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Meghan Trainor: Title

Album cover“By the time the record winds its way around to the Motown bounce of ‘Lips Are Movin’ — a single equally inspired by vintage 45s and Amy Winehouse’s snazzy new-millennial revival that’s the best song here — Trainor’s giddiness has become ingratiating, so it’s easier to warm to her considerable skill at pastiche and performance. Far from consigning her to one-hit wonder territory, the blend of strength of personality and music-biz savvy on Title shows that Meghan Trainor is clever enough to parlay a big hit into a real career.” -allmusic.com

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Album CoversShadows in the Night finds the songwriter whose work marks the divide where artists were expected to pen their own material finding sustenance in the Great American Songbook, with every one of its songs recorded at some point by Frank Sinatra. Its songs are old and Shadows in the Night is appropriately a defiantly old-fashioned album: a record the way they used to make them, long before Dylan had a recording contract of his own. Archaic though it may be — it’s a mere ten songs lasting no longer than 35 minutes, just like all the long-players of the ’50s — it’s hard to call it musty, not when Dylan invested considerable energy in adapting these songs to the confines of his five-piece road band.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Monuments stitches together all of Corgan’s obsessions — thick sheets of guitars, 4AD space rock, delicate acoustica, Commodore 64 synthesizers, a fondness for both noise and beauty — but there is an ease to the album that not only feels self-reflective but also rather mature. Usually, when Corgan covers this much ground it was with the express intent to dazzle, but here his attitude is almost casual as he slides from the volcanic ‘One and All’ to the exquisitely sculpted new wave of ‘Dorian,’ stopping for a respite of disco on ‘Anaise!’ The breadth impresses and it resonates stronger because he’s funneled all these sounds and textures into a tight nine-song album that lasts barely over a half-hour. For an artist who has fervently believed more is indeed more, this restraint is thoroughly appealing and helps showcase his craft in surprising — and, yes, sometimes dazzling — ways.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“This is one of three bands tenor saxophonist, Jerome Sabbagh leads amid his numerous gigs as a session artist and group member with pianists Laurent Coq and Guillermo Klein, paired with many other diverse musical roles in the modern jazz community. This quartet strikes back with its third album, following Pogo (Sunnyside, 2007) and North (Sunnyside, 2004). Besides his burly tone, melodic structures and fluent improvisational acumen, one of the key differentiators is how Sabbagh transparently melds modern mainstream with the outside schema.” -allmusic.com

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Joey Bada$$: B4. DA. $$

Album Cover“With a style that’s an all-encompassing throwback, going from Notorious B.I.G. to Mos Def, Brooklyn rapper Joey Bada$$ draws the golden age hip-hop fetishist in without a problem, but his delivery is so full of life, it still holds sway for those who don’t know their Bad Boy from their Death Row. This fine debut is also filled with productions from Statik Selektah, DJ Premier, and others whose names hold weight, but beat junkies will most likely jump right to the smoky highlight ‘Like Me,’ where the Roots complete a lost track from the late, great J. Dilla. Reggae singer Chronixx makes a guest appearance on an album with few features, but the bonus edition comes with ‘Run Up on Ya,’ where Action Bronson and Elle Varner threaten to steal the show.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“…Hewitt fights boredom by infusing the music with the full range of expressive and technical possibilities at her disposal, and her full performance has the nuances and variety of her recordings of the Well-Tempered Clavier and the partitas. Just as this masterpiece was the culmination of Bach’s thinking on the subject of the fugue, it is a fitting conclusion to Hewitt’s worthy service to the composer and a high point in her catalog.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“There are moments where Single Mothers feels like art therapy as much as music, but this album communicates its pain with intelligence and a gentle touch, and as a singer and lyricist Earle grows with each album; there are more than a few moments of brilliance on this set if you don’t mind sharing a rough and lonesome road with Earle for a while.” -allmusic.com

 

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Album Cover“Here, it’s possible to hear the band gel — Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens found a balance with Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, something that’s obvious by the group’s subsequent history, but on this spirited show you can hear the gears fall into place and that’s worth the price of admission, perhaps more than once.” -allmusic.com

 

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Album Cover“In 2014, K. Michelle issued a mixtape, turned her debut album into an Idris Elba-directed musical, maintained her presence on the VH1 network with K. Michelle: My Life, and was plotting a number of other moves. A slip in quality control would have been understandable, but there is no indication on Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart?, her second proper album, that music hasn’t remained her top priority. Like Rebellious Soul, this blends contemporary and classic styles, with the latter incorporated naturally, not as a forced authenticator.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“…with a new kind of focus in their songs and arrangements that makes it clear this album’s sound is a result of creative evolution, not an offering to their newer, larger audience, and it’s a sweet and sour wonder that rewards repeated listening.” -allmusic.com

