Jill Scott, The Light Of The Sun
Undeniably drags a bit near the middle, with the 9-minute “Le BOOM Vent Suite” in particular making me fidget. But the rest of this thoughtful jazz-friendly soul makes enough welcome nods to the high times of early 2000s Soulquarians to cancel out her less-inspired moments. And the lady can sing some.
Craig Taborn, Avenging Angel
I prefer Taborn when he’s plugged in – his electric keyboard exploits with Tim Berne and on various Thirsty Ear sessions slam like few of his contemporaries. But this ECM solo piano date isn’t just an attempt to shore up his traditional bona fides. Like Anthony Braxton doing whole albums of chestnuts, it’s a chance to explore new sonic realms the so-called traditionalists claim as their own. Plus, an attempt to shore up traditional bona-fides.
J-Rocc, Some Cold Rock Stuff
Orange County turntablist, proud Beat Junkies member since ’92, finally drops a proper solo record. Only this isn’t a mix tape or even much of a DJ extravaganza – more of a hazy, tripped-out stringing together of grooves and noize. Part thematic statement, part simple desire to put something on wax. Imperfect, but worth your attention.
The Weeknd, House Of Balloons
Mystery soulman from Ontario, riding a download-only buzz into national attention thanks to an excellently conjured dark mood and pleasantly surprising samples. But a vocal approach permanently lodged in the falsetto range complete with autotune eventually runs out of gas, and the whole sex-as-manifestation-of-inner-pain thing gives off the whiff of squiggle porn streaming alongside a badly misinterpreted Anais Nin tract.
James Blake, James Blake
Not dubstep, silly, post-dubstep. With all the fussiness and pointless fetishizing sub-sub-genres specialize in. Plus, a lousy lyricist in love with his quite modest vocal abilities. And not only can’t you dance to it, there’s not much to even keep time to.
Miracle Fortress, Was I The Wave?
Glorified EP from indie outfit now trending electronic. Out of ten tracks, I count four songs, three of them slightly memorable, all in sway to an imagined 1980s soundtrack. Some generous soul at Allmusic.com adduced this a “great summer afternoon album” for “day-driving with friends”. What, with these gas prices?