Top Picks: Running late? There's an app for that, West African music, and more

A Boston time-lapse video captures the city with haunting music, eBookMall.com brings 'American Idol' for books to the Internet, and more top picks.

John Nordell/TCSM/File
Paul Revere statue in Boston.
Elikeh’s Between 2 Worlds
The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire

A new voice in Afro-funk

Togolese singer Massama Dogo and his seven-piece Washington, D.C.-based band Elikeh have re-created that revolutionary period of West African music, the time when Afro-funk stars like Fela Kuti and reggae stars like Bob Marley were mixing in black-pride politics with their tunes. Elikeh's Between 2 Worlds bears that same imprint, with pounding rhythms, tight horn sections, and long guitar jams. With such a great freshman album – paid for largely from an innovative Kickstarter funding campaign – their next album is sure to rock.

HYMNS of praise

Górecki Miserere, a 17-cut CD by Decca Recordings, features three sublime, meditative choral pieces by Polish composer Henryk Górecki and performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale in the rich acoustics of Walt Disney Concert Hall. Górecki was noted for championing Poland's struggle for independence from Soviet control; his 12-movement "Miserere" was written in 1981 as a protest against a violent attack by police on union activists in Bydgoszcz.

Passing time in Beantown

Monitor editors may have a hometown bias when it comes to a time-lapse video created by Vimeo user Yao Li of our beloved Boston. But the shots of pedestrians speeding through the North End, boats bobbing dancelike on the Charles River, and the bright beacon of the Custom House, set to the dramatic strains of Hans Zimmer's music from the movie "Inception," had us all entranced. Check it out at http://bit.ly/timelapseBoston.

American author search

Just when you thought the Great American Novel was a thing of the past, eBookMall.com says think again. The online publisher wants to promote "America's Next Author," with an online writing competition that takes a page from the "American Idol" playbook of online fan voting and professional judging. Winners will get cash prizes in December.

Almost there!

Running late? The free iPhone app Twist automatically alerts your friends or co-workers that you're on the way. Tell Twist where you're headed, who you plan to meet, and whether you're walking, driving, or grabbing public transit. The app will then let those people know that you're, say, 13 minutes away. One warning: Twist burns through battery power quickly. Make sure to charge up before venturing out.

song stories

Ever hear a song and wonder what inspired its creation? The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire answers your questions and much more. Musician and jazz critic Ted Gioia has written an in-depth guide to the great standards of the 20th century, showcasing the stories and writers of 70 familiar chestnuts such as "All the Things You Are," "Blue Moon," "Georgia on My Mind," "Stardust," and "Stormy Weather." The author also recommends a variety of recorded versions of each song that show why these tunes belong in this treasured canon.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.