Daniel Francis Doyle We Bet Our Money On You (WE SHOT JR)
Austin-based Daniel Francis Doyle is a one-man hurricane, crooning, whining and roaring his way into your heart. The emotional riot We Bet Our Money On You is two parts DIY punk, one part math geek’s basement project. He uses carefully layered guitar from a Line 6 loop box and crashing drums to support his vocal experimenting. The way he holds vowels, randomly changes pitch or suddenly yells at the top of his lungs—all over increasingly violent percussion—is playful weirdness. Sometimes the music is jarring, but Doyle’s voice has an undercurrent of raw honesty that streaks the songs with softness.
Grupo Fantasma El Existential (Nat Geo Music)
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Following the 2008 Grammy-nominated Sonidos Gold, the 10-member “cumbia orchestra” offers another danceable, lovable album. Grupo Fantasma is a decade old, continuing on through rises and falls in the global popularity of Latin music. The band is remarkably tight, effortlessly concocting a sweaty blend of Latin and African tradition, and throwing in whatever else strikes its fancy. The musicians skillfully weave old-school styles with modern pop elements. The Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood is even featured on the record. Among other notable gigs, the band has backed Prince, but Grupo Fantasma shines in its own right on this album.
The Whispering Tree Go Call the Captain (Modern Vintage Recordings)
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A classical vocalist from New York and a French bassist met at music school in London, discovered a shared love of folk rock and started telling stories through longing, sultry music. After participating in an ancient indigenous ritual in South America, singer Eleanor Kleiner had inspiration for the duo’s name. On Go Call the Captain, Kleiner and musical partner Elie Brangbour weave tales set in earlier, sometimes fictional, eras. The clear acoustic guitar strums of the opening track, while a narrator describes how she was buried by the side of the road, exemplifies the album’s pairing of sweet music with gothic-tinged storytelling.