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What is a Qobuzissime? It’s an award presented by Qobuz for a first or second album.

Pop or Reggae, Metal or Classical, Jazz or Blues, no genre is excluded. More often than not the award is presented to a newly discovered artist.

Sometimes it might be a particularly quirky or a crossover album from a discography.

The important aspects are uniqueness, sincerity and quality. We look for these things in the recording, the project and the sound identity.





Albums

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Soul - Released July 30, 2021 | Masterworks

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Look out, we've got a phenomenon on our hands! Naia Izumi is a young artist with a talent for pluralistic grooves; a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist who draws inspiration from the history of soul music as well as rock and jazz fusion. Diagnosed with autism at the age of 16, this Georgia native, now living in California, quickly focused his attention on culture, reading dozens of books and learning several instruments, the guitar first and foremost. Naia Izumi won the Tiny Desk Contest organised by NPR in 2018, attracting the attention of many different labels wanting to sign up this endearing and unique character. From the bass to the drums, the mandolin and even the koto (the plucked string instrument used in traditional Japanese music), Naia Izumi could do it all.Izumi's unique sound is very obviously influenced by Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill and Musiq Soulchild, but also by legends of progressive music such as King Crimson and, above all, jazz guitarist John McLaughlin, the mastermind behind Shakti and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. His powerful signature sound of elegant chordal constructions and arpeggiated melodies is entwined with his delicate, soulful voice. Naia Izumi’s main weapon of choice is his Fender Jazzmaster ’64, on which he favours a tapping technique over strumming or plucking. However, all of this stylistic and instrumental complexity never prevents his music from remaining organic and sensual. Everything flows perfectly on A Residency in the Los Angeles Area; deep and graceful. Here’s a tender, healing groove to soothe the wounds of the world. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 25, 2021 | Partisan Records

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A tone of voice, words, and a dreamlike sound. When you're writing an introspective indie pop-folk song, getting these elements right will help you stand out from the crowd. Tori Zietsch, alias Maple Glider, has mastered them all, and so she has made it out in front of the pack. The Australian, who spent time in Brighton before returning home to Melbourne, can hold her own alongside Cat Power, Adrianne Lenker, Angel Olsen, Julia Jacklin and Sharon Van Etten. The subject matter she is working with might be classical and familiar (a strict, religious education, first love, an awakening to the ways of the world, solitude, distance) but To Enjoy Is the Only Thing offers a truly unique kind of intimacy. With a splash of humour here or a graceful confession there, she is always able to sidestep heavy-handedness or lukewarm cliché. But first and foremost, this record is a showcase for a sublime voice. On really stripped-down sequences, as on Be Mean, It's Kinder Than Crying, where her voice bounces off the same two repeating chords, Maple Glider is awe-inspiring. “To me”, she writes, “To Enjoy Is The Only Thing feels like walking past tinsel-covered trees in mid-September, swimming along the calanques in the south of France, frost on the hood of a car, darkness at 4pm, lightness until 10pm, a muted feeling, the perpetual grey fog that swallows the Silver Coast in Portugal, an ugly green dress, the color red, red wine, red blood, red lips, the red of a cardinal’s robe, Switzerland, my mother’s diaries, a coroner’s report, the sun on my face, the end of love”. One comes away from this album feeling deeply moved, blown away by these 35 timeless, graceful minutes... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Classical - Released June 25, 2021 | Nonesuch

