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Classical - Released March 12, 2021 | Mirare

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Jazz - Released March 12, 2021 | Hubro

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French Music - Released March 5, 2021 | Columbia

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Contemporary Jazz - Released March 5, 2021 | Label Bleu

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Like it says on the tin: Michel Portal is 85! But time has never managed to curb the desires and the creative madness of this artist who guards a no man's land between jazz, contemporary music and everything else. Portal has always prized unexpected or unlikely encounters. Blurring the lines. Magnifying the differences. Building on the margins. After ten years of discographic silence (Baïlador dates from 2011), the clarinettist embarks here his band with the cast of fire (Bojan Z on piano and keyboards, Nils Wogram on trombone and Bruno Chevillon on double bass) in an explosive improvisation which was inspired by the backdrop of the pandemic."This record was made under very special conditions, after two long months of lockdown. I and the members of my new quintet found ourselves in the studios of Label Bleu, eager for music but with mixed feeling of joy, fear of the virus and involuntary distrust of others, who were suddenly relegated to the status of "threatening strangers". As if it were a matter of each of us re-establishing the right distances from the world and from each other, music was created in the present tense over these few days of recording, by moving it between one another with a true collective intensity. It is this fundamental movement of opening up that, I believe, gives the music on this record its colour and direction – like a gradual return to life. What we have all sought here together was a way of re-finding the élan and carefree spirit of playing music, the simple joy of sharing something vivid and explosive in the moment: this faculty that music possesses, when we take it sufficiently seriously and with a light-enough heart, of breaking down all the walls between us!"Walls which can also be borders. MP85 erases them and moves from Africa (African Wind) to Armenia (Armenia) to the Basque Country (Euskal Kantua). The music is so tightly-made that we can close our eyes and follow the artists around the world in 50 minutes. Whether the improvisation is tinged with a certain melancholy (Armenia) or whether it's more lively, (Jazzoulie), Michel Portal's gang makes one forget the pandemic's deadening interruption. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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World - Released February 26, 2021 | Six Degrees – New Releases

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Classical - Released February 26, 2021 | Alpha

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"Why arrange Boccherini concertos? To bring out the colours, rhythms, dances, melodies and countermelodies. To reinvent our roles or to exchange them like a game, from one page to another. To make us feel as if we’re on a tightrope. To take advantage of the space of freedom provided by the cadenza to imagine little musical scenarios, stories within the story. Like dreams that have their own logic, their own timescale. So those dreams suddenly yet imperceptibly plunge us into repetitive music, a procession in Spain, a jazz cadenza, an opera... and then we emerge to be reunited with Boccherini, who seems to be the first to enjoy these escapades". (Sonia Wieder-Atherton) © Alpha Classics
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 25, 2021 | Goliath Enterprises Limited

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With Skeleton Tree (2016) and Ghosteen (2019), Nick Cave signed a double lease on Heaven and Hell. Carnage finds the leader of the Bad Seeds still holding down both joints, far from average men, closer to some unknown divinity. The album does not bear the name of his illustrious band, but of his double, his musical director for eons: Warren Ellis. With Carnage, the two Australians keep one foot in the latest mystical and electronic work of the Bad Seeds, while looking resolutely straight ahead. A few weeks before its release, Cave described Carnage as “a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe” – the pandemic, of course… The sprechgesang he loves is still here, accentuating the power of his sermons. Meanwhile, mad-scientist Ellis invariably finds the appropriate sound – strings, vintage synths, drunken piano, UFO noises, anything goes – to push these irrational and poetic texts to a holistic artistic elsewhere.In the grandiose White Elephant, the fascinating approach pays off with a choral worthy of Lennon’s Give Peace a Chance.  In Balcony Man, Cave and Ellis move into almost experimental terrain before taking the opposite direction with an offbeat piano/violin duet. In fact, throughout Carnage the duo enjoy fitting together differing ambiences, interweaving styles, even if that means imploding the traditional framework of the song. Brutal and yes, very beautiful, it is no easy feat to enter this parallel universe unlike any other. Planet Rock may be teeming with species, but Nick Cave remains his own unique animal, ceaselessly questioning his artistic convictions. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released February 19, 2021 | harmonia mundi

