1. CeU- “Lende”- CeU
Twenty-five year-old Brazilian singer-songwriter Maria do Ceu Whitaker Pocas goes by the more accessible CéU, pronounced “Sayou.” It's a name that's gaining praise among critics and listeners.
Her debut, simply titled CeU, is a solid effort for a young artist; mixing down-tempo, jazz, dub and soul, all rooted in her homeland's most famous rhythm: Samba. She even tackles Bob Marley's “Concrete Jungle.”
CeU's musical roots run deep. The Sao Paulo Brazil native's father is a locally renowned composer, arranger and musicologist. She's considered a master of the Brazilian guitar called the violo.
2. Cidadao Instigado-“O Pobres dos Dente de Ouro”â€” Brazil Classics Vol.7: What's Happening in Permambuco
Permambuco is located in northeastern Brazil, a region known for Forro music. It's the accordian driven party music that can sound a bit like polka, cajun and reggae, with the sometimes prominent triangle clanging away.
But the latest release from the Luaka Bop label gives us a very different sound coming from the state of Permambuco. It's a stew of rock, reggae, hip-hop and electronics. One stand out is the band Cidadao Instigado led by guitarist Fernando Catatau. I don't know if he listened to Frank Zappa as a kid because on this tune you get the artistic quirkiness that was a hallmark of Zappa's music. More likley Catatau is influenced by tropicalia pioneer Tom Ze.
Cidadao Instigado is music that should be getting notice beyond Brazil.
3. Burhan Ocal & the Trakya Allstars- “Kayinco (Brother-in-law)”- Trakya Dance Party
A Turkish percussionist who knows no musical boundries, Burhan Ocal is a virtuosic percussionist who's performed with Joe Zawinal, Paco de Lucia, Kronos Quartet and Sting to name a few. His stated aim is to combine many genres and cultural traditions.
On his latest release, he gives a nod to the modern by inviting guest DJ/producer Smadj, who brings the music a bit further up to date while retaining an overall quality of tradition.
4. Lura- “Ponciana”- M'Bem Di Fora
Chances are when people hear Cape Verde and music together, their first thought is of 'The Barefoot Diva', Cesaria Evora. And why not, she's considered the queen of that meloncholic Cape Verdean sound known as Morna. But there are other younger artists who are beginning to make their mark and one of the better is Lura.
Her voice sounds remarkably seasoned as he explores the funana form of music, which comes from the Cape Verdean island of Santiago. But she uses that as a jumping off as she infuses flamenco, R&B. and even a pinch of conjunto into the mix.
5. Fanfare Ciocarlia- “Mig Mig”- Kings & Queens
Imagine a concert that goes on for hours on end. Fanfare Ciocarlia live that experience. The 12-piece Roma band from the northeastern Romanian village of Zevce Prajani know how to throw a sonic party and their latest, Kings & Queens, is no exception.
The guest list on this album is a sample of heavy hitting vocalists from Eastern Europe including Esma Redzepova who appears on the Borat soundtrack.
But the driving Balkan funk with its complex rhythms and staccato clarinet is the centerpiece, as the band continues to mix it up with hints of Bollywood and Hollywood. Join the party!