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“‘My aim on the guAlbum Coveritar is to try to get each chord to follow the preceding chord like it was meant to be there, and then sort of hint at what the next chord might be,’ Joe Beck says, in one of several spoken introductions sprinkled throughout Get Me Joe Beck. The CD, recorded live in Berkeley, Calif., two years before Beck’s untimely death from lung cancer in 2008, is indeed packed with displays of guitar work that is as artfully logical and eminently musical as it is a thing of beauty.” -Philip Booth/jazztimes.com

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Album Cover“From the brooding opening title track to the closing Chet Baker homage, ‘I Fall in Love Too Easily,’ Dark Nights unapologetically embraces the heart of jazz. Every aspect of the album—from the cover photo, to Cohen’s precise trumpet inflections, to the trio’s dedication to immediacy and collective improvisation (and even the album’s forays into electronic affects)—is saturated with the emblematic textures, rhythms, and imagery of jazz. This is achieved with professionalism, creativity, and skill, without a wit of irony or cliché, while avoiding both navel-gazing insularity and crowd-pleasing revivalism.” -Franz A. Matzner/allaboutjazz.com

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Album Cover“When I think of the hardcore albums that have maintained a spot on fans’ playlists for years on end, I think of frantic, gut wrenching and unpredictable songs grouped together in an emotional outpour. Albums like ‘Jane Doe,’ ‘Travels’ and ‘We Are The Romans’ immediately come to mind. My Fictions is a hardcore band from Massachusetts focused on bringing these same qualities to their music. Their newest release Stranger Songs is the culmination of fantastic songwriting, piercing vocals and gripping lyrics.” -sputnikmusic.com

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“Over the years, WeisAlbum Covers has earned much critical praise and respect for his ambitious and wide-ranging work with The New Jazz Composers Octet, his support and championing of trumpeter Freddie Hubbard during that icon’s last years, explorations with his Point Of Departure band, burn-and-drive work with The Cookers, and reworkings of saxophonist/composer Wayne Shorter’s music. In those situations, Weiss wore many hats, serving as composer, arranger, leader, supporter, and situation-maker. Here, he does the same, but he also serves as the emotional power source for this music. When Words Fail may be the most direct and personal record Weiss has ever released.” -DAN BILAWSKY/allaboutjazz.com

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Album Cover“Both recordings complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, with Sunbathing Animal offering furious, often bewildered forays of guitar-heavy punk and Content Nausea focusing on home-recorded detours ranging from free-associating post-punk rants to a cover of Nancy Sinatra’s country go-go classic ‘These Boots.’” -allmusic.com

 

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AC/DC: Rock or Bust

Album Cover“If Rock or Bust does indeed wind up as the final AC/DC record — they did indeed weather many setbacks during its creation — it will stand as a suitable career-capper. It may be no different than what came before, but Rock or Bust is by many measures stronger than most latter-day AC/DC albums, serving as a testament to why their good-humored raunch and industrial-strength riffs made them a rock & roll institution.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Die On Stage is definitely the album that confirms the path which Hostage Calm have set themselves on. They’ve tempered and toned down their sound record by record over the past couple years, tinkering along the way at Run For Cover. I noticed this since 2010. As skeptical as I was, I still enjoyed their body of work though and this album, while not their most definitive or most assured set, does feel like the skin they are most comfortable in and something has to be said for that.” -punknews.org

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“The debut CD by world-muAlbum Coversic quartet Grand Fatilla broadens as you get deeper into it — taking in more genres with exacting technical virtuosity, and also widening its emotional scope. The helter-skelter shifting meters of the Bulgarian folk-dance-tune opener ‘Cigansko Oro’ immediately puts you on notice of the band’s skills: Matt Glover’s fierce bouzouki-like mandolin plucking, Roberto Cassan’s equally dizzying accordion, the fast patter of Fabio Pirozzolo’s percussion. Meanwhile, the sure-footed groove of Mike Rivard’s bass lines creates the illusion that you could dance to this stuff if you dared.” -Jon Garelick/TheBostonGlobe.com

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Album Cover“American folk music veteran Kris Delmhorst is no stranger to the music business. She has, in fact, been around for almost 20 years, having released her debut album, Appetite, as far back as 1998. After spending that long in the game you’re bound to want to mix it up a little and, seeing as Blood Test would be her first album of original material since 2008, Delmhorst clearly felt that a change of tact was necessary. Therefore, when deciding on the direction for this album, Delmhorst opted to go back to basics, stripping her sound down to the bare bones. In her own words, with Blood Test she was ‘focused on paring things down to their elements—less flesh, more bone.’” -David Farrell/popmatters.com

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Album Cover“…the album showcases lead singer Rachel Price’s resonant, old-school singing, which is still the main reason to listen to Lake Street Dive. Of course, with her band backing her at various times with harmony vocals, jazzy trumpet, crunchy tube guitar riffs, and woody jazz basslines, there’s always something rootsy and unexpected happening around her on Bad Self Portraits. There is a buoyant creativity to many of Lake Street Dive’s arrangements, and cuts like ‘Bobby Tanqueray’ and ‘Seventeen’ reveal such time-tested influences as late-’60s Muscle Shoals-influenced soul and Dusty Springfield-esque pop.” -allmusic.com

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