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Wednesday, 01 August 2007 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Feist - The Reminder format:    16-bit CD performance:    8 sound:    8 released:    2007 label:    Interscope reviewer:    Matt Fink For as much as Leslie Feist’s 2004 breakthrough Let It Die seemed like the arrival of a truly original and distinctive artist, a closer examination of that album aroused suspicions that she might have been the kind of artist for whom the creative stars had just happened to align perfectly. For one, there was the second half of the album, which despite having some of the album’s strongest material featured almost entirely covers. Then there was the fact that the album was so much of a shared vision with friend and collaborator Gonzales that is was hard to know where one ended and the other began, with him having co-writing credits on four the tracks. And while the album was a perfectly executed mélange of bossa nova, jazz, French pop and indie ...
Wednesday, 01 August 2007 |  Written by Scott Yanow  | 
Azar Lawrence - Legacy and Music of John Coltrane format:    16-bit CD performance:    7 sound:    5 released:    2007 label:    Clarion Jazz reviewer:    Scott Yanow In the 1970s, Azar Lawrence seemed to have unlimited potential. As a child he sang and played piano and violin before switching to alto and eventually tenor and soprano. A very strong post-bop improviser, Lawrence made his greatest impact while a member of McCoy Tyner’s Quartet during 1973-77. He displayed a style that was influenced by John Coltrane but filled with his own youthful musical personality. Lawrence also worked with Horace Tapscott in Los Angeles and had stints with Clark Terry, Elvin Jones and Miles Davis, recording Black Magus with Davis. In addition, he led three albums of his own for Prestige during 1974-76 and made appearances on records by Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack and, in the 1980s, Earth, Wind and Fire. But then Lawrence seemed to disappear. He actually continued playing ...
Sunday, 01 July 2007 |  Written by Matt Fink  | 
Wilco - Sky Blue Sky format:    16-bit CD performance:    5 sound:    6 released:    2007 label:    Nonesuch reviewer:    Matt Fink An act of audacity that still resounds to this day, Radiohead’s Kid A is an album that sounds more prescient with every passing trend. Controversial at the time and still contentious to this day, the disc was a shot across the bow of rockers everywhere, the most legitimate assault on the primacy of the guitar in rock music since the invention of the synthesizer. Polarizing and puzzling fans of their previous release, the guitar-heavy OK Computer, the band’s willingness to shift their focus to the electronic and ambient music that had been bubbling through the underground of European pop music was a true revolutionary statement, the kind of a gamble that said, like it or not, they were going to make the music they wanted. And, more than anything they’ve done, it ...
Sunday, 01 July 2007 |  Written by John Sutton-Smith  | 
Porter Wagoner - Wagonmaster format:    16-bit CD performance:    8 sound:    7 released:    2007 label:    Anti/Epitaph reviewer:    John Sutton-Smith One of the great unheralded ambassadors of country music, Porter Wagoner is a rhinestone-clad throwback to the old, more conservative Nashville, before outlaws like Waylon and Willie came along to upset the apple cart. Not a household name like Hank, Haggard or Cash, Wagoner was nonetheless a pivotal performer, producer and pioneer in country. He influenced everyone from Johnny Cash to the Byrds and Gram Parsons to Dwight Yoakam, and recorded dark, brooding concept albums filled with mournful country laments on the lonely and the mentally ill. He is most famous in many circles, of course, for introducing a young Dolly Parton to the world on The Porter Wagoner Show, his groundbreaking, long-running syndicated television show that was broadcast for an amazing 21 years, and for recording a series of duets with ...
Sunday, 01 July 2007 |  Written by John Sutton-Smith  | 
Mavis Staples - We'll Never Turn Back format:    16-bit CD performance:    8 sound:    8 released:    2007 label:    Anti/Epitaph reviewer:    John Sutton-Smith One of the great contemporary matriarchs of old-time traditional R&B and gospel, Mavis Staples continues to burn with spiritual fire and righteous indignation. In the forefront of musical activists in the ‘60s, the Staple Singers were powerful voices for equality and change, working with Martin Luther King, Jr. in support of the civil rights movement. On her new album We’ll Never Turn Back, a remarkable collection of songs of racial struggle in the '50s and '60s and homage to a period of great bravery and remarkable change in American society, Mavis Staples returns to that era with some very personal takes on that time, some originals mixed with many of the freedom songs that provided the soundtrack to the movement. In a sense, she is returning here to those roots, coming full ...
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