Ever since winning the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition in 2010, Cecile McLorin Salvant has been one of the rising stars in jazz. For One to Love is a fine showcase for her fantastic voice. Her range in both pitch and emotions is remarkable, as she sings both high and low, innocently and angrily. This album mixes originals and covers in a soft, classic style, using only uses three instruments (piano, drums, bass) in a minimalist and simple fashion, allowing Salvant's voice to take centerstage, where it shines. Her voice, combined with romantic lyrics, convey powerful emotion throughout, especially on tracks "Look at Me" and "Monday." The album also has a lighter side, as demonstrated by tracks "Growlin' Dan" and the whimsical "The Trolley Song." For One to Love is a solid third album for Salvant and a worthwile listen for fans of Salvant and classic jazz.
Scott Korinke's blog
Mariachi El Bronx is the third self-titled LP by Mariachi El Bronx, the alter ego of LA punk group The Bronx, which formed in 2002. In contrast with their hardcore punk, Mariachi El Bronx plays acoustic instruments in classic Latin style. On their latest album, the group does use some synthesizers and electronic elements but largely stays true to the Latin sound they brought to their first two albums. The singer, Matt Caughthran, is quite good, carrying many of the songs with his smooth voice and vague, thoughtful lyrics. While some of the quieter, low-tempo songs are relaxing and soothing, such as the melancholy "Nothing's Changed," the album is at its best when there is a quick beat and the trumpets blare loud and proud, on songs such as "Wildfire" and the infectious "Raise the Dead." While Mariachi El Bronx isn't for everybody, it is a very fun Mariachi El Bronx album that expands their sound while staying true to their Latin roots.
Rhett Miller has had a very successful musical career, as a solo artist and as lead singer of alternative-country band the Old 97's. On The Traveler, Miller's sixth solo album, Rhett partners with Black Prairie for a bluegrass- and country-inspired LP. Miller and Black Prairie work well together, making a satisfying and relaxing album infused with high energy. Millers soothing yet raw voice always keeps the album grounded and connected, through songs soft and swift. Some of the LP's tracks play like soft rock ballads, such as "Kiss Me on the Fire Escape" and "Escape Velocity," while others illustrate a bluegrass/country background with solid results, such as "Wanderlust" and "Wicked Things," both of which use the fiddle to fine effect. Overall, The Traveler further demonstrates the talent of Rhett Miller and the skills of Black Prairie. The Traveler is essential listening for fans of either of the album's contributors and very accessible to those with all type of musical tastes and backgrounds.
The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You is written and sung by Shawn Amos, who delivers classy, old-school blues with a raspy yet soulful voice that sounds like it came straight out of a church choir. The music on the LP is full of energy and refreshingly raw, and the production lets the musicianship and the artistry do the talking. The album has all the blues chords, with a thumping bass, saxophones, and smooth, melodical electric guitar.
The Reverend Shawn Amos Loves You is so upbeat and energetic at points that it could be mistaken for a Black Keys album, especially on the tracks "You're Gonna Miss Me (When I Get Home)" and "Joliet Bound." However, this is a blues album, and any blues album would be incomplete without some midtempo, reflective tracks like "Days of Depression" and "The Last Day I'm Loving You." Shawn Amos didn't reinvent the wheel with this LP, but it is defenitely good enough to warrant a listen or two, especially for fans of the blues.
Sound and Color is the second studio album by Alabama Shakes, an American alternative rock band that has found fantastic success in their short but strong career. Sound and Color is an atmospheric and sometimes psychadelic blend of blues rock, funk rock, R&B, and soulful Americana. Lead singer Brittany Howard powerfully sings mulitple songs on the record, most notably "Gimme All Your Love" and lead single "Don't Wanna Fight." However, the songs in which Howard's vocals aren't as loud can be just as impressive, including single "Future People" and the dreamily psychadelic "Sound and Color." The group has never been more cohesive, seamlessly merging danceable funk guitar beats with blues chords in a way that feels fresh and innovative while staying grounded. Alabama Shakes have dodged a sophmore slump, creating a truly original album that will delight fans of the group while introducing the band to a broader, more diverse audience. Simply put, Sound and Color is an excellent album worthy of multiple listens and many accolades.
