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Jazz - Released September 13, 2019 | Jazz Village

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Remarkably, at 89 years young, pianist Ahmad Jamal is still making fine records. Imbued with sage experience and erudite taste, Jamal has an unerring sense of what still moves him and what he still wants to express. Though nowhere near the late career masterpiece of his 2016 release Marseille these mostly solo outtakes—recorded during that album's sessions—are very personal snapshots of the moment rather than any artistic statement. Ballades is Jamal noodling; his still fantastic touch on the keys and elastic blending of melody and rhythm make it worth a listen. The pianist, who first gained fame in 1958 with the release of At the Pershing, opens this set with a spacious solo take of Marseille's title track. A wry, relaxed version of "Poinciana" unfolds from his long connection to this signature tune. He's joined by longtime bassist James Cammack on three tracks, including an effective mashup between Rodgers & Hart's "Spring is Here" and Bill Evans' "Your Story." For those seeking undeniable evidence of Jamal's still vital genius there's the spontaneously composed and recorded "Because I Love You." The shimmering version of the Johnny Mercer/Johnny Mandel song, "Emily" which closes the album is a classic example of the unbridled imagination and formidable instrumental chops that Jamal can bring when playing by, and one suspects, for himself. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Ma

Alternative & Indie - Released September 13, 2019 | Nonesuch

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Thie tenth album from the neo-psych pioneer is the follow-up to 2016's Ape in Pink Marble. Lighter in tone than its predecessor, with an intimate feel and gentle chamber-pop embellishments, it was produced once again by Banhart's longtime collaborator Noah Georgeson and features guest appearances by Cate Le Bon and Vashti Bunyan. The smooth, countrypolitan-styled single "Kantori Ongaku" (Japanese for "country music") is included. ~ John D. Buchanan
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 6, 2019 | 30th Century Records

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Adam Green, last anti-folk bard standing ? Barely a month after David Berman’s death, the ex-Moldy Peaches is out with Engine of Paradise, which is more than a music release. The nine tracks were recorded in Loren Humphrey (Florence & The Machine)’s studio, which is a replica of the studio where Gainsbourg recorded Melody Nelson in 1971. In addition to the album, a graphic novel titled War and Paradise adds another facet to the listening experience. The combination of mediums shouldn’t come as a surprise –  after all, Green has been leading a very successful career as a visual artist, a cinematographer (The Wrong Ferrari, 2010 ; Aladdin, 2016), a painter and a sculptor for over fifteen years; his work has been exposed in presitigious museums across the world. Engine of Paradise toes the line between musical rêveries and stark, depressing tales of loneliness, about technology, old age and love turned sour. Green is far from being as pessimist as the deceased leader of the Silver Jews, but he certainly shares a similarly biting and cynical perspective, sung in a deadpan bartone voice. Equally of note is the participation of multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Rado (Foxygen) on Let’s Get Moving as well as Florence Welch (Florence & The Machine) on Reasonable Man. Special guests which are nonetheless very discreet.  © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Soul - Released August 23, 2019 | Columbia

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After having swam for hours, months and years in an ocean of neo-vintage soul, Raphael Saadiq is back with a more “modern” and above all personal agenda. The title of his fifth album (his first after eight years of silence) holds the name of a deceased brother, Jimmy Lee, who died of an overdose in the 90s after having contracted AIDS. Death is an occurrence the Oakland Californian and guru of 90s nu soul has danced with since his childhood, it prematurely claimed the lives of his brothers and sisters. His older brother Alvie was murdered in 1973, Desmond took his own life in 1987 before Sarah was ran over by a police car in hot pursuit in 1990…At 53 years old, Raphael Saadiq has released a sort of musical introspective examination with this record. A soul record through and through that he hopes will finally eradicate an injustice – that he had never acquired as many awards as D’Angelo – despite his explosive work throughout the years producing for the likes of Solange, Miguel, Joss Stone, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Rick Ross, Kelis, Whitney Houston, John Legend and Trombone Shorty. What’s more, the ex-member of Tony! Toni! Toné! and Lucy Pearl displays here what he knows best. A Marvin Gaye/Curtis Mayfield rhythm’n’blues mixed with a more contemporary sound, all in a post nu soul spirit with very nineties sounding rhythms. Saadiq fuses various decades and grooves in order to give birth to music suited to him. He also knows well not abuse features (Kendrick Lamar on Rearview and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest on Riker’s Island), so as to render Jimmy Lee all that more personal… © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2019 | Human Season Records

