Pod Picks for Jan. 23, 2014

January 22, 2014 

This week we recommend a few tracks from underdog Grammy nominees – a legend from the Big Easy, a massive mob of musicians from Texas and some veteran thrashers – for downloading (legally, of course) or streaming to your iPod, iPad, iPhone or other personal media device.

“Something” by Snarky Puppy with Lalah Hathaway

While you’re watching the Grammys this weekend, you’re bound to hear a bunch of performers’ names you’ve never heard before – This is one of those dark-horse nominees that might just steal “Best R&B Performance.” The Texas band is more of a collective – almost 40 musicians – including guitars, pianos, keys, woodwinds, brass, percussion and strings. For the new album “Family Dinner: Volume 1,” the musical mob took over the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Va. to record a series of live performances with special guests. This one features Lalah, the daughter of soul great Donny Hathaway, and she uses her voice like another instrument. It’s a sweet seven minutes of old-school soul.

“Shrimp Po-Boy, Dressed” by Allen Toussaint

Granted, if you read the nominees for the Grammys’ “Best American Roots Song,” there will probably be more than one name that you don’t recognize. But if you haven’t heard any of Toussaint’s music, then shame on you. He’s a musical legend in New Orleans. He’s collaborated with the likes of Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Elvis Costello. He’s written iconic songs such as “Working in the Coal Mine.” He’s a Rock -‘n’- Roll Hall of Famer, and a general badass singer and piano player. And this is just one of dozens of great songs on his recent “Songbook” release.

“T.N.T.” by Anthrax

One of the biggest of the mainstream thrash bands of the ’80s, along with Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer. These are not the only old-timey rockers to receive attention from the Grammys this year. Just some of the other big names that got nominated were Black Sabbath, David Bowie, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin. These thrashers reunited the popular ’80s lineup for 2011’s “Worship Music,” and recorded a bonus EP during those sessions that celebrated their musical influences. The band covered songs from Rush, Boston, Journey, Cheap Trick, Thin Lizzy and this AC/DC classic. There’s not too much experimentation. But the guitars have new vigor, crunching along with every “oi.” And singer Joey Belladonna sounds like he’s having a blast.

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

Derrick Bracey, for Weekly Surge

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