Sometime-local Blake Brock’s six-song EP of adult pop is soulful, funky and delightful. Crafting memorable earworms that don’t fit the constraints of genre labels, Brock’s production choices are bold and challenge musical routines. The album serves as a bridge between acoustic singer-songwriter (all those quiet moments with minimal instrumentation) and electronic (building synths and layers of melody)—it’s both and fully neither. But it is unapologetically Blake Brock.
– Nikki Hedrick
Clean Sweep Music
Jazz guitarist Bobby Broom takes on everybody from Procol Harum to The Temptations, with some Beatles stuff in-between, and—yes—Seals and Crofts. Broom lays back and makes it look effortless, giving each of the 10 tracks the star treatment, along with a few new leases on life. Ready for some infectious R&B with “Ode to Billie Joe”? Broom’s rendition might even get you out on the dance floor. I always thought Bread’s “The Guitar Man” was just plain awful, but Bobby has brought me out of darkness. Other noteworthy tracks include “Come Together” and “Do it Again.”
– Bruce Collier
Straight outta Richmond, Virginia, Butcher Brown is a five-piece ensemble—Marcus Tenney (saxophone and trumpet), DJ Harrison (keyboards), Morgan Burns (guitar), Andrew Randazzo (electric bass), and Corey Fonville (drums). The quintet has collaborated with the likes of Christian Scott and Nicholas Payton, and is touring now with Kamasi Washington. Camden Session is Butcher Brown’s seventh collective endeavor, recorded in England. It’s six tracks, and you won’t go away hungry. It’s a robust feast, reminiscent of the great ‘70s funk-drenched bands like Earth, Wind & Fire, and Miles Davis in his On the Corner incarnation. There’s even a satisfying taste of hard bop.
– Bruce Collier
Leem of Earth
Velvet Blue Music
This Pensacola band cultivates soaring indie rock by way of ethereal, somewhat post-rock vibes colliding with breathy vocals. Although a new project to the scene, Leem of Earth’s debut EP is a polished example of what indie bands can accomplish, and I certainly hope there are many more chapters in the pipeline.
– Nikki Hedrick
Christian McBride’s New Jawn
Bassist (and veteran of some 300 records) Christian McBride’s new joint effort—“jawn” is slang for “any object, person or thing”—teams him with Jazz at Lincoln Center regulars Josh Evans (trumpet), Marcus Strickland (sax) and Nasheet Waits (drums). The quartet manages beautifully without a keyboard, McBride being both a driving force and an all-purpose rhythm anchor. He gives his guys free jazz rein, and there’s some evocative stuff from the ’50s. Sometimes it swings, sometimes it just bounces along, music that gives jazz its reputation as an acquired taste. But McBride is a trusty guide to musical parts unknown.
– Bruce Collier
I was so busy stalking Kathy Mattea and Future First Lady Rita Wilson at this year’s 30A Songwriters Festival that I missed Ms. Warren, whose debut album War Surplus established her as one of the smartest voices on the singer-songwriter scene. Undesirable continues in the same vein, and Ms. Warren is especially strong in evoking broken characters and less-than-desirable locations. Best of all, she’s a rocker to the core—think Lucinda Williams but a much better vocalist. I hope to hear these songs performed live come January 2019.
– Chris Manson
Pauseandplay.com – Since 1997, P&P has been the definitive place for music fans to find out when a new album is coming out. Also stay up on the latest reissues and music‑related DVD/Blu‑rays and books. Elton John says he uses Pauseandplay.com to keep track of new music, and Entertainment Weekly has included it on its list of “The 100 Greatest Web Sites,” one of only 17 music sites to be selected.
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- The Record That Changed My Life: Al Alvarado