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Could Dublin be at the center of another post-punk earthquake? Following in the footsteps of Fontaines D.C and Girl Band, with whom they shared a rehearsal space, here come The Murder Capital’s 5 Irishmen and their urban claustrophobia. They’re post-apocalyptic, tender, furious and emotional. Taking from the likes of Joy Division, The Cure and Fugazi, their first album is titled “When I Have Fears” after the famous John Keats poem.  As always, frontman James McGovern has a calculated approach when it comes to his band: “It would be too easy for us to write an album of ten punk songs at 170 bpm; we could deliver that. It’s a reflection of what’s inside our heads and there is no way we can be angry for that amount of time”. At the heart of that nuanced manifesto, equal amounts brooding romanticism and angry outbursts are the channels for McGovern’s socio-political concerns. He traces When I Have Fear’s inception to a traumatic event: “I had a very close friend of mine take his own life in February and we wanted to reflect the neglect held towards mental healthcare in Ireland. Unnecessary deaths happen due to neglect from the State, or from general emotional intelligence from our society. My friend simply couldn’t afford the help he needed.” The baritone drew from the Emerald Isle’s vast literary tradition in order to paint a scathing portrayal of youth communities plagued by binge culture. His message is underlined by razor-sharp arrangements that verge on the minimal. Their simplicity contributes to the sinister sense of urgency in many of the songs. Nonetheless, Diarmuid Brennan’s hyperactive drumming – listen to those hi-hats! – on Don’t Cling To Life, as well as the piano and the somber growls on How The Streets Adore Me Now demonstrate that the band is more than capable of going beyond the formal frameworks set in place during the early-2000s post-punk revival. When I Have Fears is 100% a Dublin record, transcending the cold and the misery without ever giving up on sincerity and power – A thunderous and sensitive Qobuzissime. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released August 16, 2019 | Castle Face

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OCS, The Oh Sees, Thee Oh Sees, Oh Sees … Under many names, for the past 20 years, the Rhode Island oddity has practiced blending music with the bizarre. Which is why Henchlock, the 21-minute long Frankstein fusion-rock single, was an expected surprise. Though a first listen-through of Face Stabber yielded its fair share of raised eyebrows as well. Is that John Dwyer, squeezing a plastic duck like Oswald Cobblepot during a manic episode? Luckily for this double-drummer four-man squad, subversive rimes with hilarious: after that brief introduction, the psychedelic meandering which had grown in power on Smote Reverser (2018) seems to be back in full force. The rhythm section in this version of the Oh Sees is undoubtedly a focal point: on the Santana-ish fever of The Experimenter, or the extended jam of Henchlock, a good stereo system or a nice pair of open-back headphones might be necessary to hear the discrepancies and the interlocking parts being played by each drummer. Oh Sees also go back to their roots with a few frenzied garage tracks like Gholü and Heartworm – two killer tracks that list just under 2 minutes long each. Besides these adrenaline-fueled romps, much of the record is spent exploring the border between prog and jazz, with added saxophone and organs (the musical kind). The result is a fun, organic and emotional record. ©Alexis Renaudat / Qobuz
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Electro - Released July 5, 2019 | Transgressive

