It's hard to believe that it hasn't quite been a year since the first Sylvan Esso album came out. The odd yet perfect marriage of Nick Sanborn's electronics with Amelia Meath's voice feels like a familiar friend by now. And yet seeing these songs performed softly — and captured in the light of day — made them feel fresh and lovable in new ways.
This week's World Cafe: Next artist, BKO Quintet, is from the North African nation of Mali. Its album Bamako Today modernizes traditional Malian tunes and originals.
The band calls its music "Trad Actual Malian Sound." But, as you'll hear, it's also got a contemporary feel. In this segment, you can hear and download a couple of songs, including one in which BKO Quintet is joined by vocalist Piers Faccini singing in English.
The electronic act Big Data made its opening salvo to the music world in 2013 with a single called "Dangerous." The lyrics, which exuded digital-age fears about privacy and surveillance, couldn't have been further in tone from the hard-grooving, extremely danceable music — and that, says founder Alan Wilkis, was precisely the point.