This album's been out for over a year. Here I am reading up on it, hearing nice things about it, and about to bash myself for not having found them sooner. It's supposed to be that simple Rock sound that does something just a little different. Where was I?

And then I hear the very first track on the album. Bang! It's like Cassius Clay smacked me in the ear with futuristic speaker gloves. It's a well known sound, done well, and I enjoyed it from the very second it started until right after it finished.

That's all it is. It's just a strong entrance. It's got its highly influential Pop background, some basic well placed riffs, calm vocals and a commercial air that swoops in without being too strong. All that, and it's catchy right after the first chorus.

And then you hear the next track, and it's catchy and cool too. And then the next, and well, it's got the same components. By the 5th you can tell they're imitating Coldplay. Not just their influences but the actual band. It starts with a bang, but with more of the same it's just too easy to dissect.
Buy: CD | mp3
It's a popular sound, and it's real easy to fall in love with it if that happens to be what you listen to. It's just too much of the same thing for anyone else. The way it's produced sounds like they just wanted to make money, and the album layout is about as generic as things can get. Cool intro, one relaxed track, an excess of Pop for the most part, and the occasional well written lyric.

If you're curious, here's a free stream. I think they've got the potential to be much bigger, but with this album there's not much more to look at than a well made imitation of what sells.
Yes, I've been looking forward to this one for a while now. I think it's been so long since I heard Torn Maps that I went into this one with a different mentality. I was just wrong before. It doesn't matter that some of them don't show off all their potential, it's all about the awesome sound they make together.

And that's regardless of how much talent gets put into it. We can all tell they know their passions, but what makes this come alive is the chemistry they have with one another. Give one of my favorites a go, and see that what should be "normal" is just a little more than that.

If you'd heard either some album previews or those few released singles, you know this is another direction. It shows diversity while keeping their sound. Something I wasn't expecting last February, and something I was very pleased to witness as the album went on.

The album's not perfect, but it's close. It's that catchy, revealing debut that many bands dream to achieve. Like that sidewalk gum on the sole of your shoes; it's more than capable of sticking to your brain edges.
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
It takes a complete listen to grow on you. From the get-go they show they can actually make Prog-Pop-Rock, which on its own is a lovely surprise. That's followed with intense '80s influences, an ear for talented details, and an overall summer feel that almost makes me happy I've been waiting since early this year for the album release.

If you liked today's track, Torn Maps, or Turtle Neck, yes the album is worth listening to. It might disappoint a few of you if your expectations are in the wrong place, so just stray from predicting the album and let it play out. Enjoy what's given to you and let it grow.
I found this little gem in my email this morning. Advertised as a free Hip-Hop, Jazz, Electronic download. There's some key words here, and they intrigued me. What kept me was from the second song onward; the genres were perfectly blended.

Not saying the first track is bad, it's a great intro to the release. But my favorite track lies elsewhere. Track 2, Remember, really shows the potential of the whole album. Give it a listen.

Stream/Download @ Bandcamp

It just starts with that agile percussion. The pulsing bass laying in the background, making the very well played drums stand out that much more. That gentle ambient feel in the background swooping in and tying everything together just before everything switches makes it such a great listen.

Maybe a tiny bit repetitive in its process, but it's an original sound. It's a little hazy, relaxing, but easy to focus on if you really want to listen to it. And though many another track will sound different, that's what the album feels like in the end. A switched up, relaxing and talented piece.
Stream/Download @ Bandcamp
The album's a trip through peyote dreams. It's a short display of talents through great bass lines, great percussion, and awesome attention to detail. It's just as great for the background as it is to pay attention to, and because of that it deserves all the attention it can get.

If you like, it's yours for free. It's advertised as free, they don't make it too difficult to acquire, and of course it's also legal. If you grow attached though, consider a donation. Every dollar is appreciated when you make music because you love it. And after a few listens to A Town Called Imaginarium, You can tell KraHim loves his music.

