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French Music - Released June 13, 2011 | naïve

Booklet Distinctions 3F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released February 5, 2016 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released January 25, 2016 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks

Alternative & Indie - Released December 5, 2011 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks

Alternative & Indie - Released September 14, 2010 | Anti - Epitaph

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 4 étoiles Rock and Folk - Sélection Les Inrocks
Mavis Staples may not have a voice with the kind of range and pure power of an Aretha Franklin, but she understands the ins and outs of phrasing and nuance, and brings an inimitable, gritty passion to everything she sings, even into her seventies. She's also not afraid to walk right down the middle of the road between secular and sacred, fully aware that both the blues and gospel are really talking about the same thing -- the need to get to a better place. She performs this delicate synthesis well on You Are Not Alone, an album that finds her teamed with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, whose production on this project is surprisingly sympathetic to Staples' strengths, and more importantly, doesn't make her sound like an adjunct participant in a Wilco album. No, this is Mavis' show, and she grabs ahold of well-chosen covers like Randy Newman's “Losing You,” Allen Toussaint's “Last Train,” Reverend Gary Davis' “I Belong to the Band,” and John Fogerty's “Wrote a Song for Everyone” with conviction, wringing every bit of wisdom, anger, compassion, and joy out of them, while bringing a fresh perspective to traditional gospel pieces like “In Christ There Is No East or West,” “Creep Along Moses,” and “Wonderful Savior,” reminding that redemption is pretty hard work even in the best of times. She tackles a couple of Pops Staples pieces here, too, “Don’t Knock” and “Downward Road,” making this whole set a well-rounded portrait of Mavis Staples as she stands then, now, and tomorrow. Tweedy wrote several songs for the project, but only two, including the title track “You Are Not Alone,” appear here, and he wisely resisted any urge to overdo his sonic stamp on the album. Most tracks feature sturdy, simple, and subdued backing that allows Staples' voice to carry the show, highlighted by reverbed guitar reminiscent of Pops Staples' trademark sound, although only enough to suggest it -- nothing here gets in the way of Mavis' voice. You Are Not Alone is a solid outing that somehow amazingly manages to be both secular and sacred at once, and there is a stripped-down timelessness to it. It's gospel. It's blues. It's about love and redemption, and how each needs the other. You Are Not Alone won Best Americana Album at the 2010 Grammys. ~ Steve Leggett

Alternative & Indie - Released May 8, 2012 | Secretly Canadian

Booklet Distinctions 5/6 de Magic - Sélection Les Inrocks
Luke Temple and company keep on their road with the band's third album, but Here We Go Magic just aren't quite living up to their name beyond familiar, ultimately less than inspiring moves. It's not that the bandmembers aren't trying -- more than once they almost suggest an inspired fusion of early Beta Band with Hail to the Thief-era Radiohead, if more straightforwardly rock-inclined than both. But when Temple's voice takes on more of a clear Thom Yorke quality as it goes -- "Alone But Moving" in particular is pretty much an overt tribute -- then sometimes the line between inspiration and tribute is effaced. The album does start promisingly: after a bit of moody murkiness in a brief piece appropriately and descriptively called "Intro," hearing them shift into a mood that sounds like Nick Drake getting quietly funky -- soft echoed vocals, bouncing bass, and a steady pulsing energy in the rhythms -- is a treat. Here We Go Magic move between more full-on hyperactivity in that vein from songs like "Make Up Your Mind" and "I Believe in Action" to the easier-going grooves of "Alone But Moving," but too often they don't do much with that. "How Do I Know" strikes one of the better balances between the band's two sides, driving and energetic while just a bit wistful, even as Temple's voice has a bit more of a clipped quality. Meanwhile, "Over the Ocean" isn't a Low cover but that might have been a fun curve ball, or at least a more distinct one. ~ Ned Raggett

Rock - Released April 13, 2012 | Parlophone UK

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks

World - Released April 2, 2012 | Because Music

Hi-Res Distinctions Victoire de la musique - Sélection Les Inrocks - Hi-Res Audio

