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Record Roundup

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Bush

Black and White Rainbows

Zuma Rock Records

I’m not sure why “Dystopia” is the track most promoted from Bush’s new album, because it isn’t the best. Nor is “Peace-S,” which clunks instead of rocks. The strength of this album is in some of the more introspective tracks like “Mad Love” and “Lost in You”—downright beautiful, enticing enough for repeat listening. It isn’t head banging, earsplitting rock by any means, but the authentic sound of these songs and several more make the album worthwhile.

– Joni Williams

Kevin Eubanks

East West Time Line

Mack Avenue Records

Guitarist and former Tonight Show band music director Eubanks pulled together an A-list combo for East West Time Line (a Tonight Show reference, maybe?). Sitting in with Eubanks are Jeff “Tain” Watts (drums), Orrin Evans (piano), Rene Camacho (bass) and Nicholas Payton (trumpet), among others. At times you’d think you were listening to some vintage ‘50s West Coast small-combo fare. Then it takes off and gets more modern, with fast-paced straight-ahead and even a little Latino (“Cubano Chant”). It’s a tribute to the unselfishness and synchronicity of the musicians that you come away thinking each one was the leader.

– Bruce Collier

Kendrick Lamar

DAMN.

Interscope / Top Dawg Entertainment

Lamar is beyond having to prove himself, and yet he continues to challenge his greatness and expectations more consistently and skillfully than any other working musician. On Lamar’s fourth album, the world is looking at him as a prophet, and he is vocal about the pressure that comes with that role as he raps and sings relentlessly about his concerns with humanity, humility, and fate. Lamar is one of the greatest storytellers of our time, and he continues to look to his roots in Compton as the base of his work and selfhood. DAMN. is an energizing force full of declarations on the human condition, the public eye, and survival as a black man in America.

– Jane Morgan

Francie Moon

So This Is Life

Land Bridge Records

Music, like most art, is one of the most gloriously subjective topics. Trends come and go, old becomes new again, but there is always this elusive “it” factor. Passion has this way of being transferred to from the performer to the listener in unexplainable ways. Francie Moon doesn’t just sing these songs, she attacks them. This is a fantastic raw garage blues recording full of breath and vocal flutters—passion, not polish.

– Nikki Hedrick

William Parker & Stefano Scodanibbio

Bass Duo

Centering Records

Bass Duo was just released a few weeks ago, but the actual (live) recording was made in 2008 at a jazz festival in Udine, Italy. Bassists Parker and Scodanibbio brought comparably impressive musical résumés to the gig, their one and only session together (Scodanibbio died in 2012). The five tracks (numbered I-V, in good ancient Italian Free Jazz fashion) bring the players together right away, and they stay hitched throughout, riding without apparent effort over a pulsing, grooving, tapping surface. It’s a real conversation of peers, by turns talking, arguing, growling, strolling, and occasionally even skipping and dancing.

– Bruce Collier

Shamir

Hope

Self-released

Hope is the product of one weekend of recording alone in a bedroom with nothing but a four-track—a weekend Shamir entered thinking he would quit music forever. The album, which he surprise released for free on SoundCloud, is a major departure from 2015’s dance-pop sensation Ratchet. Shamir describes Hope as his coming-out story—a lo-fi declaration of who he is as an artist and person, and an admission of how taxing music and expectations can be. His emotional release is tangible in the rawness of his voice and the buzz of the guitar amp. Hope is a lesson in looking inward and working through hopelessness to create your own freedom.

– Jane Morgan

Bo Springs Band

Bo Springs Band

Independent

From just up the road in Port St Joe, this Americana band knows how to dole out a slow southern ballad and jazz-backed New Orleans vibes making you want to move your feet. Americana music should be about taking all of American music influences to help tell stories—not being afraid to tackle just how faceted our roots music is. Bo Springs Band conquers any style they take on. It’s a stellar debut album from the band.

– Nikki Hedrick

Nathan Worthey

Looking Back

Independent

Worthey’s smooth soulful voice is a welcome addition to the Beachcomberland music scene. The five-track EP artfully showcases his adult-pop sensibilities with songs about new love and life’s winding journeys. While each song has its own flavor and instrumental flair, together they create a pitch-perfect snapshot of Worthey as an artist.

– Nikki Hedrick
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