The Colossus fuses all the techniques and working approaches RJD2 has employed over the years samples, live players and/or instrumentation, appearances by guests vocalists and instrumentalists on sax, flute, clarinet, trumpet, mandolin, cello, viola and violin along with plenty of his own solo singing and playing -- while maintaining a laid back, retro soul feel with forays into hip-hop symphonic drama, funkadelic psyche rock, and electrofied outerspace. Click here to read my January story about RJD2. And check out "Let There Be Horns" below.
KevinBarnes has shifted sonic gears for of Montreal's 10th and latest. Their heady electro-lush glam rock and psyche pop is still jam-packed with unexpected juxtapositions, mind-blowing sonics and smart lyricism, but now possesses a fully-realized funk and R&B strut. Add to this official studio treatment with producer Jon Brion (Kanye West, Fiona Apple) and more live instrumentaion (including plenty of anaalog synthesizers and deep sub bass), and you have an album with a warmer, richer and fuller sound than previous efforts. Stay tuned for my Q&A with K. Barnes in the next few weeks to advance their January 15 show at The Ritz Ybor. Click here to read my original review of the album; and check out "Coquet Coquette" below.
The Roots have enjoyed a rather stellar year that included releasing yet another high quality solo album of socially conscious and thought-provoking hip hop, with funky danceable grooves and a rash of cameos that range from offbeat (Monsters of Folk in Dear God 2.0" and Joanna Newsom in "Right On") to tasty and expected (John Legend in "The Fire"). Definitely an album any fan of The Roots (and hip hop in general) should own. Click here to read CL's review of the album. And check out the video for the title track (my favorite on the album) below.
Compelling, straightforward funk, waka waka soul and retro-flavored R&B from a singer, rhyme-slinger, multi-instrumentalist and producer who possesses the best parts of Bill Withers, Eddie Hazel and Curtis Mayfield, and throws in his own modern hip hop and reggae-tinged influences to liven things up. Whereas artists like Mayer Hawthorne exude Motown pop appeal, Aloe Blacc is repping Stax, and hes serious, you dig? Check out the video for the album's lead-off single I Need a Dollar below; the track was originally commissioned by HBO as the theme music for its How to Make It in America series.
Its like putting on musical Zanax, One of my favorite electronic artists, Bonobo always knows how to catch a groove and ride with it. There are no climaxes or tension built to be released, just steady laid-back rhythms with synth , deep bass pulses and bursts of sonic adornment clarinet, saxophone, chimes, bells, swells of strings, well-placed samples providing low-key drama. Black Sands is Bonobos latest, and he brings a jazz-soul-R&B vibe with guest singer Andreya Triana bringing some soul and R&B vibe, adding Latin and Afro-beat percussion flourishes. It's like musical xanax for the soul. Click here to read my feature on the artist; and check out "The Keeper" featuring Triana below.
I've been compulsively obsessing over this self-release by Austin foursome BLSH since it landed on my desk a few months back. It's the sort of exuberant rock album that jumps from genre to genre, and changes your impression from track to track -- muscular, anthemic prog metal, tastefully melodic instrumental grooves, dirty Southern-fried rock n' roll, and even full-on disco funkadelic shake-your-hips-and-get-down music. Tasty. Check out the video for "Back and Forth" below.
Of the Colour of the Sky finds a band reaching the next level of their musical evolution, incorporating high musical drama tastefully and with much sexy, slinky, disco funkified dance appeal. You tell they were rockin some Prince when they recorded the album and it works in the band's favor; it also doesn't hurt that Of the Colour is also impeccably arranged and produced with help from sound wizard Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT). Click here to read my Q&A with bassist Tim Nordwind. And check out the latest video off the album, this one for "White Knuckles."
This album has been hovering at the top of my 2010 list since it came out and has finally landed in the No. 1 spot. The Ohio twosome's sixth and latest is tight, gritty, swampy-soulful blues rock with neo-psychedelic textures, instrumental embellishments, and some of the finest songwriting and production The Black Keys have offered up to date. Click here to read my original review of the album. And check out the official video for "Tighten Up" below. And
Once again, it's time for a look back at the year in music and waxings on which albums were best. This year's list includes recordings I obsessed over this year, those albums I played so much the songs are forever engrained in my grey matter and that I listened to so much, that I had to do a self-intervention so I didn't play them out completely...
The first local band to ever make my Top 10 is now calling it quits after putting out a rather lovely self-released self-recorded debut LP. Lovedream is full of the Grecian Urns' pretty heart-hugging folk pop, which is fresh and full of sunshine. The arrangements and lyricism are rather accomplished for musicians so relatively young (ages 19-23), with horns, strings and percussive textures, charming boy-girl harmonies, whistling and clapping and exuberant sing-shouting, and catchy refrains that trigger instant feel-good gooseflesh. Click here to read my summer story on the band. And check out the video for my favorite Urns song, "Muhammed Ali" below.