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What We're Listening To

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Beautiful lies

Birdy, 1996- performer, composer.


Beautiful Lies brings a depth that pulls Birdy from Ingrid Michaelson territory and into a scene occupied by Lorde, Florence, and Lana. On the lush opener "Growing Pains," she incorporates East Asian-influenced melody into a swelling, powerful chorus that echoes the aforementioned Del Rey with a little Kate Bush sprinkled on top. That refreshing quirkiness is also present on the wistful "Silhouette," which includes a surprising flourish that wouldn't be out of place on a Joanna Newsom or Regina Spektor track. Beautiful Lies' most uplifting moments, such as the full-throttle "Keeping Your Head Up" and the urgent "Wild Horses," provide touches of elevation and empowerment, similar to much of Foxes' 2016 release, All I Need. There is also a nice balance to Beautiful Lies that creates a fuller, more satisfying listening experience. Midtempo breathers like "Shadow" and "Words" comfort, while the atmospherics on "Take My Heart" and "Save Yourself" haunt like ballads by Vaults or Bat for Lashes. While Birdy is indeed growing up (she was 19 at the time of release), nods to her origins are present on the piano ballads "Lost It All," the soothing "Unbroken," and the closing title track, a sparse beauty that ends Beautiful Lies with a kiss goodbye. "Turn out the light, there are no more surprises to come," she sings, as the album takes its last breath. With more life, richer texture, and an inspiring attitude, Beautiful Lies is Birdy's declaration that she is more than able to make her mark in the big leagues and join the ranks of the alternative pop pantheon. ~ Neil Z. Yeung

Suggested by Brian


Lang, K. D..

A true collaboration between three phenomenal, self-driven artists: avant-rock icon Neko Case, legendary musical nomad K.D. Lang, and indie folk star Laura Veirs. The women wrote all fourteen songs and shared lead vocals equally, sometimes even within the same track.

Suggested by Brian

All people

Franti, Michael, 1968-


Michael Franti's evolution from pissed-off punk to flip-flop-wearing jam band man is fascinating because he's come off as sincere on either end, and with his 2013 release, he continues to confuse and sooth in equal measure. Good news is, the confused feeling fades once the sun-drenched, feel-good vibes of the latter sink in, with "I'm Alive (Life Sounds Like)" offering the most immediate relief from the drudgery of the day, coming off as a sing-along, clap-along, or whistle-along triple threat for the nighttime campfire hippie set. The opening title track is the same vibe with pop and slickness carrying its message of unity to the people, while "11:59" uses jam band melodies and hip-hop beats to persuade listeners to join Franti's chant for peace. One more round of "Hallelujah" and All People would come off as a commune soundtrack never meant to be experienced alone, but with the smooth, miniature techno of "Long Ride Home" the album takes a winning turn for the personal and small. The punchy "Earth from Outer Space" with fellow peacemaker K'NAAN puts some big-bottomed reggae into the album's flow, then "Closer to You" builds from intimate to uplifting before the psychedelic relic "Wherever You Are" reminds listeners that the Beatles were dazzling during their acid days. Approaching the album in any cynical matter will ruin the whole show, and even if it seems some songs share the same sentiment to the point of redundancy, All People is about feeling good and hopeful. Split this collection of peace and sunshine down the middle for greatest effect. AllMusic - David Jeffries

What's inside : songs from Waitress

Bareilles, Sara, composer, performer.


Music from a 2016 Tony Award Nominee. With her fourth full-length album, Sara Bareilles offers up a taste of the music that she has created for an upcoming Broadway musical, which is based on the 2007 film. Included is the single She Used to Be Mine.

Suggested by Brian

School of rock: the musical : original cast recording

Lloyd Webber, Andrew, 1948- composer, producer.

eMusic hoopla

A 2016 Tony Award Nominee. Available from Sno-Isle Libraries hoopla.

Based on director Richard Linklater's 2003 hit comedy film of the same name, School of Rock: The Musical follows the misadventures of washed-up rock singer/guitarist and reluctant substitute teacher Dewey Finn (originally played by Jack Black) as he attempts to transform his uptight fifth-grade class into a lean, mean rock & roll machine. Directed by Laurence Connor (Les Misérables), produced by Grammy Award winner Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Phil Collins, Paramore), and featuring a book by Julian Fellowes (Downton Abbey, Mary Poppins). AllMusic Review

Suggested by Brian

Hamilton : original Broadway cast recording

Miranda, Lin-Manuel, 1980- composer, librettist, lyricist, performer.


A 2016 Tony Award Nominee. Available to listen to today from Sno-Isle Libraries hoopla.

