This week’s picks include a look into obscure corners of the violin repertoire and yet another fine indie rock band from Montreal.
Plants and Animals – La La Land [Secret City Records]
From the same city that brought you indie rock heavyweights like Arcade Fire, Stars, Wolf Parade, The Dears, and so many others, comes a quartet called Plants and Animals. The group’s sophomore effort is called La La Land, and in their search for a big, warm sound, they hit on the idea of recording “old-school” – on analog tape. Whether it was the tape decks or not, they seem to have found what they were looking for. The song, “The Mama Papa,” may sport a confusing lyric, but it leaves no doubt about its intention to rock you. The album title, La La Land, seems not to be about Los Angeles, just as the song “American Idol” seems not to be about the TV show. It is, however, about a really classic rock sax solo, delivered by the Arcade Fire’s Colin Stetson. – Picked by John Schaefer [Amazon]
Daniel Hope - Air: A Baroque Journey [Deutsche Grammophon]
The violinist Daniel Hope has played concertos with the world’s top orchestras, ragas with Indian musicians, and jam sessions with musical friends like Stewart Copeland of The Police. For his latest recording, titled Air: A Baroque Journey, he takes us on a journey through 17th century Europe, spotlighting composers who helped popularize the violin. Among them is Diego Ortiz, who wrote Ricerata segunda. Parts of Daniel Hope’s album almost sound more like a country hoedown than Baroque court music. But he does set a more stately feeling in pieces like the Handel Sarabande. Most of all, violinist Daniel Hope makes both familiar and obscure corners of the Baroque repertory a lot of fun. This last selection by the composer Nicola Matteis is based on an old Scottish folk tune. - Picked by Brian Wise [Amazon]