Upper Class Recordings

Toronto-based independent music label Upper Class Recordings has had their paws in the T-dot low-fi music scene for the last decade. The small label is home to some stand-out musicians (from CA and USA) worth a listen on this side of the border. What’s interesting is that none of the artists can be filed solely under one category, be it pop, electronic, indie, or hip-hop.

The Russian Futurists is Matthew Adam Heart. His bedroom-pop (yes, that’s a genre!) has been wooing critics and fans for the past ten years. With some skillfully mopetastic song writing and electronic pop fun, Hart allows for some dancing to cure the broken heart blues. Definitely a stand-out artist on the label. Me Myself And Rye is a “best of,” if you’re looking for a taste.

Ever blending rap and electronic, and continually pushing barriers and jumping over them, the robust sounds from Cadence Weapon are severe, in a good way. At the ripe old age of 25, he has worked with some top notch musicians, and has remixed many others. His latest is TRON Legacy: The Mixtape, which is remixing the Disney version featuring Daft Punk, is a download only album where you set the price. He said it was a hoot hanging out with Jeff Bridges and Daft Punk while making it. No doubt!

For more electronic stylings, check out Girls Are Short, The Cansecos, or the DVAs. Girls Are Short are full on energy and fun. “This is how we do it in stereo, we’re from Toronto, Ontario.” Also fun, yet cerebral, The Cansecos tracks are indie-electro with synth beats, vocals, drum machines, and the usual electronic bliss. The DVAs feature electronic-pop with hints of funk, house and soul laid over electronic mixes.

I was pretty much sold on Food For Animals when I read the following: “Surely you’ve considered Aphex Twin and Chuck D teaming up in a studio… well that’s pretty much the explosion you get with Baltimore noise-gangsters Food For Animals.” Intriquing, right?

Steve Reich: Mind Blender

American classical composer, Steve Reich, has at least one thing in common with great science fiction writers: they put your mind through a blender. This week, Reich celebrates his 75th birthday while he continues challenging audiences with a new musical language.

Never heard of Reich? Watch this short documentary on his life and you may have to restrain yourself from checking out everything the AADL has by him. As the documentary says, Reich’s work is often based on repeated melodic patterns set to a regular pulse. His instrumentation is often unusual, such as using hand clapping and tongue clicking for an entire piece, or swinging microphones on pendulums over speakers to produce rhythmic feedback.

Brian Eno says his music wouldn’t exist without Reich’s influence. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas says, “I know when I’ve truly learned [Reich’s] pieces because they stop hurting.” Reich has named Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring and Charlie Parker’s music as strong influences on his work. Put these pieces together and you get a complex rhythmic experience akin to setting your brain blender on ‘Frappe.’

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Seattle Beats, Exiled Composers, Ambient Aspergers, Punk Anniversaries, World Music Geeks

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!

Emma's Mini: Glamorously Femme Electropop
Emma's Mini is a duo based in Seattle, WA. In April of 2003 they self-released this album, "Beat Generation Mad Trick". Taking their cue from bands such as Lamb, Massive Attack and Moloko, Emma's Mini seamlessly blends Suzanne McClean's rich, lush vocals with Demian Shoemaker's innovative beats and soundscapes.

Colin Booth: Solo Harpsichord Music
Peter Philips, one of the great musical geniuses of the age of Queen Elizabeth I, was forced into exile in Europe because of religious intolerance in England, following the failed Spanish Armada. Not only did he become a famous composer throughout the continent, but his music, unlike his person, was celebrated in his home country. This album, "Peter Philips - The English Exile", has received enthusiastic praise from reviewers. Listen to Colin Booth play the music of Philips on a large and unusual harpsichord -- a copy of an Italian 17th Century instrument with two keyboards.

