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album cover“As it somewhat deemphasizes Walker’s way with big hooks — the very thing that made him an in-demand session man — Afraid of Ghosts isn’t as immediate as some of his other records, but it will suit the needs of anybody craving a record that sounds like Ryan Adams used to make them back in the day.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“There are plenty of startling moments full of guts and gristle in Lady Lamb’s dense lyrics, and then there are the moments when she wanders. The fingerpicked ‘Sunday Shoes’ stretches out between the shoegaze-inflected ‘Heretic’ and ‘Spat Out Spit’, injecting a weird bubble of space into the album’s flow. The rousing coda on ‘Penny Licks’ almost feels like an Arcade Fire climax, even though it only arrives in the seventh song. Like Ripely Pine, After clocks in at a solid hour—and it’s an hour you’ll feel, because while After boasts a stacked lineup of well-crafted songs, it’s a choppy ride to make it through them all.” -pitchfork.com

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album cover“Issued by RCA three weeks prior to the 57th Annual Grammy Awards telecast, 2015 Grammy Nominees, like yearly releases before it, emphasizes the ‘big four’ categories. Since four of the nominees for Record of the Year (namely ‘Chandelier,’ ‘Stay with Me,’ ‘Shake It Off,’ and ‘All About That Bass’ — were also up for Song of the Year, there was plenty of room to accommodate those two categories. Each one of the Album of the Year nominees is represented, although three Best New Artist nominees (HAIM, Brandy Clark, Bastille) were left off. This is an adequate, stylistically varied time capsule of 2014′s most popular music that, for serious Grammy viewers, has more value as a collector’s item.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“The New Basement Tapes recorded Lost on the River in a real studio fully aware there was an audience awaiting their output, an attitude that’s the polar opposite of the ramshackle joshing around of the original Basement Tapes. Thankfully, nobody involved with Lost on the River contrives to replicate either the sound or feel of the 1967 sessions, even if the artists consciously pick up the strands of country, folk, and soul dangling on the originals. Wisely, the songwriters steer their given lyrics toward their own wheelhouses, which means this contains a little of the woolliness of a collective but Burnett sands off the rough edges, tying this all together.” -allmusic.com

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Tuxedo: Tuxedo

album cover“Unsurprisingly to anyone who’s heard Hawthorne’s note-perfect take on ’60s soul, the duo proves to be masterful at re-creating the feel of the moment in the early ’80s when disco began to die out and was replaced by the funkier sounds of boogie and electric funk. The duo conjures up visceral memories of the finest artists of the era, from Atlantic Starr to Zapp, treating the source material with care and making sure to never make jokes or come off even a little bit ironic. From the drum machines to the synth settings, everything is just right.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“Carrie & Lowell is the most harrowingly personal work Stevens has offered us to date; it also ranks with his most skillfully crafted albums despite its spartan approach, and it’s a sometimes difficult but profoundly moving work. Stevens has offered us some fine albums in the past, but he’s never made anything quite like Carrie & Lowell.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“Then Came the Morning reveals so much growth it’s hard to believe this is only the Lone Bellow’s second album. This trio pulls off a chosen weave of hybrid roots sounds with seeming ease, passion, and verve. No one else performing Americana or crossover country music attempts anything like it, leaving the trio in its own class.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“Terraplane is the most relaxed and least fussed-over album Earle has made in quite some time, and frankly, he sounds like he’s having a ball on these sessions; with rare exceptions, this isn’t music that ponders the dark night of the soul, but semi-acoustic roadhouse boogie that rocks with a steady roll and gives Earle a chance to crow like a rooster as he ponders broken hearts, long lonesome highways, battles with the forces of destiny, and the enduring appeal of women in go-go boots.” -allmusic.com

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Andrew Norman: Play

album cover“‘Play,’ which the Boston Modern Orchestra Project commissioned from the fast-rising composer Andrew Norman in 2013, is being talked about as the most important long orchestral work of the 21st century. That kind of hype can often be misleading, but in this case it’s quite likely accurate. The 45-minute, three-movement work, which encompasses various meanings of play — some lighthearted, some sinister — begins in an almost spastic fit of energy; musical ideas ricochet off one another furiously, almost too quickly. But embedded in the chaos are two scales: one ascending, the other descending. Their interaction and gradual transformation create the piece’s overarching structure as the music progresses through three ‘levels,’ though it never loses its reckless feel.”
-David Weininger/TheBostonGlobe.com

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Ne-Yo: Non-fiction

album cover“Patched together and sprawling even in standard form — it’s the television edit compared to the director’s cut deluxe edition — Non-Fiction nonetheless contains more standouts than any Ne-Yo album since Because of You. There’s some frivolous content, such as the fireside acoustic number ‘Story Time’ and rote EDM squib ‘Who’s Taking You Home.’ Beyond that, there’s a lot of imaginative and high-quality modern R&B, like ‘She Knows,’ ‘She Said I’m Hood Though,’ and ‘One More,’ all tough but finely crafted slow jams.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“The difference between the guy who made 1989′s Too Long in the Wasteland and the man who cut Complicated Game is the more mature McMurtry has figured out how to deliver the fine songs he writes and get their qualities on tape, and Complicated Game confirms he’s not only remembered this valuable lesson, he’s finding new ways to refine what he knows, and this album is another triumph for one of America’s most rewarding tunesmiths.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“Like Earle’s best work, Absent Fathers is low on flash and high on emotional honesty and perceptive songwriting, and paired with Single Mothers this is some of his most intelligent and moving music to date.” -allmusic.com

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album cover“Arguably (and not many would argue) the greatest living jazz pianist, Chick Corea has had a long and highlight-filled career, beginning with his tenure with the great Miles Davis when Davis was defining the jazz-rock synthesis, through Corea’s own breakthrough jazz fusion recordings and his subsequent journeys into everything from the post-bop avant-garde to classical and new age, and his restless and musically inclusive spirit has always shone through. This expansive live release finds Corea working with bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade, and the three have an uncanny connection, filling space with gorgeous and subtle phrasings, gliding through all manner of styles with a seemingly effortless elegance, grace, and freshness.” -allmusic.com

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“Neatly tied together by openinAlbum Coverg and closing cuts that include Stevie Wonder on harmonica, because Ronson could swing it, Uptown Special is another nostalgic fantasy that provides light entertainment and provokes backtracking.” -allmusic.com

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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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