Alternative & Indie - Released April 2, 2012 | XL Recordings

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
Chicago outsider Willis Earl Beal's back-story is a blogger's delight, full of the kind of outlandish bullet points that make it easy to caricature new artists. He lives at his grandma's house. He wrote all these songs when he was working as a hotel night porter. He was "discovered" by Found Magazine through one of the hand-drawn flyers he distributed, much like ones he posted throughout Chicago that said "Give me a call, I'll sing you a song." All true, and all very much factors in the progression of events leading up to Acousmatic Sorcery, Beal's much-hyped 11-song debut. Without a doubt, Beal is a weirdo. His songs run a jagged gambit from updated blues to oblivious bedroom raps about being a heartbroken robot. His live shows see him accompanied only by a reel-to-reel backing up his soulful wails, wavering between tuneful and tortured. He casually mentions oatmeal in more songs than Weird Al. All of his eccentricities could point to another sensationalized drop in the bucket, but such is not the case. With or without the press release, Acousmatic Sorcery is a gorgeously raw collection of genuinely unique sounds. Beal's songs paint a picture of an artist untouched by the world around him while paradoxically devouring every part of it, folding his experiences back into his music through his own fractured lens. Recorded at home between 2007 and 2009, the songs are lo-fi out of necessity rather than design. Much like Daniel Johnston's early recordings made on answering machines, Beal crafted these sounds with the dodgy analog recording gear he had access to, and the sonics take on the muted hues of a black-and-white photograph. The guttural blues howl of "Take Me Away" gives way to stream-of-consciousness proto-rap and soul croons on "Swing on Low" and late-night loner lounge on "Sambo Joe from the Rainbow." The songs are raucous and otherworldly, fantastic in a comic book way while retaining a very human feel. Beal's solemnly hushed tunes offer a soft counterpoint to the wild-sided numbers. "Evening's Kiss" is an anthem of lonely teenaged blues as strong as any of Elliott Smith or Modest Mouse's despair-filled weepers in the same vein. It's a flagship of rainy-day sentiments that soar silently, dodging any emo trappings with nakedly beautiful lyrics like "Ask me who I'm with and I'll tell you I'm without." By the middle of destroyed ballad "Away My Silent Lover," Beal sounds like he's barely holding it together, choking back tears in a way that rarely makes it to tape. Instead of an emotional manipulative move that's clearly phony (like, say, MJ's perfectly placed silent weeping at the end of his Disney-esque tearjerker "Childhood"), it's actually uncomfortably real. Like strangers arguing in public or a weary couple who went out to dinner just to break up loudly in the restaurant, Acousmatic Sorcery offers a similar, sometimes unbearably honest look into a very personal world. ~ Fred Thomas

