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Film Soundtracks - Released December 9, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released February 24, 2017 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released December 9, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 3, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 26, 2018 | UMGRI Interscope

Booklet
Nearly a decade after the release of their previous album, 2010's The Beginning, the Black Eyed Peas truly take it back to the start on their triumphant seventh set, Masters of the Sun, Vol. 1. A lot changed in their eight-year absence: Fergie left the group, reducing BEP to the original trio of will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo, while the former pair spent time on solo music and judging television singing competitions and the latter beat cancer. Throw in a turbulent period of American politics and social turmoil and the Peas finally had something to say beyond mindlessly repetitive, party-starting platitudes and odes to "My Humps." A return to their roots, Masters of the Sun reclaims their late-'90s boom-bap sound -- recruiting an iconic crew of New York MCs to really drive the point home -- on a satisfying (and surprising) set that is cohesive both in theme and sound. The acid jazz throwback production is strong, with a soulful downbeat vibe flowing throughout, while the three BEP rappers tackle topics such as race relations, gun violence, police brutality, and social media addiction ("RING THE ALARM" and "BIG LOVE"), with a touch of hip-hop boasting for good measure. They sound revitalized and refreshed like a post-millennial Digable Planets or Tribe, pushing these head-bobbing beats and dexterous lyrics like the 2000s never happened. Godzilla-stomp horns herald the time warp back to the Golden Era on "BACK 2 HIPHOP" with Nas, continuing with enough soul and jazz-sampled tracks to bring a tear to the eye of any self-professed old head. Later, Slick Rick drops in on "CONSTANT" -- via a "La Di Da Di" sample -- and the late Phife Dawg and his Tribe brother Ali Shaheed Muhammad join forces with De La Soul's Posdnuos on "ALL AROUND THE WORLD," a dizzying talent cypher that BEP bill as "A Tribe Called De La Pea." On these standouts, the sonic familiarity and focus on verbal skill is utterly refreshing, especially in the world of 2018 trap and mumble rap. Elsewhere, pop-leaning guests provide mainstream polish without distracting from the hip-hop focus. In an obvious callback, trip-hop chanteuse Esthero reprises her role from BEP's 2000 single "Weekends," appearing on the jazzy bossa nova "4EVER." Nicole Scherzinger -- originally approached for the position before it went to Fergie and also once considered as her replacement -- delivers sultry vocals and a "Tom's Diner" hook to "WINGS," while K-pop rapper CL contributes an aggressive verse that stands tall beside the Peas on "DOPENESS." Without the electro distractions of The E.N.D. and The Beginning, or the pop-rap jock jams of Elephunk and Monkey Business, the Black Eyed Peas remind listeners of the pure skill and talent preceding all their radio-dominating chart hits from the 2000s, bridging the proverbial gap back to a time when will.i.am, apl.de.ap, and Taboo simply spit over a great beat. Masters of the Sun, Vol. 1 is a welcome and gratifying return to form, a catalog highlight decades into their careers. © Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released August 21, 2015 | UMGRI Interscope

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R&B - Released November 2, 2018 | UMGRI Interscope

U.K. singer Jacob Banks took a long, slow road to his debut studio album Village, first releasing his genre-bending take on blues-indebted R&B on a 2013 EP and trickling out tracks and brief collections from there. While colorful and shifting styles have always been a part of Banks' music, Village offers the highest-definition presentation of his many approaches, as he plays with sonic switch-ups and wandering moods across the 15 spacious tracks. The album starts with the bombastic single "Chainsmoking," where Banks' baritone guides the aching song through a mesh of rocked-out blues and dubstep bass. This pastiche approach comes up a lot on Village, with several songs flitting between different musical modes and sometimes turning on a dime. "Love Ain't Enough" is perhaps the most intense example of this nervous genre switching, as Banks begins the tune as a bass-heavy blues-pop lament and ends it as a full-on ragga drum'n'bass, complete with breakbeat samples and dubbed-out deejay toasting. Moments of neo-soul, tropical pop, and dubstep show up from moment to moment and "Keeps Me Going" ties pop production to Nigerian rhythms, as Banks reflects on his early life there. When he stays on one page long enough, the results can be powerful. The dark and dramatic ballad "Unknown (To You)" would sound at home in a post-break-up montage of any big-romantic comedy, boiling heartbreak down into something accessible and immediate. The more subdued "Slow Up" reads like a letter from Banks to his younger self, hoping to impart everything he's learned over a beautifully atmospheric track. For all its strengths, Village is inconsistent and the songs often seem to be aiming for sentiments they don't quite reach. Overloaded with ideas, several songs on the second half could have been left off the album and resulted in a bolder whole. Though Banks never drowns under his own ambition on Village, the album struggles with focus. Inspired songs compete with lesser tracks in almost equal numbers, giving the album more of a mixtape feel than the statement it could have made with more fastidious editing. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 10, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 19, 2018 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released June 3, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released March 30, 2017 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released May 18, 2018 | UMGRI Interscope

