Saturday, January 19, 2013

Let's go RETRO!

The retro sound of music is making the rounds of modern day music, with an assortment of musicians striving for a sound that takes listeners back to an era of yesteryear. I sought out to find some names and albums that might give you a trip to the past and for melodies and sounds unique and possibly familiar. Many of these albums and songs are available through the Pima County Library website as well as through our free music downloading site, Freegal.

Please feel welcome to add your own contributions to the comments section, I would like to hear about more. The retro sound is a refreshing trip back to sounds of the Rat Pack in Vegas, of Burt Bacharach, Judy Garland, Nancy Sinatra, and beyond. Now, back to the future...

My first artist is named Duffy, a youngster who comes from England. If you enjoy the melodic voices of Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, you will find Duffy's retro sounding voice a pure delight. We own two of her albums in the library, "Rockferry" and "Endlessly."

It is hard to mention a retro blog without bringing up Amy Winehouse. Soulful and jazzy, the late Winehouse wrote deeply personal lyrics with a voice that belted out the blues. Amy grew up on the sounds of Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra. Her music will harken you back to an era of yesteryear. Look for her album "Back to Black." If you are troubled by explicit lyrics, you may want to steer clear.

One of my favorite retro musicians is Rufus Wainwright. Rufus comes from a musical family, his dad is Loudon Wainwright the third and his mother was in a band called the McGarrigle Sisters. Rufus has a tenor singing voice with sometimes playful lyrics. He has a double album live devoted entirely to Judy Garland and he sounds almost just like her at times. His sister Martha Wainwright sings on the album as does Judy's daughter, Lorna Luft. "Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall" is delightful. His new album "Out of the Game" as well as his work for the soundtrack to the movie "The Aviator" are all available at the library and might take you back in time.

I wanted to add in a particular song I really find retro exciting: British musician Adele, who has some beautiful albums, scored the retro-sounding song "Skyfall" for the new James Bond movie of the same name. Many have compared it to the sounds of Shirley Bassey, who recorded many of the early Bond hits in the 60's and 70's. You can find this song for a free download on the library's Freegal page.

Lana Del Ray produces orchestral sounding 60's sounding tunes and is quickly becoming one of my favorite musicians of this genre. Look for her album "Born to Die"

Remember George Michael? And "Wham"? Well even if you don't, this is a name you should seek out on
Freegal purely for his album "Songs From the Last Century." George sings Sinatra on up to the Police. His voice lends itself naturally as a throwback to classic singers of the 50s and 60s, and this album does not disappoint. I enjoy most of George's work in general but this one is the best at capturing a retro sound.

There are some musicians I really liked who you may need to search elsewhere for, most notably the female singer Rumer. She recorded a song called "Come to Me High" that sounds so much like a vintage Burt Bacharach tune that it is staggering. 

There are so many other musicians to seek out who have recorded retro or go for a retro sound, including Queen Latifah; The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (on Freegal); Gin Wigmore.

Check out Freegal: FREEGAL

Also of note:  Richard Cheese, who records modern music songs but in the style of a crooning lounger singer. The end result is hilarious, and entertaining. He tends to pick a lot of songs with some profanity including metal and hip-hop tunes.

In the ear future I will be reviewing the next round of retro sounding albums. There is a huge list of them out there and I have barely scratched the service.


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