Magna Carta Holy Grail Jay Z
Roc-A-Fella / Roc Nation / Universal

Author:
john shelton ivany

"magna carta...holy grail" is jay-z's 12th solo album. the man has gone from "ashy to classy" and we hear the struggle. from forming his very own label in 1996 jay-z has become a very rich man, and we hear about that, too. he has captured the inner life of the above-average corner boy to the eye on the larger pop prize, with its enormous wealth and the detriment of his art. jay-z is aware of the struggle, the high and the low, and "magna carta...holy grail" gives us another great taste.

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Blurred Lines Robin Thicke
Star Trak / Interscope

Author:
john shelton ivany

robin thicke floats across the bar here and there during "blurred lines." he's not restricted by anything. it's a beautiful form of expression. songs may be an elaborate form of a relationship--separation and reunion--regained as the epic quest of a narrator who must trek through icy storms, scaling pyramids and robbing an ancient grave before winning back his lover.

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Vicissitude Maps
Mute

Author:
john shelton ivany

maps, which is comprised by james chapman, released a powerful album entitled "vicissitude." the cat is talking and singing all kinds of stuff. but when the album was finished my head said "twenty years of schooling and they'll put you on the day shift." sorry bob. sorry james.

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SongVersation India.Arie
Soulbird / Motown

Author:
john shelton ivany

"songversation" is the fifth studio album by the one and only india.arie. neo-soul is her flavor with a strong singer/songwriter bent--and a focus on organic over orgasmic. she sings of promises, courage and wisdom and strives to achieve holistic balance in her life. keep trying, india.arie, because you help me get there, too.

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David Egan David Egan
Rhonda Sue Records

Author:
john shelton ivany

david egan's self-titled album is a masterpiece of obsession. the writing and singing is so strong. it sounds as if the recording was made shortly after a powerful love affair.

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What's Up? Michel Camilo
Sony Masterworks

Author:
john shelton ivany

the solo piano album by michel camilo, "what's up?" made me feel like i was walking through spanish harlem in my great old home in new york city. the shadows sounded cool and exiting again.

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Mosaic Jann Klose
People Records

Author:
john shelton ivany

if you're looking for a hot-blooded rock throb that blows everyone else off the radio, check out jann klose's "mosiac." his savagely honest love-and-marriage songs flesh out the story of two scared kids in love, building a fort to keep the outside world at bay--but being unable to figure out why they keep ripping each other apart. it's a sad story, but that doesn't keep the singing guitarist, jann klose, from having great adventures.

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Out Here Christian McBride Trio
Mark Avenue Records

Author:
john shelton ivany

bassist christian mcbride leads his trio during this sweep-you-away album, "out here." i used to imagine the angel of the west. it makes me feel like spinning around and around and around. you'll look up at the sky, but never get dizzy.

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Before We Met the World Debbie Cochran
PLA Media

Author:
john shelton ivany

debbie carter recently released her debut album, "before we met the world." it's obvious that she has music running through her soul. the record has all the elements of pure country without having that pop pretension.

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Killingilligan Killingilligan
Self-Released

Author:
john shelton ivany

killingilligan's self-titled album are noise rock heroes, who have created a rippingly straightforward record with bratty, vicious punches, mesmerizing noir punk and stately fuzz ballads. fine work.


Songs 2003-2013 Ane Brun
Universal / Balloon Ranger Recording

Author:
john shelton ivany

"songs 2003-2013" is a double album, a retrospective of the music of ane brun, which incudes never-before-heard material. we are treated to 32 songs, a deep, reflective record that is hypnotic. light and dark, shadow and glare--it sounds like nature coming through the speakers. the lyrics are so raw and desperate. she seems terrified of vulnerability. as bruce once sang, "she's all that heaven will allow."

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Pure Heart of Being The Pure Heart Ensemble
Rich Music Label

Author:
john shelton ivany

renowned new age pianist, richard shulman, has brought four remarkable musicians, formed the pure heart ensemble and recorded the very special album entitled "bliss of being." the extraordinary nerve of creating musical sounds that bring total relaxation where you feel shills as you listen is a glorious thrill. you can hear your own breath and enjoy it. there's the pure feeling of nowhere to go.

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Native Air Lowland Hum
Self-Released

Author:
john shelton ivany

the first full-length album by lowland hum, comprised of a husband and wife, is entitled "native air." we are treated to great everyday metaphors by vocalists who never break character. i love that the music is very lyrical and romantic and light. it is so touching and true in terms of what we go through as human beings--all the attempts to do the right thing, some of which sadly just miss the mark.

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the Gifted Wale
Maybach / Atlantic

Author:
john shelton ivany

"the gifted" by wale sounds jagged and beautiful. this is wale's best record and one of the finest rap records of all time. the cat doesn't talk trash, just reality. what a relief.

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Kidinakorner / Interscope Skylar Grey
Interscope Records

Author:
john shelton ivany

skylar grey (a.k.a. holly brook) is a songbird who has pushed her spectacular, outsized voice into an array of dramas, emerging with a group of tracks of feral rock and gorgeous folk on the album "don't look down."

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The Low Highway Steve Earle and the Dukes and Duchesses
New West Records

Author:
john shelton ivany

steve earle, our working class hero, is on the road with "the low highway." few musical artists can match the depth and power he has created during his journey. earle is predictable only in the high quality of his work. each album has found him challenging himself and his listeners. that's all i will say. buy the album and see what i mean.

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Ciara Ciara
Epic

Author:
john shelton ivany

ciara's self-titled album is so fine with sideways harmonies, warped-soul crooning, dream-logic arrangement. when i hear this record nobody else exists. the shyest person-if they have any soul--will be up on the floor.

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South of America In Flight
Self-Released

Author:
john shelton ivany

"south of america" is a deeply tuneful but also fragile work of art by a group called in flight. it's pretty acoustic guitar battles noise, skidding into dissonance or gets chopped off abruptly. the lyrics, which are sung by ken wilson, pitted hope against doubt, with all bets off. you have to accept dying if you wanna be alive.

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Dark British Electric Foundation
The End Records

Author:
john shelton ivany

"music of quality and distinction, volume 3...DARK" is the most ambitious album martyn ware has created. masterpieces, in which its thunderstorms and its lightening become a beacon that summon outlaws, outcasts and artists. and every hung up person in the universe.

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Electric Pet Shop Boys
x2

Author:
john shelton ivany

in their spectacular album, "electric", the pet shop boys insist that "love is a bourgeois" concept. but damn if i'm not in love myself - they redefine the contours of the emotion, with sublime sounds that push past history. critics and fans alike should take heed at the albums greatest track, "bolshy", which harkens back to the bolshevik party. much like the party they tribute, this duo is bound to shake the world.

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Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action Franz Ferdinand
Domino

Author:
john shelton ivany

franz ferdinand takes their name from the long deceased archduke of austria. with the release of their fourth studio album "right thoughts, right words, right actions", their couldn't be more irony to their name: though the historical figure is more known for his assassination than his life, this band just won't die. each album reaches even greater heights.

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