Few things make me happier than unexpected musical surprises, and that's exactly what I got last Thursday when Argentine Jazz duo The SoHo Rentals contacted me and showed me their material.  I've spent a few days listening to the album, dissecting it, taking it all in.

The best part? I enjoyed every second of it. But take a look yourself, this is one of my favorite tracks. It shows diversity, talent, and the ability to fill large gaps with just a piano and some drums.

Buy/Stream Studio Version @ Bandcamp

This one starts off delicately. A well played piano, the eventual percussion kicking in and leaving a truly relaxed sensation to be enjoyed. It's not far after that comfort that you get the shock. A spike in tones and a nice change of pace that catches you off guard while still captivating you.

Everything is a detail. From the huge displays of emotion on a single dish, to the range of light and heavy key strokes. There's an entire display of life using nothing but pure feeling. It's difficult, and it's beautiful.
Stream/Buy @ Bandcamp
That's just one song! Hearing the album track after track is a different, much more enjoyable experience. It's no longer a matter of what catches your attention the first time, but what they can add to what you've already heard. How they keep your mind intrigued and looking for the fine intricacies that together make an album.

It's definitely an album worth listening to. Between surprises like excellently executed David Bowie or Neil Young covers, and the lone vocal track that reminds me too much of Opa for me not to enjoy, all we have is a perfectly tidied up album of talent. This is to be expected when popular influences between the two include everywhere from Jimi Hendrix to Eric Dolphy, or Brian Blade to Avishai Cohen.

The duo have got a fine dash of mystery to them, but if you want to get to know them a bit more you could catch them in their upcoming NYC tour! It is "Supported and Declared of Cultural Interest by the National Secretary of Culture of Argentina", and will run from July through to real early August. If you find yourself in the area, here's their Tour Dates. Alternatively, follow them on Facebook, where they update regularly (and I'm sure they're pleased with the support.)
Here's an awesome 'Folk' Rock duo from the UK. A bit Indie, just a smidgen Folk-ish, and with a healthy sprinkle of '70s through mid '80s Rock influences. Needless to say I was happy I found the album.

Here's one of my favorite tracks. It shows good guitar work, catchy vocals, and a dense musical layout that's layered to form a vibrant sound. If good ol' Rock & Roll is to your liking, you'll probably enjoy this too.

From the beginning; a very captivating track. From the light piano entrance to the suddenly exposed general sound. From the well written lyrics, to the perfect vocal tones for the track. It's not some new style we've never heard before, but it's taking so many elements and pulling them off this well.

What's most impressive here (aside from the fact it's taken me this long to find these guys) is that the quality of this track is equaled all throughout the album. I think I found maybe one song I thought was average, and that'll most likely change as I expose my ear to it over time.
Buy: CDVinyl
The benefit of knowing whether or not you're going to like the album right off the bat is immensely positive. Give the free Soundcloud stream a shot, hear it out, and if you don't like half the album for some mysterious reason, odds are it won't magically grow on you.

And still I acknowledge the album isn't perfect. There's no original spark that you can't get anywhere else; every droplet of spark has been and can be imitated. I mean, aside from the occasional well produced guitar compositions. Those can only be covered by talented individuals.

The only reason they really stand out is because they have the extra talent. They don't hope for a good track, they know how to make one and they consistently deliver. This album's a catch. I already look forward to their next release.
Not that it exceeded expectations, but Thundercat's latest Apocalypse was good enough to leave me with a bit of an admired shock. Where I expected good bass playing and witty lyrics, I got more than I could imagine and still everything I'd hoped for.

Today's track is the one that, added with every other album spoiler I'd heard, made the album's quality show. It's got some odd details in the background, a peculiar melody, and that awesome bass-line tying everything together.

Even though it's got some electronic enhancements, it's got a very classic musical base to it that makes it easily tolerated. Still a little quirky, a little odd sometimes, but ultimately an easy listen. Of course it's also produced by Flying Lotus, so it's easy to understand a certain quality emerging from it.