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Caroline Shaw is the definition of an artist in its purest form. She is someone who denies categorisation. Shaw began as a classically trained violinist and vocalist, and later branched out into composition and production. From there she has worked with artists such as Kanye West (The Life of Pablo; Ye) and Nas (NASIR), and has contributed to records by The National and Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry. And as if that wasn’t already an impressive resume, in 2013 Shaw not only won, but was the youngest ever recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in music for her Partita in 8 Voices, and her 2019 album Orange won a Grammy Award. Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part is a collaboration between Caroline Shaw and contemporary percussion ensemble Sō Percussion (Eric Cha-Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski, and Jason Treuting). The group were given three days of gratis studio time, and three little days were all it took for them to get out this versatile, radiant and sometimes surprising album. It's a pick'n'mix of songs with lyrics inspired by their own eclectic interests: James Joyce, the Sacred Harp hymn book, a poem by Anne Carson, the Bible's Book of Ruth, the gospel standard "I’ll Fly Away," and the pop prowess of ABBA, among many others.The opening track, "To the Sky", takes its lyrics from a hymn by Anne Steele in the Sacred Harp. The album begins like haunting meditation with sprinkles of sporadic synthesiser, drum and marimba rhythms that eventually evolve into a rolling rhythm section that keeps the piece moving as Shaw's vocals soar over the top. Shaw mentions "This (hymn) I love in particular. There's a line, 'Frail solace of an hour/ So soon our transient comforts fly/ And pleasure blooms to die.' It’s meditation on the ephemeral, and I love it." This track leads into the second track "Other Song" which has a similar rhythmic groove and is accompanied by Shaw's vocals and lyrics which she wrote herself.  The title track is one of the surprises mentioned earlier, a simple duet between Shaw and Josh Quillen that only took two takes to get down. Quillen's playing is sensitive yet refined and you can feel the energy bouncing between the two artists as Shaw passes lyrics reminiscent of a lost loved one to Quillen, and he palms back soft lines of resonant melodies on the steel drum.The lyrics to "The Flood is Following Me" are quite literally just "the flood is following me," taken from James Joyce's Ulysses. Although simple, they are effective, and are accompanied by an indie-pop influenced backing. Speaking of pop music, there is another beautiful surprise right around the corner with Sō and Shaw's interpretation of the ABBA hit "Lay All Your Love on Me." This marimba/vocal duet is a darker, more sombre take on the classic that's hauntingly effective. After the familiar melody, the track then spirals into a Bach chorale accompanied by Shaw's backing harmonies, an ingenious move on the artist's behalf.  The piece progressively builds in tension as old and new are blended to create this sublimely sensitive and modern interpretation of a classic. Truly something that has never been done before.As the album progresses, each track seems to be an evolution of the one prior. "Long Ago We Counted," a duet between Jason Treuting on drum kit and solo voice, has a rough and hard to understand beginning, yet somehow we are lulled into this rolling vocal loop as it settles into a indie-rock type track.  Album closer "Some Bright Morning," based on a 12th century liturgical song, is a glorious beam of light at the of Shaw and Sō Percussion's twisted tunnel. The droning of Cha-Beach on the Hammond organ supporting the resonant vocal line is a simple but powerful close to the album.As you look through the credits, which is strongly recommended, you will find an assorted array of inspirations who have contributed to the lyrics. As you listen, the album continues to unfold into a monolithic, multifaceted masterpiece of contemporary classical, indie-pop, rock rhythm, world music inspiration and literally everything else in between. Shaw's ability to understand text and construct complete new meanings and unique settings for those words is unparalleled.  Let the Soil Play Its Simple Part is unlike anything else and defies classification; one needs to take the time to explore the ins and outs of the entire album to fully comprehend the masterstrokes of Caroline Shaw and Sō Percussion. © Jessica Porter-Langson/Qobuz
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Rock - Released June 11, 2021 | EX1 Records

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
Van Halen was certainly the name on many people’s lips in late 2020 and early 2021. Of course, this was mainly due to the unfortunate passing of legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen on October 6th, 2020. Now we’re treated to a much more pleasing surprise with the release of his son Wolfgang’s long-awaited first solo album. The term ‘solo album’ really takes on its full meaning here, as the recently turned thirty-year-old plays every instrumental part and has been composing the entire album completely alone since 2015. The only outside help came from producer Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette (Alter Bridge, Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators) who took care of the impeccable sound design. But the main attraction of this album lies elsewhere: beyond the musical and vocal performance, it’s the sense of melody that jumps out at you. Like Dave Grohl (a fitting comparison as both can be described as a one-man band), Wolfgang Van Halen hits the nail squarely on the head with strong songs that stick in your head after listening. Mammoth WVH turns almost every track into a potential single, impeccably sung and ready to sing along to all day long. Radio friendly? Absolutely. But these songs, with their lush vocal arrangements and spot on instrumentation, are far from shallow commercial tracks. Wolfgang has clearly understood the importance of avoiding simply following in his father’s footsteps, hence why the (very accomplished) guitar solos only make occasional appearances. The multi-instrumentalist opts to explore other avenues. His experience in Tremonti has of course had a strong influence on his music, but there are many other components which may appeal to fans of alternative rock groups (in the American sense of the word) such as Queens Of The Stone Age, Sevendust and, of course, Foo Fighters. When the album flirts with hard rock, we can hear the influences of the likes of Alice In Chains or Winger’s most recent productions. But, if we delve a little deeper and further back, the genetic lineage of the one-man band’s music can be so clearly traced back to the “four boys in the wind” from Liverpool. The sense of how to make a hit, the sense of chorus and the perfect timing all reflect this strong Beatles influence. Mammoth was the very first name of the band Van Halen, chosen by Wolfgang for his project with the blessing of his illustrious father and the other members of the band. It’s a nice tribute to his roots, but the even better tribute was starting his career with an album of this quality, made on his own, and free of any strong paternal influence. Wolfgang Van Halen owes his (predictable) success to his own talent alone and looks set to keep the mythical Van Halen name shining in his own way. The curious will come to see, but will stay to listen. That’s for sure! © Charlélie Arnaud/Qobuz
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Soul - Released May 21, 2021 | 4AD

