Crime Fiction Audiobooks, or the The Washington Post Best Audio Books of 2012.

For the ebook readers on your list, here are the current hot titles. They are always available and no gift wrapping necessary.

FOR THE YOUNG READERS IN YOUR LIFE :

Worth another look is NPR's 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels.

American Library Association's 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults and Top 10 List, the complete list of 2012 Notable Children's Books

The New York Times 100 Notable Children's books covers titles for young adults to picture books.

And who could blame them if they want TOYS? Check out Parenting magazine's Best New Toys 2012 and the Best Wii games for kids.

Dave Brubeck, jazz giant, has died

Dave Brubeck, known for as a mesmerizing improv jazz pianist and for merging many elements of the classical and jazz genres for a uniquely appealing sound, has died.

Brubeck, born in 1922 to a cattle rancher father and a mother who was a classically trained piano teacher, was born with a musical ear. As a child Brubeck was able to hide his inability to read music by his ability to play a piece after hearing it once or twice. In fact, the University of the Pacific only agreed to graduate him with a degree in music if he promised never to teach music.

After serving in the Army during WW II, he studied under the famous French composer, Darius Milhaud, who encouraged Brubeck to pursue his obvious gifts in jazz. In 1951, Brubeck formed the The Dave Brubeck Quartet which solidified his lifelong association Paul Desmond, who wrote the iconic Take Five, Brubeck's haunting piece that blends his knowledge of European harmonies with his irresistible attraction to African rhythm.

Brubeck disbanded the Quartet in the late 1960s and focused renewed interest in composing jazz symphonies and sacred music

Despite the best efforts of harsh jazz critics to take Brubeck down a notch or two over the decades ("...[Brubeck plays]...as if a man who knew 500 words of French were to attempt a novel in that language." - Joe Goldberg. Or this: "...the galloping pomposity of his piano solos." -- Dave Gelly), his fans apparently didn't get the word; Brubeck continued to pack any venue where he performed. His sons joined him in concert tours starting in the 1970s.

Brubeck, who would have been 92 tomorrow, died of heart failure while on his way to a regularly scheduled appointment with his cardiologist.

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Sultry Soul, Japanese Koto, Scottish Lasses, Imagined Cinema Tunes

YOU can access almost 1,000 digital music albums directly through our AADL.org catalog. Stream or download as much as you like, DRM free, on any device you choose. No waiting for a copy. No due dates. Hooray!

ROCK
The Raindoggs: Beat-Heavy, Darkened Mix of R&B and Soul
"One Armed Bandits" is a multifaceted album, each song having a distinctly different influence and flavor. There are wide variations, from funky to ethereal to highly danceable to dirge-like. Even with this wide palette, the group never loses its cohesive, identifiable sound -- wah-wah guitars, saucy horns, liberal use of electronics and samples, and sultry vocals. Influences for The Raindoggs include Tom Waits, Snoop Dogg, The Heavy, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, The Lounge Lizards, and Amy Winehouse.

WORLD
Yumi Kurosawa: Melodic and Mixed World Tunes on Japanese Koto
Yumi Kurosawa was born and raised in Japan and began to study Koto when she was three. Her album, "Beginning of a Journey", offers an East-meets-West music experience. Not familiar with Koto? The traditional Japanese instrument is a kind of dulcimer, a board laced with plucked strings tuned with pyramidal blocks, set at intervals under each string, that give the curving surface the look of a mountainscape diorama. Other features on this recording include a violin ensemble, cello, trombone and computer sounds.

CLASSICAL / FOLK
Susan Rode Morris: Early Music Delivered with a Voluptuous Voice and Intensely Focused Delivery
"Among the Lasses, songs of Robert Burns (1759-1796)" is the second in the trio collection of the beloved songs of Scotland's national poet Robert Burns. Soprano Susan Rode Morris and harpsichordist Phebe Craig offer a look at one way Burns heard his songs played, creating their own bass lines and arrangements based on their knowledge of 18th century music. Burns was not a composer, but a great collector of his national music. He took existing songs that were only partly remembered and rewrote the verses to "mend them". He set his poetry to his favorite fiddle or bagpipe tunes.

AMBIENT / NEW AGE / ELECTRONIC
Ray Carl Daye: Atmospheric Ambient/Electronic Music
"Rapid Ear Movement", the second Magnatune release by Ray Carl Daye, is a diverse collection of electronic/ambient instrumentals full of emotion and creativity. The compositions range from the energetic, sequence-driven minimalism of "Endless Departure" and "Dervish Moon" to the radiant, melodic riff of "Aqua Lit". Other notable tracks are the sentimental, gentle meditation of "Quiet Remergence"; the glittering soundtrack-inspired "Elusian Spring" and cinematic atmosphere of "The Illuminated Earth". In all, "Rapid Ear Movement" presents fourteen short soundtracks for an imagined cinema.

Oh, to live on Sugar Mountain

Forty-four years ago, on November 10, 1968, Neil Young (whose critically-acclaimed autobiography, Waging Heavy Peace: A Hippy Dream is currently a New York Times bestseller) recorded the song "Sugar Mountain" here in Ann Arbor at the now-legendary Canterbury House, then located at the end of this alley at 330 Maynard.

Recorded between the time of Young's membership with Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, this ode to lost youth written four years earlier was acknowledged by fellow Canadian Joni Mitchell (who also played the Canterbury House) as the inspiration for her similarly-themed, The Circle Game. It's one of Young's earliest and more traditional folk songs, and the sincerity evident in this live recording is underscored by its remarkable intimacy.

Check out Sugar Mountain: Live at Canterbury House in our CD collection and some of our Oldnews articles about Ann Arbor's Canterbury House, at the time a coffee house music venue and center for outreach programs associated with St. Andrew's Episcopal Church. Local writer Alan Glenn wrote a great article about the Canterbury House in a recent issue of Michigan Today.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #363

The audio edition of Chuck Greaves' mystery series debut Hush Money * * is not to be missed.