Not every track has that overpowering tranquility. A lot of the album is made to dance, a lot of it is really just made to be heard. It's diverse, and that's great, it's just how odd that music can be at times that might make it a hit or miss release.
Buy: CD | mp3 | Vinyl
Of course if you play bass, or really any instrument, it suddenly becomes really easy to admire what's being done here. The original flair, the aged influences, and that modern touch with odd times makes the album a unique listen that might never get old.

I'd recommend giving the stream a listen before the purchase, but it's pretty difficult to find one online. You can find a messed up sum of the tracks on Grooveshark, or listen track by track on Youtube after knowing the track list.  If it seems like too much trouble, just know it'll be right up your alley if you enjoy complex Jazz sessions, modern Electronic elements, and 1970's Soul.
I've had my eye on this little Reggae group for about a year now, and I just finally decided to give this a listen. I'd been waiting long and hard for the latest's stream, but it's been months and I figured Avoid the Pier would have to do.

I should never have avoided it to begin with. This album starts off pleasing to any who love the Rasta sound, and manages to keep some well earned respect even after the few commercial tracks. They have that special Dub side well developed for those that enjoy the really chill instrumentals, but today's pick is a little more traditional.

Just because it's traditional doesn't mean it's cookie cut for the every day fit, it's just got a thick bass line and a very mellow pace. Bringing it to life is a beach-inspired guitar, occasionally emotive lyrics, and just the right amount of percussive details.

If it ends a little abrupt, that's because it's only part I. Here's part II. Way before you get to the end you'll realize what they're capable of. You'll hear the musicians fade in and out of each other, and that awesome chemistry that keeps all the sounds balanced. If anything, the track on its own sounds like it needs a spark, and that's where the rest of the album comes into play.
Stream/Download @ Bandcamp
Maintaining the same style would be too easy under this talented collective. The album starts off displaying a healthy, well played Dub piece (as it should), and ends with 3 tracks of the same near-instrumental qualities. You also get well thought out lyrics, well hidden Nyabinghi roots, and a thick musical presence that I hope I'll get to see live.

Even though they've got everything going for them here, the album does have a few minor faults. There's some attempted commercial tracks there that fall under some odd middle-ground, and general track listing probably could have used some better editing, but aside from that it's great. Especially considering you can download it for free if you wish it.
I just learned about this cool Jazz trio a couple of weeks ago, and decided to give their 2012 release my first listen. As far as first impressions go, they did an awesome job. It was only later that I found that it was this latest album where they started dabbling with electronics and other future sounds.

On text, it might sound like some House samples under a Jazz frame, but in reality it sounds like good old fashioned Jazz between a Piano, bass, and a well played set of drums. Give it a listen.

It might take a little to open up to this one, but a few positive notes and overall feel are what keep you warm until the track reaches its compassionate climax. It's got a bit of a fairy tale ending vibe that eases into uplifting you, but ends on such a positive note you might almost see your brain smile.

Too much of a good thing can be bad, though, and TBP acknowledge it. If you're looking for an album made up of happy ending music, this might not be the best place to start. They do delve into more complicated tracks that are more satisfying when finished than when begun, but at the end it's the occasional industrial feel that makes the effort stand out.
Buy: CD | mp3
Aside from a track or two that might be more easily digested by the average NIN fan, the effort strives to please the patient listener. A slow tune might never stride a quicker pace, but the little intricacies that come about by the time it finishes will make it a pleasure to listen all the same.

It's decent background music, but I feel it's better to just lounge with. Something you can listen to during a silent meal, or to leave on after an exhausting workout.

It might be a little difficult to get into for some, but if it seems interesting so far be sure to give the stream a chance. It's a lengthy album that overflows in talent and deserves it's listen.
"Omg the new Black Sabbath album is actually good" was the text message I sent 15 minutes into their latest, 13. Usually, 15 minutes into an album you get a feel for it. You can expect a production style and an overall musical presence. In this particular case though, I was only 2 very good tracks into it, and maybe made an assumption too early.

