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Pop - To be released February 7, 2020 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Pop - To be released October 25, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rock - Released October 16, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 16, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released October 13, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Soul - Released October 11, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Sketchbook is a reset of sorts for Fantasia, newly independent after racking up a full career's worth of accomplishments -- a platinum debut, three additional Top Ten albums, and a Grammy among them -- with majors J and RCA. She's backed by a licensing deal with BMG and now has her own label, Rock Soul, named after the self-termed sound she has been plugging for years. Fantasia co-wrote all the material and is also credited as co-producer with new associate Jevon Hill, a studio veteran who has worked with high-profile artists ranging from Tamar Braxton and Tank to James Fortune and Tye Tribbett. The core of additional writers is connected to gospel more than any other genre, yet the set mixes it up as much as any previous Fantasia album. Contrary to the title, nothing sounds incomplete or even off-the-cuff. It's more like a lookbook. Skittering percussion and other mechanical, trap-styled production touches are most common, utilized to best effect on the slick testimonial "Holy Ghost" and the gospel-blues finale on which Fantasia duets with her mother, Mama Diane (Diane Barrino). She switches to early-'90s adult contemporary mode for the sparkling ballad "Enough," one of her sturdiest (if bizarrely out of time) love ballads, and not long afterward is in the present with a mismatched dancehall-lite production for the blissful "Take Off." A couple other cuts resemble peer tributes. Tearful throwback belter "Bad Girl" is Jazmine Sullivan to the core. "PTSD" is artful pop-R&B, a slinking slow jam that, heard from a distance, could be mistaken for the work of Dawn Richard (at least until T-Pain provides the album with some impulsive humor, exclaiming "Good god almighty, great googly moogly!"). There's also one rocker, the blaring intervention "Warning." It merely hints at what Fantasia might be able to do if she took a truly sketchbook-like approach in the studio. There's no telling what she'd cook up in a couple weeks of live recording with a small band fluent in funk and rock. ~ Andy Kellman
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Pop - Released October 11, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

Art Alexakis spent the better part of two decades threatening to break away from Everclear so he could make a solo album, so when he finally delivered the solo Sun Songs in 2019, it came as something of a surprise. By that point, Everclear was firmly established as his band, but Sun Songs makes it plain that there is a difference between a band album and an Alexakis solo album. Largely consisting of songs anchored with acoustics -- not to mention tunes playing with themes of sunshine and Western states -- Sun Songs has its share of raucous moments and often dodges introspection, but it does feel scaled down and relatively intimate; it's music made for small rooms, not sheds. Many of Alexakis' signatures are in place, including his sardonic sense of humor, hard-bitten empathy, shambolic rhythms, allusions to old-school SoCal punk, and heavy-handed hooks, but the tone is bittersweet. The album is the sound of a middle-aged rocker taking stock of his life, but Sun Songs isn't reflexively nostalgic. Alexakis flirts with a couple of sounds lying outside of the realms of rock, runs his voice through electronic distortion, and generally seems intent on not recycling his old ideas. His good intentions can sometimes be a little gangly, yet they help Sun Songs feel alive and, more importantly, distinct from an Everclear record. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 11, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rock - Released October 11, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rock - Released October 4, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 4, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Film Soundtracks - Released October 4, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 27, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Latin America - Released September 27, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Country - Released September 20, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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The ghost of Sir Rosevelt looms over The Owl. Zac Brown's dance side project released an album soon after Welcome Home, the 2017 album from the Zac Brown Band, but it was buried, not even making an appearance on Billboard's Top 400. Brown didn't interpret this lack of success as rejection. Instead, he decided to push the Zac Brown Band firmly into pop, inviting Max Martin, Ryan Tedder, Poo Bear, and Skrillex into the studio to collaborate. This list of premium pop and dance producers suggests that The Owl is a far cry from the downhome charms of the Dave Cobb-produced Welcome Home, and that's true. The Owl gleams like a shiny new trinket from an upscale mall, its individual songs designed to ease onto any playlist you'd fancy. Nominally country, The Owl often throbs to electronic rhythms and is slathered in synths, to the point where even a funky blues number like "Me and the Boys in the Band" is polished so it could be considered pop. Unlike so many pop moves from country artists, The Owl is executed cleverly, never renouncing the core elements of the Zac Brown Band: "Shoofly Pie" is a loose-limbed rocker designed to keep the crowds moving during the mid-set, and "Leaving Love Behind" leans into Brown's James Taylor side. These cozy numbers just happen to be anomalies on The Owl. The rest of the record finds Brown defiantly bringing the glitzy party sensibility of Sir Rosevelt into the Zac Brown Band, getting his main group to play EDM rhythms, take a detour into rap, and play a ballad co-written by Shawn Mendes. The fact that a good chunk of the numbers work does not erase how deeply strange this album is. A band who once celebrated the simple pleasures of toes in the sand are now singing about champagne glasses filled with diamonds and, no matter how many times The Owl is spun, it's impossible to tell how they got to this point. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Country - Released September 20, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 18, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 18, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC

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Rap/Hip-Hop - Released September 18, 2019 | BMG Rights Management (US) LLC