Peter Margasak, Reader music critic, is obsessed with . . .
Huong Thanh, L'Arbre aux Rêves (Buda) Huong Thanh gained international attention through a series of cross-genre collaborations with jazz guitarist Nguyên Lê, setting traditional melodies of her Vietnamese homeland to slick, thoroughly modern arrangements. In the last few years, however, the Paris-based singer has shifted her attention to more traditional sounds, never more effectively than she does on L'Arbre aux Rêves.
Trypes, Music for Neighbors (Acute) I first discovered the Feelies back in 1983 or so, and I got wind of the Trypes soon after. Over the course of the band's brief history, the Trypes included all five members of the post-Good Earth Feelies lineup. I spent many years searching for their lone EP to no avail, but this essential reissue, appended by a comp track and six previously unissued songs (and another seven that can be downloaded), triples what was first offered. The music shares similar post-Velvet Underground characteristics with the Feelies, but delivers them with a moodier, more hypnotic energy.
The English Beat, The Complete Beat (Shout Factory!) I don't think I ever stopped liking the English Beat after I became a fan while I was in high school, but it's only in the last few years that I listened to them again—and this comprehensive set keeps reminding why I'm glad they're back in rotation.