Top 14 World Albums, Spring 2013
You know those times when you come across just one amazing new album after another -- albums so exciting, it makes you want to just make a ton of mixtapes (or, you know, "mixtapes") so you can share them with everyone you know? That's where we are with this World Roundup, which covers a new clutch of the kinds of albums that make us wish more people had more access to more "world" music. Oh wait -- we can take care of that!
Coming in as our No. 1 pick is Khat Thaleth, a compilation of Arabic hip-hop that's fierce and groundbreaking in more ways than one. Here in the U.S., we have almost no contact with Middle Eastern hip-hop. But the music is not only alive and thriving in countries like Palestine, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon, it has become an integral part of the Arab Spring uprisings, often providing a politicized artistic voice for the struggles of the people. Sounds exciting, right? Well, this electrifying album also sounds really good.
Here's a quick breakdown of the rest of the list:
The self-titled debut album from Family Atlantica (out on the esteemed Soundway label) introduces a hot new husband-and-wife band that swirls together Cuban and Venezuelan folk and dance music, Ghanaian highlife, Ethio-groove, psych rock and jazz.
You may have heard Mop Mop on Woody Allen's To Rome with Love soundtrack, but get to know Isle of Magic, their fourth album of funk and jazz from across Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and the U.S., featuring guests like funk legend Fred Wesley.
Carlinhos Brown's Mixtura Braileira technically came out last August, but it's been re-released, and you don't want to miss it. Booming samba meets electro beats and deep soul grooves. A heart-pounding listen, and the Brazilian funkster's best album in years.
Soundway gets back to its crate-digging roots with Colomach, a thick, ferocious slice of Nigerian-Togolese psychedelic funk, released in miniscule numbers in '74 and unheard for decades.
Innovative Sierra Leonean artist Sorie Kondi overcame extreme difficulties en route to releasing Thogolobea, his collection of shimmering melodies played on the kondi (a traditional thumb piano) and set to thumping electronic beats.
Speaking of great reissues, the aptly titled Awesome Tapes from Africa just released a collection from Somalian funk-rockers Dur-Dur Band, who hail from the early '80s era of Mogadishu's cosmopolitan heyday.