January 12, 2009 Once the young soul singer drizzles on his honeyed falsetto, "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out" slides back to yesteryear with a cozy charm that's as warm as the song's electric piano. In a smart touch, he uses studio magic to create his own multi-harmony accompaniment, in essence serving as his own back-up singers.
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November 25, 2008 The Chicago rapper's new album, 808s and Heartbreak features him singing instead of rapping, but he's filtered his vocals through the voice processing system known as Auto-Tune, an increasingly popular trend among pop artists. The result is a melancholy, intimate and decidedly quirky effort.
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November 11, 2008 As leader of the 1990s hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest, Q-Tip rose to fame on the strength of their jazz-influenced production and his smooth, unruffled rapping. After problems plagued his solo career, Q-Tip disappeared from the music scene. He has now resurfaced with an entirely new CD, The Renaissance.
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June 27, 2008 For Lay It Down, Al Green collaborated with hip-hop artists such as The Roots drummer ?uestlove. The album may be closer to the retro-soul Green helped inspire than to the originator's best work, but that's not entirely bad.
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May 8, 2008 The '70s soul player performs a transcendent, refreshingly unadorned cover of Al Green's "I'm So Glad That You're Mine." Rather than dressing up (and thus weighing down) the arrangement, he relies on little else besides a guitar, an acoustic piano, drums, and some backup singers.
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October 15, 2007 Inspired by The Jackson 5, the '70s and late '60s saw a panoply of very young R&B bands emerge across the country. Though many groups released but one single before fading into obscurity, a new compilation CD documents the best of "kiddie soul."
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August 21, 2007 Her creations invoke polyglot rhythms and revolutionary rhetoric from around the world. But singer, producer and rapper M.I.A. communicates them through agitated, propulsive dance music. Two years after her debut, her new album finds her more adventurous than ever.
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July 25, 2007 Nicole Willis is a retro soul singer from Brooklyn. Her really tight band, the Soul Investigators, is from Finland. The group sounds like it's from Memphis – and it's one of Oliver Wang's favorites of the year so far.
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May 9, 2007 On "To Love Someone," the obscure Chicago group gives a sweet soul performance that easily holds its own next to anything other local groups (like the Impressions or Dells) could boast. Delivered in a striking falsetto, the truism "It's no good to love someone who don't love you" oozes heartache.
May 3, 2007 Many critics are calling The Reminder by Feist, the new recording by the Canadian songwriter and singer, her best yet... and this may be her moment. She was the subject of an extensive New York Times profile. The record came out this week.
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May 1, 2007 From the vaults comes "Let's Just Get Together," a phenomenal, never-before-released David Sea song. The track showcases his powerful voice and roots in gospel singing, but his impassioned vocals are practically drowned out by the guitar playing counterpoint, almost in competition with Sea.
April 13, 2007 In the mid-'60s, Bob & Gene began to record sweet, harmony-drenched soul tunes for a small New York label. However, despite amassing a dozen or so tracks by the early '70s, the duo's album never made it to market. Now, more than three decades later, it's finally been released.
March 30, 2007 Antibalas' nearly 13-minute Afrobeat epic "Sanctuary" unwinds with a graceful, unhurried pace that ever-so-slowly builds steam with each rhythmic reiteration. Though the bassline anchors the song, Antibalas works in a marvelously subtle mix of other elements.
February 26, 2007 The Sisters Love wasn't a disco act, but it laid down the sound and rhythm that would influence the style's breakout success in the mid-'70s. The group's members were innovators, but they were also survivors, created by and from former members of The Raelets, Ray Charles' backup singers.
February 9, 2007 Mighty Voices of Wonder's "I Thank the Lord" melds genres in raw, funky fashion. The opening drums hit with a jagged, ragged edge, and the shouts and hollers push the energy level higher, as the group testifies with a fervor that would impress James Brown or Jackie Wilson.
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