Admittedly, it's been a while since I've heard anything exciting coming out of Kingston, but the promising independent label Buster Records is making an effort to put Jailtown back on the music biz map. Its latest release is a stellar six-song EP from Toronto-born Kyra Walker and Halifax-raised partner Michael "Tully" Pearson , known as Kyra and Tully , who've perfected a disarmingly intimate folk-pop sound that combines the eerie intrigue of the Handsome Family with the tuneful charm of Iron and Wine. The limited-edition disc's silver-embossed cardboard packaging is also rather special. There are only 500, so you'd better act fast, hombre. www.busterrecords.com.
There's no question that Rosalia de Souza has a voice that rivals that of Bebel Gilberto, but the whole strategy of similarly setting her up with contemporary club producers and remixers has been very short-sighted. So it's about time that she's finally been given the opportunity to work with a producer/arranger like Brazilian bossa nova great Roberto Menescal in Rio De Janeiro. Menescal wisely sets her up with a horn-backed acoustic combo and the resulting Brasil Precisa Balançar (Schema) favourably recalls his late-60s and early-70s collaborations with Elis Regina, Maria Beth&ânia and Gal Costa. And bringing in the great Marcos Valle for a couple of smouldering duets is some super sweet icing.
King of country
Out in the hills of Northern Alabama, Joseph "Cast" King - named for the Castor oil his mom made him take - had been singing his own bluesy style of country music on Sand Mountain for more than 60 years before Matt Downer tracked down the 79-year-old songster to record his hair-raising debut album, Saw Mill Man (Locust). Growling badly bruised ballads about evil booze and eviler women, King sounds like the missing link between Johnny Cash and Charlie Feathers, which is probably why Sam Phillips saw dollar signs when Cast stumbled into Sun Records after a military stint. Unfortunately, grisly first-person narratives like Under The Snow about bodies that turn up in the spring thaw aren't pop chart material, but Johnny Dowd fans may have a new anti-hero to worship. A killer discovery.
Funky New York
Now that just about every major 70s funk scene has been uncovered and documented, it's time that New York gets its due. Long before the disco craze took a stranglehold on the Big Apple, Eddie and Al Pazant - when not backing Pucho as the Latin Soul Brothers - were keeping clubs rockin' with their tight, syncopated grooves bolstered with a massive blast of horns. BGP's The Brothers Funk collects the Pazant Brothers ' rare RCA and Vigour label singles tracks along with the entire stellar Loose And Juicy album they cut in 75 for Vanguard as the Pazant Brothers & the Beaufort Express. Awesome.