Elevate Difference

Reviews of Various Artists

My Name is Khan Soundtrack

My Name is Khan is a Bollywood movie that captures the post-9/11 journey of a Muslim immigrant who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.

I'll Stay 'Til After Christmas: A Christmas Album to Benefit Amnesty International

As far as I’ve ever been able to determine, there are two sides of every holiday, binaries inhabited by people who either rejoice in merriment and love, and the rest of us who find holidays—particularly the wintry, mostly-religious ones—vomit inducing, an excuse to sit alone somewhere and cry. If only I were exaggerating. I loathe obnoxiously happy holiday tunes for many reasons, and because my birthday is December 24th (the day known to some as Christmas Eve), I get to listen to them straight through my own Jesus-shared time of year.

Keep Singing! A Benefit Compilation For Compassion Over Killing

Beautiful art graces the cover of this album, entrancing me as I hear Gina Young introduce both the tone and ethics of the compilation. I quickly feel enveloped by the politics and clarity of these artists.

Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown

Wow, this musical tribute to Larry Brown keeps your feet tapping and your mind working. These songs, by artists Brown admired, put you in the passenger seat of his little truck as you drive through the small and friendly neighborhood in the South. Spending much of his life as a firefighter, Larry Brown wrote and finally struck gold in 1988 with a collection of stories called Facing the Music. As his writing continued, he became well-known as a Southern writer of literature. His love for music equaled his passion for writing.

Soul Sides, Vol. 2: The Covers

Zealous Records continues to amaze with another brilliant compilation of classic soul tracks, Soul Sides, Vol. 2: The Covers. The 14 tracks range in style from old-school funk to smoother grooves.

Backspin: A Six Degrees 10 Year Anniversary Project

"Everything is closer than you think” is the motto of indie label Six Degrees, moving on the perspective that everyone is connected by six degrees of separation. Now a leader in global pop music, the San Francisco-based company was founded ten years ago by two former Windham Hill employees, Bob Duskis and Pat Berry.

Women at Work

Women at Work did not, thank God, spin me back to 1982, the year in which I had to stop wearing my favorite wide-necked cotton t-shirt with the rainbow of teal, red and forest green behind a cartoon unicorn in repose because a certain biology class substitute teacher complimented me on it repeatedly in front of everyone and made me feel ‘ooky.’ And I was 12! Gross!

New Arrivals: Volume 2

Rachel Sage’s Mpress Records presents its second compilation, this one to benefit the organization Artists Against Hunger and Poverty, a division of World Hunger Year. Eighteen performers are showcased, most solidly in the “My heart: here” tradition of straightforward song stylings, some more twang than others.

Various Artists – Cochen en Boite

Mislead by the rather alluring title and expecting something on a par with St. Germain’s sleep-inducing tooting, I practically wept with the grief only an avid music fan can know when forth from my stereo spilled the stomach disrupting lyrical expulsion of Jillian Iva breathing, “I'm a love maker, soul shaker, body manipulator,” in a manner not far removed from Cher’s auto tune incident. I persevered through hallucinations of topless grinding, dax wax a go go clichés of all night gay bars, cringing at the cheesy lyric overload.

What’s Happening in Pernambuco: New Sounds of the Brazilian Northeast

Pernambuco is at the heart of Afro-Brazilian tradition. Mangue Bit, the musical style of this album, weaves electronica with the centuries-old rhythm of maracatú _and the stanza-refrain pattern of _embolada. The name “Mangue Bit” combines the Portuguese word for mangrove with a computer bit. Although the waters are brackish, mangrove swamps are diverse ecosystems, and Mangue Bit reflects this fertility.

Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Vol. 1

As a native Chicagoan, I was delighted when the Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Vol. 1 arrived. The work of nearly 50 years of lessons and learning felt warm and familiar in my hand. The songbook contains 23 classic songs performed by a variety of artistic talents, some nationally known; others are instructors at the school – with decades of performing experience.

New Arrivals: Volume One

Upbeat and flowing, this album has a lot of very powerful music and lyrics on it. From Noe Venable's "Juniper," to Paul Brill's "New Pagan Love Song," the music in this selection is a definite must-have. Whoever edited this work paid a lot of attention to detail and continuity between selections and it really, really shows. All of this music I found very upbeat and easy to listen to, but without being maudalin and boring. Well worth your listening time.

To: Elliott, From Portland

Listening to a tribute album can be risky, kind of like watching the Hollywood adaptation of your favorite book. You can’t resist seeing the movie because you loved the book, but you leave the theatre feeling two hours older, ten dollars broker, and you swear you’ll never do it again. That said, don’t be scared to pick up the Elliott Smith tribute. Do what I did. Pop in the disk, listen intently, cross your arms and stare doubtfully at your CD player ready to hate everything about To: Elliott, From: Portland.