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Album Cover“Lathe of Heaven, is a measured, thoughtfully precise album that blurs the lines between post-bop jazz, classical chamber music, and free improvisation. Working with his pianoless quartet featuring trumpeter Avishai Cohen, bassist Joe Martin, and drummer Marcus Gilmore, Turner has developed an ensemble-based approach to jazz that sidesteps both traditional and avant-garde jazz conventions at every turn.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Constructed as an aural travelog through the great rock & roll cities of America — a journey that was documented on an accompanying HBO mini-series of the same name — Sonic Highways picks up the thread left dangling from Sound City: Real to Reel; it celebrates not the coiled fury of underground rock exploding into the mainstream, the way the ’90s-happy Wasting Light did, but rather the classic rock that unites the U.S. from coast to coast. No matter the cameo here — and there are plenty of guests, all consciously different from the next, all bending to the needs of their hosts — the common denominator is the pumping amps, sky-scraping riffs, and sugary melodies that so identify the sound of arena rock at its pre-MTV peak.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Named after the address of his childhood home in North Carolina, J. Cole’s third studio effort was released with no supporting singles, and there are no featured artists, either, because 2014 Forest Hills Drive is one of those personal, conceptual, and ‘heavy’ albums. Most importantly, it’s admirable bordering on excellent, sure to inspire returning fans to herald it as a classic even if it doesn’t woo the skeptical, casually wandering out of its intro with two smooth and soulful numbers that are so free, they’re just shy of being clumsy.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“In some ways, Perfume Genius’ intimate, unflinching balladry reached its logical conclusion on Put Your Back N 2 It. On that deceptively gentle collection of songs, Mike Hadreas’ songwriting gained more agency while opening the door to the possibilitieshe explores to the fullest on Too Bright. With the help of Portishead’s Adrian Utley and PJ Harvey collaborator John Parish, Hadreas marries his razor-sharp observations with omnivorous music that gives him even more range.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Do to the Beast is an ambitious attempt to re-create the feeling of the Afghan Whigs while retooling their sonic fingerprint; the final product is intelligent and often fascinating, but it doesn’t deliver like the Afghan Whigs do at their best, and ultimately comes off as a brave but somewhat unsatisfying experiment.” -allmusic.com

 

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Album Cover“‘Haunting’ is an overused adjective, but it still defines Mirel Wagner’s music perfectly. It certainly applied to her self-titled debut, which brought folk and blues back to their eldritch roots with songs that fell somewhere between nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and murder ballads. It’s an even more apt description of her intensely beautiful and unsettling second album, When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day. Wagner collaborated with Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti, best known for his work as Luomo and Vladislav Delay; not an obvious choice, considering that his music is largely electronic. However, Ripatti honors her songs by giving them the cleanest, clearest surroundings possible, highlighting her hypnotic fingerpicking on ‘Dreamt of a Wave’ and ‘The Devil’s Tongue.’” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“With its skittish and fuzzed-out production and tendency to shift direction on a whim, the album feels as though it’s trying to re-create the feeling of hearing an album like Sgt. Pepper’s for the first time in 1967, re-creating that feeling that absolutely anything could happen at any moment. Like some of their past collaborations, the album shows that not all fwends are created equal, so even though cuts like ‘Getting Better’ can be pretty uneven, guests like Miley Cyrus and Tegan and Sara on ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and ‘Lovely Rita,’ respectively, provide the band’s sound with a new dimension and attitude, providing With a Little Help from My Fwends with the kind of eclectic atmosphere that made the original so charming.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“An early form of You’re Dead! was the length of a double album — a large mass of brief tracks that, for Steven Ellison, possibly signified nothing more than his fifth Flying Lotus album. As the producer and keyboardist spent more time absorbing and shaping the recordings, the title, initially comic in meaning, gained emotional weight while he was provoked to consider his mortality and the losses he has been dealt, including the deaths of his father and mother, his grandmother, his great aunt Alice Coltrane, and creative collaborator Austin Peralta. The completed You’re Dead! consists of 19 tracks averaging two minutes in length that are intended to be heard in sequence from front to back. Its flow is even more liquid than that of Until the Quiet Comes, though the sounds are more jagged and free, with roots deeper in jazz. Ellison once again works extensively beside longtime comrades and pulls new collaborators into his sphere.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“At its core, Bringing Back the Sunshine is a middlebrow makeout record that can double as a fine morning tonic. Nothing here rocks (although the closing ‘Just Gettin’ Started’ tries to work up a full head of steam), nothing is gritty, even the ode to a ‘Good Country Song,’ which isn’t a slice of hardcore honky tonk but rather a slow-burner in the vein of Keith Whitley and Earl Thomas Conley, who are both name-checked in the tune. This insistent mellowness is the strength of Bringing Back the Sunshine. Shelton has an easy touch with a ballad and he never gets subsumed in the thick overdubs of his midtempo pop songs because his warm, resonant voice anchors them both, making them seem slightly more substantial than mere cannily crafted contemporary country-pop.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Certainly the sound is exceptional, according to Deutsche Grammophon’s high standards, and this stereo recording is exceptionally clean and noise-free. Yet there are several audiophile recordings of the Ninth available that provide deeper and clearer sound and offer a richer listening experience. So as compelling as Abbado’s last recording is on many levels, for Brucknerians and fans of state-of-the-art recording, it’s still a contender among many.” -allmusic.com