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Qobuzissime
After two EPs and a breakthrough European tour, this Kinshasa combo now face their biggest challenge yet: a full-length album. KOKOKO! consists of two DIY musicians (with instruments made from cans, typewriters and junkyard scrap), the vocalist Makara Bianco also known as the Lingwara Devil, as well as French producer Xavier Thomas, aka Débruit (author of the mini-hit Nigeria What?) who was immediately attracted by their “experimental side”. He says, “It’s not your stereotypical African music. They want to break with the past and the traditional Congolese rumba. There are no limits, they’re not afraid of anything”.It’s this freedom and creativity born from constraint that can be heard in Fongola, with its sonic collision of polyrhythms, Western harmonies, guitars and mbiras, jerry cans and a TR-808. The formula is designed for live performances, but it is just as effective here: street samples, a 4/4 techno beat, catchy lyrics and earthshaking base lines all have an entrancing effect. The album was recorded in makeshift studios in Kinshasa and Brussels and was then put together in Anderlecht by Débruit, who describes it as “a giant electronic puzzle with no blueprint and pieces that don’t fit”. He couldn’t have put it any better - by combining so many sounds and letting them clash together, KOKOKO! have achieved a state of permanent chaos. And that’s exactly what makes this project so exciting. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released June 28, 2019 | Hubro

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Electro - Released June 28, 2019 | Smalltown Supersound

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Classical - Released June 21, 2019 | Warner Classics

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Bossa Nova & Brazil - Released June 21, 2019 | Analog Africa

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Soul/Funk/R&B - Released June 7, 2019 | Rhino - Warner Records

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Following the piano compositions from Piano & A Microphone 1983 released in 2018, we now have a second posthumous, princely album. Originals is centred around the 1981-1991 decade which was particularly prolific for Prince and so there is a beautiful unity throughout the album which mainly comprises of recordings of songs written for others. Rogers Nelson was first and foremost a very accomplished, versatile artist who could play all the instruments in Purple Rain just as well as he performed on stage, like his idol James Brown, for whom he composed numerous songs. He also composed songs for many other outstanding performers in the “Prince world” and among the fifteen tracks in this album are The Glamorous Life written for Sheila E, the Bangles’ Manic Monday, Martika’s Love Thy Will Be Done and You’re My Love for country crooner Kenny Rogers. With its priceless, unreleased tracks, Originals gives a sneak-peak behind the scenes of the studio in which this legendary icon produced some of the very best melodies and sang them with real panache, without really knowing what would become of them. The perfect example of this has to be Nothing Compares 2 U, the real emotional peak of this opus. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Ballets - Released June 7, 2019 | BIS

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Jazz - Released June 7, 2019 | BREAKZ

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Soul - Released May 24, 2019 | Anti - Epitaph

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Mavis Staples has lived a life in music dominated by keeping the faith and continuing the struggle. Once the lead voice in The Staple Singers and reborn as an Americana hero thanks to recent albums produced by Ry Cooder, M. Ward and Jeff Tweedy, Staples has a famously unshakable faith in her country and in humankind. But the current state of the world has convinced this friend of Dr. Martin Luther King and performer at JFK’s inauguration to gracefully spur change. Staples and producer Ben Harper have created a natural musical setting for her considerable powers of passion and authority; it's simple, warm and funky, with plenty of space for ardent appeals. While the album title suggests endurance, it’s clear early on that activism, not resignation or anger, is the thrust here. Staples applies her expressive, grown-husky-yet-still-remarkably-supple voice on Brothers and Sisters to pour out the yearning: "Trouble in the land / Can’t trust that man / Bring us another plan / We’ve come too far to be lost." We Get By wisely features Staples' seasoned, acutely-attuned-to-her-voice road band. Just as Roebuck "Pops" Staples' guitar was the other big instrument in The Staple Singers, Mavis now has another guitarist Rick Holmstrom, who leads all the tunes here with his reverb-inflected single note style. Closing the album with One More Change to Make, where she proclaims, "Some things take a lifetime / Some things can’t wait," Mavis Staples makes it clear she hasn’t lost her faith yet and is taking action now before she does. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 24, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