Suggested by Brian

Bright Star Original Broadway Cast Recording

Martin, Steve.

A 2016 Tony Award Nominee. Steve Martin and Edie Brickell present the the soundtrack to the original Broadway musical that tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and 1940s.

Available to listen to today from Sno-Isle Libraries hoopla.

Suggested by Brian

Violin sonatas


A typical pairing of the French violin sonatas by Ravel and Debussy aside the contrasting sonata by the Czech composer Janacek. Also included is the early composition by Ravel for violin and piano. Sonata posthume was set aside by the composer and only published posthumously in 1975. A gem of a work by Ravel and every bit as enjoyable as any of the movements on this disc. Strong expressive detailed recording.

Suggested by Brian

Follow me down

Jarosz, Sarah.


Sarah Jarosz continues to travel a creative road with her second album, which showcases her expansive and vital approach to acoustic music. Along with original songs, the album features a cover of the Radiohead track The Tourist as well as Bob Dylan's Ring Them Bells.

Suggested by Brian

Above & Beyond: Acoustic

Above & Beyond.

Acclaimed trio Above & Beyond breathe fresh life into some of the most beloved dance music songs with elegant, downtempo arrangements that connect the dots between Portishead, John Barry, and Angelo Badalamenti. "Above & Beyond are known for their unique sound that undoubtedly emits some of the most deeply emotive progressive and trance music. Simply put, they've mastered it." Steph Evans EarMilk

Suggested by Brian

The greatest hits why try harder

Fatboy Slim, 1963-


Why Try Harder goes for the gloss, and does so triumphantly. "Praise You," "Weapon of Choice," and "Right Here, Right Now" are all instantly recognizable tracks and packed so tight together that they create a whirlwind of big beat excitement. The curious can now skip the so-so Palookaville since its best is here, but those bitten by the big beat bug will have to go further, because Cook's best productions weren't always his singles. Two new numbers -- "Champion Sound" and "That Old Pair of Jeans" with Lateef of Blackalicious on the mike -- fail to thrill, but with so much imagination and over the top brilliance elsewhere on the disc, they can't keep this collection from being vital for budget-minded clubbers. AllMusic Review by David Jeffries

Suggested by Brian


McBride, Martina.

CD U MCB7516

What makes Evolution work is the purity and power of McBride's voice -- she is one of the few contemporary country singers who can pull off this kind of country-pop. And that's not all she can do, as the rocking "Keeping My Distance" or the gospel-inflected "A Broken Wing" prove. Furthermore, McBride's songs remain staunchly independent and strong-willed, with clear feminist overtones, which helps make Evolution a rarity among contemporary country albums -- it's catchy and it has a heart. AllMusic Review by Thom Owens

Suggested by Brian

Divertimento for violin, viola & cello in E-flat major, K. 563

Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, 1756-1791.


This work's title, which suggests something slight and diverting, is enormously misleading, for this is one of the greatest masterpieces of Mozart's late period... In many respects this performance leaves the competition far behind. The three brilliant instrumentalists – all in their early 30s – combine the unity of ensemble of the Grumiaux-Czako-Janzer performance with the passion of Stern-Rose-Zukerman. Stephen Wigler, The Orlando Sentinel [12/8/1985]

Suggested by Brian


Walk off the Earth (Musical group)


Walk off the Earth features multi-instrumentalists Gianni Luminati, Ryan Marshall, and Sarah Blackwood on vocals, Mike Taylor on keyboards, and Joel Cassady on drums. Nominated for a JUNO award Group of the Year. AllMusic says of their album R.E.V.O. "The whole set has a bright, summery vibe, full of sharp harmonies, inventive, percussive arrangements, and solid, memorable songwriting. Somebody That I Used to Know is here, along with ten band-written songs, and it's a refreshing pop feast, with tracks like the opening declaration R.E.V.O., the striking Red Hands, and the sweet as summer air Summer Vibe all revealing a confident, delightfully quirky, and endlessly inventive band having fun and delivering a kind of lightly experimental sunshine pop for the 21st century..." Give it a try.

Suggested by Brian

Dark eyes

Half Moon Run (Musical Group)


Montréal based Half Moon Run nominated for a Juno - Breakthrough Group of the Year – scored two “A-list” hits at BBC-One, sold over 125,000 albums, including 75,000 in Canada, had 25 million streams on Spotify and 7.5 million video views on Facebook. Described on AllMusic as “richly detailed, alternately rugged and studio slick, the airy and expressive debut album” Dark Eyes is why this group is deserving of the nomination. Half Run Moon has a second album just out, Sun Leads Me On, and it is available in Hoopla.

