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As promised, we’re back with a second crop of summer-listening recommendations from the Penn Music Department’s faculty and staff. From Cuban drumming to “retro pop-folk,” here they are. (And in case you missed it, here’s Part One.)


An indie rock drummer, Sykes says this list of summer jams “will either drive you indoors longing for more snow or to a remote desert island to get away from the world (and this music) or, quite possibly, it will make you really excited about discovering even more mind-blowing, experimental music this summer.”

Gareth Williams, Flaming Tunes

Sykes says: “Gareth Williams played bass for the experimental U.K. group This Heat in the 1970s—a classic and influential band who laid the groundwork for post-punk. I see a lot of myself in him, since like me, he moved from the rock scene into ethnomusicology. He studied Kathakali (dance from the southwestern Indian state of Kerala) at the School for Oriental and African Studies in London. Sadly, he died of cancer in his 40s.  Flaming Tunes is a group he formed in the 1980s with Marie Curry, and it was truly ahead of its time. The sound is vaguely chillwave. It sounds like something you could make easily today in Garageband, but he did this on four-track in the ’80s.  There’s a sentimentality and a catchiness to it, and it’s quite experimental. I’m hoping to delve into his studies of Keralan music at some point and write a piece about him. We’ll see.”

Mantanzas, Cuba, ca. 1957: Afro-Cuban Sacred Music from the Countryside

Sykes says: “While teaching Music 50 (World Musics and Cultures) at Penn, I got really interested in Cuban drumming, specifically the drum called batá, which is used in Afro-Cuban religious ceremonies (Lucumi, sometimes called Santeria).”

Grooms, Infinity Caller

Sykes says: “Grooms is a hard-working band from Brooklyn. Full disclosure: I played drums in this band for a while. However, I’m not on their new excellent record, Infinity Caller. It’s hazy indie rock with catchy songs in interesting guitar tunings and occasional ’80s-ish synths.”

Martin Bisi, Ex Nihilo

Sykes says: “Martin is a legendary record producer and he’s made many records you know, even if you’re not aware of it. He’s most famous for his work in the underground New York rock and free jazz scenes: Sonic Youth, Swans, John Zorn. His own band has amazing orchestral vocals layered over surprisingly funny songs.”

György Ligeti: Étude Nr. 1 “Désordre”

Sykes says: “One of my favorite pieces!”


Abdullah Ibrahim, African Magic

Jurkiewicz says: “Perfect for a relaxing summer evening, the melodies of Abdullah Ibrahim’s songs capture a sentiment that is hard to find in any other pianist’s music.”

The Head and the Heart, Let’s Be Still

Jurkiewicz says: “Driving rhythms, harmonies reminiscent of Simon & Garfunkel, and a retro pop-folk feel make The Head and the Heart a great summer band.”

Rachel Podger, Rameau – Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts

Jurkiewicz says: “Rachel Podger and her companions Trevor Pinnock (harpsichord) and Jonathan Manson (viola da gamba) bring these trios to life with their stunning interpretations of this Baroque master’s works.”

Lakestreet Dive, Bad Self Portraits

Jurkiewicz says: “This gutsy band born from conservatory roots takes a dive into their own original compositions on this album. Their connections as friends are extremely evident, as the whole record is just plain fun.”

Fleetwood Mac, Rumours

Jurkiewicz says: “A summer playlist could never be complete without some Fleetwood Mac. Hear where many of today’s pop-folk ensembles got their sound, and of course it’s hard not to sing along to almost every song on this record.”

Molly Petrilla C’06

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