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Pop - Released April 5, 2019 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released August 23, 2019 | UMGRI Interscope

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 23, 2020 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released May 27, 2016 | UMGRI Interscope

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Ambient/New Age - Released October 6, 2017 | UMGRI Interscope

Booklet
Showbiz has been in Gwen Stefani's blood since the start of her career, which is the reason why she, unlike many '90s alt-rock veterans, can seem at home within the confines of the televised musical competition The Voice. Her very presence on The Voice, one of the last genuinely popular franchises on network television in the 2010s, guaranteed the existence of an album like You Make It Feel Like Christmas, one that's pitched directly in the mainstream. You Make It Feel Like Christmas plays upon her romance with co-host Blake Shelton, making her bouncy duet with the country singer the album's title track and first single. "You Make It Feel Like Christmas" bops along to a Motown beat, just one of many intentional nostalgic nods at the past -- "Never Kissed Anyone with Blue Eyes" grooves to a simmering '60s soul groove, her version of "Santa Baby" has a mid-century swing, Wham!'s "Last Christmas" is given drippy strings that turn it into a girl group number -- but the record is surprisingly heavy on new material for a holiday album. Occasionally, this means Stefani veers into territory that doesn't feel strictly seasonal: "When I Was a Little Girl" plays like a diary entry, not a memory of Christmases past, "My Gift Is You" is a love song bearing the faintest hint of mistletoe, and "Never Kissed Anyone with Blue Eyes" has only a tangential relationship with Christmas. They don't seem out of place, since they're given the same bells and whistles as "Let It Snow" and "White Christmas," but they also diminish the album, making it seem smaller than the season. Still, the moments that work have a coquettish charm that is appealing, which is reason enough to warrant a listen. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 2015 | UMGRI Interscope

When the pleasure centers are hit, the brain releases a dose of feel-good dopamine. Naughty behaviors, secret desires, sinful vices. It can be addictive. On Dopamine, his Interscope debut (named after that groovy neurotransmitter), Børns has crafted 11 habit-forming doses of dream pop that slither into all the right spots with a flamboyant blend of glimmering disco, funk, and glam rock. Three songs from his lush debut EP, Candy, make appearances here: the airy, harp-filled "10,000 Emerald Pools"; the shimmery live favorite "Past Lives"; and the huge alt-radio hit of summer 2015, the Gary Glitter stomper "Electric Love." Fans already got a taste of new material when he released the yearning midtempo ballad "The Emotion" and the funky "Fool" as an online, pre-release amuse-bouche. The latter is a huge disco jam, complete with a flurry of handclaps and cooing "ah-ahh"s, which is indicative of the overall album. Owing in large part to childhood influence Earth, Wind & Fire, Dopamine brims with funky '70s R&B and disco charm. Børns' gorgeous falsetto and breathless delivery add a slinky sexuality to each track, especially on "Dug My Heart" -- which contains an odd dubstep gurgle ("dub" my heart?) that sounds jacked from Muse's "Madness" -- and "American Money," a spaced-out slow jam reminiscent of a Lana Del Rey tune slathered over OneRepublic. Everything here is coated thick with honey. Elsewhere, his other influences come to the party, with tastes of Led Zeppelin (a little "D'yer Mak'er" on the slow-burning "Clouds") and the Bee Gees (on both the funky-as-hell, MGMT-lite title track and the digital stank of "Holy Ghost"). All these influences might make it sound like he's stuck in the '70s, but the impeccable production quality sticks him firmly in the 2010s. Listeners will be rewarded with a nice hit of feel-good vibes, which may leave them lusting for more. With the voice of an angel, Børns is set to blow up big with Dopamine. Baby, he's like lightning in a bottle. © Neil Z. Yeung /TiVo
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R&B - Released May 10, 2019 | UMGRI Interscope

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Film Soundtracks - Released June 15, 2018 | UMGRI Interscope