“Even if Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Co. didn’t write songs about loss and loneliness, his pained, hollowed-out voice would still convey those subjects with unsettling intensity. The sympathetic accompaniment of his expansive band—which abandons its on-stage Crazy Horse roar to operate in a spare, desolate gray area between funeral-paced country and bloodshot soul on the quietly breathtaking Josephine—does nothing to make Molina seem any less alone.” (A.V. CLUB Album Review)
“To some, the term “Ethiopian jazz” might seem impossible; after all, it's a very American form. But what's truly surprising isn't the fact that these musicians play jazz so well, but the range of jazz they manage, from the George Benson-ish guitar workout of “Munaye” to the twisting sax of “Tezeta.” Really, though, it's more Jimmy Smith than Duke Ellington in its aim (although Ellington is on the cover, on stage with Mulatu Astatke, the bandleader behind all these selections). The grooves often smoke rather than swing, with some fiery drumming, most notably on “Yekermo Sew,” and throughout the guitar is very much to the fore as a rhythm instrument. Perhaps the most interesting cut, however, is “Yekatit,” from 1974, which is Astatke's tribute to the burgeoning revolution which would oust Emperor Haile Sellassie. Some of these pieces, certainly “Dewel,” has seen U.S. release before; the track appeared in 1972 on Mulatu of Ethiopia, which was Astatke's third American LP, showing that jazz aficionados, at least, had an appreciation for what he was achieving in the horn of Africa.” (Reviewed by Chris Nickson, All Music Guide)
“Einaudi has the odd combination of being original without being especially challenging; his music sort of lies there. But this release may well be a good place to start. Its most noticeable new feature is a light overlay of pop electronics not present on Einaudi's solo piano and piano-and-orchestra music. It actually works well, lending rhythmic and textural variety to the beginnings of each piece. The music soon enough progresses into chord arpeggios on Einaudi's piano, but he has the opportunity to apply his simple musical logic to a variety of moods. This, too, sets the music apart from new age models. In short, who knows? Even if crossover is not your bag, you may find yourself drawn by this. Or maybe you just want something that will relax you in freeway traffic. Einaudi could work either way.” Review by: James Manheim-All Music Guide
“It has been said that The Carpenter is the Avett Brothers' album about death. Death is there in the first song, there in the last, and wheedling all in between. The brothers, actual and nominal, aren't the raggedy kids they were when they started out a decade ago; they've married, started families, settled down. The band's last record, 2009's I and Love and You, offered a tamer version of Seth and Scott Avett's splintered yawps and shredded banjo strings, and their live show has tempered as their catalog has filled out and fanbase expanded from regional devotees to national masses. It's tempting to peg the Avetts' story as one of a little-band-that-could selling out and smoothing over when a major label and bigger stages come calling, but I'm not sure it's that simple; for an act in it for the long haul, a certain rounding of the edges seems not only inevitable, but natural– healthy, even. Growing up is hard to do, but outright refusing can be trickier.” (Pitchfork)
“So what happens when two powerful individuals from different backgrounds come together? Well, like when two strong rivers meet, things can get muddy, churn and toss. But when they settle, can open up into something bigger and better than either alone. That’s what happens on this CD, O Be Joyful.” No Depression
“This may be a weird statement to make about one of North America's most popular rock bands, but the Black Keys are survivors. The majority of the duo's colleagues from the early 2000s have since called it quits, but the workmanlike Akron boys Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney kept their heads down, dutifully churning out gutshot blues-pop mimicry that carried just enough of a punch to establish them as, at the least, a reliable stadium-act opening band.” more
Emmy Rossum has successfully embodied the antiquated spirit of many American classics, ranging from the ’20s to the ’60s in her cover album “Sentimental Journey.” Rossum adds a modernized vocal clarity to several wholesome ballads and jazz tracks that were childhood staples in her household.
Each track is intended to correlate with one specific month, and “Sentimental Journey” represents January as the launch of another year. Rossum was smart in meticulously choosing songs of the past to emotionally encompass her musical calendar. This deliberate arrangement of songs could classify “Sentimental Journey” as a concept album.
One of the most traditional soundtracks for a Wes Anderson film, Grand Budapest Hotel's music sidesteps pop songs in favor of pieces that highlight the story's setting. Befitting a caper set at a Central European hotel in the '30s, Alexandre Desplat's score and performances by ensembles including the Osipov State Russian Folk Orchestra create a lavish, Old World feel. Budapest's orchestral pieces, which include “Concerto for Lute and Plucked Strings I. Moderato” and “The Linden Tree” are particularly charming, setting a genteel mood echoed by the traditional arrangement of “Moonshine.” Meanwhile,Desplat's score feels akin to his twinkly, mischievous music for Fantastic Mr. Fox, which was a caper of another sort. Indeed, this might be one of the twinkliest scores to an Anderson film, which is saying something. However, Desplat gives these sparkles nuance and depth, creating an entire vocabulary from them that spans the dreamy “Mr. Moustafa,” “Night Train to Nebelsbad”'s jazzy insistence, the lively wit of “The Society of the Crossed Keys,” and the oddly comforting “The War (Zero's Theme).” Most excitingly, the high-stakes nature of a heist film like this one allows Desplat to inject more drama and suspense into Anderson's ultra-stylish world, and at times his pieces echo iconic scores such as Dr. Zhivago and The Third Man. The winding melody that is one of the score's major motifs takes on a sinister cast on “The Family Desgoffe und Taxis” and “J.G. Jopling, Private Inquiry Agent,” while “The Lutz Police Militia” and “Last Will and Testament” add some menace – however stylized – to the proceedings. As always, the collaboration between Anderson, Desplat, and music supervisor Randall Poster sets the mood perfectly, whether that mood is innocence, mischief, mystery, or beauty.
Review by Heather Phares ALLMUSIC GUIDE