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“Many young singers are stalked by an ill-fitting, virtually unshakable descriptor….For Nikki Lane, that descriptor seems to be ‘outlaw country.’…Neither word in that phrase does justice to Lane’s bold, idiosyncratic sound…. All or Nothin’ simply sounds like the work of a performer who knows when to embrace her contradictions: classic and modern, iconoclastic and approachable, country and rock, urban and rural.” –NPR

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Kasabian 48:13

“Kasabian have reached a point where their music speaks for itself….Their original blueprint of rousing ladtronica has expanded into wild, colourful and psych-buggered territories….Kasabers have reached the juncture in their career where, with our full trust in their judgement, they can become whatever band they want. The band they want to become is a Mexicana go-go ambient hip-hop troupe.” –NME

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Johnny Winter: Step Back

“From the get-go, Winter seemed to want his listeners to know Step Back would be full of surprises….Much of the variety of the program is due to the musical approaches of the guests. It’s very evident all hands on deck are out to have an upbeat good time….Whatever the future might hold, the two releases from 2014, the box set and Step Back, are as hot as Winter ever got.” –Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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“French Canadian pianist Marc-André Hamelin is known for his recordings of ultra-virtuoso music….[H]e succeeds in setting a mood and keeping it going….[I]t’s clear that Hamelin is anything but a one-note pianist.” –All Music Guide

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“Jesse Winchester['s] songs were covered by everyone from Elvis Costello to Emmylou Harris. Winchester died of cancer in April, but not before making this superb final album… taking us through a whole gamut of emotions on this proud climax to a great career.” –Boston Globe

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“This hushed duo set sounds like the epilogue to Jasmine, the collection of reflections on Broadway classics and ballads that Jarrett and double-bassist Haden made four years ago….Jarrett’s timing and sense of space, plus Haden’s spontaneous countermelodies, continue to provide low-lit delights….It’s just as good as Jasmine, and hopefully not a Last Dance for this partnership.” –The Guardian

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“Lady Gaga’s classical training has always been key to her origin story, so this album with 88-year-old crooner Tony Bennett is no big surprise. Gaga has real chemistry with Bennett….[O]n challenges like the subtle Billy Strayhorn ballad ‘Lush Life,’ the queen of the little monsters more than proves she can be a sophisticated lady too.” –Rolling Stone

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Joe: Bridges

“Joe is engaging from beginning to end without sounding as if he’s trying particularly hard….Overall, this is more finely detailed than the majority of adult contemporary R&B, and there’s a little more rhythmic bite through some deft dancefloor-aimed material….It all adds up to one of the singer, songwriter, and producer’s best albums.” –All Music Guide

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“O’Connor is pushing herself on every song here…  always with some purpose. A quarter-century into a career that has swung unpredictably from acoustic dissent to big-band jazz to reggae and dub experimentation, she continues to lay claim to every musical possibility and refuses to define herself with only one particular style.” –Pitchfork

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Ryan Adams: Ryan Adams

“The aptly titled Ryan Adams is a Ryan Adams album, not too far removed from his last few LPs even if it jettisons the twangy Americana for a different, darker, but no less historically grounded sound….[T]he music itself offers a nice twist on the singer/songwriter mode….[W]ith its murky production and throwback guitar sound, Ryan Adams sounds like it could have been recorded at any time between 1979 and 1987.” –Pitchfork

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Jennifer Lopez: A.K.A.

“[T]his record attempts to push J-Lo further into modern dance, by having her duet with T.I., Pitbull, and Rick Ross, not to mention Iggy Azalea….A bit more of A.K.A. is devoted to this cacophonic attack than usual… and while that’s a heavy indication of how Lopez wants to rebrand herself for 2014, the sound also conveniently camouflages whatever lyrics she’s singing about her divorce from Marc Anthony.” –All Music Guide

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“If ever there were a prototypical John Mellencamp title, it’s Plain Spoken. Mellencamp has long striven for direct, forthright communication, so the title suits his overall aesthetic as well as this album in specific….If his bitterness is unavoidable in the lyrics or in his voice, his music softens his bite, turning these tunes into melancholy laments instead of invective, so there winds up being a bit of a needed cushion to Mellencamp’s straight talk on Plain Spoken.” –All Music Guide

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“Judas Priest have been looking for redemption since their 2008 concept album, Nostradamus, fell flat with fans. Their follow-up goes back to guitar-bludgeoning basics on songs that explore vengeance, virility and Valhalla – classic metal themes that might feel tired if it wasn’t for the fact that Priest are one of the bands that helped pioneer the pummeling genre in the first place….Redeemer is proof that Priest can still call themselves metal’s defenders of the faith.” –Rolling Stone

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Sia: 1000 Forms of Fear

1000 Forms of Fear is an appealing balance of Sia the artiste and Sia the chart-topping songwriter. To say it’s her most accessible album yet doesn’t diminish it or her previous albums; instead, it’s the sound of Furler owning her success.” –All Music Guide

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Jack White: Lazaretto

“It’s the densest, fullest, craziest, and most indulgent that White has sounded with or without Meg—almost pointedly so, as though he’s trying to shake the minimalism that defined the White Stripes….White invites us to see the craft here, to notice the seams, to consider the contrasts….In its volleys of nimble-fingered riffs and its willy-nilly combination of styles, Lazaretto is all about virtuosity, with White reverting back to the idea of blues rock as a form of emotional confession: a space where you can project feelings and re-enact age-old dramas.” –Pitchfork

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“Barbra Streisand’s 2014 duets album, Partners, features the legendary vocalist performing songs associated with her storied career alongside a handful of handpicked guests….Partners works as guided tour down Streisand’s memory lane, and with her resonant voice still in supple shape, any excuse to hear her sing is a welcome invitation.” –All Music Guide

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“Tim McGraw is an eccentric centrist who can dodge the headlock of country-radio culture….Per usual, the character studies shine brightest. Proof: ‘Sick of Me,’ a self-loathing take-me-back plea – a reminder that, like Bill Clinton, another great Southern centrist, McGraw is best when he’s feeling your pain.” –Rolling Stone

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Lady Antebellum: 747

“Give Lady Antebellum credit: There’s a consistency to its songs that makes the group as much a manufacturing concern as it is a country act.” –Boston Globe

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“[C]ountry’s number-one beach bum continuously brings a sense of musical energy and emotional urgency his previous easygoing albums have sometimes lacked.” –Rolling Stone

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Moonshine in the Trunk is all gleaming steel, hard edges, sleek rhythms, and power ballads, state-of-the-art modern country that doesn’t dare make a big deal of any of Paisley’s eccentricities outside of his squealing guitar.” –All Music Guide

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