When I was a kid, one of my favorite scenes in The Wizard of Oz was when Dorothy, wide-eyed and full of wonder, was pulled through Emerald City by the Horse of a Different Color. Not one to bow its shaggy mane to conventional horse ways, this amazing beast would periodically change its color to various vibrant shades to suit its fancy. I see a similarity between Dorothy’s rainbow-hued guide and some of the music we purchase for the library. While it is in the librarian’s nature to try to classify the things she buys in order to make them more findable for our users, sometimes that task feels impossible. We are constantly working on the language we use to make sure that we keep up with changes in music and literature, but it can often be hard to be as accurate as we’d like to be and still remain organized. So this month, I wanted to highlight some of our latest Arrivals of a Different Color to pique your interest. They may defy our ability to apply just one golden label, and might not be placed where you’d expect them (not for lack of trying!), but that doesn’t make them any harder to enjoy. Be sure to place your holds now!
Mark Knopfler – Tracker (Verve). Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame, has returned with his ninth solo album. While this will be placed in the Rock section, it could easily appeal to fans of old-school country, Irish folk music, jazz, and bluegrass. I like to think of this one as sea shanties and ballads for the urban cowboy.
Tego Calderón – El Que Sabe, Sabe (Universal Music Latin Entertainment). El Que Sabe will wind up in our Latin Pop section, but listeners will find a mix of reggaeton, hip-hop, reggae, electronica, bomba, and more. While the overall tone is dark but dancy, there are a couple lighter, more laid-back cuts. ‘La Media’ was a standout track for me; it reminded me of mid-90s hip-hop, to be enjoyed in the sun.
Mat Kearney – Just Kids (Republic Records). Also bound for our Rock section, Just Kids speaks to a few different interests. At first blush this sounds almost like a Coldplay album, but then Kearney starts rhyming, a little like Macklemore, but with vaguely Christian Contemporary lyrics. Did I mention he has bluegrass overtones but also likes to play around with synths? Christian folk-hop? Sounds about right, and it works.
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (Domino Recording Co.). If we were going to indulge in smaller musical genre sections at the library, I’d place this in ‘chillwave’ – basically synthpop’s grandbaby – but I do not want our catalogers to start hating me. For simplicity’s sake, this album rocks out, so it belongs under that heading. Panda Bear’s sound is psychedelic, synth-driven, and sample heavy, but layered over with vocal harmonies that have often been compared to the Beach Boys.
For those of you who would like some less-complicated notable new arrivals, I also really enjoyed these two:
Various Performers – The One-derful! Collection (Secret Stash Records). An outstanding collection of soul and funk classics recorded at One-derful! in Chicago between 1962 and 1971. I can’t recommend this compilation enough. It’s the first of six that will be released over the next few years.
José González – Vestiges & Claws (Mute). Straight-up, no-nonsense indie-folk music. This is a really enjoyable album, with beautiful guitar melodies, intriguing lyrics, and dreamy vocals.