The album's got some gems, there's no denying that. It's just a little misleading at the beginning. This being said, it's no wonder my favorite track is the first. They started the album with an 8 minute bang and it was amazing. Give it a shot.

Finish the starting track like this and you expect big things. They've adapted to the future, maintained their Sabbath riffage, and propped themselves up on solid ground after many years. Some lyrics might be a little shaky, but the overall musical value is sweet here.

Then after this track you get the awesome single God Is Dead? and it's hard to imagine after that, that it'd take a downward slope. Its first 16 consecutive minutes of very well produced, mood setting Heavy Metal, are followed by an okay track about being a loner.
Buy: CD | mp3 | Vynil
You can work around the tracks. You've got over half an album's worth of decent quality content (if you get the deluxe edition) and a nostalgia trip that could only be ruined with the thought that there will never be a 14 with Dio.

But Ronnie aside, those Ozzy fans should be happy. Considering the decay of his actual voice, he doesn't sound too bad. Maybe there's some masterful auto-tune genius making sure his voice works on the album, but it's barely noticeable. I'm sure the album would sound better live regardless.

I don't find it perfect, but general Metal and Black Sabbath fans should definitely give the stream a listen if they haven't already. Keep an open mind and you might not find the disappointment I stumbled onto.
While most the fan base for this Folk/Hip-Hop duo are Aesop Rock's dedicated fans, I only gave this beauty a listen because of Kimya Dawson. Just the thought of her awkward Folkindie style with some of Aesop's hard hitting lyrics makes me all happy inside.

They don't always pull it off, at least not in my opinion, but in the many tracks that they do they create a balance between two very different genres that's both refreshing and slightly unsettling. If you enjoy something different, give it a shot.

Delicate Cycle is one of my favorites. It shows Kimya and Aesop evenly throughout the track as they combine stories and experiences using their own brand of word games. When you listen very closely, you also realize everything is connected.

The down side to their combination is it has to be listened to directly; almost as if it were pure Hip-Hop. The music alone is okay, an the melodies are usually monotone for far too long. The reason it's any good at all is because these people bend words to their liking. They know how to write, and their stories are different.
Buy: CD | mp3 | Vinyl
They write real different. How often do you hear a song about the importance of donating Organs? How frequently do you encounter a very deep, thought provoking lyric, only to have it followed by a song about sandwiches? I'm just glad I'm not joking.

It's sad how many won't be able to enjoy this because of the mixed genres, but it's a positive step for music. If you listen to music by talent, not genre, you should give the stream a listen. Be aware they explore even a bit beyond my comfort zones, but keep an open mind. It's a great release.
Finally pleased, I found a decent U.S. based Reggae release by an artist with better than average vocals. It's not my favorite album under the genre, but it raises the bar for U.S. Reggae from the past couple of years and I'm definitely happy about that.

Today's track is one of my two favorites. Rich in a deep Reggae sound, a very well produced and well written song. If the Dub side suits you, make sure to lend this an ear.

Just a bit of a rough beginning before Cas' vocals really start to shine through. He shows us right away he can hold a note without flaunting what he's capable of, giving the track just an added touch of that down-to-earth vibe.

Add some thought inducing lyrics and some nice musical chemistry, and you've got a potential Reggae hit. I'm not too happy with La Dah as a single, but Slow Down being used as an Acoustic centerpiece shows it also has potential for commercial success. Maybe he's just showing off the album's diversity.
Buy: CD | mp3
A little over half of the album has a notable Reggae base. And maybe the reason this one exceeds to the ears is because it doesn't stick to that. He plays with Jazz and Rock enough and blends it into one, near solid album. It's full of different sounds, and it shouldn't be easy to get tired of.

The problem for me was with just two songs left to finish, I was ready for it to end. Those two songs determined whether the album would end as a somewhat boring, somewhat generic album, or a great diverse effort with songs for everyone. It landed somewhere in the middle ground.

