Review: If you're into contemporary jazz and have grown tired of having to source music that is limited to the 60's and 70's, the Computer Ugly label is the right place to be looking. Black Milk and Nat Turner, moreover, are two masters of the genre and with this LP entitled The Rebellion Sessions, they provide a sublime concoction of old jazz traditions coated in a sleeker, modern vibe. The basslines on tunes like "The Ancient Rebellion" and "Never" are good enough to be heard on their own, and other songs like "Just A Thing" would not sound out of place in either a disco or hip-hop set by the likes of Theo Parrish or Moodymann. In fact, while this album is undoubtedly jazz throughout, there's something more kinetic and dance-oriented across its arrangements.
Review: Ludovic Navarre aka St Germain requires no introduction, and the French house legend has literally seen and done it all ever since his first productions began to surface and influence other house artists back in the early 1990's golden era. The majority of his music has been released on F Communications, but his latest studio album drops on EMI's Parlophone sublabel. The self-titled St Germain is a proper LP, not a mere collection of house tracks put together helter-skelter. Inside, you'll hear many of Navarre's influences and inspirations, from Afro tribal melodies, to jazzy influences and even Middle-Eastern chimes. It's a house album in structure, but much more than that beneath the surface...as it always was from the legend of French dance music.
Review: Alumni of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Christopher Duncan is a Glaswegian talent that proved a parent's promise in fulfilling the huge potential he was born with. A son of classical music and training, his teen years saw him exchange his piano and viola for guitars and drums, all of which coalesces into a third full length album. It lands again on his much trusted FatCat label which has released all of his music alongside the likes of Animal Collective, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Shopping. On "Health", the music sways from emotional Muse - even Queen-like ballads - in tracks like "He Came From The Sun" and album closer "Care", while the rest of the LP fluctuates between swooning pop and yacht rock, and relaxing waves of folk-tinged ambience. Easy listening with a twist for sure.
Review: The latest album on Manfred Eicher's mighty ECM Records imprint comes from Jakob Bro, a Danish jazz guitarist who has been releasing a mixture of beautiful, inspired and thought-provoking music since 2005. On "Bay of Rainbows", he's joined by double bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Joey Baron, though it's his layered electric guitar work - part Pat Metheny, part Jonny Nash - that catches the ear. As with many ECM releases, the material on offer here is not standard "jazz", instead twisting the form into new shapes equally inspired by ambient and experimental electronica (see the backwards solos and freestyle drumming of "Dug"). While the album is evocative and entertaining throughout, the focal point is undoubtedly closing cut "Mild (Variation)", an 11-minute ambient jazz epic that's breathtakingly beautiful.
Review: American singer-songwriters Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst are two accomplished musicians in their own right, with the latter largely known for his role in Bright Eyes and other bands, with an enviable solo discography too, while the former, after a slew of singles, released her debut album Stranger In The Alps in 2017. Together the pair form Better Oblivion Community Center, who recently scored some airtime on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert with a beaty rendition of their dust-kicking vocal number "Dylan Thomas". The album delivers a bevy of duets and folk-tales with references to '90s pop rock and grunge never that far off, and it's best heard on "Dominos" and the cutesy synth-play of " Exception To The Rule".
Review: Durand Jones & The Indications earned lavish praise for their eponymous 2016 debut album, with critics comparing it favourably to conscious soul sets of the 1970s from the likes of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye. This belated follow up is, if anything, even better, with the group's core offering - tight instrumentation and super-smooth vocals from the hugely talented Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer - being complemented by silky string arrangements, warm brass and lyrics that flit between social commentary and glassy-eyed, loved-up bliss. Highlights include "Morning In America" - a kind of 2019 update to Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" - the super-sweet vocal harmonies of "Don't You Know" and "Long Way Home", a lilting look at homesickness blessed with the twin attractions of swooping strings and a killer bassline.