Los Lonely Boys picked up a Grammy for its Los Lobos-esque hit "Heaven," and now Epic has released a live concert album by the band showcasing its organic, Tex Mex performance style. Live at the Fillmore closes with its big hit, but also includes "Crazy Dream," "Hollywood" and a cover of "La Bamba," among others.
Bliss of Life
Last year, I raved about The Beat of Discontent, the first compilation from Internet radio station www.auralgasms.com. This year, the station has one-upped itself with Bliss of Life, a CD compilation that includes some of the station's most requested tracks during the past few months.
Auralgasms, as a streaming Internet radio station, focuses on British pop from Depeche Mode, Erasure and Electronic, as well as heavenly ambient female vocalists and songwriters from the Bel Canto, Balligomingo and Delerium school of well-produced, ethereally layered, musical tapestries.
Not surprisingly, alumni from those bands, including Anneli Drecker, Jody Quine and Harland are among the most requested artists on the station, and Quine is favored with two tracks on the new compilation, one solo song and another in collaboration with new Delerium-esque act Sleepthief.
Harland's "Little White Lies" is one of the highlights of the album, building from a deceptively delicate delivery at the start, atop shifting percussion, to turn into a still ethereal, but solid pledge of strength in the chorus where she tells a hedging lover, "I've seen it all begin to fall/nothing ever lasts forever/don't sugarcoat/your little white lies."
Fans of the Cardigans will appreciate the throwback '60s lounge feel of the song's bridge, before Harland steps it up for the finale.
Fans of the Cardigans also will hear echoes of that band's sound in the lilting, loungey vocals and muted horns of "My Love" from Paco, which features former members of Ivy. Another Ivy connection comes in the more upbeat and modern track "L-L-Love" from Astaire, mixed by a member of Ivy and Paco and featuring the soaring vocals of Erica Driscoll.
There's an emotional accent to the throbbing intensity of Lunascape's "Praise Me," which features ex-Hooverphonic vocalist Kyoko. Hector Zazou and Nicola Hitchcock (of Mandalay) collaborate on "Surrender," which opens with a quavering vocal and a tentative wash of synthesizers, before Hitchcock's breathy whispers give way to a brief saxophone, break before she returns to pine over "all that I hoped for."
Jody Quine's aforementioned collaboration with Sleepthief, "Eurydice," is one of the highlights of the disc, as an oscillating synthesizer bed (a la Robert Miles' techno-dream compositions) support her contemplative croons about death and devotion. Likewise, the silver piano trills and tense percussion of her solo offering, "Hollywood," is achingly magical.
Enchanting male-female synthesizer duo Hungry Lucy, who graced the last Auralgasms disc, return with "To Kill a King," the tale of deadly emotional blackmail from its latest album (a four-star January review in Pop Stops). Dreamy guitar and piano swirls decorate the Radiohead-leaning strum pop of The Autumns' offering, "Cattleya."
A hint of Coldplay, and the gritty vocals of Bono, color the piano-based textures of In-Flight Safety's "Lucky Boy," while songs from Highspire, Asobi Seksu and Monster Movie will slip through your ears like a caress of aerial velvet.
This is the kind of disc you'll play every night as you kick back to relax, meditate, unwind, or even to help you slip into a blissful sleep. Auralgasms has truly captured a honey-sweet meld of aural beauty in Bliss of Life. Don't miss this one; check it out at www.auralgasms.com.