Feb 2020

My Turn (CD)

Lil Baby returns with the much-hyped My Turn. Here's the good news: the hype is well-deserved. Hell, it's all good news with a star-studded list of collaborators, including Lil Uzi Vert, Future, Young Thug, Lil Wayne, Rylo Rogriguez, Gunna, and Moneybagg Yo. With heady street beats, Baby's mile-a-minute flow and clever, unexpected lyrics, My Turn is a strong contender for most intriguing ATL rap album of the year. Don't sleep on this one.

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American Standard (CD)

James Taylor dips into the musical theater repertoire for his nineteenth studio album, American Standard. Tunes like “Moon River” and “Almost Like Being In Love” fit seamlessly into his classic folk ballad style, but elsewhere his arrangements shake things up a bit, incorporating light touches of blues, swing, and ragtime. “As Easy As Rolling Off A Log” from “Over The Goal” (1937) is a sweet and sunny highlight. The album also includes some jazz and blues standards such as Billie Holiday's “God Bless The Child” with mellow slide guitar.

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In The Key Of Joy (CD)

Brazilian music legend Sergio Mendes is known for collaboration: from humble beginnings and playing piano on bossa nova albums by Herbie Mann and Cannonball Adderley, to Herb Albert introducing Brasil 66 to the pop world, to later life endeavors with John Legend and the Black Eyed Peas. Yet the man’s rich musical legacy cannot be adequately summed up by memories of will.i.am rapping over “Mas Que Nada,” and In The Key of Joy recognizes this possibly more than any other release that Mendes has done yet, which is quite impressive for an artist whose work spans over 6 decades. His newest album functions as both a collection of new material as well as a soundtrack to the concurrently released documentary that shares its name. True to the artist’s omnivorous musical stylings, Joy features a cornucopia of sounds and collaborators. That includes melding hip-hop to samba on songs such as “Sabor Do Rio” and the title track, featuring Common and Compton-based rapper Buddy, respectively, as well as tapping reggaeton duo Cali y El Dandee for the dance pop of “La Noche Entera.” Both retrospective and forward-looking, In The Key of Joy achieves what few records can, and is a fitting celebration of Sergio Mendes’ illustrious career.

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Made In Muscle Shoals (CD)

The New Orleans-based Revivalists' new EP features reimagined versions of songs from their previous two albums, with arrangements drawn from the soul-soaked vibe and history of the Muscle Shoals studio in which the band recorded. Tracks like "Oh No" from Take Good Care are a touch grittier here with less soaring pop production. The EP also includes a new song called "The Bitter End," which is a laidback, groovy number, and a heartfelt cover of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody."

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color theory (CD)

Soccer Mommy's sophomore album, color theory, is a gorgeous, hazy dream. Bandleader Sophie Allison's songwriting, while always excellent, has tightened up on these earnest, emotional songs that wear their vulnerability like a badge of honor. After all, it's this unflinching lyrical honesty that has connected with so many fans of the band's courageous, confessional indie pop. The melodies are moody and yearning, alternating between take-no-prisoners choruses and hushed, melancholy choruses. In short, color theory delivers and should please existing fans, as well as those who dig a '90s post-grunge grrrl rock aesthetic.

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Random Desire (CD)

Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers mastermind Greg Dulli, after years recording as the latter project, puts out his first true solo album under his own name. Random Desire is a direct window into the songwriter’s psyche, with the lion’s share of the instrumentation provided from Dulli himself, achieving a stripped-down take on the unique blend of indie rock, R&B, and dark pop elements that he’s perfected over the years. “A Ghost” sounds like a modern update of what could be a Dusty Springfield or Lee Hazlewood song, while “Pantomima” would sound right at home slotted between alt-rock heroes such as Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.

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Always Tomorrow (CD)

The excellent Always Tomorrow serves up Best Coast's usual winning formula of sunny surf pop meets garage rock grit, but this time, something's just a little different. In the five years since the California duo's last album, frontwoman Bethany Consentino has focused on personal growth, kicking the morning weed habit, quitting the booze, and splitting songwriting duties with bandmate Bobb Bruno during a period when inspiration refused to come a-knockin'. As a result, the aptly-named Always Tomorrow is infused with a self-aware optimism. Even when Cosentino's lyrics gives a nod to her foibles, there's a knowing air that hints she's not gonna stay down in the dumps too long. Fans will find much to love on this upbeat rocker of an album.

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Expectations (CD)

Katie Pruitt's Expectations is a remarkably assured, heartfelt debut. The young Nashville-based singer-songwriter writes back-to-basics Americana-infused ballads that reverberate with courage and vulnerability. One moment Pruitt's stripping down the sound to its barest roots, the next she's layering swelling strings and haunting keyboard melodies. Lyrically, she takes on the concept of "normal" sexuality, delves into mental illness, and weighs the danger of heartbreak with the triumph of love. In a world that feels increasingly fraught, Expectations proves there's strength to be found in stillness, a boldness in simply being yourself.

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And It's Still Alright (CD)

Having conquered rock radio with his band The Night Sweats, Rateliff switches gears (as well as musical personas) and returns to his more folk-y roots for his latest solo outing, And It's Still Alright. This latest collection of songs stem from a few years of personal turbulence for Rateliff, including the death of producer/friend Richard Swift in 2018, and learning to process all of it while retaining a sense of hope. Familiar and comforting influences abound to color the proceedings, from the Harry Nilsson-esque delivery of "All Or Nothing" to the Leonard Cohen-tinged "Tonight #2." Older fans will welcome the sonic reminder of Rateliff's earlier career output, while the newer fans of the Night Sweats will find another side of the soulful frontman to connect with.

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The Music Of Wayne Shorter (CD)
Living legend saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center for three nights in 2015, a concert series that featured some of his lesser known works and highlighted his multicultural compositions, not to mention selections from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet, and his solo Blue Note albums. That makes it a 2-disc delight chock full of sweeping, thrilling numbers, each arranged by a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The sauntering, satisfying “Hammerhead” is a key track as well as the funky “Endangered Species” with its intricate rhythms. Read more