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Monthly Archive for February, 2014

“On Beautiful Africa, Malian songwriter and guitar slinger Rokia Traoré unleashes the fiery rocker she’s been nurturing since her teens….While Beautiful Africa is her most ‘commercial’ recording — as in, friendly to Western audiences — it nonetheless follows directly the explorations her music has articulated from the beginning. It feels like a natural step, consequently [...]

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Laura Mvula: Sing To The Moon

“It’s rooted in decades-old forms of gospel, jazz, R&B, and, most deeply, orchestral pop. Almost all of the material is as serious and as refined as it is majestic, with vocal showcases and hushed-belted-hushed-belted dynamics galore….Sing to the Moon marks the arrival of a unique and major talent — one with a commanding voice seemingly [...]

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Craig Taborn Trio: Chants

“Less than two years after Avenging Angel, his solo ECM debut, pianist Craig Taborn returns with his longstanding trio of bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver….Chants is a strong statement from Taborn both as a composer and bandleader, but it’s also a dialogue on the trio format itself, as articulated by this vastly talented, [...]

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Speedy Ortiz: Major Arcana

“Sounding like they were forged in the early to mid-’90s — when Throwing Muses and Sleater-Kinney were all the rage — Speedy Ortiz’s 2013 debut album, Major Arcana, finds the four-piece influenced by the raw, slanted guitar-driven indie rock of the ’90s….Many listeners may find themselves drawn in by the authentic retro indie style and [...]

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“Hagar’s Song is a deeply intimate, intuitive offering from saxophonist Charles Lloyd and pianist Jason Moran, who has been a key part of Lloyd’s quartet since 2008. The program is a collection of standards and originals, as well as one thorny, angular free improvisation (‘Pictogram’)….Hagar’s Song finds Lloyd and Moran at their most naturally curious [...]

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“With so many varying styles, it’s a bit of a surprise that it comes together so effortlessly, but at its core, Krule is showing all sides of his U.K. environment, and the multiple genres laced into the sparse backdrop are held together by an overlying somber grey fog. Peel that back and you have one [...]

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“1968′s White Light/White Heat was a no-holds-barred frontal assault on cultural and aesthetic propriety….[A]nyone wanting to hear their guitar-mauling tribal frenzy straight with no chaser will love it, and those benighted souls who think of the Velvets as some sort of folk-rock band are advised to crank their stereo up to ten and give side [...]

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Claudia Lennear: Phew!

“Claudia Lennear, who came to fame as a member of the singing and dancing Ikettes, has a unique voice that combines strength and fragility. She can wail and shout with the best of them, but there’s a certain vulnerability that always shines through (that incongruity describes her countenance, as well, which projects joy and sorrow [...]

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“Three years in gestation — which, in Peter Gabriel time, is a mere handful of months — And I’ll Scratch Yours, the companion piece to the 2010 covers album Scratch My Back, finds most (but certainly not all) of the artists who were interpreted on Gabriel’s album returning the favor by tackling the progressive singer/songwriter’s [...]

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“The John Legend-curated soundtrack for director Steve McQueen’s big screen rendering of Solomon Northup’s autobiography 12 Years a Slave features 16 tracks, including two selections (‘Washington’ and ‘Solomon’) from composer Hans Zimmer’s evocative score. Operating under the ‘music from and inspired by’ adage, the 14 remaining cuts explore themes of suffering, redemption, and freedom through [...]

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“[T]he banter contains a similar sense of excitement; as this concentrates on 1963, the Beatles have yet to grow tired of their shtick, so it’s fun to hear them trade barbs with the BBC hosts and with each other. When the dialogue is combined with those wonderful performances, On Air: Live at the BBC, Vol. [...]

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The Beatles: Live At The BBC

“From 1962 to 1965, the Beatles made 52 appearances on the BBC, recording live-in-the-studio performances of both their official releases and several dozen songs that they never issued on disc. This magnificent two-disc compilation features 56 of these tracks, including 29 covers of early rock, R&B, soul, and pop tunes that never appeared on their [...]

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“Most impressive in this set are the performance of ‘Das Lied,’ with the incomparable vocal duo of Fritz Wunderlich and Christa Ludwig, and the Ninth Symphony. These are Mahler’s two most emotionally vulnerable works, both haunted by the specter of mortality. Yet Klemperer’s tough-minded, unsentimental approach makes you hear each in a new, and entirely [...]

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“The roots of soul and so much more are heard here, and with the way the set is assembled, one can hear the decades build forward through the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s into the full-band, funky and R&B-influenced tracks from the 1970s and 1980s.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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Sting: Songs From The Labyrinth

“In making Dowland’s songs his own, Sting has accomplished something that really has never been done before, and perhaps he’ll show some of his own fans that Renaissance music is more than an accompaniment for silly jousting competitions — it is a labyrinth that leads us toward the roots of our own culture.” –All Music [...]

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Elvis Presley: Elvis At Stax

“What impresses is Presley’s virtuosity and how he cannily constructed his performances to seem effortless: there’s sweat fueling these tight, punchy renditions, and heart behind his ballads, and you can hear him work it all out on the alternate takes, then reach full flight on the finished masters. None of this was readily evident on [...]

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“The 58-track Never My Love: The Anthology… appeals slightly more to fanatics than it does newcomers….There’s a lot of familiar ground, all of it representative, but many selections differ from the album counterparts….Hopefully an enterprising label has the resources to endure the licensing nightmares required to release a compilation that showcases Hathaway’s work for artists [...]

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The Who: Tommy

“Townshend’s ability to construct a lengthy conceptual narrative brought new possibilities to rock music. Despite the complexity of the project, he and the Who never lost sight of solid pop melodies, harmonies, and forceful instrumentation, imbuing the material with a suitably powerful grace.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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Billy Squier: Icon

“All of Billy Squier’s big hits… are featured on this 11-track budget-line comp. Hardcore fans may notice a few smaller hits and deep cuts missing, but this should satisfy most listeners and fans as it delivers a lot of bang for not much buck.” –All Music Guide Check Our Catalog

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R. Kelly: Black Panties

“Occasional resemblances to Drake and the-Dream are as blatant as the Isley Brothers and Michael Jackson exercises of Write Me Back. The similarities are so obvious that it’s tough to discern if Kelly is acknowledging his younger followers, aiming to beat them at their game, or both. Perhaps he’s just a little short on new [...]

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