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Sensuality is one of the main prerequisites for all soul music, something which Erika de Casier takes to a new level. Before Essentials, her first album which was released on her very own Independent Jeep Music label, the Portuguese-born Dane specialised in bringing dark R&B to the fore as one half of the Saint Cava duo. For her second solo album, Sensational, released on English label 4AD, Erika de Casier talks more about her inner experiences, her regrets and her desires. At the heart of her stylistic make-up lies the legacy of her 90s predecessors, from Aaliyah to Janet Jackson and Brandy among others. And although these famous 20th century voices inhabit the Dane and her style, they certainly do not impede her from venturing into new realms of possibility and sound. Whether it's the Iberian guitars of Someone to Chill With, the violins of Acceptance or the distant UK garage vibes of Drama, this feather-light, cotton-wool-soft album is enhanced with hues which are rare in modern R&B. The fragility of her vocals and the elegance of the production (all co-produced/written with her partner Natal Zaks) make Sensational one of the most original soul albums of the time. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 7, 2021 | Third Man Records LLC

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Natalie Bergman has written, performed, recorded and produced this first solo album almost all by herself. It is her way of setting out a vision that belongs to her alone. Mercy is in a world of its own. Its twelve unique, spiritual songs, haunted by death and resurrection, are carried as much by her versatile voice as they are by her vintage sound, hailing from a bygone era. For a decade, Natalie Bergman had been singing with her brother Elliot in Wild Belle, an L.A.-based double-act which drew on pop, reggae, ska and psychedelia. But that part of her life fell apart when her father and stepmother were killed by a drunk driver. Having been brought up with a deep religious faith, Natalie decided to retire to an Abbey in New Mexico's Chama valley. It is there that Mercy was born in a clear act of catharsis. It is steeped in gospel music, which she regards as being the real source of rock'n'roll. This is a unique, timeless work in which the artist finds her own way to praise music's sacred nature and restorative powers. “My faith and my music are crucial to my existence. I sing a lot about home on this record. My Paradiso, my Heaven. Believing in that place has been my greatest consolation. I had an urgency and desperation to know that my father was there. His sudden death was a whirling chaos that assaulted my mind. Gospel music gives me hope. It is the good news. It’s exemplary. It can bring you truth. It can keep you alive. This album provided me with my only hope for coming back to life myself.”This return to the land of the living by way of gospel music is fascinating. It never falls into a churchy or preachy mode, going beyond faith. This album's sound and instrumentation owe as much to 1950s rock as they do to 1960s soul or to West African Highlife. Mercy is able to create the feeling of a musical style, but without ever being tethered to it. It should come as no surprise to learn that Natalie Bergman grew up in a house that resounded with the music of Dylan, Etta James, Pharoah Sanders, Lou Reed, Alton Ellis and Lucinda Williams. Nor is it a shock that she has been signed by a figure as wise as Jack White. His label, Third Man Records, is a tasteful establishment, and the artists on its roster are always well-versed in the music of the past... Death changed her life; her music can change yours: Natalie Bergman is a gift from heaven. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released April 30, 2021 | WM Germany

