We’re not gonna beat around the bush here — everything that Putumayo World Music puts out is worth running to the store and snatching immediately. Whoever is in charge of selecting these collections from the world’s most familiar and far-flung regions deserves a lifetime Grammy Award. So while this is a short list, we back their whole catalog, which can be checked out at putumayo.com.
1. One World, One Kid: One day, a six-year-old named Skyler Pia made his sick friend a CD, complete with commentary, and it somehow ended up in Putumayo’s hands. Great music, cheap $6 tag, and all proceeds go to Make-a-Wish.
2. Paris: To be released on April 18, this CD reminds us that the French can be cool, and that their nouvelle scène is taking their café-born chanson music to new heights.
3. Turkish Groove: Perhaps the best example on our list of how unheard of but amazing music finds a happy home.
4. Reggae Playground: What’s a better time than childhood to get stoked on reggae and world music? (This one’s aimed at kids.)
5. Music from the Chocolate Lands: Part of a series that also includes collections from the tea lands, this CD features songs from Africa and the Americas, connected via the cocoa bean.