Dr. Sounds: Spacey Ambient/Dark New Age
Dr. Sounds is Alexander Forselius, a Romanian-born artist, creating spacey, ambient/dark, new age tracks using mostly free software packages. Alex has Aspergers Syndrome and feels he is a little different in thinking about and experiencing the world. "I think my brain values mathematics and logic before feelings...I mostly feel integrated with the computer, and feel a deep relationship with it...my experience in childhood, and autistic experience of the unorganized social world, is transmuted to unique, illustrative, ambient soundtracks that don't follow a given musical genre."

Rocket City Riot: High Energy Rock and Roll
Snotty punk rock reminiscent of the Sex Pistols. This 10th-anniversary redux of "We Name the Guilty Men" is raw and vital rock and roll that shakes your teeth. You will hear songs about love, death, and drinking, the holy trinity of punk rock. This is not the kind of music that RCR makes anymore, so get it while the getting is good.

Kara Nomadica: A Fresh New Sound Driven by Traditional Arabic and Turkish Rhythms
Kara Nomadica is a fusion of ancient and exotic instruments from the Middle-East, North Africa, and Australia. This album is driven by traditional iqaat (rhythms) and maqamat (micro-tonal scales) of Turkey and the Arab world. The band explores original compositions and breathes new life into a select repertoire of traditional Middle-Eastern classics. Denver music reviewer John Zwick says, "Kara Nomadica is what happens when you bring together a mess of overqualified music geeks with Middle Eastern instruments you've never heard of...it's a damn captivating sound."

The Ben Jansson Quartet Plays The Music Of Thelonious Monk

Thursday September 29, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Enjoy a delightful evening of jazz at our upcoming concert featuring the Ben Jansson Quartet. The band pays tribute to jazz great Thelonious Monk by focusing their energy on his compositions. This concert features Ben Jansson on tenor saxophone; Duncan McMillan on piano; Paul Keller on bass; and Sean Dobbins on drums.

The Ben Jansson Quartet plays frequently at Cliff Bells Jazz Club and Bakers keyboard Lounge in Detroit, Murphy's Jazz Club in Toledo and Kerrytown Concert House in Ann Arbor. Each quartet member is also a leader of their own ensemble and play frequently throughout Michigan, nationally and internationally.

Come out and listen to the compositions of Thelonious Monk, which have been praised as the most original, exciting, sophisticated, and inspired music ever created in America.

AADL Staff Picks Searchable Online!

AADL offers so many ways to locate new finds to suit your interests. You can search by topic through the community made booklists, tags, and reviews. You can ask for reading recommendations from one of our many friendly librarians or visit our Staff Picks shelves located at the Downtown Branch. Best of all, a recent update to the catalog allows you to search staff recommendations from any computer! Simply run a catalog search for Call Number “Staffpick.” If you’re looking for a certain material type indicate it in the materials drop down menu. Now you are free to peruse selections made by the AADL staff. A diverse group of workers means a diverse set of tastes, and there’s sure to be something for everyone in the AADL Staff Picks.

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: I've Got the Blues, Persephone Revisited, Georgia Hip Hop, Appalachian Tunes with a Twist, At the Circus

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!

Bluesboy Jag: Authentic 1920's Solo Blues Guitar
Pared down to the down-home marrow of their bluesy bones, the twenty-six acoustic tracks of "Four Strings" are like an ultra-pleasant visit to guitarist Jag's front porch, where he plays for you on his hand made cigar box guitars. Intimate, unvarnished, authentic. Iced tea or lemonade with that?

Philharmonia Baroque: Historically-Informed Classical Orchestra
Celebrated Dead Man Walking composer, Jake Heggie, has a fascinating take on the Persephone myth. In this recording, Philharmonia Baroque brings the tale to life with the help of Broadway superstar Patti Lupone and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian. "To Hell and Back" traverses an impressive amount of musical territory in just five scenes—a turbulent overture, a dulcet duet, a potent cabaret number, and a penetrating aria among other things. Heggie uses these stylistic choices to develop his disturbing, deeply affecting portrait of spousal abuse and the familial denial that perpetuates it.

