Jun 2017

The Singles (CD)

Can — The Singles is an excellent overview for those new to the pioneering Krautrockers’ oeuvre as well as a killer collection of favorites for longtime fans. This is the first time the band’s singles have been compiled and released together; listening to the band’s evolution is a fascinating journey from more straightforward rock/funk/soul numbers to some of their deepest, weirdest cuts. You’ll find classic tracks “Vitamin C,” “Halleluwah,” and “I Want More” here, along with more obscure gems like “Turtles Have Short Legs,” a 1971 7” that never appeared on a studio LP, despite being a pretty rad little tune. Can — The Singles is a well-curated document of what made Can such an influential, enduring band.

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TLC (CD)

The ‘90s might not seem so far away, but the ladies of TLC are definitely R&B icons in their own right. That’s why the tracks on their latest LP are so interesting; with only one guest appearance (from the mighty Snoop) and melodies that draw heavily from classic funk and soul, the focus here is squarely on the women, their legacy, and how they defined R&B. (There’s even a well-placed Earth, Wind & Fire sample on standout track “It’s Sunny,” just in case you need a reminder of how their work fits in with some of the biggest names in urban music.) Other memorable tracks include “Way Back;” nostalgic, infectious, and just straight up fun, it’s the perfect summer song while “Haters” is cool, confident, and laidback. Their new album is T-Boz and Chilli’s final release as a group, but TLC will leave you wanting more.

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On The Echoing Green (CD)

On the Echoing Green finds Jefre Cantu-Ledesma exploring the realms of shoegaze, dream pop, and ambient music with the help of guest vocalists Honey Owens, Maxwell August Croy, and Sobrenadar. Slowdive and Cocteau Twins are readily apparent influences here, but the compositions are all very much the work of Cantu-Ledesma.The result is a shimmering, gorgeous, haunting LP that lingers in the mind long after the last note has sounded. Vivid, engaging, and lovely, this latest release comes highly recommended.

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Iteration (CD)

After a six year wait, Com Truise is back with Iteration, a lush, funk-inflected odyssey into electro. Cinematic in scope, the album draws inspiration from the synth-filled soundtracks of the 1980s; listening is a transportive experience to a world of city nights, black leather, and neon lights. Make no mistake — Iteration is a toe-tapper, a definite dancefloor-filler, but this smart, emotive album is also pretty moving. Atmosphere is all here, and there’s a real sense of feeling beneath the hypnotic rhythms, technicolor melodies, and pulsating synths. If you dig evocative, dark dance music, this moody LP sets the scene.

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The Nashville Sound (CD)

Since the election last November there have been plenty of songs written about the turmoil, fear, and dissatisfaction that seems to envelope the nation, but alt-country/rocker Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit's song "White Man's World," off their new record The Nashville Sound, is perhaps one of the most direct and potent. While writing lyrics like "Mama wants to change that Nashville sound, but they're never gonna let her," Isbell paints vivid portraits of a culture complicit in old-fashioned routines of sexism and racism, but instead of coming from the point of view of the underdog, Isbell's song is a call to arms for the dominant forces to change themselves. "There's no such thing as someone else's war, your creature comforts aren't the only thing worth fighting for," he sings during the chorus. "Hope the High Road" is another politically charged anthem that uses a down-home, "git 'er done" attitude to inspire cultural change within the dominant culture, which, to a certain extent, preaches, but never feels condescending. This is not to say that Isbell has abandoned his cultural roots. With songs like album opener "Last of My Kind" he points to a changing environment that seems to ignore the values he grew up with, leaving him feeling like an old soul lost in a strange land. "Cumberland Gap" is the real rocker of the album with almost Brit-pop like guitars that pierce and bite throughout, and "Tupelo" is a contemporary take on familiar country ballads that at times brings to mind the pairing of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris.

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