Plan 9 - Outside The Heard - February 2016

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Ches Smith
The Bell
ECM Records
 
The Bell features dynamic chamber music compositions written for masterful improvisers. Ches Smith’s first album as a leader for ECM follows appearances for the label with Tim Berne’s Snakeoil and with Robin Williamson. Ches has worked a very wide range of music in the course of his career, and playing with musicians as varied as Terry Riley, Wadada Leo Smith , Marc Ribot and his own groups has informed by his far-reaching experience. His time spent with electronic music pioneers Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Curran doesn’t hurt either. The Bell is a narcotic, melodic, seductive experience.
 
Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet
Eight Winds
ECM Records

 
Athens-born Sokratis Sinopoulos’ has played a key role in the revival of interest in the lyra (a centuries-old, pear-shaped, three-stringed bowed instrument) in Greece, both in traditional music contexts and in the shaping of new music. Sinopoulos’s reflective compositions and yearning ballads on Eight Winds cede the central melodic role to the lyra, sensitively supported by the piano of Yann Keerim and the subtle bass and drums of Dimitris Tsekouras and Dimitris Emmanuel.
Downton Abbey - The Ultimate Collection
Soundtrack
Decca

 
This 2-CD set features musical highlights from all six seasons of this ridiculously popular drama of manners (and illicit Victorian activities). BAFTA and Ivor Novello Award nominee and 2-time Emmy award winner John Lunn composed the music as well as played piano on soundtrack. With his gift for delicate orchestration, Lunn possesses a wonderfully unique voice that commands the full range of musical style. “I like to think that one could almost chart the emotional arc of the entire six years just by listening to these two CDs,” says Lunn. Quite.
 
M.O.D.
The Greatest Video Game Music III
Decca

 
The Greatest Video Game Music III features unique choral orchestrations of some of the best-known (and rather dramatic) video game themes, including Final Fantasy X, World of Warcraft, Skyrim, God of War, Assassin’s Creed, and many more. Both the arrangements and the recording are superb, making this a treat for gamers and choir nerds alike.
Andra Day
Cheers To The Fall
Warner Bros.
 
Andra Day uses her songwriting and voice as vessels to freedom and redemption. The lyrics on her debut album Cheers to the Fall highlight the lessons learned through trial and error while rising to the occasion in the wake of those setbacks. For this woman with a throwback voice in a modern era, it’s her truth that may set you free. Day is up for a few Grammys, too, for “Best R&B Performance” (“Rise Up”) and “Best R&B Album.”
 
Charlie Puth
Nine Track Mind
Artist Partner Group/Atlantic

 
Charlie Puth has already tasted success thanks to his collaborations with the likes of Wiz Khalifa (“See You Again”, Meghan Trainor (“Marvin Gaye”), Lil Wayne, Jason Derulo, Stevie Wonder, Trainor, Trey Songz, and Fergie, among others – songs that he wrote, produced, sang – or all of the above. Puth’s goal for his solo debut, Nine Track Mind, was for every song to sound “soulful with a great big melody and a pop sensibility, but a bit left-of-center of what people are used to hearing in pop music,” he explains. “So it’s soulful music, with a bit of hip-hop, and lyrics that hopefully everyone can relate to. I want people to hear the realness in it.”
Kevin Gates
Islah (Explicit)
Artist Partner Group/Atlantic

 
The best way to understand Kevin Gates is to simply listen to his music. “Whatever I’ve been through or I’m going through, I’m putting it out there in the songs,” the Baton Rouge rapper affirms. “The world can relate to a human being more than it can relate to a superstar.” Chances are, you’re going to relate to his full-length debut album, Islah because of that honesty. The title — pronounced ees-la — is also the name of Kevin’s first-born daughter, and in Arabic the word means, “to reform.” “If you go back to my old mixtapes, I was wild and out of control,” he admits. “Now, I’m trying to be better and grow. My daughter did that for me. It’s about me being able to provide for my family and the people I love. I’ve got to go harder.”
 
