We always look forward to sequencing our "best of" collections. It's fun to find the thematic, visual or musical connections that they have as a group. This year's themes were life, death, the family, industrialization, the environment, human rights, and ...partying! Check it out.
(Czech Republic) Here is that feast of the macabre, "Nunovo Tango." How many references to sci-fi and horror films can you spot? As you may remember from another offbeat video, "France Trance" from Dva, these two musicians like to sing in faux languages. So France Trance sure SOUNDED like it was sung in French, but wasn't. In this case, it's a little harder to pinpoint, but the consensus here is that they are singing faux Hungarian.
(Brazil) Cibelle was born in Sao Paulo and is considered one of Brazil's most creative and hard to classify artists. "Green Grass" is a poetic rumination on love after death by Tom Waits. Cibelle's rendition is delicate and understated, with tinkling bells and occasional harp notes punctuating her ethereal vocal. The result is an infinitely moving and intimate statement. The rotoscoped animation was created by Gustavo Guimaraes and Adams Carvalho.
(Portugal) Although Deolinda's music gets its inspiration from Fado, the members have obviously cherry-picked those elements they wish to keep and those they do not: the strong female vocalist but no funereal garb, the winsome guitar lines but absent the Portuguese guitar, and plenty of irony -- but without fatalism. The video with its hip whimsy is a demonstration of what can be done with a small budget and a lot of creativity.
(Hungary) In Napra's video "Little House" we are fairly bombarded with great images, great music and great musicianship. Kálmán Balogh, one of Hungary's best cimbalom players is on board, but it is Miklós Both who steals much of the show with his guitar acrobatics, blending the odd meters of Hungarian dance tunes with the full palette of electronic possibilities. This is an evolution of tanchaz that feels just right.
(USA) Uncle Earl is an all-female Old Timey band. Their name is a reference to Steve Earle, Earl Scruggs and even the cult band Uncle Tupelo. Banjo player Abigail Washburn visits China regularly to explore the parallels between Asian and American folk music, and in this bizarre tribute to the Martial Arts film genre, we find the g'Earls playing for some far out competition-style clogging, while Washburn does the calling in Mandarin.
(China) As farming people in China emigrate from rural areas to the city, singer Su Yang find that there is much to be learned from folksongs. "Phoenix" tells of an idyllic life and love. Visually, this is represented by a huge tree, in which all things are provided. But the tree is corrupted at its root, as the natural source of its vitality is replaced by machines. Su Yang sings with great passion, and the song itself has a durable melody that lends itself well to a modernized rock setting. The dazzling animation is by Hu Zhong Qiang.
(Colombia) The Bogotà River, named for the city it flows through, is one of the world's most polluted waterways, and in "Rio", Andrea Echeverri and Hector Buitrago make a plea for this river to be cleaned, so that its waters may once again support vibrant, healthy life. Chalk up another socially conscious song from this thoughtful rock ensemble.
(New Zealand) Tiki Taane is from the Ngati Maniapoto tribe of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and he co-authored this song with his father. The video and song were inspired by the 2004 tsunami. Taane felt the anger of the sea, and started to question man's place in the face of the primal power of the ocean. "I really felt the anger and rage Tangaroa had towards mankind as we have shown no respect for the ocean and its inhabitants, and for this I feel sad and ashamed."
(International) To commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to remind the world that violations of human rights are unacceptable anywhere, Link TV has produced a video for Amnesty International. It is a true labor of love, the result of generous donations of time and talent on both sides of the camera.
(Bosnia) This is a traditional Serbian drinking song -- at least Goran Bregovic likes to drink to it. So what better place to perform it than at the beer and booze-drenched festival of Guca? While the festival has been going since Bregovic was a youngster, this is the first time he had actually played there with his Wedding and Funeral Band, an aggregate that can be as few as ten players and as many as 37.
(Korea) After a slew of menial jobs and years of practicing both percussion and wind folk instruments, Jang Sa-ik started his singing career at the unlikely age of 46. Now, fourteen years later, he is one of Korea's most popular singers. His work appeals to all ages and blends folk and original music with pop and blues elements. His voice is tireless and expressive of a wide range of powerful emotions; he does not run from feelings.
(Sudan) When Emmanuel Jal was twelve years old he trecked across the African Plain, fleeing his life of being a child soldier. He and his comrades ended up in a refugee camp where Emma McCune, a British Aid worker, made it her project to help him. Emma died shortly after she had managed to set Emmanuel on the right path, and now, as a gorgeous tribute, he has written this song about the ability for one person to make a difference in the life of another.
(Peru) Novalima is exactly that -- a new take on Afro-Peruvian music. So while we can still hear the root of Coba Guarango as an incantation to the spirit of fire, we are also treated to a subtle arrangement and a mix that calls upon a wide range of influences from cool Jazz to Club groove. The video gives us some saturated local color as two teams of boys battle it out in a kind of street hockey.