February 28, 2007 The Chamber Strings' Month of Sundays is wistful wounded-boy pop of the highest order. Singer Kevin Junior writes unassuming melodies that don't conform to the instant-hook template, and he sings them with the casual air of a cat stretched out on a sofa in the sun.
February 21, 2007 Like many at the Fania label, salsa bandleader Ray Barretto recorded quickly and often: Barretto Power is one of four albums he released in 1972. Some, inevitably, are duds, but this one is incandescent, exemplifying the label's genre-crossing creativity.
February 14, 2007 George Benson helped kick-start "smooth jazz," that not-so-distant cousin of "easy listening." But before that, Benson's early records — including the spry It's Uptown, which he recorded at age 23 — are more musically adventurous.
February 9, 2007 With the Grammy Awards coming Sunday, World Cafe profiles six of the nominees, many of whom have appeared on the program in recent months. Included: Rosanne Cash, Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, Guy Clark, James Blunt, Corinne Bailey Rae and Imogen Heap.
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February 7, 2007 Sly Stone's Fresh represents the singer and icon at his most intimate. Rather than trying to re-create the whiplash-inducing full-band intensity of There's a Riot Goin' On, he pares everything down, seeking a minimal attack driven by isolated shards of rhythm guitar.
January 31, 2007 When Richard Lloyd's long-unavailable Field of Fire returns to shelves, it'll be as a two-disc "deluxe" edition, with one disc a remastered version of the original and the other a radically different "revisitation," with songs in a different sequence and two bonus tracks.
January 29, 2007 The rock band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released its first record last year on its own label. Major labels came knocking when the band quickly became an Internet darling. The band decided to remain independent and, this week, will release its second record on its own label, Some Loud Thunder.
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January 24, 2007 The Tokens spent much of the '60s trying to move away from "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and doo-wop in general. The five-piece experimented unsuccessfully with folk, and then in 1967, primary songwriter Mitch Margo began working on an attempt at contemporary pop.
January 17, 2007 The eyepatch-wearing pianist was among the most erratic characters in the Crescent City, and as a result, his discography includes few solid studio sides. Booker was prone to effusive showboating, but on this 1977 live recording, he sounds engaged playing songs that were staples of his live show.
January 10, 2007 An Irish-born singer with a husky voice, Katell Keineg remains virtually unknown. Spend a moment with her 1994 album O Seasons O Castles, and it's hard not to be puzzled by the disc's failure to reach a large audience: Its wildly inspired songs aspire to the sprawl and sweep of epic novels.
January 3, 2007 Nearly 10 years after The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" expanded the possibilities of harmony singing in rock 'n' roll, Don and Phil Everly were still plugging away, though with less commercial success. This spry 1966 collaboration with The Hollies finds the duo attempting a more assertive, "British" rock sound.
January 2, 2007 "Lie To Me" isn't the best song on Waits' overstuffed Orphans, but it's one of the most disarming ones, with a roar that can knock listeners sideways. That makes it a perfect tone-setter for the immense, thematically arranged outpouring that follows.
December 26, 2006 It has been 30 years since Keith Jarrett released The Koln Concert, a recording of solo piano improvisations that has sold over 3 million copies — far more than most jazz records. It was a breakthrough for the 60-year-old pianist and composer, who studied classical music in his youth and got his start playing jazz with Art Blakey, Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis. After the success of Koln, Jarrett began doing regular solo concerts. But in the late 1990s, a battle with chronic fatigue syndrome forced him to rest at his home in rural New Jersey. Last September, the pianist performed at Carnegie Hall. The concert became a two-CD set. Tom Moon has a review.
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December 20, 2006 Given the proliferation of year-end Top 10 lists, it seems natural that Shadow Classics — which gives shelter to under-appreciated music — would feature its own list of 2006 recordings likely to become Shadow Classics down the line. Don't let these gems go unnoticed.
December 13, 2006 Sometimes out of the messy acrimony of a band breakup comes music of great clarity and passion. Written in 1988 after the dissolution of Husker Du, Bob Mould's Workbook serves as the guitarist and singer's attempt to shake off a season of hurtful accusations and lingering bad feelings.
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