Thursday, October 9, 2014

Luke Spehar-Sweet Memories

Madrid is very reluctantly letting summer slip from her sweaty palm. Hints of chilliness make their way down from the mountains only to be squashed by the sun who cheekily waves its finger back and forth like a celestial Dikembe Mutumbo.

Despite the warmth, autumn has begun and my ear has been calling for music that leaves the pounding melodies of summer behind. I always find myself slanting towards acoustic tunes around this type of year and today's jamandahalf was a great discovery. Luke Spehar just put out his third album and it's been the perfect autumn herald. Spehar draws on themes from his past, growing up with a love for wilderness, and a deeply religious upbringing, including time spent pondering priesthood. 

Produced by JamandaHalf favorite Ben Harper, All Is Gift is full of of mellow sounds, gentle riffs, and lyrics. All three of these attributes shine on today's track, "Sweet Memories". Check out "Sweet Memories" on Spotify below or purchase All Is Gift here and make start this fall off right. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Divine Raaga-I'm Divine Raaga (Album Review)

Listening to Divine Raaga's debut album I was magically transformed into a Bollywood movie star, aviator sunglasses on, zooming away on a Royal Enfield motorcycle after beating the bad guy, the faint hint of my mullet dancing in the humid Bombay breeze.

I'm Divine Raaga is above all sonically cinematic, layers of sounds coming together to tell seven four-minute long stories. It's not much of a reach to picture each one as the musical side dish to your favorite Indian movie although by themselves they are also unique and filling.

While I can't understand the lyrics, no Duolingo is needed to understand the breadth of influences present in the too-brief 34 minutes of the album. Although rooted in classical Indian music, the boys are never afraid to surprise you with sounds borrowed sounds from other musical cultures: a little didgeridoo here, a honky tonk piano there. What holds the album together, and what might be most surprising to a listener who is unfamiliar with Indian music culture, is that Divine Raaga is never afraid to rock out. Metal riffs give a welcome edge of their sound and surprisingly sound right at home next to flutes and more traditional Indian instruments. There is a deep love for heavy metal in India (check out this video of Metallica's concert in Bangalore) and the boys of Divine Raaga pay homage to their style throughout.

I strongly recommend checking out I'm Divine Raaga below on Spotify or paying a little more than $1 for their full album. It's a great 30 minute introduction to modern Indian music and is a stellar debut. Look out for more from my buddy Mrinal and the rest of the band on these pages soon!