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Monthly Archive for January, 2015

Neil Young: Storytone

“…Storytone is fairly messy — which is quite an achievement for an album recorded in large part live in front of a full orchestra. Young does indeed croon over those strings, often rhapsodizing about the powers of new love or pleading to save the Earth, although he sometimes gets restless and rolls out a swinging […]

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“While much of Springtime Carnivore walks in a Twilight Zone between indie pop and clever appropriations of the past, Morgan does manage to reveal a personality of her own over the course of these 14 tracks, and she comes off as clever, confident, and a sure hand with a tune on this set, while her […]

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Billy Joel: The Essential Billy Joel

“…for the most part, this has every one of Joel’s heavy-hitters, and his craftsmanship, both as a songsmith and record maker, has never shone brighter. The biggest fault is that there is a notable drop-off in quality after 1986’s The Bridge (which ends midway through disc two), but even so, this is as good a […]

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Birdy: Fire Within

“While the songs on Fire Within display vocal maturity beyond her young years, Birdy’s lyrics don’t stray far from the same emotions as every other 17-year-old — love, broken hearts, confusion — and this honesty feels natural and sincere without becoming cliché. With a flurry of teen internet sensations — singers such as Gabrielle Aplin […]

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Hozier: Hozier

“The album’s best tracks, like the warm, laid-back ‘Someone New’ and the grandiose shuffling of ‘From Eden’ are all front loaded in the first half, while side two feels a bit weighed down with a few too many slow, contemplative pieces. When you’re dealing with the kind of spells Hozier is casting, it’s always best […]

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Eric Paslay: Eric Paslay

“Paslay isn’t trying to change the world with his songs, but he does want you to remember them without much strain, and if there’s a secret to success in Nashville, that just might be it — keep it simple and catchy. This self-titled debut release doesn’t change the landscape of contemporary country, but it sure […]

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Charli XCX: Sucker

“On Sucker, she (XCX) keeps more of that hit-making swagger for herself, delivering attention-getting pop that’s bold enough to ensure she isn’t overshadowed by anybody. She makes her purpose clear with the album’s title track, a musical middle finger to the clueless set to revved-up synths and stabbing guitars. It’s a big change from the […]

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Florida-Georgia Line: Anything Goes

” Despite the loosey-goosey title, there’s not much left to chance on Anything Goes: it’s designed to consolidate Florida Georgia Line’s success and maybe give them a little bit of cred they never amassed on their debut. Those serious moments, crystallized by the salt-of-the-earth dirgey lead single ‘Dirt,’ are where FGL stumble. Whenever the duo […]

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Jason Aldean: Old boots, new dirt

“It’s hard not to ascribe some meaning to the title of Old Boots, New Dirt, Jason Aldean’s sixth album. Edging into his second decade as a star, Aldean’s boots are getting a bit worn; he’s no longer an upstart, he’s a veteran who could almost be seen as an institution thanks to his long commercial […]

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Mary J Blige: The London Sessions

” The London Sessions just happens to have her best round of songs, productions, and performances since The Breakthrough, the 2005 album Smith references in one of several unnecessary testimonials and interview snippets placed throughout the sequence of songs. A couple moments are stilted and there’s some substandard songwriting, such as the woeful “I’ll keep […]

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Bob Stewart: Connections – Mind the gap

“And now for something complete different…Connections – Mind The Gap is an organic mix of classical, blues and improvisational music that is built around the tuba. Jazz tuba is nothing new yet the inherent misconception is that the instruments natural “limitations” which include being the lowest pitched brass instrument would have the tuba relegated to […]

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Ed Sheeran: X

“It’s a little glib to call Ed Sheeran the U.K.’s answer to Jason Mraz, yet there’s a grain of truth in that statement. Like Mraz, Sheeran plays around with hip-hop cadences but at his core he’s a singer/songwriter, and a sensitive one at that, one who prefers love tunes to songs of protest, something that […]

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