JANUARY 23, 2012
Twelve for 2012
Twelve New World Music Albums To Blow Your Mind In The New Yearby Tom Pryor
According to the Mayan Calendar, this year marks the end of the world as we know it - so if you plan on partying like it's 2012, you'll definitely need the right soundtrack. Luckily for you, dear reader, the Nat Geo Music elves have reached out from our lead-lined Apocalypse bunker to conjure up a dozen brand new world music releases to look forward to in the New Year.
From old favorites like Mali's wonderful Amadou and Mariam and Spanish guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, to up-and-comers like Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux and Malian singer-songwriter Fatoumata Diawara, 2012 is already offering up a bumper crop of fresh and juicy musical treats for world music fans.
And our own Nat Geo Music record label isn't sleeping, either! We've got new music from old friends like Balkan Beat Box, Bibi Tanga and Brownout - the funky alter-ego of GRAMMY-winners Grupo Fantasma - coming out this year; as well as albums from some brand new signings including Australia's powerful Blue King Brown and NYC afro-reggae outfit Bajah+The Dry Eye Crew.
So if you're looking for hot new sounds to drown out the screams from the Mayan apocalypse, or just looking for something fresh to plug into your mp3 player, we've got you covered? and this is just for the first half of the year? wait till you see what we've got up our sleeves for this summer!
12 For 2012:
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Mexican guitar-slinging duo Rodrigo y Gabriella are back with Area 52, which features nine of Rod and Gab's favorite songs from their own catalogue re-arranged and recorded in Havana with legendary producer Peter Asher and a 13-piece Cuban orchestra comprised of some of the country's finest young players. This spring, Rodrigo y Gabriela and their C.U.B.A. band will hit the road to support this dazzling new collection.
Release Date: 1/24/12
Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux knocked our socks off back in 2010 with her take-no-prisoners debut, "1977", and now she's back with a whole new batch of politically explosive bangers on La Bala - Spanish for "The Bullet". The first single, "Shock" gives a shout-out to Chile's burgeoning student tuition protest movement, and the album offers up 10 more bangers, including guest collaborations with Jorge Drexler, Chilean rap crew Solo Di Medina, and Cuban hip-hop group Los Aldeanos. Release Date: 1/31/12
Peruvian outfit Novalima have been fusing traditional Afro-Peruvian folkloric music with modern electronica for nearly a decade. This time around producers Ramon Perez-Prieto, Grimaldo Del Solar, Rafael Morales, and Carlos Li Carrillo add some Afrobeat into their mix, and take a trip through history and the the African Diaspora of sound on their third full-length album and first release for the ESL label. Release Date: 1/31/12
New Orleans brass funksters Galactic connect the dots between Brazilian Carnival and their hometown Mardi Gras traditions on Carnivale Electricos. Set for release on Fat Tuesday, the album brims over with NOLA allstars - from Ivan
and Cyril Neville to Mystikal to the legendary Al "Carnival Time" Johnson - and Brazilian inspired tunes, including a cover of the Sergio Mendes Carnivale classic "Magalenhaand and a new composition "Guero Bounce," which pairs Brazilian rhythms with a New Orleans Bounce beat. Release Date: 2/21/12
Soul Is Heavy
Nigerian singer/songwriter Nneka shifts the focus from her usual political and social justice concerns to a more intimate interrogation of the motifs of love, pain, personal politics and God on Soul Is Heavy. Produced by longtime collaborator DJ Farhot, and featuring collaborations with with The Roots' Black Thought and Ms. Dynamite, Soul Is Heavy blends hip-hop, reggae, r&b and afrobeat into a sound that Nneka calls "21st Century Soul". Release Date: 2/28
Balkan Beat Box
Nat Geo Music
It's been two years since the last BBB album dropped, and the Israeli-expat trio has been through a lot since then - not least being fatherhood. Now they're back with their most personal and provocative album yet - filled with their tightest and darkest sonic palette and most politically charged songs so far. Inspired the events of the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall St. Movement, and the burgeoning Israeli protest movement, Give boils over with social outrage, passion and hope. Release Date: 3/6/12
South African rapper Spoek Mathambo first blew up internationally with the release of 2005's Mishini Wam - a dark, absurdist, glitch-hop-fuelled tour of Joburg and Soweto's musical id. Now he's signed to the Sub Pop label and following up last summer's Put Some Red On It EP with Father Creeper, another blast of art-damaged Afro-Futurism from one of the most original hip-hop visionaries this side of Lil Wayne. Release Date: 3/13
Amadou and Mariam
Amadou and Mariam - the beloved "blind couple from Mali - have made a name for themselves with their adventurous collaborations with the likes of Manu Chao and Damon Albarn. With Folila the duo tap long-time collaborator Marc-Antoine Moreau to produce and invite a handful of high profile guests - Santigold, TV on the Radio, Nick Zinner, Theophilus London, Bassekou Kouyate, and more - to collaborate on their most adventurous release yet.
Release Date: 3/ 27 /12
La Familia Soriano
Dominican bachata artist Joan Soriano returns with his musical family in tow on his latest outing for NYC-based indie label IASO records. Soriano, who lives in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, plays old school, acoustic bachata, the way it was played decades ago. This isn't the overproduced pop-bachata of megagroups like Aventura, but the sweet, downhome sounds of a man, a guitar, his voice and his big, big heart. Release Date: 4/ 10 /12
Brooklyn's homegrown chicheros return with a fresh blast of guitar-and-accordion anchored Latin psychedelica. For the uninitiated, chicha music is the trippy, psychedelic sound of the Peruvian Amazon. And Chicha Libre is the music's biggest international booster, thanks to the tireless efforts of the group's founder and frontman Olivier Conan - who's helped the original 60s and 70s artists break into the international market thanks to his Roots of Chicha compilation series. Release Date: 5/ 9/ 12
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Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars
While the powerhouse Cumbancha label has a big slate of releases scheduled for 2012, including new music from Algerian rocker Sarazino (Everyday Salama - due out 5/16/12) and a collabortion between Mali's Vieux Farka Touré and Israel's Idan Raichel (The Touré-Raichel Collective/ The Tel Aviv Sessions - due out 3/27/12) - the album on their roster we're most excited by is this one. Sure we've heard plenty from Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars in the past, but this team they're teaming up with NYC-based producer Victor Axelrod - a.k.a. Ticklah - a founding member of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and the Easy Star All Stars. This is a man who knows his way around a mixing desk and we expect that this album, recorded on vintage, analog equipment, will finally bring a much-needed roots bite to SLRAS' gentle reggae sound. Release Date: 4/ 24/ 12
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Malian singer/songwriter Fatoumata Diawara took Europe by storm last year, when her full-length debut Fatou was originally released there. A joyous mix of the vibrant and understated, Fatou "combines songs about love, politics and empowerment with arresting melodies soaring over intricate guitar and drum arrangements". Now, after a year of acclaim and playing with the likes of Damon Albarn, Tony Allen and the all-star AfroCubism project, Diawara will release Fatou in the U.S., and commence a short tour in support, too. And we can't wait! Release Date: TBD