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The FWB Vintage Records Album Roundup

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Converge

The Dusk in Us

Deathwish Inc.

Like anything, music outside of the mainstream has those who are grandfathered in because they helped forge the genre they reside in. For metalcore/hardcore hybrids, Converge wears that crown.  The band has existed for nearly three decades, but don’t assume they are resting on their laurels.  Here, they pump out music that is angry, complex and truly magnificent.

– Nikki Hedrick

Tommy Emmanuel and David Grisman

Pickin’

Acoustic Disc

It’s Django Reinhardt meets Bill Monroe. Pickers collide on Pickin’, with guitarist Emmanuel and mandolinist Grisman ganging up on 12 tracks that free-range over folk, jazz, Romany, and blues. The first song, “Zorro’s Last Ride,” pulls you in, and the pace never flags until the last ornately sad strains of “Waltzing Matilda.” A favorite was the Roaring ‘20s classic “Sweet Georgia Brown,” which starts out as a slow stroll, then ramps up into something out of a silent comedy. I think these guys would have just kept on playing if someone hadn’t stopped them. Grab your honey and dance.

– Bruce Collier

Ashley Feller

Old Blue / Rage Against the Van

Independent

With playful lyrics and a cheerful delivery, Feller’s album is full of folkie goodness from the singer-songwriter. Calling St. Andrews home (just east of Panama City, if you didn’t know), Feller takes a stripped down acoustic approach. If you’ve been on the lookout for an Americana artist that isn’t afraid to be a bit tongue-in-cheek while singing about all the colors of life, Feller is just the thing to delight you.

– Nikki Hedrick

Charlotte Gainsbourg

Rest

Because

Gainsbourg, the daughter of British actress Jane Birkin and the French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, combines her practices of acting and singing in a way that deepens the emotional intensity of her work. She has been singing with her dad since she was a teenager, but Rest is her most personal work to date. She works through all-consuming grief, blending and playing with French and English and creating songs that see pain and fight through it with love, histrionic energy, and in the darkest moments, joy. Rest is stunning and life affirming in its extremities.

– Jane Morgan

Angel Olsen

Phases

Jagjaguwar

Phases is a new collection of demos, B-sides, covers, and previously unreleased tracks from the Asheville-based powerhouse singer-songwriter Angel Olsen. Olsen has made a name for herself with tender and emphatic brand of folk, and on Phases, she lets us in on the process, the influences, and the non-polished but just as sharp outtakes. Her love songs are endlessly affecting, as she croons with stirring conviction and emotional uncertainty all at once. Phases gives us an entry point into the rawness and yearning at the core of her work, as Olsen feels more accessible than ever.

– Jane Morgan

Gregory Porter

Nat “King” Cole & Me

Blue Note

Grammy laureate singer Porter devotes his third album on Blue Note to paying tribute to the music of Nat “King” Cole. Backing up Porter is the London Studio Orchestra, with trumpeter Terence Blanchard sitting in on two tracks. There’s some must-haves like “Mona Lisa” and “Nature Boy” among the 12 tracks, and lesser known covers including a chilling, noirish “Miss Otis Regrets.” Porter’s voice bears resemblance to that of Cole, but his is a slightly deeper, gruffer tone. Cole was a master of phrasing, blending elegance with blues, and Porter offers homage, not imitation. And yes, “The Christmas Song” is here.

– Bruce Collier

Sarah Lou Richards

Someone Who Gets Me

Independent

A big southern-charmed voice peeks out of the very first verse of the very first track, leading the way to an album of new revelations and polished country-soul.  Whether backed by looping harmonies or gently wrapped in reverb, Richards’ voice is always squarely center stage. And with dang fine reason.

– Nikki Hedrick

Sia

Everyday Is Christmas

Monkey Puzzle/Atlantic

Though some of the tracks on Sia’s all-original holiday album sound pretty soulful, this is unmistakably pop. “Candy Cane Lane” and “Snowman” have such a retro sound they could be from an episode of Happy Days. Others, like “Snowflake” and the title song, are more contemporary and thoughtful, but remain a far cry from “Breathe Me,” the gorgeous 2002 song that brought the Australian singer mainstream recognition. The best song is “Puppies Are Forever” (not just Christmas Day) which serves as a much-needed reminder of the long term commitment and care a canine Christmas gift needs and deserves. Though it probably won’t become a Christmas classic, it’s an upbeat album that delivers a fun holiday vibe.

– Joni Williams

Jazz Loves Disney 2 – A Kind of Magic

Verve

A year ago saw the release of Jazz Loves Disney on Verve, an imaginative collection of interpretations of classic Disney tunes. On the dot, a year later they’ve released a sequel. This one offers 11 tracks by a variety of artists including Jamie Cullum, Madeleine Peyroux, and George Benson. Some of the covers are in the spirit of the original, others, like a French language version of “When I See an Elephant Fly” (by Les Corbeaux, naturally), veer off a bit. Cullum and French actor Eric Cantona offer a glitzy, string-enriched, Mel Torme-flavored Vegas big band version of “Be Our Guest.”

– Bruce Collier
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