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In a world that is so fond of reducing and simplifying everything it comes accross, Isfar Sarabski is at risk of being nicknamed "the Azeri Tigran". But the Baku pianist is far from being a photocopy of his Armenian colleague. Of course, he comes from "the East", listens to more than just jazz, and has certainly been influenced by the folk music of his ancestors... But Isfar Sarabski is very much his own artist with his own identity. His first album Planet (a Qobuzissime!) is jazz to the bone both in its approach to improvisation and the exchanges that Sarabski develops with his impeccable rhythm section, composed of two American aces: drummer Mark Guiliana and double bassist Alan Hampton, as well as the way Sarabski integrates space into the music. A student of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and winner of the International Competition of the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2009, the 30-year-old Azeri sometimes shows flashes of Brad Mehldau – the presence of Guiliana helps the comparison – but he also ventures into the classical minimalist approach of the Nils Frahm/Max Richter/Ólafur Arnalds school... The participation of the Main Strings Ensemble and the Baku Strings Quartet amplifies links which are more impressionistic than genetic. Isfar Sarabski also has a strong sense of narrative, as shown with the respect given for Mugham tradition (a mix of jazz and traditional Azeri music largely popularised by the late Vagif Mustafazadeh) on The Edge and Novruz, for which he invited Shahriyar Imanov, a player of the târ, the long-handled lute which is a part of Azerbaijani musical culture. Even when he has fun revisiting an aria from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, he brings a flavour which is all his own. We leave Planet Sarabski with a desire to return as soon as possible, especially since this beautiful acoustic album does not show every side of Sarabski’s talent, as he is also an electro experimenter in his spare time... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Dance - Released March 26, 2021 | Brownswood Recordings

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Time machine effect guaranteed! With STR4TA, two old hands of British groove join forces to relight the flame of 80s British funk (think Beggar & Co, Light of the World, Lynx, Atmosfear, Hi-Tension, Freeez and others like Shakatak) and the acid jazz of the 90s: Mauritian guitarist Jean-Paul Maunick - Bluey to his friends - and the Franco-Britannic Gilles Peterson, DJ, producer and head of the Acid Jazz, Talkin’ Loud and Brownswood labels. It’s impossible to talk about their STR4TA project without looking back at the group Incognito who, since 1980, have been the Rolls Royce of British soul; a no nonsense groove machine made up of intergalactic brass and choruses of hooligan-like voices in silk robes with relentless melodies. At the helm of this soul cruise, Bluey concocts a mix of perfectly sweetened ballads and the most sensual dance floor anthems. The guitarist has such a good ear for funk that names as big as Chaka Khan and his idol, George Benson, have called upon him for various productions and sessions.At the start of the 90s, Gilles Peterson introduced the UK to a type of soul that was part jazz and part R&B called acid-jazz. These were the glory days of The Brand New Heavies, Galliano, Young Disciples, Jamiroquai and Incognito, signed of course to Talkin’ Loud. This whole scene was merging Curtis Mayfield with Gil Scott-Heron and Roy Ayers with Stevie Wonder, helped, in the case of Incognito, by the voices of soul goddesses Jocelyn Brown, Carleen Anderson, Maysa and Sarah Brown… Now, in 2021, STR4TA has brought this sound back to life, infused with a dose of smooth jazz, textures worthy of the best Blaxploitation soundtracks and some big fat funk, all complimented by the modernisation of the production. Gilles and JP are joined in their studio by a gang of ex-Incognito groove virtuosos, whether permanent members or passing faces, such as bassists Randy Hope-Taylor and Francis Hylton, keyboardists Matt Cooper and Ski Oakenfull, drummer Pete Ray Biggin, saxophonist Paul Booth and Italian percussionist Francesco Mendolia. Throughout Aspects, all of them allow their sincere joy of playing to shine through, creating a live feel that makes this album all the more enjoyable. With its slapping bass, powerful vintage synths and pin point percussion to punctuate it all, STR4TA ticks all the boxes to set the dancefloor alight and get bodies moving. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 19, 2021 | Lonely Lands Records

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Make no mistake about it. Behind its mystical cover worthy of a progressive rock band from the 70s, Terra Firma hides the unclassifiable second album from Tash Sultana. Natasha is one of those who started early and alone. At the age of three, Tash's father gave them their first guitar. As a teenager, they roamed the streets of hometown Melbourne. Then they conquered the rest of the world in 2016 with the 70 million views for Jungle, the result of their prolific bedroom sessions which she broadcast on YouTube. After three EPs on Tash's own label Lonely Lands, the young Australian released Flow State in the summer of 2018, a pop-soul patchwork from their youth on which they played all of the instruments (Tash has mastered about twenty of them) using loops and effect pedals, their trademark. Since then, they've been filling stadiums and an appearing on front covers, like Rolling Stone magazine with whom they talked about the Stratocaster TC Signature dedicated to her by Fender."Terra firma is the ground and the earth, you put your feet on it to remember where you are, where you come from," says Tash, who plans to turn their dazzling success into a long-term career. Further raising the bar, Tash Sultana takes care of the musical arrangement, with the production of the records entrusted in part to Matt Corby. This can be heard from the off with the instrumental Musk, whose lustrous guitars, groovy sax, and catchy bass pave the way for the following 14 tracks that oscillate between soul, R'n'B, funk, folk and suave pop. To arrive at this rich, well-balanced, hypnotic but never redundant blend, which Tash sees as "a meeting between Aretha Franklin, Bon Iver, John Mayer and others", Tash has had to surround themselves with other talented musicians. Thus, we find the rapper Jerome Farah (Willow Tree) and Josh Cashman (Dream My Life Away), both from Melbourne, featured on the album. A masterstroke, at only 25 years old. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz.
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R&B - Released January 29, 2021 | Transgressive