Rita Hosking is one of Davis' most prominent local artists, with a successful folk/country career spanning a decade, her first album debuting in 2005, and her latest, Frankie and the No-Go Road, in 2015. Rita's style echoes old-fashioned Appalacian music, and it is evident on Frankie that she wishes not to vary her style too much but instead embrace it completely. Rita sings with passion and power--her lyrics are both timeless and relevant--and it is those deep, thought-provoking vocals that make this concept album shine, especially on tracks "Power Moving In" and the haunting "Our Land." The most prominent instrument on Frankie is Rita's guitar, which strums along melodically and continuously, bringing cohesiveness and consistency to the album. All in all, Frankie and the No-Go Road is another solid addition to Hosking's catalog and a worthwile listen--for Rita's fans and for anyone who enjoys bluegrass, folk, or country music and excellent songwriting.
Rita's fifth offering in her accomplished folk/country career is a subdued, laidback affair, but the musical style allows for Rita's impressive songwriting and musicianship to take center stage. The lyrics on Little Boat are personal, introspective, and even haunting at times, and Rita's excellent vocals are the focus of the album. The musicianship is rock-solid as well, as Rita utilizes a variety of different instruments on the album, including harmonica, banjos, and even an organ. That being said, Rita's excellent acoustic guitar is the centerpiece of the instrumentation on the album. All the tracks on the album are pretty solid, but the standouts are "Sierra Bound" and "Five Star Location," a song about the loss of American jobs to China. All in all, Little Boat is a solid addition in Hosking's catalogue, and it's a definite recommend for fans of Hosking or anyone who wants to hear a thoughtful, laidback folk album.
Jagged Rocks is the third studio album by contemporary jazz group Throttle Elevator Music since the group first started recording music in 2012. Throttle Elevator Music comprises West Coast jazz musicians, including Matt Montgomery and emerging star Kamasi Washington, who has a solo career and was recently featured on Kendrick Lamar's smash hit To Pimp a Butterfly.
Jagged Rocks is 16 tracks of loud, up-tempo jazz. One might mistake it for an instrumental rock album if it weren't for Kamasi Washington's melodic tenor-sax solos on nearly every track. Also at the forefront of the production are the drums and the guitars, which wouldn't sound out of place on a garage-rock recording, as exemplified by tracks such as "Doesn't Matter Now," "Kalim," and "Breaking Dishes."
This thoroughly enjoyable album never gets boring and never loses energy--worth a look for all jazz fans, especially those wanting a strong influx of energy into their playlists.
David Myles is an accomplished folk artist from Nova Scotia, and he has recorded nine studio albums, a live album, and So Far, a compilation of his greatest hits since his first studio effort in 2005. It is clear that David Myles has never steered clear of his folk roots during his career, and it is a testament to his consistency that So Far isn't uneven, but actually quite smooth and easy on the ears. This could undoubtedly be contributed to the production, which focuses on Myles' smoothing voice and the guitar, leaving other instruments to fill in the background, creating consistent flow throughout all the songs on the album. However, the compilation never branches out, and sometimes the tracks begin to feel a bit repetitive and tedious, such as "Carry Me." However, the livelier tracks, such as "Need a Break," "When it Comes My Turn," and "I wouldn't dance," provide much needed jolts of energy.
Tonight at 6:30 is Golden Road, a two-hour show hosted by Rod Moseanko and Lee Maddux that focuses on the great music of Northern California, especially The Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, and their live recordings. At 8:30 is the show Outta Style with DJ Wayne Hagen, which can only be described as a bit of musical mayhem. At 9, Wayne Hagen shifts gears with his other show Sounds So Sweet, which is an exploration of homemade instrument bands known as jug bands. Make sure to tune in!