Rock - Released March 30, 2012 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS
Between 1968 and 1972, New Orleans-cum-L.A. session musician Mac Rebennack transformed himself into Dr. John, The Nite Tripper. He recorded a series of albums for Atlantic, most importantly Gris-Gris, but also Babylon, Remedies, and The Sun, Moon, & Herbs; they seamlessly wove a heady, swampy brew of voodoo ritual, funk, and R&B, psychedelic rock, and Creole roots music. The Black Keys' guitarist Dan Auerbach admitted upon meeting Rebennack that he wanted to produce a Dr. John album and to revisit the Nite Tripper's musical terrain on record. The pair worked in Auerbach's Nashville studio with a group of younger players to explore the rawer, spookier elements in Dr. John's music. Locked Down is not an attempt to re-create Gris-Gris, which remains his classic; it -- and the other three records -- resembled nothing that existed before. Auerbach and Dr. John wanted to make a modern recording that drew on the spontaneous, more organic feel of those records; they succeeded in spades. Locked Down isn't quite swampy, but it is humid, even steamy. Its grooves are tight but raw and immediate. Its lyrics and music are charged with spiritual energy, carnal desire, and righteous indignation. It melds primal rock, careening R&B, and electric blues in an irresistible, downright nasty brew. The fingerpopping horn chart that announces "Revolution," is underscored by a fat baritone sax, an urgent, shake-your-ass bassline, and pulsing guitars. Drum breaks are constant in accompanying Rebennack's screed against corruption, "religious" hatred, and violence, which degrade humanity. His Wurlitzer solo is brief yet searing. "Ice Age"'s guitar, drum, and percussion vamp are deadly infectious. Rebennack's voice growls about collusion between the CIA and KKK and the end of an era, as the McCrary Sisters complement the vocals with an R&B chorus line in affirmation. His organ drones and wheezes to complete the picture, yet turns the last line into possibility: "If you ain't iced/you got the breath of life within."The electric piano on "Getaway" sets up a funktastic, bluesed-out swing. The guitars and Nick Movshon's hyper bassline drive it urgently with clusters of surf-like chords, reverb, and effects, completed by a roiling, over-the rails Auerbach solo. "Eleggua" is pure spaced-out Nite Tripper, a cosmic funky butt strut; its chanted mystical prayers come from the world of flesh and spirit; it's populated by slippery, watery guitars, wailing B-3, broken snare beats, and even a flute. That feel is underscored in the nocturnal shift and shimmer of "My Children, My Angels," driven by Rebennack's Rhodes, guitars, and a skittering snare. It's greasy yet somehow in synch with this love letter from a repentant father to his kids. Rebennack and Auerbach send it off, appropriately enough, with rock & roll gospel in "God's Sure Good" and a joyous chorus from the McCrary's behind-the-lyric's gratitude, highlighted by a swelling B-3 and backbone-slipping grit. No matter which era or what record you prefer, as an album, Locked Down stands with Rebennack's best. ~ Thom Jurek

Pop/Rock - Released March 26, 2012 | L'Autre Distribution

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks

French Music - Released March 26, 2012 | naïve

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Qobuzissime - Hi-Res Audio

Alternative & Indie - Released March 19, 2012 | Believe Recordings

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks

Rap/Hip-Hop - Released March 16, 2012 | Odd Future

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
As of early 2012, while The OF Tape, Vol. 2 was seeing release, the wild hip-hop collective called Odd Future had significantly "got real" twice in their career, once with Frank Ocean's rather traditional mixtape Nostalgia and once with the Internet's debut album Purple Naked Ladies. The first one was a home run by mixtape standards, although Ocean's compelling voice was "in demand" and an "easy sell", while the more subtle Internet album stiffed like Tyler, the Creator watching a porno. For a minute, the eccentric-as-they-wanna-be OF didn't seem an omnipresent force, so please forgive that this, their official debut album is also a mixtape, and a Vol. 2 mixtape at that. That allows head Wolf Tyler the freedom to executive produce in a way in which he's comfortable, with that thrill-filled, "don't give an F-bomb" attitude that loads a truly exquisite Ocean miniature called "White" into the cannon. This delicate creature is fired-off between a hectic, Wu-Tang styled number where the core crew spits naughty Shaolin ("P") and a Left Brain track that's the kind of horror show you hold up when you want to peg the group as akin to ICP ("Hcapd"). That's scattershot, which is where Odd Future still thrive, and as highlights like the minimal "Bitches," the Goblin-spawn "NY(Ned Flander)," and the hyno-riffic creeper "Forest Green" tick off, the complaints that some tracks are old and the whole thing seems thrown together lose weight. What they're juggling here is the impossible combination of the R&B Ocean, the Portishead-ish Internet, and the mutant-like everyone else, including the goopy and gruff Domo Genesis, who comes off as the MVP of Vol. 2, and also the evil spawn of a Garbage Pail Kids' skateboard and Bizarre from D12. The evidence that Odd Future are headed toward a more sensible, proper statement comes at the end of the chaos, as the punk-rock-hop "We Got Bitches" captures the bird-flipping allure of OF in a solid 3:19, right before the epic closer "Oldie" reunites them with their mighty, long-lost member Earl Sweatshirt. Hype warranted, the mystery continues, and while no kid should write "666" on their forehead before getting their driver's license, Odd Future remain a vital force in the hip-hop underground. ~ David Jeffries