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The voice of a generation. We pinned it to Bob Dylan who didn't want to hear about it... Anaïs Oluwatoyin Estelle Marinho alias Arlo Parks reacted in the same way when we labelled her the spokesperson of Generation Z (those born between 1997 and 2010) after Super Sad Generation, her 2019 EP. Once we move on from this marketing punchline, we can begin to savour Collapsed in Sunbeams, a brilliant debut album that slaloms between R'n'B, light pop and neo trip hop. This is without doubt the deepest record of early 2021... Before writing songs, the Londoner of Chadian, French and Nigerian origin mainly wrote poetry. A big fan of Sylvia Plath, Ginsberg and Nabokov, she was quickly drawn into writing, telling stories (often her own) even before setting them to music. With its title plucked from the pages of Zadie Smith's novel, On Beauty, Collapsed in Sunbeams emphasises Parks' literary passion, which she has now completely turned to music. She tackles break-up (Caroline), unrequited love (Eugene) and addiction (Hurt) with finesse and acuity. Her bittersweet melodies confront often melancholic, sometimes sad lyrics with natural pop energy and a hypnotic voice reminiscent of Martina Topley-Bird (Tricky's ex-girlfriend), Lily Allen (a fan) or Jorja Smith. At only 20 years old, Arlo Parks is the flavor of the month and is likely to be in the limelight for many years to come. A true revelation. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 29, 2021 | City Slang

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It is a mathematical law: every ten years, a singer from England named Anna releases a first album as a document of her times. In 2011, it was Anna Calvi. In 2021, it will be Anna B Savage. A real underground singer who first appeared in 2015 with a rather confidential début EP, which she followed up with a few concerts and then nothing. There are not many who have seen her in concert, back in the time when there were concerts. But everyone who has, remembers her. With her oddly tuned guitar, as if set to play a medieval blues number, and her elusive voice, as if several people were singing through her, Anna B Savage has bewitched a small audience who are drawn to music that's different. A spiritual daughter of Cat Power, exuding a sense of strange unease, hidden behind her guitar, can become sensual, intense and desirable. A Common Turn is her first album, and it's an incomparable potion, a musical unicorn. On a base of twisted folk, Anna builds far-fetched songs that travel through musical space-time. Depending on their own points of reference, the listener will hear in the vocals and melodies echoes of Beth Gibbons (Portishead), Antony & the Johnsons, Nico, Connie Converse, Dionne Warwick or operatic jazz singers of old. Not to mention the silence. But A Common Turn is not a record to be so easily defined, and nor is it simple. The arrangements range from choirs to rhythmic dance, to this time-worn guitar. Even when her music takes a turn for the grandiloquent, Anna B Savage remains fragile, uncertain, a balancing act, erratic, as if feeling her way through her own songs. One thinks of Snow White running through the forest amid grimacing trees or waiting for the Prince's kiss in a poisoned sleep. And next to her, everyone else is a dwarf. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz

