February 28, 2021


By Kristi Kates | April 22, 2017

Milky Chance – Blossom – Lichtdicht Records
This German outfit, only on its second album, has proved nearly impossible to categorize so far, with its mélange of folk, electronica and dance music that shifts hue more often than the par cans at an LCD Soundsystem concert. Harmonica riffs are peppered across the Jamaican–inspired “Cold Blue Rain” while stacks of N’Sync–worthy harmonies float through “Doing Good” and the hooky “Cocoon”; singer Clemens Rehbein’s vocals can sound a little strange at times (not to mention repetitive), but this is an interesting project that will likely be worth investigating further. **

Jamiroquai – Automaton – V Records
Does the name “Jamiroquai” ring a bell? ‘90s kids, this one’s for you. You’ll likely remember the band’s hit “Virtual Insanity” and its innovative treadmill music video even if you don’t recall much else. The band – and its distinctive singer Jay Kay – is back now with this set, a guitar–pop–meets–Stevie–Wonder extravaganza that alternates between funk and disco on tracks like first single “Cloud 9” with its dynamic bass lines, the acid psychedelia of “Dr. Buzz” and the after–hours disco ball vibe of “Superfresh,” which might just spawn a second (long–awaited) hit. ***

The Feelies – In Between – Bar–None
Beginning and ending with two versions of the title track, like quote marks designating all the tracks that reside within, New Jersey’s Feelies demonstrates a whole lot of introspection on this set, with most of the lyrics circling around the endless conflict between past and present. “Turn Back Time” (thankfully not the Cher tune) chugs and complains like it’s trying to escape the boundaries of the album itself, followed closely by “Stay on Course,” which is fastened down by the railroad–ready bassline; album highlight “Gone Gone Gone,” thanks to its spry beat and refrain, is highly danceable in spite of itself. ** ½

The Magnetic Fields – 50 Song Memoir – Merge
While frontman Stephin Merritt is no stranger to concept albums, his latest stretches even Merritt’s own musical boundaries. The album is comprised of five discs in all, with one track for each of the first 50 years of Merritt’s life to date, all arranged in chronological order. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to immediate hits and might seem like a daunting task (which it is), Merritt executes it admirably in both the melodic and organization categories, from the youthful naiveté of “Wonder Where I’m From” and “Hustle ‘76” to the even more ambitious “The Blizzard of ’78,” 1994’s track “Haven’t Got a Penny” and 2008’s “Surfin’” in which he bemoans a scene long past. ***


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