A little bit of sound advice: Tony Montague
On its way up the U.K. Christmas charts, John Cage’s musically noteless 1952 composition 4’33” has provided some salutary radio breaks from the ceaseless chatter of beats, bleeps, and bleats. Silence is the only true fusion of every genre, and may be the sole common element in this bagful of world sounds.
Manchester-based McGoldrick is creating bold new hybrids of Irish music with elements of rock, reggae, funk, and jazz. A virtuosic performer on uilleann pipes, flute, and whistle, he’s backed by a dream team of the U.K.’s roots musicians, including Capercaillie keyboard and accordion player Donald Shaw.
Listen to "The Jolly Angler" by Michael McGoldrick.
Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba
I Speak Fula
Kouyate has formed a mini-orchestra comprising traditional percussion and four sizes of ngoni—an African ancestor of the banjo—equipped with pickups. His second album is a glorious mix of slow-burning chants and incandescent dance songs from contemporary Mali.
Listen to "I Speak Fula" by Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba.
Trilby-hatted English singer and guitarist Winston writes incisive, quirky, and intelligent lyrics and sets them to a blend of folk, pop, rock, and reggae. His kaleidoscopic songs touch on big issues like social justice, religion, and human identity, but there’s also plenty of wry humour and dry wit.
Listen to "Like a Hobo" by Charlie Winston.
The third recording from Vancouver’s Breakmen draws on the band’s roots in alt-country, bluegrass, old-time, vintage Neil Young, and Grateful Dead circa Workingman’s Dead to create a West Coast acoustic sound that has muscle and resonance. Oh, and the quartet’s vocal harmonies are tighter than a reindeer’s arse in an ice storm.
Listen to "Heartwood" by the Breakmen.
Djekpa La You
Gnahoré, from the Ivory Coast, is a powerful singer, superb songwriter, and fabulous dancer. With her French guitarist and husband, Colin Laroche, she’s created a unique blend of pan-African traditions with western influences.
Listen to "Djekpa La You" by Dobet Gnahore.