Dec 2020

Renaissance (LP)
For Aluna Francis's first solo album post-AlunaGeorge, she is joined by J Lloyd of Jungle, Kaytranada, Princess Nokia and others for a set that blends EDM, soul, dancehall, and UK garage into an interesting but accessible whole. Everything is elegant and subtle here, much like the smooth, funky single "Envious"; even a song like "Body Pump" is surprisingly soaring and melodic while still being a dance floor-ready. Album opener "I've Been Starting To Love All The Things I Hate" is uplifting and sweet-sounding, while "Get Paid" (with Nokia and Jada Kingdom) is a slick banger that still rises above the standard fare. Read more
McCartney III (CD)

On both McCartney (1970) and McCartney II (1980), the legendary Beatle played all the instruments and sang all the vocals himself, a tradition he now continues with 2020's McCartney III. Perfectly suited for lockdown, the new installment revives the spirit of the 1970 record (his solo debut), often referencing a quieter life -- for instance, on the acoustic “Winter Bird/When Winter Comes” -- allowing a sense of loose experimentation to lead the way. "Seize The Day" is a welcome Beatles-esque tune with a strong melody and phrasing. In case there was any doubt, McCartney also shows that he can still rock out on the playful "Lavatory Lil" and the bluesy "Slidin'."

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K.G. (CD)

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard's new album KG serves as a sort of Volume 2 for 2017's Flying Microtonal Banana. Embracing classic psych-rock's Eastern music influences, while adding plenty of modern indie rock and world music flavors, the Aussie band delivers on a grand scale with epic, soundtrack-ready numbers like "Automation." "Straws In The Wind" is an intriguingly groovy and ominous track while "Ontology," with its near-frantic rhythm, is celebratory and danceable. There are even shades of desert blues rhythms like in "Minimum Brain Size," contrasted with hazy, Stones Roses-style vocals. Lots of good stuff here on this furiously eclectic and accomplished set.

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We Will Always Love You (CD)

To say The Avalanches' new album is star-studded would be an understatement: We Will Always Love You features a guestlist that includes The Clash's Mick Jones, Leon Bridges, Johnny Marr, Karen O, Perry Farrell, and Blood Orange. The Australian electronic duo have created an intriguing set of soundscapes with each of these talented artists. "Interstellar Love" with Blood Orange is quietly soulful and pretty. "Take Care In Your Dreaming (feat. Denzel Curry, Tricky & Sampha The Great)," on the other hand, is an epic fusion of autotuned vocals, piano and rapped verses that somehow works.

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Delta Tour Live EP (LP)

Folk/rock stars Mumford & Sons have gifted their many fans with a new live EP from their last three years of touring in support of 2018's chart-topping album, Delta. The six-track Delta Tour Live EP includes recordings from England, Belgium, Sweden, and the U.S., wrapping up with a lively cover of The Beatles' "With A Little Help From My Friends" performed in London. Tunes like "Slip Away" are captured here in all their breathless sincerity and vigor, with the crowd audibly singing along. It's the perfect companion release to their hit record.

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Cuttin' Grass - Vol. 1 (The Butcher Shoppe Sessions) (CD)

Sturgill Simpson's Cuttin' Grass Vol. 1 is an album of over 20 previously recorded tracks from this wild card country artist rearranged as bluegrass numbers. Performed with artists like Sierra Hull, Stuart Duncan, and Tim O’Brien, these tracks from Metamodern Sounds in Country, A Sailor's Guide to Earth and more thrive in their new setting with exquisite, intricate picking, lively fiddle and lush backing vocals. The already lovely "Breakers Roar" is sped-up here without losing its sense of melancholy, and lifted into euphoric folk. "I Don't Mind," a straightforward country-rock number from Simpson's previous band Sunday Valley, is softer and sweeter here with its sorrowful fiddle, but there are plenty of danceable tracks like "Life Ain't Fair and the World is Mean." For fans of Simpson's ever-fluctuating sound as well as lovers of folk and bluegrass.

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Silver Linings (CD)

Ska-punk favorites Less Than Jake have released Silver Linings, their 9th studio album and the first without Vinnie Fiorello - the band's longtime drummer and lyricist. The catchy single "Lie To Me" is a quick blast of nostalgia with those characteristic horns and singer/bassist Roger Lima's nasal voice, now singing lyrics penned by the other band members. Despites lines like, "All these years and my nerves are spent," driving pop-punk tracks like "Dear Me" are proof that the band's energy has never slackened - and is possibly reinvigorated by new drummer Matt Yonker (Teen Idols). The album also includes a tribute to The Descendents' Bill Stevenson.

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Too Slow To Disco NEO: The Sunset Manifesto (CD)

From the folks who brought you the '70s yacht-pop fest of Too Slow To Disco Volumes 1-3, comes Too Slow To Disco NEO: The Sunset Manifesto, capturing that same hazy-with-excess West Coast vibe from more recent artists around the globe. Disco beats are certainly present here amid dreamy electronics, for example on "Heart and Soul" by Turbotito (Ima Robot, Poolside). Elsewhere there are breezy spy themes like "Hotel Sorriso" from the Netherlands' Kraak & Smaak, and tropi-lounge like the lush "Do Beijo" from Brazil's Yuksek.

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Point The Flashlight And Walk (CD)

Felix Walworth's first album as Told Slant since 2016, Point The Flashlight And Walk embraces a sparkling sense of mournfulness with mostly deep vocals and airy, ambient/folk arrangements. "Bullfrog Choirs" is softly uplifting despite the sad refrain "I am always alone," floating off into busy percussion and electronic sounds in its outro. "No Backpack" has a lovely melody and swells like a synth-pop tune. Album opener "Meet You In The City" is another highlight with its lightly plodding rhythm and soothing vocals.

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Doug Carn JID005 (CD)

Jazz Is Dead is reviving the music of Oakland's Black Jazz Label and its twenty albums by young black jazz artists in the 1970s, merging this distinctive musical culture with hip hop and funk to create something truly timeless. Organist/pianist Doug Carn's Black Jazz albums were the most successful for the label and include cult favorites like Infant Eyes, Adam's Apple, and Revelation. Now on Doug Carn JID005, A Tribe Called Quest's Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer/producer Adrian Younge join Carn in a mesmerizing collaboration. A track like "Lions Walk," for example, pulls you in immediately with its retro groove, busy organ & sax interplay, and modern beats.

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