Why wait for a year-end list to enjoy a compilation?
The Cherry Tree: Songs, Carols, and Ballads for Christmas
Harmonia Mundi SACD/CD
On their latest holiday recording, The Cherry Tree, Anonymous 4 brings together two of their principal musical interests: the chant and polyphony of early English and Irish music alongside repertory from the American spiritual and shape-note singing tradition. This shift between musical eras is accompanied by appropriate shifts in style. The quartet remains impressive in their ability to capture a variety of affects: the suppleness of chant, the vibrancy of early carols, the formalized music-making and rounded tone of polyphonic church music, and the varied inflections of Anglo-American folk music. Thus, fans of their earlier recordings, Wolcum Yule and American Angels alike, will find much to enjoy here.
What’s more, the diversity of the programming poses few problems in terms of cohesion. This is, in part, due to careful curating by the ensemble (certainly helps that they have trained musicologists and folklorists among their number!). But the recording is also unified by themes from the miracle ballads of “Joseph and Mary.” This story is first found in the apocryphal Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew, and is famously set in the Coventry Play (c. 1400). It has remained a part of folklore, providing fuel for legends, ballads, and songs since the 15th century. Indeed, it’s fascinating to see how many musical responses there have been to the Cherry Tree legend over the years, making the CD both a history lesson and musical delight.
Alessio Natalizia is an Italian multi-instrumentalist/producer living in London. He records under the catchy moniker Banjo or Freakout. This year he’s released a collection of Christmas songs, XA2010, as a free download via BandCamp (free for the first 1,000 downloads). See the embed below; for coughing up an email address, you’ll get some intriguing avant electronica renditions of holiday classics.
Banjo or Freakout’s s/t debut LP will be released on Rare Book Room in Feb. 2011.
MYSPACE MUSIC EXCLUSIVELY PREMIERES U2′S NEW ALBUM NO LINE ON THE HORIZON
Entire Album Available for Free Streaming on February 20, Over a Week Before Hitting Stores
MySpace Music (http://www.myspace.com/music), the world’s premier online music portal, announces the exclusive world premiere of No Line On The Horizon, the new studio album from U2. Beginning on February Feb. 20, MySpace U.S. users will be able to stream the album in its entirety from U2′s official MySpace Music profile at www.myspace.com/u2, giving fans a chance to preview it before the U.S. release on March 3. No Line On The Horizon will be available for purchase on MySpace Music starting on March 3.
U2 recently premiered their latest video for the hit single Get On Your Boots on MySpace Music to fans around the world. No Line On The Horizon is the group’s highly anticipated 12th studio album and their first release since How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb came out in late 2004. Recording sessions for No Line On The Horizon were held in various locations around the world, including Fez, Morocco, the band’s own studio in Dublin, New York’s Platinum Sound Recording Studios, and Olympic Studios in London. Long-time U2 collaborators Brian Eno and Danny Lanois produced the album, with additional production by Steve Lillywhite.
For more information about U2 and to stream No Line On The Horizon, visit their MySpace Music official profile at: http://www.myspace.com/u2.