One of the bigger problems I’ve encountered when trying to persuade people to listen to foreign music is that they feel they can’t relate to it; foreign styles of music combined with singing in foreign languages can easily add up to confusion. That’s why I feel particularly implored to recommend Beirut, because although the Balkan folk tunes they play are certainly a foreign style of music, they are played in large part by a fellow named Zach Condon who sings them in English.
This isn’t to say it’s easy to understand him due to the vocals largely being buried under the lush instrumentation. Then again, even if you can’t make out exactly what he’s singing, you can still tell that it’s in English and that he’s got a lovely voice (which is an instrument in itself). Listen to Beirut and take the plunge into foreign music without taking the plunge into foreign music, and yes, that does make sense.
From Gulag Orkestar
Postcards From Italy (MP3, 5MB)
Mount Wroclai (Idle Days) (MP3, 3.8MB)