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It's hard to imagine how anything could have been improved upon with this Brahms recital from three of Harmonia Mundi's most sensitive and interesting artists. The programming alone is a work of art: the idea of pairing the viola versions of Brahms's two autumnal Op. 120 Clarinet Sonatas inspired by Meiningen Orchestra clarinettist Richard Mühlfeld, with three further softly intimate works of his showcasing the viola's similarities with the human voice – viola and piano arrangements of Nachtigall from the six Op. 97 Songs (extra resonant, when Brahms described Mühlfeld as the nightingale of the orchestra) and the famous Op. 49 Wiegenlied, followed by the Op. 91 Zwei Gesänge for Voice, Viola and Piano. Then there's the instruments, because for Tamestit and Tiberghien these are just as important to the music's alchemy as the abilities of the performers, and their quest to find the perfect match for the penetrating, multi-shaded tones of Tamestit's Stradivarius viola eventually led them to an 1899 Bechstein piano. The result was two instruments capable of a range of colours and roundness of sound across all registers and through even the most virtuosic of passages; and that's precisely what you hear across the resultant lyrically tender, natural-feeling readings, because beyond the hand in glove chamber partnering you're hearing, their respective tones are both alive with colouristic complexities and verily glowing. Then, beyond being simply delicious, the vocal quality Tamestit draws out from the famous Wiegenlied melody serves as the perfect overture to the programme's Zwei Gesänge – shaped icing on the cake – yet another perfect combination, Tamestit's lines lovingly encircling and dovetailing with Goerne's own richly warm, gentle baritone, the polished Teldex Studio engineering casting them on satisfyingly equal footings with each other, with the piano just slightly behind. In short, absolutely gorgeous. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 19, 2021 | Sub Pop Records

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She may be a part of the noisy Sub Pop stable, but Lael Neale feels more intimate and dreamlike. In short, light years away from the original ambiance of the Seattle label... on her website, this crystal-clear-voiced goldsmith describes her passion for the old books of John Steinbeck, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the poems of Mary Oliver. Originally from Virginia, she went into exile, between 2009 and 2019, in Los Angeles, looking for a musical Eden for her rather folksy songs. “I felt the songs had been stripped of their vitality in the process of layering drums, bass, guitar, violin, and organ over them. They felt weighed down”. In 2015, she still managed to bring out the folk release I'll Be Your Man... When the pandemic broke out, LA was transformed, and a return to the family farm in the rural valley of Shenandoah became necessary. In Lael Neale's suitcase, an Omnichord borrowed from a friend. A rather weird instrument that offers an electronic counterpart to the autoharp and which provides her singing voice with an ideal accomplice. Above all, it's a toy that inspires her and has seen her write and compose like never before. On Every Star Shivers in the Dark, Lael Neale takes in tunes from the Australian Julia Jacklin. Elsewhere, we think of a rural Lana Del Rey who might make a low-fi Stereolab... Acquainted With Night is full of strangeness of that kind. The young woman's poetry is frankly unique, juggling with everyday life, a certain sense of dark humour sometimes, romanticism too, and an endearing melancholy. She has stolen a few gothic values from Steinbeck, which she has worked into miniatures. All this is fascinating and her city/country dilemma smoulders (she sings of this turmoil on Every Star Shivers in the Dark), as she sets it to music most tastefully. A real revelation. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 12, 2021 | Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

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It's a long time since the halcyon days of fame and hype for this strangely-named band (the five words were originally graffiti on a Brooklyn wall) led by a boy named Alec Ounsworth. 2005 saw a first album hailed by the critics and celebrated by Pitchfork, the music site of record. David Bowie and David Byrne were spotted at Clap Your Hands Say Yeah concerts. The years went by and four members successively left the ship, but its founder and leader has not said - or sung - his last word... Self-released, New Fragility - turns out to be also a new strength. Its ten lively tracks, go back over events that have affected Ounsworth: like a massacre in Southern California, on the twilit Thousand Oaks, or a reflection on feelings of exhaustion at the state and slide of a lost America on Hesitating Nation. A lover of fine literature, Ounsworth has also chosen the title of this album probably as a tribute and a nod to an essay by the enfant terrible of American literature, David Foster Wallace, who passed away in 2008. The album's title track, New Fragility, sounds astonishingly like an old U2 number from the 80s, in the era of The Unforgettable Fire (1984): right from the start, a shearing synth sound opens the way, followed by the drums... But Ounsworth's voice is far from that of the Irish tenor, rather close to a Thom Yorke, plaintive, carrying his share of melancholy like a flower in the buttonhole, and disillusioned, as on Mirror Song which is full of memories and regrets. Because this album also deals with a personal crisis following an intense but terribly destructive relationship, which left the singer with a bruised soul, certain tracks sing of our hero's sadness, such as Went Looking For Trouble or Where They Perform Miracles. Alec Ounsworth proves with this record that once the hype has ebbed away, other things remain, which can be more essential, and more relevant. This is in any case the feeling one is left with by this album. The most convincing example is probably CYHSY, 2005, a kind of yellowed polaroid from the past, which leaves a bitter taste in the singer's mouth as he realises that all this was not necessarily what he had wanted... © Yan Céh / Qobuz
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International Pop - Released February 5, 2021 | Boots Enterprises, Inc.

