November 18, 2009 Retro-soul's popularity raises any number of intriguing thoughts and questions about nostalgia, race and American pop cycles.
September 24, 2009 This multi-talented vibraphonist, bandleader, producer and label owner was a prominent figure in New York's Latin music scene. But when he retired from active recording in the mid-'70s, his legacy was largely forgotten. Now, he's re-entering the spotlight, thanks to a new anthology which samples some of his strongest works in Latin soul, rock and salsa.
September 16, 2009 Among those who find today's soul throwbacks too mired in the past, Hawthorne's A Strange Arrangement is unlikely to change many minds. Yet the album suggests a promising future for the artist.
September 9, 2009 The Blueprint 3 is the latest release by rapper Jay-Z; it's the second sequel to one of his best-known releases, 2001's The Blueprint. It's also Jay-Z's 11th solo album in 13 years, making him one of hip-hop's most prolific artists. Reviewer Oliver Wang suggests that, even this far into his career, the rapper is still finding ways to stay on top.
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August 19, 2009 Summer is, unfortunately, more about what we want it to be than what it actually is. Idealism may make a potent brew, but we know the season inevitably ends. That's why some of the best summer songs are tinged with fragility and marked by melancholy. This is music that admits the painful truth about summer: that even the best times won't last, as long days fade with autumn's encroaching dusk.
July 21, 2009 In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Lee Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul that he grew up with. His latest release, My World, finds an ideal middle ground between the slow grind of Southern blues and the faster, funkier stylings of retro-soul.
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July 21, 2009 Soul singer Lee Fields may be a rhythm-and-blues veteran, but don't call him a relic. Since the 1970s, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums, and part of the secret to his success has been flexibility. To younger fans, Fields is retro-soul royalty. For his older fans, Fields has been a stalwart of Southern soul music.
July 7, 2009 When your career includes charting four No. 1 hits in a row and selling a gazillion records, it's no surprise that a few people (or a few hundred) may want to cover your songs. Here is just a sampling.
June 25, 2009 It's not easy being related to a musical star: Even if your gifts rival those of your sibling, it's presumed that as the less-famous family member, you must be second-rate or a coattail surfer. Especially in the world of soul music, some overshadowed sisters and brothers have proven as compelling as their kin.
June 3, 2009 Listening to Theron Gafford and Darrell Buckner push their falsettos on the sweet soul ballad "I Was Made To Love Her," it feels almost too forced, too shrill. But that's the magic of the falsetto: The way it takes the human voice to unnatural limits is also what imbues it with its power.
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Courtesy of the artist
April 22, 2009 The Charmels' single "As Long as I've Got You" didn't garner much attention when it was first released in 1967. A small snippet of the song, however, now stands as one of The Wu-Tang Clan's most recognizable hooks. Follow the 40-year life cycle of the pop song, from historical footnote to fan favorite.
March 18, 2009 In the mid-1960s, an electrician converted his basement into a jerry-built, custom studio he dubbed Double U Sound. Between 1967 and 1981, Felton Williams recorded more than 300 reels of tape. Downriver Revival is the first in a series of compilations focusing on the recordings of these local studios.
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February 17, 2009 The Latin music giant died Sunday after a long illness; he was 73. As prolific as he was influential, Cuba helped pioneer the Latin soul movement in the 1960s, and became an elder in the salsa scene.
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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