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Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 2020 | Infectious Music

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In 2017, Holiday Destination brought Nadine Shah out from the underground, revealing an intriguing love child of PJ Harvey and Siouxsie and Anna Calvi. With that third album, the Londoner who was born to a Norwegian mother and a Pakistani father tightened the bolts of an indie rock that she delivered in a rather tense, borderline post-punk way, with angular basses, nervous but minimalist guitars and an almost free saxophone. Three years later, Shah has made her sound even more original with her heavy influences, notably thanks to her unique voice which has become deeper and deeper, hitting you from the very first minutes of Club Cougar, the brilliant opening track that sets the tone for the record. Even in her lyrics, the British singer stands out from her peers in her scathing introspection of the 30-year-old woman that she is, mocking societal pressures and sexism. Like on Ladies for Babies (Goats for Love) where she openly responds to the 90s Ace of Base hit, All That She Wants. Kitchen Sink is also more daring than its predecessors in its instrumental choices, less rock'n'roll and more atypical, especially in its impressive use of percussion which really spices up this beautiful album. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released June 26, 2020 | Secret City Records

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Rock - Released June 19, 2020 | Columbia

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Immediately contradicting the album's title, opener "I Contain Multitudes" finds Dylan doing his best Leonard Cohen: the lion in winter, growling with deceptively gentle gravitas over cinematic guitar—paying tribute to William Blake, Anne Frank, Indiana Jones and "them British bad boys the Rolling Stones." If it were to be the 79-year-old's last stand, it's a pretty damn great one. But he immediately springs to spirited life with "False Prophet," a no-frills dirty blues march. There are so many highlights: "My Own Version of You" is a laugh-out-loud "Frankenstein" tale set to a shadowy guitar prowl; the swooning "I've Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You" borrows from doo-wop balladry. "I hope the gods go easy with me," Dylan croons on that track, and it's hard to shake the feeling that he's taking stock. But there's still so much to say. "Key West (Philosopher's Pilot)" finds the elder statesman chasing immortality along Route 1 for nine-and-a-half fully entertaining minutes, while closer "Murder Most Foul" stretches out for nearly 17, reliving the Kennedy assassination and incanting a phone book's worth of cultural-imprint references without wasting a second. © Shelly Ridenour/Qobuz
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Africa - Released June 19, 2020 | No Format!

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Jazz - Released May 29, 2020 | ECM

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If Benjamin Moussay’s name ever appeared on any ECM album covers it was always as sideman for Louis Sclavis, on his albums Sources, Silk and Salt on Melodies and Characters on a Wall. But with Promontoire, the 47-year-old has finally released an album for Manfred Eicher’s label that is entirely original solo material. Based in Munich, ECM Records already boasts an impressive number of major solo piano works, including the best-seller Köln Concert by Keith Jarrett, and Promontoire is now one of them. Moussay is a rather unassuming musician on the contemporary jazz scene, but those in the business have always recognised the clarity and strength of his playing. This includes Martial Solal, who said “He plays fair. Not too much, not too little”, but also an enormous list of musicians who have worked with him, including Sclavis, Archie Shepp, Dave Liebmann, Jean François Jenny Clark, Marc Ducret, Daniel Humair, Steve Swallow, Vincent Courtois, Michel Portal, Vincent Peirani, Youn Sun Nah, Airelle Besson and a few dozen others. He often plays in a trio (mainly with Eric Echampard and Arnault Cuisinier) but the solo piano pieces he performs here are timeless, characterised by simplicity, profound lyricism and improvisations with a strong narrative. Sensuality of the string’s vibration illuminating silence. Dance in its essence, solitary, unfolds with the flow of the internal rhythm. Elasticity of time, freedom of action, space, fleeting pleasure…Writing, infinitely reshuffling pretexts to the discretion of the instant. (…) Playing solo piano, I know the starting point and the destination. Mystery lies in the surprises of the journey”. This vision is a theme that flows throughout the twelve tracks on this album, which reveals a little more of itself with every listen. You can hear influences from all of his favourite musicians, from Thelonious Monk and Claudio Arrau to Lennie Tristano and Paul Bley, appearing and then disappearing before the melody takes over once again. Moussay always generates strong imagery with his melodies as he also composes music for film and theatre, but his work never sounds like music that has been churned out quickly without much thought or meaning behind it. Promontoire is particularly impressive during the more simplistic sequences (Villefranque and Monte Perdido), where Benjamin Moussay seems to say it all in just a few notes. This album proves that Less is more, yet again… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 22, 2020 | Born Bad Records

