My career demands regular travel to all sorts of locations around the globe. I consider myself blessed: doing a job I love and seeing the world at the same time is truly the stuff of dreams.

The trade-off, of course, is long hours in airports on layovers, endless flights and timezone changes, all manner of crying babies, fussy adults and a steady drone of intercom announcements.

On my lowest day, I’m still a total music degenerate. But given the nature of my occupation, I’ve come to place a particular value on albums that help me depart the monotony of standard…

I admit I fell for it. The retro packaging, old-school typography, the classic outfit…I thought somebody had gotten to work reissuing some classic 60’s R&B star that we had never heard of. I was immediately interested, and nothing after dropping the needle suggested otherwise.

It wasn’t until I Googled our new friend Leon Bridges that I realized he’s very much a current artist, an artist carrying a Motown-lit torch and making the kind of records that simply are not made anymore. Recently the title tune justifiably lit up Spotify with a “Most Viral Track”.

He’s simply fantastic. Smooth like glass…


It’s not a coincidence that a not many musical blockbusters are released around the holiday season (2014’s Black Messiah by D’Angelo is one of the exceptions that proves the rule). It makes sense, everyone is on a plane and/or spiking the eggnog, and even greedy record executives take a break from trying to convince you how good the latest vanilla pop-tart tastes.

But that doesn’t mean we should sleep on their holiday release schedules. Case in point: Epic/Legacy has quietly made some crucial, long out-of-print albums by The Staples Singers available as digital downloads…

Photo: Carl Court, Getty Images Europe

When I posted my review of Blackstar on Friday, I couldn’t scarcely imagine that my next entry here would be a memoriam of its creator. Read More…

Ten Great Albums From 2015, #1: Jamie xx In Colour (Young Turks)

There are some albums that are simply perfect for their moment. Zero 7’s Simple Things and Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill are two quick examples that come to mind. Sure, they would be great albums at most any time they were released, but each were released in a singular cultural moment in time and space where they practically needed to be heard. …

Ten Great Albums From 2015, #2: Blur The Magic Whip (Parlophone)

Blur themselves seemed as surprised as we were when they dropped their eighth full-length out of the blue this year when a chance cancellation of the Tokyo Rocks Music festival resulted in the band doing some impromptu recording as they waited to leave Japan. The unplanned looseness shines through, and the air of not having any expectations somehow results in their best work to date. Seriously. This is the part of the review where drones like me say something like “…their best album since [insert acclaimed release]”, but The…

Ten Great Albums From 2015, #3: Best Coast California Nights (Harvest)

Some albums are born to be summertime albums; music that not only takes on the aura of the hot season, but entrenches itself into your psyche as your own personal soundtrack. After years of repeated listens, no matter when or where you hear the songs again, you’ll always be transported back to that sunny season your spent soaking them in. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours has always been one of those albums for me. Playing on the street as a child, I recall it wafting out into the post-thunderstorm air from…

Ten Great Albums From 2015, #4: D’Angelo Black Messiah (RCA)

Note to Axl Rose: when you disappear for a decade and a half, go all hermit-style with troubling reports of erratic behavior and worry your legion of fans to tears, THIS is the quality of comeback album you’re supposed to produce.

Spare me number-nerds, I know this one was technically released in 2014, but since it was released a mere two weeks before 2015, it missed nearly every self-important “Best of” list like this one, and that’s a damn shame. A shame because not only do they not make R&B…

Ten Great Albums From 2015, #5: The Helio Sequence The Helio Sequence (Sub Pop)

This self-titled album from Oregon vets The Helio Sequence crept up on me. It slowly entered my consciousness when the tracks would randomly appear in various astral playlist streams, snapping me out of my afternoon daydreams and making me look down at my mobile device, saying “who the devil is this? Oh yeah…these guys”! Months later, I’ve deemed this my most Teflon release of 2015; songs that don’t wear out their welcome regardless of how many times you hear them. This is an efficient, evenly-baked collection of escapes so dreamy that instead of snapping me out of my afternoon haze, I now count on them to plunge me into one.

Related Content: Album #6 Album #7, Album #8, Album #9, Album #10

Ten Great Albums From 2015, #6: Blond:ish Welcome To The Present (Kompact)

While I consider myself reasonably astute in the world of dance music, somehow, until this past year, Canadian DJ duo Blond:ish had completely missed my radar. But stumbling into their Soundcloud page one day, I was like a little boy opening a new red bike on his birthday. Seriously, where have they been all my life? Their sneaky, subtle aesthetic, track selection and overall vibe is so deep into my wheelhouse that sometimes I feel like they’re spinning exactly what I’m thinking. The icing on the cake, however, was the surprise release of their first full-length album Welcome To The Present, a lush down-tempo collection of stellar original productions. You can’t go wrong with anything here, but start with “Jupiter and Jaguar” or “Velvet Wave”.

Related Content: Album #7, Album #8, Album #9, Album #10


Art, Audio, & Ales. The Musings Of Steve Latrell.

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