Albums

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Pop/Rock - Released December 8, 2017 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
When he doesn’t head Nickel Creek (an Americana trio) or the Punch Brothers (experts in chamber bluegrass) Chris Thile works with colleagues as diverse as cellist Yo-Yo Ma (The Goat Rodeo Sessions in 2011) or jazz pianist Brad Mehldau (Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau in 2017). Even better, the Californian mandolinist regularly releases solo albums that couldn’t be more eclectic. This is evidenced by his Thanks For Listening, whose starting point was none other than A Prairie Home Companion, a weekly radio show which he has been hosting since October 2016 and for which he composes the song of the week each week. These songs of the week evoke the news as well as the spirit of the times, social issues as well as everything that crosses the mind of the virtuoso musician whose ears are always wide open. For this disc, Thile has selected among them ten songs that he has re-recorded in studio. Between chamber rock and stripped-down folk, sophisticated Americana and dreamy pop, he unfolds his timeless melodies and his stringent, or even caustic, prose. © CM/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released June 3, 2016 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
Brad Mehldau's warm, utterly enveloping effort, 2016's Blues and Ballads, finds the pianist leading his trio through a set of well-curated standards and covers. The album follows up his genre-bending 2014 collaboration with electronic musician Mark Guiliana, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, and smartly showcases his return to intimate acoustic jazz. Admittedly, the title, Blues and Ballads, is somewhat misleading, as Mehldau only tackles one actual blues with his jaunty, off-kilter take on Charlie Parker's "Cheryl." Otherwise, the blues of the title is implied more in the earthy lyricism of a handful of ballads. An influential figure in the jazz world since the late '90s, Mehldau has subtly transformed not only the way modern jazz is played, but also the repertoire from which musicians draw inspiration. He was one of the first jazz artists to rework modern alt-rock songs by the likes of Radiohead and Nirvana, imbuing them with a delicacy and harmonic nuance that both celebrated the original recordings and recontextualized them within the jazz canon. While the song choices on Blues and Ballads are by no means as adventurously maverick as that, they are well chosen and make for supple listening. Here, Mehldau and his longtime bandmates bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard dig into thoughtfully selected compositions like the Beatles' "And I Love Her," transfiguring the minor/major-key centers into something sweeping and operatic. Similarly, cuts like "I Concentrate on You" and "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)" feel both well-considered and off the cuff, as if Mehldau and his trio simply decided to start playing during the afterglow of a jovial dinner party. Surprisingly, it's Jon Brion, who produced Mehldau's 2002 album Largo, who offers the pianist one of the album's most poignant moments with his original ballad, "Little Person." Based around a deftly simple melody, in Mehldau's sympathetic hands the song is the musical equivalent of a child's tears. While Blues and Ballads is by no means Mehldau's most ambitious album, it's nonetheless a work of expansive emotionality and deeply hued beauty. ~ Matt Collar
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Pop - Released November 6, 2015 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 5, 2011 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Jazz - Released October 24, 2014 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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Rock - Released September 8, 2014 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Rock - Released September 5, 2014 | Nonesuch

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Rock - Released September 5, 2014 | Nonesuch

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Pop - Released April 25, 2014 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
Natalie Merchant is marketed as the successor to 2001's Motherland, suggesting it's Merchant's first album since, but that isn't strictly true. She independently released a collection of folk covers called The House Carpenter's Daughter in 2003 and, most notably, the ambitious double-disc neo-children's album Leave Your Sleep in 2010 -- distinctive work both but she hasn't dedicated herself fully to original material in 13 years, so Natalie Merchant is indeed noteworthy. Feeling neither pent-up nor fussy, the eponymous album is handsome, deliberate, and familiar; she's not picking up where she left off, she's merely resuming her career, not acting like any time or fashion has passed in her absence. Which isn't to say Merchant operates as if it's still her '90s heyday. She obliquely references Hurricane Katrina with "Go Down, Moses," but the strongest evidence that Merchant knows perfectly well it's 2014 is how she embraces her middle age. Even at the start of her career, Merchant aspired to sound wise and old and now that she's reached 50, she's exceedingly comfortable in her skin, never rushing her tempos, luxuriating in lush orchestral arrangements that are rarely Baroque and often find a nice contrast with softer, folkier moments, choosing to be melodic while studiously avoiding direct hooks. Natalie Merchant is not a progression so much as a deepening and, as such, it offers a quiet comfort for anyone who has ever loved her music. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Contemporary Jazz - Released February 21, 2014 | Nonesuch

