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Album Cover“Die On Stage is definitely the album that confirms the path which Hostage Calm have set themselves on. They’ve tempered and toned down their sound record by record over the past couple years, tinkering along the way at Run For Cover. I noticed this since 2010. As skeptical as I was, I still enjoyed their body of work though and this album, while not their most definitive or most assured set, does feel like the skin they are most comfortable in and something has to be said for that.” -punknews.org

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“The debut CD by world-muAlbum Coversic quartet Grand Fatilla broadens as you get deeper into it — taking in more genres with exacting technical virtuosity, and also widening its emotional scope. The helter-skelter shifting meters of the Bulgarian folk-dance-tune opener ‘Cigansko Oro’ immediately puts you on notice of the band’s skills: Matt Glover’s fierce bouzouki-like mandolin plucking, Roberto Cassan’s equally dizzying accordion, the fast patter of Fabio Pirozzolo’s percussion. Meanwhile, the sure-footed groove of Mike Rivard’s bass lines creates the illusion that you could dance to this stuff if you dared.” -Jon Garelick/TheBostonGlobe.com

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Album Cover“American folk music veteran Kris Delmhorst is no stranger to the music business. She has, in fact, been around for almost 20 years, having released her debut album, Appetite, as far back as 1998. After spending that long in the game you’re bound to want to mix it up a little and, seeing as Blood Test would be her first album of original material since 2008, Delmhorst clearly felt that a change of tact was necessary. Therefore, when deciding on the direction for this album, Delmhorst opted to go back to basics, stripping her sound down to the bare bones. In her own words, with Blood Test she was ‘focused on paring things down to their elements—less flesh, more bone.’” -David Farrell/popmatters.com

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Album Cover“…the album showcases lead singer Rachel Price’s resonant, old-school singing, which is still the main reason to listen to Lake Street Dive. Of course, with her band backing her at various times with harmony vocals, jazzy trumpet, crunchy tube guitar riffs, and woody jazz basslines, there’s always something rootsy and unexpected happening around her on Bad Self Portraits. There is a buoyant creativity to many of Lake Street Dive’s arrangements, and cuts like ‘Bobby Tanqueray’ and ‘Seventeen’ reveal such time-tested influences as late-’60s Muscle Shoals-influenced soul and Dusty Springfield-esque pop.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Released along with Once Upon a Time in Shaolin — their locked-down, $5 million dollar, single-copy album-as-art release — A Better Tomorrow is further proof that, in 2014, the Wu-Tang Clan are a concept or collective led by RZA, and not necessarily a group. Their previous 2007 effort, 8 Diagrams, was the first clue that things would never be the same post-Ol’ Dirty Bastard, but they could be quite good, excellent even, as long as one doesn’t expect the lean, mean Shaolin machine of the past.” -allmusic.com

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Ark Ovrutski: 44:33

Album Cover“Titled after the length of the album, this latest release by bassist Ark Ovrutski delivers just under ¾ of an hour’s worth of toe tapping post bop. Along with Michael Dease/tb, Michael Thomas/as-ss, David Berkman/p an dUllysses Owens/dr, Ovrutski sizzles on pieces like ‘New Orleans’ and ‘Medium’ that feature Deases rich trombone, while Thomas uses his sax to glory on the graceful ‘Waltz.’ John Lewis’ ‘Milestones’gets a fresh coat of paint, and electric pianist Benito Gonzalez gets the motor into overdrive on a cooking little ‘Path Train.’ Impressive on all cylinders.” -George W. Harris/jazzweekly.com

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“The Lagos Music Salon is not oAlbum Covernly Somi’s finest recording to date, but stands with Dee Dee Bridgewater’s classic Red Earth as an album that expertly explores the symbiotic relationship between American evolutionary music forms and their mirror image in modern African pop. It does so with a passionate conscience, a maestro’s discipline, and the wide-angle vision of a true artist.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“Comet, Come to Me, like Devil’s Halo, involves a cover of a hit released during Meshell Ndegeocello’s teenage years. Having ignited Ready for the World’s 1985 slow jam ‘Love You Down,’ placed in the middle of her 2009 album, she boldly begins here with a cold-blooded update of Whodini’s ‘Friends’ that swirls and pierces. It sets the tone for 11 originals that are largely subdued but fraught with assorted forms of heartache and internal discomfort — unresolved grievances, somber resolutions, candid confrontations.” -allmusic.com

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Album Cover“In a sense, nearly every album Eric Clapton recorded after 1970 has been a tribute to J.J. Cale. On that first solo album, Clapton cut a cover of Cale’s ‘After Midnight’ and while he was under the spell of Delaney Bramlett for that album, soon enough Slowhand began drifting toward the laconic shuffle that was Cale’s stock in trade. Clapton never hesitated to credit Cale, dropping his name in interviews, turning ‘Cocaine’ into a modern standard, even going so far as to record an entire duet album with the Oklahoma troubadour called The Road to Escondido in 2006. In other words, E.C. owed J.J. little but after Cale passed at the age of 74, the guitarist decided to pay a full-scale tribute in the form of the 2014 LP The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale.” -allmusic.com

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Bryan Ferry: Avonmore

Album Cover“On the album art of Avonmore, the record he released when he was a year shy of 70, Bryan Ferry showcases himself as a dashing young man — a portrait of an artist not as a glam trailblazer or distinguished elder statesman, but rather caught in an indeterminate time between the gorgeous heartbreak of Roxy Music’s Avalon and the meticulous solo work that came immediately in its wake. This is Ferry’s prime, a moment when his legacy was intact but yet to be preserved in amber. Avonmore consciously evokes this distinct period, sometimes sighing into the exquisite ennui of Avalon but usually favoring the fine tailoring of Boys & Girls, a record where every sequenced rhythm, keyboard, and guitar line blended into an alluring urbane pulse” -allmusic.com

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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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