July 18, 2019

Richard Reed Parry – Quiet River of Dust – Anti/Epitaph

By Kristi Kates | Nov. 3, 2018

Parry’s spent plenty of time working with his main musical project, the Canadian Grammy-winning indie-rock outfit Arcade Fire. But on his solo work, he’s more ’60s avant-garde than current-day dance-tronica. On his own, he shows an even deeper passion for layered harmonies and alternatively styled melody lines on concept pop tracks like “On the Ground” and “I Was in the World (Was the World in Me?)”; guests Yuka Honda, Aaron Dessner, and Bryce Dessner (of The National) add flair and even more indie cred. ***

Louis Cole – Time – Brainfeeder Records
Thoughtful pop-funk? How exactly does that work? Just take a listen to Cole, and you’ll see how he blends rhythm and ruminations into ultra-catchy tracks. Cole — primarily a drummer — sings in a quirky falsetto that’s deceptively viral in nature, but once he gets serious, it’ll draw you right in. Standout “Tunnels in the Air” features label-mate Thundercat, while Brad Mehldau steps in on jazz piano for “Real Life.” “Everytime” gets mellow and sentimental, and “Phone” twists and turns its bouncy arrangement so it never gets dull. ***

Groundation – The Next Generation – Roots
Recorded with judicious purpose on a stack of analog 1970s recording gear, Groundation’s latest melts Jamaican reggae music into jazz with a diversity unlike most other fusion outfits you’ve probably heard. Topically, they swerve from hard-sell causes (“Fossil Fuels,” “Prophets and Profit,” “The Next Generation”) to quieter, more personal topics (“One But Ten,” “Father and Child”), but it’s all delivered with purpose and top musicianship. ** ½ 

Leon Bridges – Coming Home – Sony Legacy
Getting his start at open mics, moving up to a much-talked-about spot at SXSW, and finally winding up in a studio with indie band White Denim, who helped him put his tunes to tape, Bridges doesn’t lean much on gimmicks, instead just pulling directly from the retro sounds of classic soul singers like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. His somnolent vocals anchor every track on this set, whether they’re uptempo (“Smooth Sailin’” “Flowers”), ballads (the striking “River”), or somewhere in-between (the ’50s-pop of “Better Man.”) ** ½


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