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In the Indian Ocean (or rather on its islands), one sega can hide another. This Creole dance music is sometimes played in traditional costume on traditional instruments, a bit like a postcard. But in the 70s, a new form of creolisation emerged: the sega of rockers, long-haired youngsters in flares with electric guitars. For a handful of years, record diggers from all over the world have been exploiting this vein. It started in 2016 with the Soul Sok Sega compilation by the English label Strut, then the two Soul Sega Sa! compilations from the Swiss label Bongo Joe. And now it’s the French label Born Bad Records’s turn to bring Mauritius to the fishing ground for old electric sega singles. The traditional instrument of the Mauritian sega is the ravanne, a large goatskin drum which is often used for the typical ternary rhythms. On Moris Zekler’s thirteen tracks, you can still hear the ravanne rhythm, but it becomes a crowded dance floor where psychedelic guitars and electric organs go wild. Mixed with a western style (rock, soul, funk), this sega remains a rustic, sticky, often melancholic and offbeat tropical music, which always seems to have been recorded in the open air under a blazing sun rather than in an air-conditioned studio. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 15, 2020 | Circus company

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 24, 2020 | Play It Again Sam

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The fourth full-length effort from the Oklahoma-based indie rockers, For Their Love finds Other Lives in fine form, applying their moody sonic expertise to a spectral ten-song set that parses themes of self-worth and existential dread in an age of political, social, and economic turmoil. Commencing with the ruminative "Sound of Violence," a sumptuous bit of '60s-leaning orchestral pop that evokes the Wally Stott string arrangements of "Montague Terrace"-era Scott Walker, For Their Love was self-produced in Oregon's Cooper Mountain region in frontman Jesse Tabish's A-framed cabin, and the material mostly reflects that pastoral setting. The group's love for sharp Morricone-worthy guitar stabs and ascending choral vocals is evident throughout, with the sinister "Nites Out," a churning sea of orchestral bombast worthy of a 007 action set-piece providing the biggest bang for the buck. The plaintive "Dead Language," with its high and lonesome harmonica and fluttery piano, filters the group's widescreen vision through more of a portrait lens, but it retains its predecessor's classicist '60s cinema vibe, as does the more sprightly title track, which incorporates bursts of loungey bossa nova into its distinct, anglophile-kissed brand of chamber-Americana. For all of its adherence to in-the-moment takes and attempts to dial back some of the studio chicaneries of earlier outings, For Their Love is still almost alarmingly ornate -- some of that might have to do with the omnipresent cathedral-like reverb -- but much like 2015's similarly outstanding (and elaborate) Rituals, there's really never a dull moment. © James Christopher Monger /TiVo
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Electronic - Released April 24, 2020 | InFiné

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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 24, 2020 | Heavenly Sweetness

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Chamber Music - Released April 24, 2020 | Mirare

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At the height of mental and physical pain, Schubert wrote Octet in F major in 1824, recalling the Septet, Op. 20 composed by Beethoven at about the same age. Their age gap meant that Beethoven opened the Classical age and Schubert the Romantic age. Schubert was composing his first works while Beethoven already had many masterpieces behind him. Played for the first time during a concert in homage to Beethoven who had just passed away, this marvellous Octet didn’t find its way to an editor at the time. It was found to be too long (62 minutes here, respecting all the repeats!) and was forgotten until its first complete edition in 1861 when it was admired by Brahms. During the String Quintet written four years later, the Octet alternates (as so often happens with Schubert) between moments of Viennese grace and deep melancholy. The Modigliani Quartet give a magnificent performance with experienced musicians including clarinettist Sabine Meyer, who showcases her incredibly expressive playing in the sublime Adagio, a true lullaby opening up to the next world that poor Schubert was awaiting in his early thirties. Bruno Schneider on horn, Dag Jensen on bassoon and Knut Erik Sundquist on double bass complete this ensemble of superb musicians giving Schubert a tender and fraternal humanity. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 24, 2020 | Fire Records

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Classical - Released April 24, 2020 | Klarthe

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 2020 | Cooking Vinyl Limited

