Dessa – Parts of SpeechDoomtree Records-out now 4 / 5 We don’t often cover rap, but we’ll make an exception for this intelligent Minnesotan. Citing Greek mythology on her previous release, Castor, The Twin, Dessa makes full use of her Philosophy major in her music, paying special attention to lyricism and individual words. What she has on her third full-length, then, is more than just an intellectual discourse: there are real beats, real songs, and real grooves. Dessa shuns the crass “b**ches and hoes” rap for meaningful stories about ordinary people, if you couldn’t tell by our description, and more power that it works soRead More →

Har Mar Superstar – “Bye Bye 17”Cult Records-out now4 / 5 Don’t be put off by the unappetizing white dude on the cover: Sean Tillman, aka the Superstar, aka guy who looks like he lives in his mother’s basement, has an uncanny sense of retro-funk-soul in his soul. He’d fit somewhere between Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones on the retro-soul label Daptone – due to alphabetical sorting – and would do it with style, playfulness, sheer joy. Bye Bye 17, which clocks in just under 30 minutes, is quick but oh-so-good, is funky, down-to-earth, is indeed a white male Sharon Jones, does indeed channel MotownRead More →

Rhye – “Woman”Universal Republic-out now4 / 5 It takes an international duo – Canadian Mike Milosh and Danish Robin Hannibal – to make a great, understated symphonic pop album. Woman is all of these things and more: svelt, chic, gliding with controlled, velvety falsettos, minimalistic strings and piano. It is a brilliant debut from the now-L.A.’ers, with each song a lament of love, a sexy, adult take on subdued, smoldering passion. It’s Rhye’s understatement that sells these tracks, that makes them mature and relatable, each a masterful understanding of love; as opposed to crooning, over-the-top power-pop junk. These are the kind of songs that areRead More →

Patty Griffin – “American Kid”New West-out today!4 / 5 She has a beautiful voice. But you already knew that. What you may not have known is that, on her seventh studio album, Old Town, Maine native Patty Griffin isn’t slowing down a whit. Her latest collection of mostly new folkies is charming, powerful, and gorgeous, to say the least. Dedicated to her father, these songs come from a drifter’s heart (“Ohio”) or are directly pay homage to parents and their burdens (“Mom and Dad’s Waltz”), and overall you get three things: great songwriting, Patty Griffin’s beautiful vocals, and even Robert Plant (on occasion). There areRead More →