Jay Love Baby: Booty Shakin' Baby Makin' Music
Atlanta-based B-Boy/breakdancer/deejay/producer/artist, Jay Love, delivers his new release, Ego Centric, a great party starter album packed with dance floor classics. It's highly energized with the feel of the Black Eyed Peas, beats like Timbaland and a vocal flow similar to T Pain and Flo-Rida. Booty shakin' is guaranteed.

Lydia McCauley: Intriguing Piano Compositions with Dynamic Accompaniment
ForeignLander is a collection of innovatively arranged pieces from 17-20th Century British Isles and Appalachia, beautifully performed by Linda McCauley and her Ensemble, along with special guests. A well known artist in the Celtic and New Age worlds, she slightly detours on this album by taking traditional Appalachian melodies and working her magic on them. While careful to preserve Appalachian traditions, Lydia creates a fresh sound that pleases both traditional and progressive music audiences.

Kavanah: Eclectic Intense, Industrial Ethnic, Classical Phrasing, Soundtrack, Cirque
This soundtrack to the hit traveling circus show, Cirque Montage, is an eclectic mix of World Music, Electronica, Jazz and Cirque. Composer Martin St-Pierre and vocalist Kate St-Pierre are both Cirque du Soleil and Dragone (Le Reve) alumni.

Rhythms of Cuba With Tumbao Bravo

Wednesday September 14, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Listen and be swept away by the authentic rhythms of Cuba with the rich jazz harmonies of this award-winning band. Winner of two Detroit Music Awards, Tumbao Bravo has recorded three critically acclaimed recordings, and the title cut on their latest CD, Un Systema Para Todo, was used as a sound track to an episode of the USA Network TV show, Burn Notice.

Tumbao Bravo is known for their authentic Cuban polyrhythms including mambos, cha chas, rhumba, boleros, and danzon all based on the Cuban montuno. Many of the songs are originals written by band members. This AADL concert features co-leaders Paul VornHagen on sax/flute/piccolo and Alberto Nacif on congas accompanied by timbales, piano and bass.

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Poetic Englishmen, What is a Kora?, Italian Cello & Bassoon, Noise Evolution, Music for Monks

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!

Robin Grey: Gently Experimental Nu-Folk
Robin Grey writes beautifully ironic, poetic-based tracks for the story-lover in all of us. His voice and attitude harkens back to Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, with masterful lyrics and deadpan delivery. Strangers With Shoes is colored with acoustic guitar, banjo, ukulele, mandolin, piano, double bass, organ, percussion toys and any other instruments he can fit into his little London studio. As one reviewer stated, "Grey is one of those wonderful talents that could recite the phone directory on record and you'd still be enthralled".

Daniel Berkman: 21st Century Ambient African Kora
A wonderfully laid-back album, Calabashmoon blends Daniel Berkman's gorgeous kora playing with subtle beats and other little touches of vocals from regional performers for an overall feeling of sunny, world-influenced goodness. Berkman is known for his innovations to this 21-stringed instrument. In this collection of crafty and poignant pieces, he expertly weaves together a tapestry of sounds that gives the listener a sort of relaxed acoustic portrait of modern West Africa, from whence it comes. Be sure to check out the excellent title track, "Mystery Box House."

Sergio Azzolini & Vito Paternoster play Mozart and Haydn
Can a cello and bassoon form a duo? Three different composers thought so. W.A. Mozart composed a beautiful sonata for cello and bassoon, F. Danzi transcribed some of the most beautiful Mozart melodies, and F.J. Haydn composed two duets for cello/bassoon. Italian bassoonist Sergio Azzolini and Italian cellist Vito Paternoster demonstrate how these pieces continue to enchant, delight and amuse listeners today.

The Wretch: Painful Ambient Industrial Noise
Fantastically dark and elegantly industrial, Cyst by The Wretch is a surprisingly nuanced album that favors dynamic variation over mindlessly repeated loops. It's a hybrid of noisecore and drum 'n' bass, but with really smart rhythms and a noise-ambient wash that lends a huge amount of atmosphere and depth. The juxtaposition of totally glitched out, ever-changing beats with the eerie ghost calls and dystopian waveforms in the background works really well. The opening track "Turned" and "Do You" are great. "This is Terror" is beautifully brutal, and don't miss "Feel The Burning."