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 17, 2020 | Anti - Epitaph

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 10, 2020 | Drag City

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A dramatic departure from her soul-searching experimental indie folk project Circuit des Yeux, Haley Fohr concocts a hazy, diamond-studded outlaw fantasy with her fictional alter ego Jackie Lynn. Continuing the story from Lynn's 2016 debut, Jacqueline is the travelogue of the co-conspirator of a multi-million-dollar cocaine business, on the run after making a hasty retreat from Chicago. Accompanied by all three members of Bitchin Bajas (Cooper Crain, Rob Frye, and Dan Quinlivan), Jacqueline shifts from the Krautrock-influenced synth pop of Jackie Lynn to more of a space disco sound, with opener "Casino Queen" sporting a strutting beat and playful sequencer blips. "Shugar Water" is closer to a glam rock shuffle, providing a gleeful soundtrack to a cross-country escape. Adding new dimensions to the Jackie Lynn sound, songs such as the cosmic country of "Dream St." feature lush string arrangements by Julie Pomerleau and Bobby Conn, while the more mystical "Short Black Dress" has celebratory horns and brain-twisting reversed guitars. Having more fun with vocal manipulations and audacious delay effects, the epic, hypnotic "Odessa" resembles a discofied Silver Apples. The shimmering, vocoder-laced "Diamond Glue" unexpectedly dips into late-night electro-funk, and while it isn't one of the album's hookiest songs, it's one of its most immersive grooves. While undoubtedly more developed and ambitious than the first Jackie Lynn record, Jacqueline still sounds like the work of an experimental side project, but it's clear that Fohr and her friends are having an awful lot of fun with this, and it's easy to get swept up in their immersive dream world. © Paul Simpson /TiVo
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French Music - Released April 10, 2020 | Universal Music Division Mercury Records

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Soul - Released April 3, 2020 | Brainfeeder

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His 2017 celebration, the smooth and funky Drunk should not obscure the fact that Stephen Bruner aka Thundercat had already been working his bass for quite a few years before then. The lit, unfiltered Californian has long been freelancing but also playing with Suicidal Tendencies, Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus and Kamasi Washington since the early 2000s. Always at home nestled between the seventies jazz fusion of George Duke & Co. and the wild funk of George Clinton's P-Funk galaxy to which he lends exuberance and a pop vision, on It Is What It Is Thundercat pursues his pluralistic goove orgies, smoky soul flirting with jazz rock and light funk. Still with Brainfeeder, the Flying Lotus label that makes an appearance on Dragonball Durag, with this fourth solo album he unfurls his true-false nonchalance baked together with chloroformed groove and afro-futurism. As so often with this fan of Kenshiro and Mortal Kombat, the compositions do not always take the form of traditional songs. As in a dream, realistic passages are overpowered by the surreal. And his high-pitched voice amplifies this improbable hedonistic feel... This time, Thundercat has invited Steve Arrington's seventies funk band Slave and Steve Lacy of The Internet for a sensual ballad (Black Qualls); Lil B and Ty Dolla $ign for a touching tribute to Mac Miller (Fair Chance ); not to mention Childish Gambino, drummer Louis Cole and comedian Zack Fox. We still feel the powerful influence of George Duke (one of his idols whose For Love (I Come Your Friend) he covered his 2011 album The Golden Age of Apocalypse ) as well as that of Californian soft rock on this endearing album which is soothing like a bubble bath... © Marc Zisman/ Qobuz
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Classical - Released April 3, 2020 | Musica Ficta

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Having studied with the greatest performers and teachers, Paolo Zanzu is now one of the major figures in the harpsichord world in Europe and in the world. He is an inspiration as a teacher and a concert artist. Of the three great collections of keyboard suites that Bach produced, the English Suites were probably written first – around 1720 at Köthen. While we may marvel at their imposing architecture, along with their lyricism unfettered by formal constraints, or indeed the tender grace of their galanteries, what really makes these pieces unique is their power, their grandeur and above all their unbridled virtuosity, which together make them a landmark in the keyboard repertoire. © Musica Ficta
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Alternative & Indie - Released March 27, 2020 | Merge Records

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Following the defiant alt-rock of her John Agnello-produced fourth album, Out in the Storm, Katie Crutchfield makes another adjustment to the course of her one-time bedroom project Waxahatchee with the warmer, more contemplative Saint Cloud. Shedding distortion in favor of a more easygoing, country-rock sensibility, the album's backing band is perhaps the best indicator of its sound; joining her throughout are Bonny Doon's Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo, Bonny Light Horseman's Josh Kaufman, and Elvis Perkins in Dearland's Nick Kinsey. Saint Cloud's cover art underscores the approach with a photo of Crutchfield striking a pose on a pickup truck. Per press surrounding the album, the songs were written after and largely inspired by the songwriter's decision to get sober. A native of Alabama, her relaxed vocal twang is most pronounced on tracks including the slow, lilting "Ruby Falls" and the jauntier "Can't Do Much." Elsewhere, "Lilacs" straddles urgency and relaxed composure with ambling guitar jangle and lyrics about letting go of bad behavior patterns. Hints of Dylan can be detected throughout the album but are more prominent on "Hell" and, to a lesser degree, the chorus of "War," an uptempo entry that assures "I'm in a war with myself/It's got nothing to do with you." While alternating between regretful slower tracks, midtempo drawls, and livelier, foot-tapping fare, the album never moves off dirt roads and adjacent orchards, and proves to be her most carefree-sounding effort to date. That's despite doggedly self-examining lyrics that keep Saint Cloud squarely in the realm of prior releases from an artist who continues to ward off complacency. © Marcy Donelson /TiVo