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Sea Girls' 'Open Up Your Head' Has Big Pop Hooks and Big Guitars

"You Over Anyone" features just Camamile and a piano and is the only ballad on the album. It's a surprising change of pace after 12 upbeat songs. There's a lot in the verses about this woman's bad behavior and how toxic she can be, but the refrain insists, "All my friends say I should run / But I'd choose you over anyone." Rather then end the album on that downbeat but romantic note, the band cranks up the guitars and synths again for "Moving On". It's here that Camamile claims, unconvincing...
Tags: Music, UK, Music Review, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Polydor, Sea Girls, Camamile

Doves Deliver a Familiar Yet Fresh Brand of Melancholy on 'The Universal Want'

By the same token, Doves have gotten exceptionally adept at shading their songs' mood with suggestions of contrast. Even, for example, when Goodwin delivers a gut punch like the verse on "Cycle of Hurt" where he sings "You crashed into my universe / I don't know if that's a blessing or a curse / And I feel your presence pressing on a nerve / I need to end this cycle of hurt" over mournful keyboard swells, Jez Williams' concise single-note guitar licks sparkle with glints of sunlight, almost li...
Tags: Music, Rock, Williams, Music Review, Alternative Rock, Goodwin, Indie Rock, Doves, Jez Williams

Tricky's 'Fall to Pieces' Lacks the Risk-Taking of his Early Work

That's not to say Fall to Pieces is without its highlights, however—just that those highlights are mostly the result of Tricky's collaborators. The two pieces featuring Oh Land may be the strongest here. On "Running Off", Fabricius sings over a beautiful flamenco guitar passage, and on "I'm in the Doorway", she delivers what's easily the strongest vocal melody of the LP. Amidst a backdrop of gentle piano and distant violins, she sings: "I'll bring you greetings / And hidden meanings / Can yo...
Tags: Music, Music Review, Electronic, Tricky, Doorway, Fabricius, Experimental hip-hop, Trip hop, Uninform, Adrian Thaws, Maxinquaye

The Strokes Phone It In (Again) on 'The New Abnormal'

I'm sure Casablancas believes he's clever by winking his way through what he feels is an unfortunate obligation, but the fact that the Strokes still exist isn't the problem. There can be artistic value in nostalgic setlists like the ones that make up their summer tours. After all, isn't allowing people to transcend the present, even if only for a few minutes, one of art's primary goals? Creating an album's worth of intentionally disposable pap, meanwhile, makes space for the creator alone. I...
Tags: Music, Rock, The Strokes, Music Review, Rca Records, Alternative Rock, Indie Rock, Casablancas, Post-punk revival, Garage rock revival

'Harmony' Is About As Bill Frisell As a Bill Frisell Recording Can Be

The other truly distinctive performance is a total reworking of Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", which turns the familiar folk song into a chilly abstraction. In some ways, it reminds your ear more of Frisell's own short "Curiosity", which precedes it—a moody chamber miniature. "How Many Miles" is warmer Frisell original with a melancholy melody for the unison of Haden's voice and Roberts' cello. "Honest Man", also by the leader, floats similarly on a simple two-note motif.The...
Tags: Music, Pete Seeger, Jazz, Americana, Music Review, Roberts, Haden, Bill Frisell, Blue Note Records, Frisell, Petra Haden

Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad Proclaim 'Jazz Is Dead!' Long Live Jazz!

The lone long track on 001, "Apocalíptico", is a nine-minute long jam featuring the current incarnation of Azymuth, a Brazilian jazz-funk trio originally formed in 1971. The fruitful fusion of jazz and Brazilian music is also represented on 001 by a seductive vocal number, "Não Saia Da Praça", which features singer-songwriter and producer Marcos Valle; and "Conexão", a mildly psychedelic collaboration with bossa nova pianist João Donato. Other jazz veterans who appear on the album include sax...
Tags: Music, Soul, Jazz, Music Review, Funk, Adrian Younge, Gary Bartz, Brian Jackson, Doug Carn, Marcos Valle, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, João Donato, Azymuth, Conexão, Jazz is Dead

Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

There a few notable differences that set Years apart from most John Anderson albums. The album feels more like a singer-songwriter album with country accents than many of Anderson's flat-out country records, which often contained songs not written by Anderson. Years is also missing the flat-out funny songs and rock 'n' roll tunes that usually pop up once or twice on Anderson albums. However, these differences do nothing to detract from the depth and poignancy of Years. John Anderson delivers a...
Tags: Music, Country, Music Review, Anderson, John Anderson, Easy eye sound, Anderson Years

Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

Block had a treasure trove of material to choose from, and she selected some tasty nuggets. There's not a bad song on the album, and each one is performed masterly with grit and gumption. Block provides all the vocals, all the guitar work—including slide and playing the bass notes on the guitar, drums, and percussion. Block is literally a one-woman band, in addition to co-producing the disc with Rob Davis. Highlights include the slithering, sexy "It's Red Hot" (Madilyn Davis), the solemn "Moth...
Tags: Music, Blues, Music Review, Rob Davis, Memphis Minnie, Rory Block, Stony Plain, Country blues, Madilyn Davis, Elvie Thomas, Lottie Kimbrough, Helen Hume Block

'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Of all the album's tracks, "Grandma's Hands"Grandma's Hands", famously covered by the Staple Singers and sampled in Blackstreet's '90s hit, "No Diggity", best exemplifies what this album is about: warmth, maturity, humor, laid-back and funky grooves, pathos, sensitivity, audience rapport, and an improved arrangement over Withers's studio version. After a hilarious extended introduction. Withers further slows down "Grandma's Hands" and adds understated strings to what has proven one of Withers'...
Tags: Music, Soul, Blues, R&B, Music Review, Funk, Greg Kot, Bill Withers, Withers, Blackstreet, Smooth soul, Carnegie Hall Captures, Harlem Cold Baloney

Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Mitchell's adaptation of the Rudyard Kipling poem, "If", brings Shine to a close. Listening to its cool, bluesy groove and graceful melody, with the electronic elements present but finally subdued, it's hard not to think, 'Yes! More of this, please!' It's much more in keeping with the sound of Turbulent Indigo. Of course, the awful kicker of the original "If" was that Kipling, after describing every conceivable attribute of character, from vigor to integrity to even-handedness to self-contro...
Tags: Music, Rock, Pop, Jazz, Joni Mitchell, Music Review, Mitchell, Folk, Rudyard Kipling, Craft Recordings

Jazz's Kandace Springs Pays Tribute to 'The Women Who Raised Me'

Recordings by young jazz singers, modeling themselves on and singing the music of their elders, are not uncommon. They are aren't usually quite this good, but there are plenty—and the dilemma usually is, Okay, but now what? With Kandace Springs, the good news is that her first couple of recordings contained mostly original music or more contemporary blends of jazz and modern soul. She already has a voice. The women who raised her inspired her to explore that as much as to copy them. She's not...
Tags: Music, Norah Jones, Jazz, Music Review, David Sanborn, Chris Potter, Christian McBride, Blue Note Records, Scott Colley, Kandace Springs, Vocal jazz, Steve Cardenas, Clarence Penn

'Stone Crush' Proves (Again) That Memphis Is Ground Zero for Soul and R&B

The producers, engineers, and musicians included on Stone Crush, however, are a who's who of Memphis music: The Memphis Horns (Andrew Love - tenor, Wayne Jackson - trumpet, James Mitchell - baritone); the legendary Willie Mitchell; Ben Cauley, surviving member of the original Bar-Kays (in fact, a revamped Bar-Kays provide much of the backing throughout this collection); and recorded in studios such as Ardent, Allied, Royal, and others. But the voices are the focus here, and they're the (so to ...
Tags: Music, Pop, Chicago, Soul, Arkansas, R&B, Music Review, Memphis, Funk, Willie Mitchell, James Mitchell, Ben Cauley, Kays, Wayne Jackson, Light in the Attic, Greg Mason

Basia Bulat Asks 'Are You in Love?'

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Tags: Music, Music Review, Folk, Basia Bulat, Secret City Records, Indie folk

Dua Lipa's 'Future Nostalgia' Is the Dance Escape We Need Right Now

We can forgive most of this, however, as Future Nostalgia proves to be more engaging and re-listenable than its predecessor. The record delivers a bevy of new pop classics in a style that's playful and assured. Lipa positions herself less as a label-serving chart diva and more as a creative driving force for the future of dance music. People may have mocked her in the past, but now that we live in the era of Future Nostalgia, no one is laughing at her anymore.Keep Reading
Tags: Music, Pop, R&B, Music Review, Dance Pop, Dua Lipa, LIPA, Synthpop, Warner Records

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