Soul

What's Going On [50th Anniversary Edition] (LP)

The 50th anniversary edition of this seminal album features direct-to-analog mastering from the original tapes. Four rare cuts make their vinyl debut, highlighted by the stripped version of the title song plus six mono single mixes and B-sides. This 2LP presentation is pressed on 180-gram vinyl and features lyrics, track details, and an essay by poet Hanif Abdurraqib.

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Natural Brown Prom Queen (CD)

If you haven’t heard Sudan Archives’ Natural Brown Prom Queen, stop what you’re doing, and get yourself to a set of headphones immediately. This genre-smashing album is a deliriously powerful blend of R&B, electronica, experimental, and pop with heavy noir vibes and futuristic sounds. The songs are bristling, seductive, and ultimately refreshing, featuring Sudan Archives’ mad skills as a self-taught violinist and her penchant for West African rhythms and slow burn atmospherics. Natural Brown Prom Queen is a heady, hypnotic, addictive brew that expands the possibilities of sound.

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Sage Motel (CD)

Groovy modern soul music with a major retro vibe from this celebrated local San Francisco ensemble. At times, Kelly Finnigan’s vocals echo the sweetness of Marvin Gaye in his 1970s peak and Smokey Robinson’s elegant falsetto. Occasionally he even mirrors the grit of a Lee Moses or an Otis Redding, with a similar raspy growl creeping in to really hammer home the comparisons. And yet overall, his voice is really his own, capable of whatever he needs it to be for a given song. It’s always just right for each specific track and for the production on display here, which is that perfect synthesis of classic and current that works so well for this kind of music. Another winner on the Colemine label, who can really do no wrong. Top notch stuff.

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The Alien Coast (CD)

St. Paul & the Broken Bones’ latest, The Alien Coast, is a real stunner. The Alabama eight-piece adds psych, funk, and rock ’n’ roll influences to their usual soulful sound, crafting an unstoppable powerhouse of an album that never lets up on its emotional grip. Vocalist Paul Janeway sounds like he’s channeling a higher power—at times you’ll feel like you’re on the verge of a revelation. The songwriting is transcendent and grand, with soaring highs and relatable lows. The Alien Coast is vivid, urgent, and essential listening.

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Texas Moon EP (CD)

Fans who clamored for more from the dynamic pairing of Khruangbin and Leon Bridges after the release of the excellent Texas Sun will find much to love on the new Texas Moon EP. These five tracks are electrifying and richly alive; it’s thrilling to hear how each musical unit plays off of one another and informs the other’s singular style to create something fresh, new, and invigorating. Khruangbin brings sunshine-infused global grooves while Bridges’ earthy, assured voice brings added resonance and emotional impact to the proceedings. Ideal listening for a night spent basking in the moonlight and living life to the fullest, Texas Moon is undeniable, at times intimate, and always utterly transfixing.

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The Daptone Super Soul Revue Live! At the Apollo [Translucent Tie-Dye Teal Vinyl] (LP)

Few recordings really capture the magic of the live experience. The applause sounds like it was pulled from a library of stock sounds, the energy between audience and performer feels depleted, if the listener even thinks of it all. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s The Daptone Super Soul Revue Live! At the Apollo. (You know if anyone was gonna do it right, it was gonna be Daptone!) Featuring dynamic, booty-shaking, foot-stomping performances from legendary Daptone artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, Antibalas, The Budos Band, The Sugarman 3, and so many more, the album was recorded over three nights in 2014 in front of a sold out crowd at The World Famous Theater in Harlem, NY. High-energy emcee Binky Griptite anchors the proceedings, bringing the fervor and the fever pitch of those nights into your very own home. Turn it up loud and get down! This is what live recordings are meant to sound like.

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Chilombo (CD)

Jhené Aiko's third studio album Chilombo ranges from soul-searching sweetness to slinky R&B to down-and-dirty swaggering, all of which works with her hushed, sensual voice. There are plenty of '90s throwback R&B vibes here with updated production. "Born Tired" is a gently uplifting track with a lovely melody and "None of Your Concern" is reminiscent of something by Toni Braxton or her contemporaries, but with less melodrama. Then there's the highly explicit -- but sweetly sung -- "P*$$Y FAIRY," which features a video full of Aaliyah-style dancing.

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