Suggested by Brian

Violin sonatas

Beethoven, Ludwig van, 1770-1827.


Itzak Perlman and Martha Argerich team up to perform live at the Saratoga Chamber Music festival. "Both big musical personalities, strike sparks off each other in these vividly characterized readings of Beethoven's Kreutzer and the Franck Sonata, recorded live in July 1998." "The approach is strikingly different from the straighter, far less volatile reading which Perlman recorded for Decca with Vladimir Ashkenazy over 25 years earlier in 1973." Gramophone

Suggested by Brian

In the Heights original Broadway cast recording

Miranda, Lin-Manuel, 1980-

CD K MIR4428

Before there was the Grammy winning musical Hamilton (Best Musical Theater Album 2015)...there was the Grammy winning musical In the Heights. "As its composer/lyricist, Lin-Manuel Miranda won a Best Original Score Tony Award for the show, as well as a nomination for Leading Actor in a Musical. It also earned him a Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album and a Pulitzer Prize nomination for Drama with the musical's book author, Quiara Alegría Hudes, in 2009." "The story of two days in a Washington Heights Latino neighborhood doesn't have a vastly compelling plot or action, but the themes of immigrant and second-generation immigrant families, the "American dream," and neighborhood transition/urban gentrification ring true, and the way it is all put together and performed with conviction by the cast holds attention." AllMusic

Suggested by Brian


Passenger (Musical group : England), performer.


British singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg, known by the stage name Passenger, is on a mission to “write songs that come from the heart”. His 6th studio album release Whispers is much in the same heartfelt songwriting style as his successful 2012 release All the Little Lights which featured the chart topping Let Her Go. Passenger’s unique vocal sound stands out among other troubadours and has been described by AllMusic reviewer Matt Collar as “a distinctively poignant chirp of a voice that sounds something akin to an elf who stayed up all night smoking, drinking, and sharing stories with friends.” With tracks 27, Heart’s on Fire and the album title song Whispers Passenger is well on his way to fulfilling his mission to share songs from the heart.

Suggested by Brian

Sing to the Moon

Mvula, Laura, composer, performer.


Artist Laura Mvula debuted with this album Sing to the Moon winning MOBO awards in the categories of Best Female Act and Best R&B or Soul Artist. Sing to the Moon standout tracks include Green Garden, That’s Alright and the album title track Sing to the Moon. “Almost all of the material is as serious and as refined as it is majestic, with vocal showcases and hushed-belted dynamics galore. ...Sing to the Moon marks the arrival of a unique and major talent -- one with a commanding voice seemingly from another dimension -- who should be worth watching for many years to come.” Andy Kellman AllMusic

Suggested by Brian

Fire within

Birdy, 1996-, composer, performer.


Fire Within features original songs written by Birdy (Jasmine van den Bogaerde) in collaboration with talented songwriters, including Dan Wilson (Adele), Rich Costey (Muse, Arctic Monkeys) and Mumford and Sons pianist Ben Lovett. This second album release shows this 17 year old progressing from a successful self-titled debut album of covers to a solid confidence in her own talent both in singing and songwriting.

Suggested by Brian

Bach a strange beauty

Bach, Johann Sebastian, 1685-1750.


A mixed program offering music for solo piano, piano and orchestra, and choral music arranged for piano. Appealing to a mainstream audience that accepts modernizing Bach and enjoys hearing the full sonorities of a piano. "What's striking about Dinnerstein is that she plays Bach as if she's never heard it before. From the first ponderous low notes of the chorale arrangement that opens the album, she compels the listener to follow her in a journey of discovery filled with unscheduled detours. " Ashalen Sims NPR Music

Suggested by Brian

Rockabilly riot! : all original

Setzer, Brian, composer, performer.


Three-time Grammy Award winner Brian Setzer delivers a straightforward blast of pure rockabilly with twelve original and high-octane tracks. His first studio album since 2011 also includes the single Let's Shake.

Suggested by Liz


May, Imelda, 1974- composer, performer.


On her fourth studio album, Imelda May continues to deliver a fiery mix of classic rockabilly and modern music. Along with the title track, the CD includes the single It's Good to Be Alive.

Suggested by Liz

Didn't he ramble

Hansard, Glen, 1970- composer, performer.


The second solo outing from acclaimed singer-songwriter Glen Hansard. The new album is his first in over three years and follows 2012's solo debut Rhythm & Repose, which Billboard hailed as 'Hansard at his most engaging.'

Suggested by Dawn


Miguel (Musician), composer, performer.


Warning: this is SUPER SEXY.

Suggested by Dawn

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