Chill-out - Released January 29, 2021 | Wonderwheel Recordings

Distinctions Qobuzissime
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It's been four years since Jean Dasso alias Yeahman entered the scene, first with his bass music/tropical "Ghetto Sonido" nights in Toulouse, then with the track Miniyamba (featuring the sweet vocals of singers Mina Shankha and Hajna) in 2017, which allowed him to catch the eye of Wonderwheel Recordings. Led from Brooklyn by DJ Nickodemus, the label hosts big names of the "global bass" circuit such as Quantic, Chancha Via Circuito, DJ Khalab or El Buho, and offered its first long format to Yeahman, who, honouring the image of the adventurer, went to record in Dakar, Naples, Marseille and Toulouse.The Frenchman proves right from the opening that he's got something, on the catchy dreamy samba Deelahli, with the almost erased voice of Mina Shankha, then the ultra-smooth Baixi Baixi, accompanied by the two Portuguese sisters of Aluna Project on a charango and a dembow rhythm. But Yeahman also likes square rhythms, like on Soupe au Feu and its chopped string samples, Sakoneta (and its kora made in Dakar) or GLI-F4, all supported by a silky and hypnotic house beat. We find Mina Shankha and Hajna on a cover of the Peruvian cumba standard Cariñito, then Omar Zidia. Singer and guitarist of the Tuareg group Ezza on Ouloullou, before closing this Qobuzissime journey in the Ostriconi (a paradisaical Corsican region) with the folktronica of the British producer Robin Perkins, alias El Búho, Yeahman's new label mate and undoubtedly future travel companion. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Blues - Released January 8, 2021 | Dead Oceans

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Was soul music better before? No!" answers Aaron Frazer's debut album. Spotted as the drummer and co-singer of Durand Jones & the Indications, this young soul brother from Baltimore, now living in Brooklyn, launches his solo career with Introducing..., an impeccable opus with a vintage flavour, produced by the legendary Dan Auerbach. In Nashville's Easy Eye Sound Studio, home to the Black Keys, Frazer's celestial falsetto, influenced by Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield, resounds to perfection. Both conscious and amorous, like all the great fifties and sixties soul singers, he juggles pure love songs and politically charged numbers with ease. His soft voice is a divine whisper, modern and ageless at the same time. A trans-generational cast supports Frazer, ranging from old hands like the Memphis Boys (who made their mark on Dusty Springfield's Son of A Preacher Man and Aretha Franklin's (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman) to the youngest virtuosos of the Daptone label - Big Crown Records... Gospel, doo-wop, funk and Northern Soul (Over You and its addictive up-tempo beat), Frazer even conjures up the ghosts of Marvin Gaye and Gil Scott-Heron on the smooth and funky Bad News. He knows and masters his classics, but his magnificent Introducing... is still very much an album from 2021, not 1961. Like his contemporaries Mayer Hawthorne and Curtis Harding, Aaron Frazer transposes his passion for vintage music into his time. He knows that the beauty of soul is that it cries with you, rejoices with you, makes you want to dance and can also make you think consciously and socially, whether it's 1961 or 2021! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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House - Released December 11, 2020 | Happiness Therapy

Hi-Res Distinctions Qobuzissime
The name Jesse Bru first appeared in France in 2012. Spotted by Parisian label Karat, run by the DJ/production duo Alex and Laëtitia Katapult, thanks to his micro-house project Hot Keys (with his fellow countryman Ryan Trann), the Vancouver-based producer achieved great success the following year thanks to his club hit Psychedelic Brain Paint, taken from his debut EP Changing for You. The track was a lo-fi house gem, reminiscent of Motor City Drum Ensemble, featuring samples of crowds going wild and Janis Joplin praying (Work Me Lord, Woodstock version). Jesse Bru then set out down the DJ path which unsurprisingly lead him to Berlin where, to satisfy the bookers, he relentlessly produced EP after EP. Two years ago, tired of this cycle of work, he returned to Vancouver to take stock and to ponder something along the lines of a first album.The Canadian had already released an LP with 2012's Mid City, but it was more of a collection of tracks than an album. So, The Coast finally gives us the opportunity to enjoy Jesse Bru in long form, with 15 tracks full of small ideas and real treats. As a former hip-hop producer who fell into electronic music after a stint in Montreal, Jesse Bru has always maintained his taste for sampling. He has been doing more and more self-sampling alongside the cornerstone of his success: a warm palette of colours and sounds. Here that assortment of timbres results in a mix of soulful, New York style House - with jewels like All Day Bae and Workin (Should Be Livin), UK garage (Life's Alright), techno (Lucid Dreaming), jazz and drum'n'bass, as on Cmwtme, a sublime track mixing trumpet and amen break. The album is a sort of tribute to the 90s: "I really like electro, breaks, techno and jungle, and super-emotional music," explains Jesse Bru, who cherishes the liberation that this album represents. "I felt like I was doing the same thing all the time, just stringing EPs together to try and stay relevant on stage". With an album of such a high standard, you almost feel like locking Jesse Bru in his studio.  © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Pop - Released November 20, 2020 | Licence Kuroneko - Sodasound