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All the greats have dabbled in such projects. Bowie with Pinups, Johnny Cash with American IV: The Man Comes Around, Lennon with Rock & Roll, Metallica with Garage Inc, Cat Power with The Covers Record, Meshell Ndegeocello with Ventriloquism, Patti Smith with Twelve, Costello with Almost Blue and hundreds more. Nevertheless, the cover album remains a risky project that rarely stands out in an artist’s discography. With California Son, Morrissey works namely to unearth unexpected, obscured or even forgotten songs. The ex-Smiths singer’s favourite artists (New York Dolls, Patti Smith, Roxy Music, Bowie, Sparks etc.) are known to many yet are nowhere to be found on this album. With the help of seven collaborators (LP, Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear, Ariel Engle of Broken Social Scene, Petra Haden, Sameer Gadhia of Young the Giant, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and Lydia Night of the Regrettes), Moz excels particularly on tracks by Roy Orbison, Melanie, Laura Nyro, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Bob Dylan, the 5th Dimension but also Jobriath, Phil Ochs, Tim Hardin, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon. His voice acts as a driving force and is often exquisite, mastering each title (it’s astonishing on Dylan’s Only a Pawn in their Game). Above all, it’s a record we recommend to all Morrissey fans. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 17, 2019 | 4AD

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This eighth album from The National is refreshingly different, somewhat modifying the well-oiled mechanics of this American band. First and foremost, this is achieved through the presence of several female singers who support the leader Matt Berninger on most of the tracks. The most memorable are the performances of Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie’s bassist) on Had Your Soul With You, as well as the particularly poignant performances of Lisa Hannigan and Mina Tindle on So Far So East and Oblivions respectively, the latter being especially moving. Why this sudden feminine presence for an exclusively male band? It’s likely because the album was conceived after filmmaker Mike Mills asked The National to put his short film I Am Easy to Find into song form - a film which happens to be centred around a woman. It’s this relationship to images that has somewhat upended the Brooklyn band’s pop formula. There are a few references to some classics of cinema, chiefly Roman Holiday by William Wyler (1953). But apart from the new cinematic release, fans of The National will still find the legendary melancholy of the group in both the lyrics and the music. The presence of heart-wrenching strings on all the tracks (with the exception of the staccato violins on Where Is Her Head) as well as a recurring introspective piano (notably in the beautiful Light Years) will particularly be remembered. Bryan Devendorf’s singular rhythms plays on contrasts, occasionally making striking jerks (Rylan, The Pull of You) as well as adding a sensual flair (Hairpin Turns, I Am Easy to Find). © Nicolas Magenham/Qobuz  
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Symphonies - Released May 10, 2019 | harmonia mundi

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Africa - Released May 10, 2019 | Buda musique

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As demonstrated by the four languages (Zulu, Portuguese, Kiswahili and English) in their name, the members of the Bantu Continua Uhuru Consciousness collective address more than their community in the Soweto ghetto. While it bears witness to the corruption and social inequalities of their environment, their message is universal, and advocates the physical and spiritual liberation of man, wherever he may be. The organic and essential musical ingredients of their hybrid are simple but well-mastered. The funky bass dominates. The drums and congas push it towards dance. The voices from Zulu singing to hip-hop flow is refreshing to the ear and mind. The shona flutes and the mbomu horn call out to their ancestors, while the subtle electronic sound effects summon the present.All that’s left is to let yourself slide into a remedial trance. If BCUC's musical power is especially strong during live performances, this third album perfectly does them justice. Two long sequences exceeding 15 minutes in length vary rapidly in tempo in a very natural way. The presence of Femi Kuti - son of Fela and inventor of afrobeat - in the second track (Sikhulekile, "we are free" in Xhosa), makes the link between the fights of yesterday and those of today. His sax improvisations glimmer at the heart of the energetic and therapeutic flow of these seven South African wizards. The album ends with a third 4-minute track Isivunguvunguvungu ("the storm"), for which BCUC welcomes the American poet, slammer and activist Saul Williams, who is perfectly in tune with the group's objectives. After 50 minutes, The Healing certainly lives up to its namesake © Benjamin MiNiMuM/Qobuz
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Symphonies - Released May 3, 2019 | Deutsche Grammophon (DG)

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