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David Guetta: Listen

Album Cover“…Guetta does the build, break, and drop thing on some cuts, while tastefully keeping other songs EDM free, but his major contribution when it comes to creativity seems to be the inspired Black Eyed Peas and township jive mashing he does on ‘Lift Me Up’ with Nico & Vinz plus Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Otherwise, he seems like a featured artist on his own album, which would be standard issue for other producers turned artist, but not Guetta.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“He (Rice) whittles away the excess in his words and melody, then dresses the detailed sculpture in finely tailored accouterments of slightly sighing strings, strummed guitars, and a hint of forward momentum lying within buried rhythms. This means My Favourite Faded Fantasy may come on as a bit underwhelming at first but that’s the intent: it’s not designed to grab, it’s designed to soothe and then slowly worm its way into the subconscious, which is where these eight songs reveal themselves to be as strong as anything else Rice has written.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Yearwood has had more than ten hits — and she’s also had no fewer than five compilations — but the hits here are well chosen (‘She’s in Love with the Boy,’ ‘How Do I Live,’ ‘Wrong Side of Memphis,’ and ‘The Song Remembers When’ are all here), and the new songs are solid enough to raise the question of why she didn’t go all the way and craft a brand-new album. Nevertheless, Prizefighter: Hit After Hit winds up as an effective reminder of Yearwood’s strengths.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Bette Midler’s 2014 effort, It’s the Girls!, finds the legendary vocalist paying homage to female girl groups from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s. Never one to be underestimated, however, Midler also brings the homage full circle with a reworking of TLC’s 1995 R&B hit ‘Waterfalls.’ Midler’s 14th studio album and 25th album overall, It’s the Girls! follows up her successful compilation Memories of You. Though it represents an all-new effort in the studio, It’s the Girls! nonetheless feels like a retrospective, a return to the cabaret and theatrical style of her early career.” -allmusic.com

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Simple Minds: Big Music

Album Cover“Big Music finds Simple Minds coming full circle — going all the way back to 1979 for inspiration. They’ve rediscovered the urgent, keyboard-driven post-punk futurism of recordings such as Empires and Dance and Sons and Fascination. Rather than try to merely re-create them, they’ve integrated them with the more guitar-centric classicism of New Gold Dream, Sparkle in the Rain, and Once Upon a Time.” -allmusic.com

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Maroon 5: V

Album Cover“…the vibe shifts slightly back to the soulful pop that’s remained at Maroon 5′s core since the beginning, here given an ever so slight maturation to balance the modern moves heard on the rest of the record. Sometimes, the group achieves a delicate balance between the two extremes — ‘It Was Always You,’ ‘New Love,’ and the aforementioned ‘Feelings’ — but the best moments on V are when Maroon 5 embrace the tuneful, slightly soulful adult contemporary pop band they’ve always been, as they do on ‘Sugar,’ ‘Coming Back for You,’ and the Gwen Stefani duet ‘My Heart Is Open.’” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“For all its starkness, on Room these players not only support one another, they create space for reconsideration and expansion. Cline takes Lage further out onto the improvisational ledge than he’s ever been before, while Lage draws Cline toward a sense of lyricism and restraint he hasn’t employed in many years. Room betrays no hesitation, displays no false moves, offers no space for safety. And that’s just how this duo likes it. It is abundant in its offer of pleasure for fans of guitar jazz and it may even hold wider appeal for those who are drawn to in-the-moment musical creation.” -allmusic.com

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Mogwai: Rave Tapes

Album Cover“As impressive as Rave Tapes’ rockers are, the album’s heart lies in subtler tracks like ‘Heard About You Last Night,’ a dreamy prelude that makes the most of the delicacy Mogwai has excelled at since their early days. Similarly, the quietly anthemic ‘Blues Hour’ and vocoder-driven ‘The Lord Is Out of Control’ hark back to the muted beauty of Mr. Beast and Come On Die Young’s implosive minimalism. Rave Tapes takes a while to hit its stride, but it delivers plenty of moments to keep fans intrigued once it does.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Joe Henry has always had a knack for excellent wordplay and knows how to find great sounds and conjure great performances in the studio, but Invisible Hour is most impressive in how spare it is; there is almost nothing here that doesn’t help set the mood or move the songs forward, and in this elegant approach, Henry finds something remarkable. Invisible Hour is a beautiful, haunting collection of songs that only Joe Henry could create, and whether you’re familiar with his work of not, you’re likely to find something that will impress you on this album.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Though her two previous recordings were noteworthy as showcases for her soloing and compositions, it is with Crash Trio — Chilean bassist Pablo Menares and Cuban drummer Francisco Mela (both are also composers) — that she shines brightest. Save for readings of Harry Warren’s ‘You’re My Everything’ and a tenor solo on Monk’s ‘Ask Me Now,’ the entire program was written by the trio’s various members. Aldana possesses a big, earthy, edgy tone deeply influenced by Sonny Rollins, but her phrasing is her own.” -allmusic.com

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