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If you were Frank Sinatra's daughter and wanted a career in music, how would you go about stepping out of your father's shadow? After a couple of cutesy singles cut with the producer behind Annette Funicello records, Nancy Sinatra, Frank's oldest child found her groove as the kind of female badass rebel that her father likely adored: fashion influencer who brought miniskirts from Carnaby Street to America's Main Street; daring agitator who shared a rare interracial kiss with dad's pal Sammy Davis Jr. on national TV; Playboy cover star at age 54. It's the attitude and image that's given her career a lasting aura and made it influential for artists as diverse as Primal Scream, Morrissey and Lana Del Rey who has modestly referred to herself as a "Gangster Nancy Sinatra." As this well-curated compilation proves, Sinatra's most influential music comes from her '60s collaboration with oddball pop chameleon Lee Hazlewood. Although the pair's vaguely sensual duet on the still puzzling, hippie-cowboy epic, "Some Velvet Morning," earned them artistic credibility, the crowning achievement of their partnership and Sinatra's calling card was 1965's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'"—a Hazlewood original that he originally intended to sing. Sinatra convinced him it needed a women's voice to turn it from a tale of spousal abuse to one of female empowerment. Her instincts proved prescient and her deadpan delivery and Hazlewood's snappy production style built around an unforgettable bass line birthed a defiant feminist '60s anthem. Other Sinatra/Hazlewood numbers included here are the fuzz guitar march, "Lightning's Girls," a tremolo-guitar led version of "Bang Bang" (Cher's first million selling single), and duets that charted with Hazlewood: "Summer Wine," "Jackson." The ace card in the Sinatra/Hazlewood union was using Los Angeles studio vets the Wrecking Crew as the backing band. With pros like Hal Blaine on drums, Al Casey, Glen Campbell and Larry Carlton on guitar and Carol Kaye on bass, it's all well-recorded and beautifully mixed music, solid and stylish, and brimming with a confident Angelino brand of white pop soul. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Vocal Jazz - Released February 5, 2021 | Papillon jaune

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Alchemy was at the heart of Radio One, released in 2016. So naturally Airelle Besson has reunited the same artists for Try!: singer Isabel Sörling, pianist (acoustic and electric) Benjamin Moussay and drummer Fabrice Moreau. The roles are the same. But the collaboration between the four has increased tenfold. The pandemic obliged them to work differently. There is more space, and more freedom. The themes float more freely. They are also more dreamlike, and more bewitching... When the Swede's voice wraps around the Parisienne's trumpet with its shades of Tom Harrell, it is blissful. Moussay and Moreau are obviously fully part of this mix. Their contribution is vital. Because even though only Airelle Besson's name graces the cover of Try!, they all speak as one. Their shared voice is full of playful jazz. It is a narrative jazz, rich in images, and very open. It drifts towards contemporary music. This quartet has a sound all of its own. This little collection of original music is unlike any other. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 5, 2021 | Archieball

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Among the many facets of Archie Shepp's distinguished career, it is notable that since his solo debut in 1964, he has been gigging and recording at a near-constant pace. For an 83-year-old saxophone player specializing in provocative and boundary-challenging improvisation, this is impressive enough, but that Shepp's creative, intellectual, and political fire has in 50-plus years remained undimmed, well, that is remarkable indeed. Throughout those years, Shepp has always been an enthusiastic collaborator, working extensively with Cecil Taylor and Don Cherry, as well as more occasional meetings with the likes of Mal Waldron, Max Roach, and Horace Parlan, and cross-genre explorations with Frank Zappa, Material, and others. He is a player whose confidence in his style and musical language allows him to not only share a spotlight, but also to seek out co-conspirators to broaden his sonic palette. In the 21st century, Shepp's recording pace has not slowed, but his interest in collaborations seems to have accelerated; more than half of his releases over the last two decades have seen him partnered up. This album, the latest such release, finds him working with Jason Moran, whose modernist, New York-centric take on post-bop has made him one of the most critically acclaimed jazz pianists of the last 20 years. Moran's musical vocabulary is as broad and deep as Shepp's, and the two also clearly share an intellectual and ideological affinity when it comes to creative and cultural work. So it is both somewhat surprising and completely on-brand that on their debut duet album, the two aim straight for the songbook, taking on a clutch of standards that have often been handled competently, if not interestingly, in lesser hands. With these two, pieces like "Lush Life" easily unshackle themselves from decades of overplay and sound reinvigorated. The easy, restrained interplay between the enormous tone of Shepp's saxophone and Moran's melodic and exploratory piano finds the two charting their own courses through these pieces, and when Shepp starts singing on "Go Down Moses" and "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child," an entirely new dimension is added. It would have been quite easy for Shepp and Moran to romp through well-trod pieces like "Round Midnight" with gleeful abandon, but instead, they take a more focused and politically interrogatory approach to the material, resulting in an intelligent, emotional, evocative,and, yes, another remarkable addition to Shepp's voluminous discography. © Jason Ferguson/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 5, 2021 | BBE Music

