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Music Review: Various Artists – FUV 13 Live

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WFUV, Fordham University’s public radio station is currently offering FUV 13 Live, a twenty-one track compilation of live in-studio performances as a thank you gift to contributors. As the title indicates this is the thirteenth installment of the Live series. Performances were selected from the best of the station’s Studio A sessions with a broad range of artists appearing both on WFUV and The Alternate Side, the station’s nod to “established and emerging indie rock and other styles” locally and from “beyond.”

The Alternate Side, according to their website is “a kind of laboratory where we experiment with diverse genres and sounds,” an experiment which is carefully mirrored in this new album. The CD includes veterans like Janis Ian and Rosanne Cash and newer voices making their name on the music scene. It features local favorites and voices from around the world, artists from Brooklyn to Iceland.

Moreover, it isn’t bound to any one specific musical genre. Whether it’s April Smith and The Great Picture Show’s jumping “Wow and Flutter” from their Live at the Penthouse 2008 EP or Raul Malo’s subdued take on the old standard “Around the World,” it is an eclectic mix of roots and alternative music that has something for everyone. There’s funky soul with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings’ “Give It Back” and The Heavy’s “How You Like Me Now.” There’s Brooklyn based experimental rockers Yeasayer’s “Madder Red.” There are singer/songwriters as varied as American folksy Josh Ritter (“Change of Time”) and the European Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Trick Pony”). For pop rock, there’s Fanfarlo’s “Comet;” for folk rock, there’s Mumford and Sons’ “White Blank Page.” The CD is a veritable musical cornucopia.

Of the riches they had to choose from for this compilation, WFUV Music Director Rita Houston says: “The range of artists that came through Studio A this past year stunned even me. Where else on the radio do you have Janis Ian performing one week and Corey Chisel the next? We’re so proud to get to be the ones who bring such great live music to listeners around the world.”

It is difficult to single out specific highlights in a compilation where there is so much variety and so much to like, and nothing really to dislike. Still, there is something special about Janis Ian’s soulful rendition of her classic “At Seventeen” which after all these years maintains its freshness and power. The authentic originality of Citizen Cope’s “Healing Hands” echoes with sincerity. Like the healing hands of love in a world where “the actions of a few/Have put a world in harms way,” it is something you’ll find hard to forget, perhaps even “never” as the lyric demands. Brandi Carlile’s hard driving “Dreams” from her 2009 Give Up the Ghost CD, and this album’s opener sets a high bar for everything to come. There is something quite haunting about English folk singer Laura Marling’s “Rambling Man” and the smooth vocal against the pulsating rhythms of Norah Jones’ “Young Blood” is infectious.

Thirty second clips of all the tracks on the CD are available on the WFUV website.

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