The Japanese band Elekibass produces a type of music that both loses and gains something in translation, almost as if aliens visited Earth and tried to combine several types of sugar-sweet pop as a way of explaining Western music.

People who don't yet have the blues - or those who just don't know quite what the blues are or how they came to be - have a fantastic resource in the form of a new book-and-CD package put together by the Davenport-based Mississippi Valley Blues Society.

• Fans of National Public Radio's All Things Considered should seek out Wonderlure, the new spoken-word CD from Kevin Kling. The Minneapolis storyteller, playwright, and actor is a frequent contributor to the program, with eight of these recent radio pieces collected on one budget-priced CD.

Wicked Liz & The Bellyswirls might create the softest rock music anybody’s ever heard. Even at its hardest – even when the band is making a serious effort – there’s not a sharp edge to be found, with nothing remotely threatening.

Over the past few years, there have been times when the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) has dazzled the audience and received well-deserved praise and ovation. The conductor and orchestra, working so closely, produce a fluid, uncompromised musical revelation.

• Elvis Costello has written a lot of perfect songs. It's hard to even pick a favorite. His "Alison" and "Indoor Fireworks" are songwriting treasures, melodies that stop me cold wherever I hear them. I just have to sit in the parking lot, turn off the engine, and listen.

Although this is the third year for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) series of chamber-music concerts, I had never been to the Outing Club performance. When I was finally able to attend the concert this year, I was surprised at what I found.

Nnenna Freelon's passion for singing in public was ignited at the age of seven, when she faced an audience alone for the first time. She said that she was petrified, but after finishing singing "Amazing Grace" and seeing the smiles and hearing the clapping and "Amen"s, she wanted more.

• Are you cold, wet, and ready for the blossom of spring? Come, my friend, into the warm pulse of the bottom end of the pool, as two new releases of bass exploration - one a five-star reggae classic from 1980, and the other a nu-funk slammer - are the perfect antidote to the winter blues.

The Dave Holland Quintet might be the finest jazz group ever to perform in the Quad Cities. In the latest Downbeat readers' poll (published in the December 2002 issue), Dave Holland took first place in four categories: best jazz artist, best jazz album (Not for Nothin'), best acoustic jazz group, and best acoustic bass player.