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Monthly Archive for August, 2012

Frankie Rose: Interstellar

“On 2012′s Interstellar, there is barely any noise to be found; instead it’s got a cleaned up sound with plenty of space between instruments, lots of shiny synths, and an overall sonic power that her debut only hinted at. It’s an honest record, stripped of artifice, and it will hit you hard if you give [...]

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Rebecca Ferguson: Heaven

“The debut from 2010 X-Factor runner-up Rebecca Ferguson, 2011′s Heaven is a stylish, expertly produced contemporary R&B and pop album that showcases Ferguson’s emotive, soulful voice… These are literate, thoughtful songs that balance a kind of singer/songwriter approach with a more club- and dance-oriented aesthetic… And while the old-school soul sound certainly informs much of [...]

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The Wanted: The EP

“Although The Wanted fall into the multi-member teen pop tradition of such groups as *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and Take That, musically they evince more of a dance-rock, synth pop sound that is influenced as much by the modern rock uplift of Coldplay and Snow Patrol as it is the more club-oriented R&B of the Justins: [...]

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Emili Sandé: Our Version of Events

“In 2012, Brit’s Critic Choice Award, a best new artist prize for the United Kingdom’s best talent, unsurprisingly went to Emeli Sandé, a woman being lauded for her crystalline voice and her immaculate songwriting skills… A true feature of this album is the sheer quality of the compositions, which, for lack of a better term, [...]

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Ne-Yo: In My Own Words

“Ne-Yo is a real talent as a songwriter, and as a vocalist he is unmistakably more concerned with serving the song than his ego. He’s not the flashiest vocalist, but he’s able to put across contrasting emotions with slight adjustments, and he balances toughness with tenderness exceptionally well — all of which are uncommon traits [...]

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“Over the years, Jackson has perfected that smooth easy touch and here, on a record devoted to new songs written in the classic tradition…he is a master of understatement in both his delivery and construction, the songs slowly seeping into your marrow. It’s an album only an old pro could make and it’s one of [...]

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Fiona Apple: When the Pawn

“Fiona Apple may have been grouped in with the other female singer/songwriters who dominated the pop charts in 1996 and 1997, but she stood out by virtue of her grand ambitions and considerable musical sophistication… Pawn is immediately grabbing, and instead of fading upon further plays, it reveals more with each listen, whether it’s a [...]

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Eric Benét: The One

“Throughout the 2010 album Lost in Time, Eric Benét referenced a number of ’70s sources, from the Philly soul of the O’Jays to the disco of Cheryl Lynn… The lush arrangements and openhearted sincerity in some of the ballads, such as ‘Real Love’ and ‘Runnin,’ recall the same decade.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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“Plans for the Beach Boys’ 50th anniversary tour came together surprisingly quickly, but nothing prepared fans for a full studio album just six months after their official reunion… That’s Why God Made the Radio is as good as it gets for those who love their Beach Boys. It includes frequently gorgeous charts from Wilson and [...]

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“Young Oklahoma singer/songwriter John Fullbright’s debut is everything you’d want an Americana troubadour’s first outing to be — striking, fresh, and full of promise… Fullbright consistently displays a level of lyrical finesse that would be impressive in an artist with twice as many years behind him, which only bodes well for his future work.” –All [...]

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“[T]he album’s mix of classic sounds from across West Africa — palm wine, highlife, soukous, Afrobeat — alongside reggae, dub, and traditional Goombay drums and chants, harks back to the band members’ memories from before the war, and beyond that, to the country’s unique role in African history… It’s the strongest album yet from a [...]

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“This compilation draws from four nights in 1977 at the Rising Sun in Montreal, all likely recorded for Gordon’s use and not with the idea of issuing them. Fans of Dexter Gordon are in for a treat, given a front-row seat in the club to hear the tenor saxophonist’s long but imaginative interpretations of four [...]

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“‘The Soviet Experience’ series continues with this set of early Shostakovich string quartets from the 15 years surrounding World War II, along with one unusual Prokofiev quartet of the same period. In addition to reflecting the situations in which he lived, Shostakovich’s quartets deal with a different kind of legacy as well: the Beethovenian tradition [...]

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“On her 19th album, Cassandra Wilson, ever the musical chameleon, changes directions once more. She is arguably the greatest living female jazz singer. Well known for her blues, soul, pop covers, and jazz standards, her smoky alto bends almost everything to its will. Wilson’s phrasing is utterly unique, as original as any horn player’s or [...]

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“The Bravest Man in the Universe, an album that sounds like 2012 as much as it sounds like Womack: the rhythms belong to the modern world, the slow, shimmering grooves undeniably Womack’s, as he’s been specializing in this sound since the turn of the ’70s… He’s showing signs of age — his voice is etched [...]

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R. Kelly: Write Me Back

“Following the release of the retro-fitted Love Letter and evidently successful emergency throat surgery, R. Kelly was due for another abrupt turn with Black Panties, an album promised to continue in the vein of the classic 1993 album 12 Play. Instead, Kelly opted to prolong the nostalgia for older rhythm & blues. Write Me Back [...]

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Brad Mehldau Trio: Ode

“Ode marks the very first album comprised of all Mehldau material cut by this trio. While the title may reflect a a certain ponderousness, these 11 tunes are anything but…As an album, Odes reveals just how far this group has traveled together these past seven years. More importantly, it provides an exciting glimpse of what [...]

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“Time as We Know It often has the feel and the sound of a late-night guitar pull, and that’s one of the reasons it works so well; Snider seems to know he’ll never top Walker’s original recordings, but he sure likes sharing these tunes that he clearly loves and understands, and enough of that soul [...]

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Haley Reinhart: Listen Up!

“The debut album from 2011 American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart, 2012′s Listen Up! features the singer framed in slick, retro-influenced pop and R&B productions… Definitely an ear-grabber, Listen Up! ultimately posits Reinhart as a kind of old-school pinup, a mini-Mariah Carey if she’d grown up listening to a mix of Dusty Springfield, Lisa Stansfield, and [...]

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Nas: Life is Good

“…[Nas] sells it all, delivering everything here as if its classic status was assured and will never fall into an embarrassment trap… If the game needed Illmatic, this is the one Nas needed to get out of his system, acting as a clearinghouse for all venom and bile, plus some gloss that doesn’t fit but [...]

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