Alternative & Indie - Released March 16, 2012 | Anti - Epitaph

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
On paper, North Carolina's Lost in the Trees' second full-length outing sounds about as enjoyable as last-chance day at the pound, but this 12-track song cycle, which chronicles the life and death of bandleader Ari Picker's artist mother, who committed suicide in 2009, is as moving and life affirming as it is moribund and gut wrenching. Much of that can be attributed to Picker's incredibly complex, endlessly fascinating composition style, which draws heavily from his classical training, yet maintains a smart, accessible core that brings to mind Sufjan Stevens at his least quirky -- tubas, strings, flutes, harps, bells, and trumpets rarely sound this muscular. Haunting as it may be, A Church That Fits Our Needs succeeds on nearly every level, from the grandiose ("Garden," "Neither Here Nor There") to the austere ("This Dead Bird Is Beautiful," "Vines"), and Picker's voice, which is strong, sonorous, and measured, and never betrays the emotional slap of a lyric like "Icy river/put your arms around my mother/I burned her body in the furnace/'til all that was left was her glory." Picker manages to convey every stage of grief, from anger to acceptance, without the slightest bit of solipsism, and it's that honesty that makes even the most brutal moments on this extraordinary album seem rooted in the hope that the world around him has simply transformed, rather than come crumbling down around him. ~ James Christopher Monger

World - Released March 12, 2012 | Accords Croisés

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Sélection Les Inrocks

Electronic/Dance - Released March 12, 2012 | Bromance

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks

Pop - Released March 7, 2012 | Parlophone France

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
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Rock - Released March 6, 2012 | Columbia

Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks
Heavy lies the crown on Bruce Springsteen's head. Alone among his generation -- or any subsequent generation, actually -- he has shouldered the burden of telling the stories of the downtrodden in the new millennium, a class whose numbers increase by the year, a fact that weighs on Springsteen throughout 2012's Wrecking Ball. Such heavy-hearted rumination is not unusual for the Boss. Ever since The Rising, his 2002 return to action, a record deliberately tailored to address the lingering anger and sorrow from 9/11, Springsteen has eschewed the frivolous in favor of the weighty, escalating his dry, dusty folk and operatic rock in tandem, all in hopes of pushing the plight of the forgotten into public consciousness. Each of his five albums since The Rising have been tailored for the specific political moment -- Devils & Dust ruminated over forgotten Americans in the wake of the Iraq war; We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions was an election year rallying call; Magic struggled to find meaning in these hard times; Working on a Dream saw hope in the dawning days of Obama -- and it’s no mistake that Wrecking Ball fuses elements of all four into an election year state of the union: Bruce is taking stock of where we are and how we’ve gotten here, urging us to push forward. If that sounds a bit haughty, it also plays that way. Springsteen has systematically removed any element of fun -- "Mary’s Place" is the only original in the past decade that could be called a party song -- along with all the romance or any element of confessional songwriting. He has adopted the mantle of the troubadour and oral historian, telling tales of the forgotten and punctuating them with rallying calls to action. Wrecking Ball contains more of the latter than any of its predecessors, summoning the masses to rise up against fatcat bankers set to singalongs lifted from Seeger. There's an unshakable collectivist hootenanny feel on Wrecking Ball, not to mention allusions to gospel including a borrowed refrain from "This Train," but Springsteen takes pains to have the music feel modern, inviting Tom Morello to do aural paintings with his guitar, threading some trip-hop rhythms into the mix, and finding space for a guest rap on "Rocky Ground." As admirable as the intent is, the splices between old-fashioned folk protests and dour modernity become too apparent, possibly because there's so little room to breathe on the album -- the last recorded appearance of Clarence Clemons helps lift "Land of Hope and Dreams" above the rest -- possibly because the message has been placed before the music. Springsteen is so focused on preaching against creeping inequality in the U.S. that he's wound up honing his words and not his music, letting the big-footed stomps and melancholy strumming play second fiddle to the stories. Consequently, Wrecking Ball feels cumbersome and top heavy, Springsteen sacrificing impassioned rage in favor of explaining his intentions too clearly. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Vocal Jazz - Released March 5, 2012 | Jazz Village

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Sélection Les Inrocks - Qobuzissime - Hi-Res Audio - Sélection JAZZ NEWS