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It has already been twenty years. At the request of the BEE Music label, beatmaker J Dilla, who has gone on to traumatise and influence whole generations of musicians, released his first solo album, Welcome 2 Detroit, a tribute to his hometown. A classic that, to mark fifteen years since the death of its creator, emerges here in a deluxe version, remastered, and embellished with many unpublished tracks. There are, of course, the rough-hewn instrumentals (in the image of J Dilla's sound), some tracks taken from the beat maker's archives, but also other artists are present, such as the Brazilian jazz-funk band Azymuth, who J Dilla and his great friend Madlib liked so much, or the great DJ Muro. The Japanese artist has contributed several remixes here, including one of Think Twice, which was a real success. A beautiful tribute for a foundational album, and for a man whose unique sonic signature is still resonating for so many people. © Brice Miclet/Qobuz
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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 5, 2021 | Drugstore Malone

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Rock - Released February 5, 2021 | Red Creek

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2021 | Entrance Records & Tapes

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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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Pop - Released January 29, 2021 | Polydor Records

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She was set to be one of the revelations of 2020. But the pandemic got in the way, and Celeste Epiphany Waite postponed the planned release of her first album. Celeste is a new UK sensation. She received the Rising Star prize at the prestigious Brit Awards, an honour which has been bestowed upon such promising young people as Sam Smith or Adele, who went on to enjoy colossal success and international stardom. Add another nomination, for the BBC's Sound of 2020, and the growing interest in this newcomer to the global pop scene was clear. While waiting for the album, Celeste did not sit idly by. She provided some vocals for the high-flying soundtrack for Pixar's successful Soul, and for the series The Chicago Seven, which was broadcast on Netflix. In terms of musical education, Celeste was brought up almost exclusively on blues, jazz, and golden-age soul by James Brown, Aretha Franklin (whom Celeste worships), Nina Simone and Sarah Vaughan. A coppery, nonchalant voice, tinged with a hoarse fragility, Celeste instantly sounds like a little sister to Adele and Amy Winehouse. Finally, the album is here. With its nose-thumbing title, Not Your Muse is an impressive engine, perfectly conceived and calibrated to conquer airwaves around the world, and audiences too. From Strange's skin-tight tenderness to the old-school sixties throwback Love is Back, to the party number Tonight Tonight, all the ingredients are there to make this album a must-have for years to come. © Yan Céh/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 29, 2021 | Atlantic Records

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Heralds of alt-rock, the Californians Weezer keep churning out albums one after the other as if it was no bother at all. This is their fourteenth album: a sign of rare vitality for members of this scene. Under the leadership of their frontman, songwriter and lead singer Rivers Cuomo, the group still affects the same nervousness crossed with a certain melancholy. They endure thanks to an extraordinary ability to adapt to a perpetually-changing environment. They have moved onto YouTube and are cracking the codes of new networks in a way that few groups of the same genre have managed to do. Weezer, with an unfailingly creative approach to their music videos, are still there - and so are their fans. With the offbeat and retro aesthetic which they have cultivated since their debut in 1994, which was produced by the great Ric Ocasek (leader of Cars), it was an easy choice for Weezer to make an album of covers of powerful eighties songs: 2019's Teal Album. With a cover of A-Ha's Take On Me garnering more than 23 million views on YouTube... Another post-modern hobby of Cuomo's is making concept albums with the help of an orchestra. Inspired by a 1970 album by Harry Nilsson featuring songs by Randy Newman (Nilsson Sings Newman) as well as The Beach Boys' 1966 landmark Pet Sounds, Weezer are in gala attire here, accompanied by an army of thirty-eight musicians. Piano, violins, cellos, flutes... From the first piece, All My Favorite Songs, the stage is set, Rivers Cuomo is enjoying himself and cheerfully pastiching the Beatles and McCartney's Wings (the strings were recorded at Abbey Road Studios). This is a powerful influence on Playing My Piano and its syrupy vocal flights. OK Human shows a new facet of Rivers Cuomo's immense talent, leaving behind his saturated guitars for a classic pop sound that is a little unctuous: but the writer's irony is never lost from sight. The irony is even in the title of the record, OK Human, a nod to Radiohead's OK Computer (1997). Another familiar feature: the CD's playtime is 30 minutes. OK Human is a pleasant interlude before a return to the rock and guitars of the next album, Van Weezer, a tribute to Van Halen, which is set to arrive just a few weeks after this release... © Yan Céh / Qobuz