To its advantage, Cas is a nice, evenly talented musician from vocals to guitar. The 3 instrumental tracks really struck a sweet spot that many a vocalist wouldn't normally allow. With his voice, I'd prefer a Dub inclined album, but his half-and-half was fun. It deserves a listen.
It's only been a few months since I last admired Buika's vocals (along side Chucho Valdés) and now I'm happy to know she's got a new album out. La Noche Más Larga or The Longest Night. when translated to English.

On the album we'll see a different side, a much more upbeat musical arrangement and some high notes that won't be to everyone's liking. I admire the talent, but I can also understand if it's a bit too much for some as well.

Ne Me Quitte Pas is a classic all its own, but her version on the album really caught my attention. It's a simple track with a great melody that falls beautifully under her French. It's also a great way to show off all the different tones of voice you'll experience throughout the album, which as mentioned, won't be for everyone.

If it comes down to the sound as a whole, I love it. We've got Spain based Cuban born Iván Melón Lewis providing the spark you can so easily hear on the piano, Spanish Flamenco percussion legend Ramón Porrina, and of course Concha Buika with her quality vocals all producing the album together.
Buy: CD | mp3
Just give it a listen and you know that fun upbeat sound you're dancing to is made almost entirely of amazing talents. There's varied ideas and cooperative play time going on even as she sings, making it the kind of music that would survive even without her luxury voice.

If you just wish you knew what she was singing there's a couple of English tracks too, Throw it Away being my favorite. Most of the album is in Spanish, but the content is usually less important than the emotion behind it all.

It deserves a listen, so here's a free Grooveshark and Youtube stream for the entire album. Start at the beginning, note the playfulness in the instruments and how easily they change their styles from one song to the next. The genre becomes hard to define; the music becomes pure.
Just a couple of days ago George Benson released this little tribute to Nat King Cole and, being an admirer of the soulful guitarists work, gave it a listen. I expected little, even after knowing of the very successful live Cole tribute show Benson pulled off a few years prior.

My mistake! Instead of the somewhat expected decaying talent, I caught an earful of smooth Jazzed out tunes with elegantly simple guitar-work and vocals that left me in admiration for the 70 year old's voice. Give it a shot and see.

This is my second favorite track on the album, but the first time I heard it I got what a lot of you should be thinking. Oh, it's alright. His voice is pretty sweet for his age. Ah, look that's his guitar, that's cool. And then out of nowhere came that last minute of song and made everything so much better than the decent Bossa Nova-ish flow we'd been getting.

Yes, I wish he'd taken that different approach a little earlier on, but the second listen becomes that much better. All throughout the album you'll hear the Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra being amazing, but then you realize on select tracks you've got people like Till Brönner or in Unforgettable's case, Wynton Marsalis spicing things up. Just sporadic bursts of talent hidden here and there.
Buy: CD | mp3 | Vinyl
This has the potential to be that fireplace-on-a-snowy-day album so many people look for a tad too late. It's the sweet Soul on light Jazz sound that might bore some, but will have well defined ears craving the next track. Of course it has some flaws, and maybe the album could be a little better, but the effect the album creates after a few listens is just shy of unforgettable.

It's too new for Youtube to have much of it at the moment, but you can find the live show here. Otherwise, you can find the complete studio stream on Myspace. Give it a try, expect light and airy, but always be ready for the talent seeping through.
It's been a while since I've found a Rap album of such good quality. It's been even longer since I've found a quality Rap album that was released recently. I usually sift through a decade or two of music before getting to the good rhymes, but Chance the Rapper has come through with one amazing effort that's left me with new-found hope for the genre.

Today's track is easy to listen to. Chance only has the first verse, but it's difficult finding a great track that he doesn't share with other artists. This one's material is genuine, and the beats produced are really easy to get into. Try it.

What we're hearing is less of a story and more of an emotion. The rhymes are the map to the location and you can find it if you feel the music. The Cocoa Butter Kisses are the comfort one longs for when denied it so frequently. It's nothing I can write better than the three rhymes-men have already portrayed.

