High Violet, the new full-length record by the National, is a nervy, melodic, explosive and beautiful set of songs that find the band at the height of their collaborative powers. The music is wide-ranging in its moods, by turns intimate and rough, expansive and spare, full of stark angles and atmosphere. Berninger's singing wild, half-broken, sly evokes a feeling of being haunted, by love, by paranoia, by something just out of reach. High Violet may be The National's most thematically twisted record to date but it somehow also manages to be their most infectious and immediate.
The National have worn a lot of hats since their 2001 debut, but they’ve never been able to shake the rural, book-smart, quiet malevolence of the Midwest. The Brooklyn-groomed, Ohio-bred indie rock quintet’s fifth full-length album navigates that lonely dirt road where swagger meets desperation like a seasoned tour guide, and while it may take a few songs to get going, there are treasures to be found for patient passengers. The National's profile rose considerably after 2007’s critically acclaimed The Boxer, and they have used that capital to craft a flawed gem of a record that highlights their strengths and weaknesses with copious amounts of red ink.
After expanding his intimate indie folk sound about as far as it could go on the last Iron & Wine album, Kiss Each Other Clean, Sam Beam (and trusty producer Brian Deck) take a step back on Ghost on Ghost and deliver something less suited for large arenas and more late-night jazz club-sized. The arrangements on that album were stuffed with instruments and seemed built to reach the back row; this time there are still plenty of horns, violins, and female backing vocals in the mix, but they are employed with a much lighter touch. Working with jazz drummer Brian Blade and a standup bass and mixing together elements of country, jazz, indie rock, and soft rock, the album has a much more intimate feel that suits Beam's quietly soulful vocals much more naturally.
Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (translated as "The Mystery of Bulgarian Voices") is a compilation album of modern arrangements of Bulgarian folk songs featuring, among others, the Bulgarian State Radio & Television Female Vocal Choir, with soloists Yanka Rupkina, Kalinka Valcheva and Stefka Sabotinova; and the Filip Kutev Ensemble.
The album was the result of fifteen years of work by Swiss ethnomusicologist and producer Marcel Cellier and was released in 1975 on his small Disques Cellier label. Some of the recordings he made himself; others were taken from the archives of Radio Sofia.
Laconic California indie minstrel M. Ward's fifth offering is a thrift shop photo album filled with histories that may or may not have been, dust bowl carnival rides, and slices of sunlit Western Americana so thick that you need a broom to sweep up the bits that fall off of the knife. Ward makes records that sound like he just wandered in off the street with a few friends and hit the record button, but what would feel lazy and unfocused in less confident hands comes off like a tutorial in old-school songwriting and performance that hearkens back to the days of Hank Williams and Leadbelly if they had had access to a modern-day studio.
Long before No Doubt brought back ska and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy resurrected swing, Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry were making music that recalled an earlier time. How early? Try the Renaissance. Everything old–really old–is new again on Aion, the band's fifth and arguably finest album.
Digipak edition of this 1972 album from the Jazz great featuring five bonus tracks taken from the album Love And Understanding (1973). Although Jimmy Heath released an album per year between 1959 and 1964, he would undergo an eight-year recording hiatus as a leader before returning to the studios in 1972. This CD contains the first album Heath recorded after his break. The tracks have a cohesive group sound and showcase the individuality and force of Jimmy's compositions coupled with his instrumental brilliance as a flautist and soprano and tenor saxophonist.
This stalwart independent label, headquartered in San Francisco, began in a small Ann Arbor club and grew into one of the most important imprints in blues. Thirty-three tunes ricochet between the potent old-school Chicago stylings of Buddy Guy and Junior Wells's classic "Hoodoo Man Blues" and Big Walter Horton'ss swinging shuffle "Put the Kettle On" to the intriguing pop-folk hybrid of Roy Rogers and Norton Buffalo and the dashing retro-nuevo guitarisms of Nick Curran & the Niteflies to the brawny Texas-schooled sounds of Omar & the Howlers and Smokin' Joe Kubek & Bnois King. The label's Delta blues side is underrepresented, although James Cotton and Elvin Bishop offer two great flavors of cottonland grind.
Great work from Gloria Coleman – an overlooked genius on the organ, and part of an elite group of female keyboardists that includes Shirley Scott, Rhoda Scott, and Trudy Pitts! Coleman almost never got the chance to record, but clearly had a sharpness that was honed from years in the clubs – a tight, soulful approach to the instrument that also has her working the bass pedals as strongly as the keys – and an ability to sing at all the right times, in a soul-drenched mode that's even deeper than the vocalizations of Trudy Pitts on her late 60s albums for Prestige. The group's got James Anderson on tenor, Dick Griffin on trombone, Ray Copeland on flugelhorn, and Earl Dunbar on guitar – and titles include the funky "Bugaloo for Ernie", a great version of Kenny Dorham's "Blue Bossa", Blue Mitchell's "Fungi Mama".