Performed by Dan Butler - actor/director with TV credits for Frasier, Monk, House, and film credits for The Silence of the Lambs and Enemy of the State, it captured perfectly, the wisecracking Jack MacTaggart and the Southern California setting.

When Hush Puppy, Pasadena socialite Sydney Everett's champion show horse, dies under suspicious circumstances, junior lawyer Jack MacTaggart is assigned to handle the insurance claim. But the case soon takes an unexpected turn, thrusting Jack into a spiraling web of blackmail and murder in which he finds himself both the prime suspect and the next likely victim.

Winner of the SouthWest Writers (SWW) grand-prize Storyteller Award for 2010 and the Best Mystery of 2010, former LA trial lawyer Greaves "cleverly intermingles equestrian show jumping, insurance claims, and high-tech science in this sunny California thriller" in Hush Money.

The humor will please fans of Spencer Quinn's Chet and Bernie series, and Robert B. Parker's Spenser fans will find MacTaggart a new hero to root for.

* * = starred reviews

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Fiddles, Poetry, Pop Earworms, Relaxation

YOU can access almost 1,000 digital music albums directly through our AADL.org catalog. Stream or download as much as you like, DRM free, on any device you choose. No waiting for a copy. No due dates. Hooray!

COUNTRY / FOLK-ROCK
The Ranchhands: Fiddle Driven Modern Country Music
True fans of country music will find the perfect marriage of traditional and modern country in The Ranchhands' "Back Home" album. Well crafted songs, a powerful and heartfelt vocal delivery by Mickey Kennedy, electrifying fiddle playing by Chris Tedesco, and lush 3 and 4 part vocal harmonies make this record soar. Glowing reviews from Texas to France gave this album and band international acclaim and a worldwide fanbase that continues to grow.

CLASSICAL / CHORAL
Susan Rode Morris: Early Music Delivered With a Voluptuous Voice
When singer Susan Rode Morris and harpsichordist Phebe Craig met and performed with renowned Scottish fiddle Alasdair Fraser, they discovered the songs of Robert Burns, Scotland's National Poet. Few people know that Burns collected his native tunes and songs and created poetry to many of the wonderful fiddle tunes he loved. "Between Late and Early - Romantic Songs of Robert Burns (1759-1796)" includes the original version of Auld Lang Syne, which plays on public radio on New Year's Eve. "This wonderful performance engendered more response that just about any recording we can remember, in this or any other year" said Martin Goldsmith of Performance Today of NPR. "Hauntingly beautiful renditions, skilled, loving, exquisite."

POP / ALT ROCK
Kurt Hunter: If Jason Mraz Wrote Upbeat Pop Songs for James Taylor to Sing
"Up Too Late" is an album of catchy tunes you'll be singing all day, brought to you by a refreshing blend of acoustic and electric instruments. Although you may not know his name, Kurt's instantly singable music is well-known from TV commercials, the latest one being for Esurance.

NEW AGE
Keri Newdigate: Evocative, Atmospheric, Soothing Piano
"Still Waters" is music to soothe your soul, soothe your nerves, soothe your child -- Music to help to you relax, unwind, meditate, go to sleep, recharge your batteries, refresh your inner self, rejuvenate your spirit, think, ponder, wander, meander, remember. If your life is busy and you feel bombarded by noise, images or deadlines, Still Waters will help you unwind, destress, relax and find a peaceful sanctuary. Suitable for massage, reading, creating, work, quiet times.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #360

In the first of the Valencian crime series, debut novelist Jason Webster introduced Chief Inspector Max Camara in Or the Bull Kills You * * (2011) where he is roped into investigating the grisly murder of a star matador. Not only does he hate bullfighting but what he finds on the blood-stained sand shocks the city of Valencia to its core.

In the follow-up, A Death in Valencia * Max is feeling low and virtually homeless (now that! ... is another story in itself). On the eve of a papal visit, the body of a well-known (and Max's favorite) paella chef washes up on the beach, drawing Max into a web of corruption and violence as he tried to untangle these threads.

"Dark and witty..., the plot is fast and twisting, the scene-setting vivid, and the atmosphere powerfully authentic, showcasing the determined, lonesome Camara, with his love of flamenco and brandy, and occasional doped-out high, A Death in Valencia delves into issues that rouse unruly passions and divide the Spanish people today."

"The undercurrent of melancholy, as Camara finds himself in conflict with the powers-that-be, sets this apart from the usual Southern European procedural/whodunit ". Will appeal to fans of the brooding, sexy Aurelio Zen Series by Michael Dibdin (now available as a PBS Masterpiece Mystery series).
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Born in California, journalist and travel writer Jason Webster (website) moved to Spain in 1993. He lives near Valencia with his wife, the flamenco dancer, Salud.

* * = starred reviews
* = starred review

Tonight: Books and Beyond Presents Overnight America Host Jon Grayson

Join the online community of Books and Beyond at 8:00 pm tonight, Wednesday October 10, to listen and learn about Jon Grayson, the host of Overnight America, based in St. Louis and heard on a number of stations throughout the U.S. How did this multifaceted program get its start? To whom does it appeal? Why is St. Louis the home base? Is it necessary that a show come from New York or Los Angeles? To what does Grayson attribute his success? Approximately 15 minutes prior to the event start time go to The Books and Beyond Room or, alternatively, select The Books and Beyond Room at: www.accessibleworld.org and enter your first and last name on the sign-in screen. If you are a first-time user of the Talking Communities online conferencing software, there is a small, safe software program that you need to download and then run. A link to the software is available on the Books and Beyond entry page.

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