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First spotted in May 2019 with a two-track debut EP, WOMXN/Time Machine, Gystere was immediately approved by the Trans Musicales de Rennes, where he played with his band in December of the same year. DJ, director and composer, the Frenchman Adrien Peskine, who has in the past, played piano for Cerrone and appeared on ‘Le Grand Journal de Canal’, presents a first album bringing together all his artistic influences in an Afrofunk patchwork record that will leave no one seated. The concept is quite ambitious: "I've always tried to create the type of artist and music I couldn't find in my local clubs," explains Gystere. As a result, he composes a sort of mosaic of music from the 70s and 80s, with Prince-style intros, Supertramp-style melodies, Jimmy Page-style solos, Queen-style backing vocals, but also Stevie Wonder, Funkadelic and Sun Ra influences, for the afrofuturism that haunts the record. Without ever falling into stylistic exercise, Gystere (who composes alone, but records alongside his musicians) manages to transcend all these elements with a funky groove that we can't wait to see live. On paper, it could have gone wrong, but in the end, Gystere is well on his way to becoming one of the French revelations of the year. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz
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Metal - Released November 20, 2020 | Nuclear Blast

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Two years after his departure from his Norwegian band, the former Kvelertak frontman Erlend Hjelvik returns with his first solo album, determined to do it his way. With Nattesferd in 2016, the Stavenger natives had offered a third album decidedly more rooted in the heavy and black metal roots that Erlend liked, to the detriment of the punk influences that might have made the charm of the band. It is thus with Welcome To Hel that Erlend decided to load the canons after four years out of the studio. Highly inspired by Viking folklore, this first solo adventure is epic, grandiloquent and above all excellently composed. We find heavy metal mixed with doom and black influences bringing us straight back to Kvelertak's third album, but with a much more assertive intention.From the very first notes of Father War, it is like a charge of bloodthirsty soldiers that comes down on us at a frantic rhythm. The intention of the album is clear: to blend the aforementioned influences of thrash and rock'n'roll. Erlend offers us a masterfully crafted manifesto, full of generous moments both in technique and quivering detail. Yet the frontman does not forget what he does best and thinks of the crowds from all over the world that he will have to tame once on tour. Behind this range of technical skills lies a real sense of lyricism: catchy choruses that one will be delighted to shout once in the pit. We can only bow when the firebrands like Glory of Hel, Kveldulv or North Tsar come to grab us so as not to let us go. Special mention to the two guests of the album: Matt Pike (Sleep / High on Fire) and Mike Scalzi (Slough Feg) who bring with them an umpteenth dose of testosterone, as if it was needed.Inspired, accessible and a true manifesto of war, Welcome To Hel is an incredible ride from start to finish. Handling its influences as few know how, the rock'n'roll discharge tinged with heavy, black, doom and thrash is one of the best metal releases of the year. Maxime Archambaud/Qobuz
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Classical - Released October 16, 2020 | Warner Classics

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"Vieux pays merveilleux des contes de nourrice" (‘Old marvellous land of nursery tales’): These few words describe the irresistible and striking interpretation of Ravel's Shéhérazade, now of a bygone era. The timbral lows and highs radiate from Egyptian soprano Fatma Said’s voice. Her exemplary diction shines. Each word is intelligible and each sound exists to colour the word, emphasising its meaning. Nobody would have thought that the singer’s extremely versatile musicality – reminiscent of Regine Crespin’s vibrant performances – would find an even greater versatility in the orchestral version, with Malcolm Martineau’s beautifully timbred and precise piano occasionally slowing things down.The program completely immerses itself in Spain, with Rafael Aguirre’s subtle guitar substituting itself for Martineau’s piano. Other facets of Fatma Said’s voice are her musical agility and ethereal spirit, which are revealed in the two Falla pieces. The Canción de Marinela by José Serrano, where her voice thickens, will remain an unforgettable moment of sweet sensuality. It's easy to start dreaming of Said exploring some other roles in zarzuelas, for which she would be divine! The three songs by Federico García Lorca, excerpts of the 13 Canciones españolas antiguas, are rather modest and of a noble elegance, even in the carnal arabesques of Nana de Sevilla. This is the perfect transition for the ‘Arabic’ songs that Fatma Said chooses next.She introduces, for example, a pretty melody from Egyptian composer Gamal Abdel-Rahim (1924-1988), before flying off into the gorgeous Adieux de l’hôtesse arabe by Bizet where Burcu Karadağ's nev (a sort of reed flute) improvises in counterpoint alongside the vocals. The last four pieces return to the Egyptian and Lebanese standards, in a jazzy and nostalgic atmosphere. This is a captivating album with overwhelming emotion! © Pierre-Yves Lascar/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 2, 2020 | Heavenly Recordings

