> Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. The
The debut from Seattle duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis is a
triumph for indie rap, not least because this self-penned,
produced and released effort entered the Billboard charts at No
MC Macklemore's lyrics are at once playful and socially
aware, tackling op-shopping, substance abuse, and homophobia,
as producer Lewis cobbles together an irresistible aural
patchwork of alto sax squawks (as on the gargantuan Thrift
Shop), minor chord piano thuds and searing nu-soul.
Though Macklemore's nimble wordplay is at times plagued by
earnestness, there's no denying The Heist's overarching and
infectious joie de vivre.
Single download: Thrift Shop
For those who like: Atmosphere, Beastie Boys, Eminem,
- John Hayden
> Ariana Tikao. From Dust To
Light. Aeroplane Music.
Ariana Tikao's reflections on such weighty matters as the
Christchurch quakes and the death of a friend mix with songs
that explore her personal and cultural history on her third
album, a smoothly paced and mellow 11-track work.
The mood is that of an intimate back-porch performance, with
Tikao and a small cast of players adding discreet touches of
taonga puoro, cello, dulcimer, piano and field recordings to
a carefully balanced acoustic-folk set sung in a mix of Maori
and English. Te Heke and Something To Give are
contrasting highlights on this appealing album.
Single download: Te Heke
For those who like: Toni Huata, Maisey Rika
- Jeff Harford
> Aaron Neville. My True
Story. Blue Note.
A covers album by an established vocal artist is hardly new
territory, yet New Orleans soul singer Aaron Neville's romp
through early rock 'n' roll and doo-wop avoids the bored sighs
courtesy of his signature vibrato and falsetto flourishes, as
well as production values that focus on the original simplicity
of the dozen tracks here.
It could be argued there is little point recording a cover
version if you're not going to give it a major reworking, yet
producers Keith Richards and Don Was, along with a guest list
including Tom Petty's keyboardist Benmont Tench, conjure
forth enough groove and grit to coax further listenings.
Single download: Little Bitty Pretty One
For those who like: Jackie Wilson
- Shane Gilchrist