After CtR's finished we hear Vic Mensa touch us with his lyrical grace, and Twista's slick speedy flow combined with real material. Twista's quick demonstration has left me with a little bit of hope for his upcoming album, but even with his lyrical agility nothing can top what Chance brings to the table: Verbal emotion.
Free Stream/Download @ AudioMack
This is the kind of album I'd expect on a huge Hip-Hop label, raking up cash and ready to make gold. And yet, it's an indie piece being given away for free. It's no wonder there's a buzz, the album is quality and the price is undeniable. It's not perfect, with near stereotypical use of the n word and many a pot-head/drug abuse lyric, but you have to realize that it's his life he's putting out there for others to hear. It is what it is.

Now, if today's track didn't completely win you over, do try the stream. And if for whatever reason the AudioMack stream isn't up, check it out on Soundcloud. What's stunning is it's 13 tracks worth of talent, and some tracks like Pusha Man (my personal favorite) are so well done you have to wonder why other rappers aren't using these out-of-the-box tactics to get their messages out as well.

What Chance the Rapper might end up being, depending on his next releases, is a pioneer of sorts. Not necessarily a founder of a new style, but someone who took the bar and raised it beyond what people expect. I'm not saying he's done it already, but you can see the potential for it. I'm eager to find out.
Smooth, delicately intricate pieces are what All Our Reasons is made up of. It has the wisdom and class provided by Billy Hart himself, and the energetic gusts of younger yet equally talented musicians. The end result is worthy of a Jazz loving ear.

Today's track isn't my favorite, but it does display the talent the musicians bring, and the patience your ears will need to fully enjoy the album. Give it a try.

Like many a great Jazz album, every song is full of odd times and shared spotlights. A solo can only go unnoticed if you realize everything that's happening in the background at the exact same time; tiny masterful details that are often unnoticed until the third or fourth listen.

But then well, the album is kinda difficult to get into. You have to know your instruments, understand the concept behind it all, or just be used to the kind of music where the technical aspects almost completely override what should sound nice.!s=Tolli's+Dance&c=title
Buy: CD | mp3
If you're gonna try the album on for size be sure to actually listen to it. This one's not as good for background music purposes as other albums within the genre. You're better off paying attention to the details and learning to love them, than you would be leaving it on and hoping you bob your head while you read a book.

That being said, the talent is undeniable. The piano, double bass, tenor saxophone, and of course the drums, are all top quality. If you enjoy listening to individual talents come together as one, you might want to give the album stream a shot.
I wasn't too sure how much I'd like the wonderful Natalia Clavier's second solo album after listening to the previews. Fortunately I'd heard and fallen in love with her voice before, so I refused to discard the album until I'd actually heard some of it.

The album might not be perfect, but it's way better than I was expecting it to be. Classy vocals, decent musical production, and some Argentine sensuality are all major points in the album's favor. It's first single, Trouble, should show all that off rather well.

If I were in charge of it; this would be my pick for the first single too. It's got its Pop element without being too harsh, and it really shows what's capable of happening. It's not the best track on the album, but it's a good way to get curious minds digging deeper.

The track was previously being given away by KDHX, but that link's been taken down and polished to tip top money making potential. However, if you really dig the single you can still (for the time being) grab it free at Amazon.
Buy: CD | mp3
The album is split into two chunks. The Spanish songs, and the English. Though she dominates her mother language beautifully, it only really stands out for me on particular tracks where things go out of the box, like Nada (Nothing). But really, it's the sensual Argentine flair combined with her English lyrics that I found the most intriguing. An effect that can be heard in almost every English track on the album.

I'm not a fan of the album as a whole. Over half the album is above average quality, but it's also got some tracks that just weren't made for the rest of the release. Basically, it's an album with a few great songs that don't mesh perfectly with all the other great tracks.

If you're curious; you can find the stream on Myspace completely free and ready for your ears. A few favorites of mine include Nada, the title track Lumen, and the exquisite Si Amor Llega which shows off her Spanish vocals at their best. It won't be an album for everyone, but it's an easy one to admire.
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