Bride of Dynamite
Artist: Rio en Medio
This dangerously tuneful record displays the virtues of Danielle Stech-Homsy's Rio En Medio: imaginative, compelling use of melodies, words and sounds. Danielle's voice and baritone ukulele are always at the center, but they can be surrounded by a colorful swirl of electronics and recorded spoken phrases. As spontaneous and dreamy as it sounds, the same effect is achieved in live performance, and seems quite magical.
Love Is Simple
Go see Akron/Family perform live. That's the best way to experience its scope and power, and it's the best way to participate in the communal joy the band generates. "Crickets" represents just a little, quiet corner in the huge, dynamic musical world of Akron/Family. On this song, drummer Dana plays banjo, guitarist Seth plays piano, bassist Miles is the featured vocalist and guitarist Ryan displays his skill if not his instrumental variability.
One of the loveliest albums of chamber music this year is probably unknown to classical-music listeners, and comes from French composer and multi-instrumentalist Cecile Schott, who records as Colleen. Having used electronics and samplers in the past, Colleen's music has gradually grown more acoustic, and on "Sun Against My Eyes," she uses classical guitar and clarinets. Elsewhere on the album, viola da gamba, a Renaissance relative of the cello, is prominent.