Tilopa: Healing Magic of the Japanese Zenflute
Pared down and austere, Tilopa's album, By The Way, sounds like serenity itself. The Japanese zen flute (kyotaku) is occasionally accompanied by monastic sounding vocals, and the overall effect is very subdued and meditative. "Red Fullmoon" is a particular standout on this album, a track that makes evident why this type of music was once favored by sects of wandering Buddhist monks. Most of the pieces on this album have that same type of traditional Zen sound, but there are a few more modern pieces here too, such as "Amigos De Viaje," which features acoustic guitar as accompaniment to the kyotaku.

LISTEN!! Digital Music News: Jazz Grooves, Church Chants, 80s Pop, Mediterranean Soul Food, Greek Goth Rock

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!

Drop Trio: Groove-Oriented Organ-Based Funk Jazz
Deliciously mathy structures overlaid with highly original, funk-tinged instrumental grooves are what you'll get on Big Dipper by the award-winning Drop Trio. Influenced by avant-garde jazz, this group thrives on improvisation. The overall vibe here is loose, but the chops are tight and the structure is never neglected. This is a great album to put on in the afternoon while you're working, or in the evening when you're ready for happy hour.

Three Holies Church Choristers: Ancient Eastern Church Music
Gorgeously solemn and reverent, Hymns of the Ancient Church features a number of very rare chants representing the three main canonical singing traditions of the Eastern Church: Byzantine, Georgia and Old Rus. These ancient, holy songs served as the foundation not only of later religious singing, but also classical choral music. All the chants are performed by choristers of the Three Holies Church (Kharkov, Ukraine) conducted by Igor Sakhno—one of the great experts in this form.

Spoons: Retro 80's Music
Formed in 1980, this band made Spoons a different kind of household word. Their unique brand of upbeat, danceable music quickly became anthems to legions of fans. Now, more than two decades later, who could have predicted the phenomenon known as "retro 80s", when old and new fans alike would rediscover these classics? Unexpected Guest At A Cancelled Party is packed with previously unreleased recordings and concert favorites, from the vintage 1982 - 1985 years. Listen to Spoons again, or for the first time, and enjoy.

Sherefe: Balkan and Middle Eastern Music
Sala Sala is a full 78 minutes of eastern Mediterranean soul food with gorgeous songs from Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon and Bulgaria. Sung in native tongues and using traditional instruments, these songs are elegant and danceable. Well honed from hundreds of performances at concerts, festivals, weddings and private parties, Sherefe's rich sound is a melding of cello, bouzouki, oud, gadulka, saz, double bass, Middle Eastern percussion and evocative vocals.

Opened Paradise: Intense Goth Rock From An Ancient City
The incredible, hollowed out grandeur of the songs on Occult bring you straight into the darkly glorious and melodic world of Opened Paradise. Frontman Periklis E's voice is so evocative and intense that it gives Peter Murphy a run for his money. Babis on guitars and Constantinos on drums lend a dire, driving sound to the album that is the perfect counterpoint to the cavernous vocals. So strong and excellent is the overall mood of this album that we strongly recommend turning off the shuffle play for an hour in order to listen to it all the way through, the first track to the last. Dark, dramatic feelings guaranteed.

An Evening With Pianist Deborrah Wyndham

Wednesday August 31, 2011: 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Attention, music lovers! Don't miss this concert with jazz/contemporary pianist and composer, Deborrah Wyndham. She will showcase her range and talent by playing Scott Joplin, Eubie Blake, her own arrangements of pop and jazz, plus original compositions that are fusions of contemporary classical and modern jazz styles.

With 2,700 past performances, Deborrah Wyndham has appeared on FOX, NBC and ABC, has recorded four solo piano CDs and most recently released an album of all original piano music, "Piano Compositions."

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