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Mehliana is the recording and performing project of pianist and composer Brad Mehldau and drummer, composer, and electronic musician Mark Guiliana. The former is one of the most highly regarded artists in the jazz world; the latter, a decade his junior, is a celebrated sideman and the leader of the genre-defying Beat Music, an ensemble that deftly juxtaposes electronica, funk, jazz, prog rock, and more. Mehldau wrote half of the cuts on Taming the Dragon; the duo co-wrote the balance. This wild melange of keyboards, beats, textures, musical styles, samples, and electronic sounds reflects jagged yet accessible compositions and improvisations whose sonics are as important as their melodies. Mehldau plays synths, Rhodes, and acoustic piano, while Guiliana provides drums and other electronics. The title track is one of two spoken word pieces here. It commences with a near-ambient backdrop as Mehldau recalls a dream epiphany before the music gives way to a heavily fazed drum and synth workout that spirals to the margins as it closes. "Luxe" features a wound-out, fat-ass synth bass, pulsing Rhodes, and a martial backbeat that begins sparsely and hypnotically before it transforms into a cooking, futurist jazz-funk groove. "You Can't Go Back Now" is led by Guiliana's breaks and sampled voices before Mehldau's Squarepusher-esque synth introduce his Rhodes and acoustic piano; the track's dynamic tension increases until it becomes a space jazz anthem. The limber jazz-funk in "Sleeping Giant" deliberately recalls George Duke's MPS era recordings, though it contains Mehldau's knotty lyricism. "Gainsbourg" samples the French songwriter's "Manon" and "Ford Mustang." Initially, it feels like a cinema cue but, like everything else here, nothing is what it seems. Through quick editing its wacky, informal, and nearly hummable melody becomes a harmonic mosaic. "Just Call Me Nige" features nearly incessant breaks and in-the-pocket vamps by Guiliana (beatmakers will be sampling this guy, and this record, for years to come). It bridges the gap between dancefloor stepper and prog rock jam. Those beats provide a platform for Mehldau's Rhodes solo which evolves from blues to post-bop and his zig-zagging synth lines could be an update of Deodato's version of "Thus Spake Zarathustra." "Swimming" starts as a midtempo ballad but eventually approaches jazz-rock with a 10/8 meter and a labyrinthine Rhodes solo from Mehldau, while closer "London Gloaming" melds Radiohead-esque avant-pop, and atmospheric electronica. More conservative jazzheads will likely shake their heads in disapproval at Taming the Dragon, but this set is for anyone but them. Though it's quite sophisticated, this album is a hell of a lot of fun. Mehldau and Guiliana integrate all of the musical, stylistic, and technological elements at their disposal into an imaginative, provocative -- and focused -- whole. Fans of Marco Benevento and Medeski, Martin & Wood take note. ~ Thom Jurek
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Contemporary Jazz - Released September 14, 2012 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection JAZZ NEWS
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Jazz - Released June 8, 2012 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Le top 6 JAZZ NEWS
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Alternative & Indie - Released December 2, 2011 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Sélection Les Inrocks
Picking up on the ‘60s soul undercurrent of Brothers, the Black Keys smartly capitalize on their 2010 breakthrough by plunging headfirst into retro-soul on El Camino. Savvy operators that they are, the Black Keys don’t opt for authenticity à la Sharon Jones or Eli “Paperboy” Reed: they bring Danger Mouse back into the fold, the producer adding texture and glitter to the duo’s clean, lean songwriting. Apart from “Little Black Submarines,” an acoustic number that crashes into Zeppelin heaviosity as it reaches its coda, every one of the 11 songs here clocks in under four minutes, adding up to a lean 38-minute rock & roll rush, an album that’s the polar opposite of the Black Keys’ previous collaboration with Danger Mouse, the hazy 2008 platter Attack & Release. That purposely drifted into detours, whereas El Camino never takes its eye off the main road: it barrels down the highway, a modern motor in its vintage body. Danger Mouse adds glam flair that doesn’t distract from the songs, all so sturdily built they easily accommodate the shellacked layers of cheap organs, fuzz guitars, talk boxes, backing girls, tambourines, foot stomps, and handclaps. Each element harks back to something from the past -- there are Motown beats and glam rock guitars -- but everything is fractured through a modern prism: the rhythms have swing, but they’re tight enough to illustrate the duo’s allegiance to hip-hop; the gleaming surfaces are postmodern collages, hinting at collective aural memories. All this blurring of eras is in the service of having a hell of a good time. More than any other Black Keys album, El Camino is an outright party, playing like a collection of 11 lost 45 singles, each one having a bigger beat or dirtier hook than the previous side. What’s being said doesn’t matter as much as how it’s said: El Camino is all trash and flash and it’s highly addictive. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Jazz - Released April 22, 2011 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama
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Jazz - Released February 21, 2011 | Nonesuch

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Indispensable JAZZ NEWS - The Qobuz Standard
Brad Mehldau's latest solo recording, the two-CD/single-DVD Live in Marciac begins with two tracks that contrast his astonishing technical facility and his considerable inventive gift for empathic interpretation. The opening "Storm" is an original four-minute exercise in furious counterpoint, expansive layered harmony, and swinging ostinato; it's followed by a complex yet utterly inventive lyrical reading of Cole Porter's "It's All Right with Me" that not only underscores the lyric in its full harmonic voice, but expands upon it with low- and middle-register arpegiattic studies from Bach and Brahms without losing site of the tune. These are but two of the many surprises on this recorded in 2006. Mehldau ranges over his catalog to revisit his own compositions -- including three from his celebrated first solo piano album Elegiac Cycle -- "Resignation," "Trailer Park Ghost," and "Goodbye Storyteller." These new readings offer an aural view of how much more is in those songs as he's investigated them over the years. Among the performances here are healthy examples of Mehldau's love of rock and modern pop music, including Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)," which closes disc one. Disc two kicks off with another contrasting study, this one music from two musicians who died at their own hands: a thoroughly imaginative reading of Nick Drake's "Things Behind the Sun" (that appeared first on the Live in Tokyo album) followed by its mirror image, Kurt Cobain's "Lithium," using the same percussive left-hand patterns with inverted changes and syncopated lyric accents (they appear as a medley on the DVD). Mehldau also delivers a lovely reading of Lennon & McCartney's "Martha My Dear," where he juxtaposes its sweet melody against a slightly angular, dissonant set of changes. The set closes with a deeply moving imaginative "My Favorite Things," followed by a funky, slamming take on Bobby Timmons' "Dat Dere" (which is missing from the DVD for some reason). For Mehldau's fans, this is another opportunity to hear just how creative and versatile he is, even with familiar material. For the uninitiated, this is a grand opportunity to acquaint yourself with one of the most gifted jazz pianists on the scene. ~ Thom Jurek
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Jazz - Released February 24, 2004 | Nonesuch

Distinctions 4F de Télérama