Joanna Wang – Wild World

We start off this week’s playlist with a smooth cover of a classic by Cat Stevens. Half of the time when I’m listening to music it’s on an artist radio and songs just play one after another. Every now and then a song catches me and I add that song to a playlist and explore the artist further. Joanna is a great singer and the musicians she works with are extremely tasteful.

Mastodon – North Side Star

My first exposure to Mastodon was through early MTV music videos and Adult Swim (a nighttime program of Cartoon Network). Their earlier work was very heavy and I wasn’t in love with them at first. In 2009, they released Crack The Skye and the track “Oblivion” got me hooked. Their compositions have great structure and are full of catchy riffs. Cold Dark Place actually reminds me a little bit of Pink Floyd.

Les Talens Lyriques – Stabat Mater

Here’s another piece I was first exposed to during my time with the Collegium Ensemble at Rowan University. I love the interaction between the two voices and the ensemble. The moving cello and suspensions in the violins make this piece beautiful and haunting all at once. This piece is extremely awesome,

Too Many Zooz – Jingle Bells

I know it’s not anywhere near Christmas, but I’ve been rocking out to this album a lot lately. Too Many Zooz is a band that started as buskers in the New York subways. They remind me of Moon Hooch – another trio comprised of 2 horns and percussion. This seems to be a great instrumentation for songs that blend elements of hip hop, jazz, EDM, New Orleans, and of course traditional.

Portishead – Wandering Star

At some point in my late teenage years I acquired FL studio, a music producing software. I didn’t have the equipment to record my guitars into the program, but I was able to make music within the program. I discovered Portishead when I was trying to look up good artists to sample. Their album, Dummy, is a great project and I chose to respect their work and not to tamper with their creation. It’s a chill, ambient sound that’s nice for background music.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band – La Malanga

I’ve mentioned before and I’ll certainly mention it again in the future, one of my favorite bands ever is Galactic. I saw they were doing a voodoo tour festival with Trombone Shorty and my girlfriend surprised me with tickets! The Preservation Hall Jazz Band was also there and were on right before Galactic. I was extremely delighted to hear such fun, energetic music in a similar wheel house to Galactic. This is another great style of music for dancing.

Ronn McFarlane – Cathedral Cave

Joseph Mayes was the first person to introduce me to Ronn McFarlane’s work. It was my 3rd semester at Rowan and as a guitar major you’re required to study it’s predecessor – the lute. I borrowed the complete lute transcriptions for the album Indigo Road and immediately fell in love. Most of the tracks are inspired by nature and bring very detailed imagery to the listener.

Mayday – Shortcuts and Dead Ends

Almost every week, I will choose a hip hop song to share with you, as this is the style of music I listen to the most. I personally feel that some of the artists in the genre today are not good examples of the art form known as hip hop. For anyone who doesn’t normally appreciate this genre, I hope at least a couple of these songs catch your ear. The chorus is catchy but also has a message I can identify with at times.

Fania All Stars – Ella Fue

This collective is the celebration of the Fania Record Label. It featured a massive ensemble and famous artists who worked with the collective include Willie Colon, Ruben Blades, Celia Cruz, and Hector Lavoe. The guitar work reminds me of Santana and the percussion section as always is super engaging.

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Cold Shot

Stevie is my favorite blues guitarist of all time and I will continue to share him with everyone as often as I can! He was able to make the guitar sing and he poured so much heart and soul into the music. His live performance at the ‘El Mocambo’ is a great example of this and I beg you to watch it. You will not regret a single moment of watching or listening to this man.

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