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Sharp, dry and unyielding, the neo-post punk scene, making waves in the UK, is hitting the dance floors thanks to Working Men’s Club. With their first album, Eponym, the young quartet from Todmorden, near Manchester, reignite the flames that once burned with New Order (Power, Corruption & Lies), The Fall, Human League, Gang of Four, D.A.F and Suicide. The young frontman Sydney Minsky-Sargeant sets the scene: ‘There isn’t much to do in Todmorden when you’re a kid. The Town is quite isolated and it can be very depressing to live in a place where, in winter, sunlight only lasts a few hours.' Locked in his room, Minsky-Sargeant spent his time tinkering with and mixing synthesisers, guitars and drums. The record blends chanting vocals, Stakhanovite rhythms, sickly guitar riffs and massive bass sounds. It's easy to lose control of one's body as it grooves and contorts to the rhythm of this unusual acid electro-rock, often reminiscent of early LCD Soundsystem. Minsky-Sargeant sports a t shirt marked with the word ‘SOCIALISM’ as the group christen their song John Cooper Clarke (the ever-popular punk poet), lighting up the grey skies of their native Yorkshire. Occasionally, Minsky-Sargeant relaxes into hedonistic new wave with tracks like Outside. But when he loses his temper, the electro-funk-tinged disco punk oozes from his soul (Teeth). This is a truly stunning record with impressively tight production, courtesy of Ross Orton (The Fall, M.I.A, Arctic Monkeys). No time to lose, have a listen! © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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R&B - Released October 2, 2020 | Haliblue Records

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With Goldress, their first EP released in February 2020, Alban and Yvan, under the alias YellowStraps, had already set the bar high. On the album cover they posed like well-behaved school children, standing upright, heads draped in gold satin. The eight tracks of the well-conceived neo-soul record were full to the brim and echoed the likes of Maverick Sabre, Daniel Caesar and even King Krule. Such maturity at such a young age is rare! But it is important to note that the two brothers, who grew up in Uganda before moving to Belgium, had been immersed in the Brussels scene for some time, mingling with the likes of Romeo Elvis and producer Le Motel. Inspired by the 2020 lockdown, the duo undertook this new project for which they would produce one piece of music per day and collaborate extensively with other musicians online. The project, entitled Yellockdown Project, is a clear success with 13 tracks featuring guests from all over the musical sphere. From neo-soul to rap, this project allowed the brothers to broaden their musical horizons and open themselves up to future collaborations. The record features the likes of Crayon, Lord Esperanza and Jae Luna. The only difference from their previous record, Goldress, is that here the brothers take the leap to French lyrics on a few tracks, such as Raison, Visage, Frissons and Si Tu Savais. This record is a real gem which highlights YellowStraps' huge potential and puts the Belgian music scene back on the map. © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz
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Pop - Released September 25, 2020 | Capitane Records

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Behind his ordinary name, Nicholas Michaux writes and produces distinctively original songs. After the failure of his band ‘Ete 67’, he decided to pursue a solo career, releasing ‘A La Vie, A la mort’ on ‘Tot ou Tard’ records. His latest offering, ‘Amour Colère’ released under Capitane records, further develops his rather sentimental outlook on daily life. On ‘Cancer’ the Belgian native, who shares his life experiences living between Brussels and the Danish Island Samsø, plays with clever language to better come to terms with the disease. The album is written partly in English, partly in French, with Michaux poetically jumping in and out of both languages. His vocal style, melancholic, unobtrusive and always simple, is reminiscent of Alain Bashung’s longingly soothing vocals. Eclectic yet brilliantly homogeneous, this record blends classic French ‘chanson’ (A nouveau) with romantic pop (Amour Colère, Nos retrouvailles), tonic (Parrot), romantic post punk (Every Word, Harvesters) and even glam rock (Factory)! The production is basic and doesn’t offer the sheen of modern pop music, however this isn’t to say the quality is poor! Quite the opposite! This album is beautifully tireless, offering skillfully poetic verses and gentle yet driven choruses. It is a pleasure to listen to such exquisite, well dressed language. A True gem of an album! © Charlotte Saintoin/Qobuz