Majid Jordan
Majid Jordan
OVO Sound/WB

 
Majid Jordan is Majid Al Maskati and Jordan Ullman. In 2011, the Bahrain-born Majid linked up with the Canadian Jordan, while attending the University of Toronto. Their music caught the ears of Drake, who signed them to his label. Majid Jordan featured on and co-produced Drake’s triple-platinum #1 hit “Hold On, We’re Going Home” from Nothing Was The Same. Their next collaboration with the hip-hop superstar was “Mine” for Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth offering. Solidifying their sound and identity, 2014’s EP, A Place Like This, their self-titled full-length debut finds the bands new music infused with plenty of California sunshine.
Alex Dezen
Alex Dezen
Rock Ridge Music
 
Alex Dezen (founder, frontman and main songwriter for The Damnwells) has embarked on his next musical phase with his first full-length solo set. A creative burst during a stint in Ohio over New Year’s 2016 sowed the seeds for the album. The lyrical focus on family and friends, politics and pop culture portrayed in songs such as “Ode To Ex-Girlfriends,” “If You Can Say I Love You On A Greeting Card How Can It Be True” (a tale of domestic drama), “Into the Hands of Hazelton” (a sonic equivalent of a buddy road picture), “Leonardo” (a tip of the cap to his girlfriend’s fantasy celebrity freebie), are both relatable and deeply personable. “I didn’t write like 30 songs and just kind of pick the 10 best,” says Dezen. “These are 10 songs that I had to write.”
 
Caribou
Our Love
Merge

 
Our Love is formed around a mixture of digital pop production, hip hop-inspired beats, muted house basslines, and a love of shuffling garage, and classic soul. In fact, Our Love is probably Caribou’s most soulful record to date, with tracks like “Back Home” whose heartfelt lyrics – dealing in tired relationships and a weary kind of love – and organic nature cut through the bubbling synths and blissful euphoria of their synthetic constructions. It’s not all downbeat of course; while some thoughts linger on mortality, loss, and letting go, there is always an element of celebration – especially if it wins at this year’s Grammy Awards!
POP, etc
Souvenir
POP, Etc Records

 
POP ETC is a trio formed in Berkeley, California in 2006.  After releasing their debut album in 2008 under the name of The Morning Benders, they signed to popular UK label Rough Trade, who released their internationally-acclaimed sophomore album Big Echo in 2010. In March 2012, they changed their name to POP ETC and released a self-titled album.  Today their songs have been used in commercials home and abroad, popular American TV series, and films. They’re big in Japan, too. Speaking of films, their new album, Souvenir, is like the soundtrack to the 80s movie of your dreams.
 
Sia
This Is Acting
RCA

 
Sia calls her new album This is Acting because, on every melody, she occupies the part of a specific character.  “They are tunes I was composing for other individuals [including two for Adele], so I didn’t go in considering ‘this is something I would say’. It’s more like play-acting. It’s enjoyable.” Sia’s last album, 1000 Forms of Fear, has delivered two megahits in “Light Fixture” and “Flexible Heart,” making her a commonly recognized name in America, regardless of the fact that she declined to demonstrate her face in live exhibitions with a specific end goal to keep up some level of secrecy. Still, This is Acting unmistakably demonstrates she’s quite content in sharing her unique voice.
Chairlift
Moth
Columbia
 
Moth is the new album from the duo Chairlift, and their first full-length release since 2012’s Something. Moth is an evolution since the last album, and proves to be an emotionally uninhibited, markedly stronger, more pop inspired body of work. A very New York City inspired album, listeners can expect to be led through an aural mix of big, rich pop inspired hooks, vibrating bass, lively brass and sensuous R&B inspired vocals, all anchored in the duo’s meticulously crafted instrumentation. Beyoncé’s a fan – in fact, they wrote and produced her song, “No Angel.”
 
Wet
Don't You
Universal Columbia

 
Don't You is the debut album from Wet. The band met through mutual friends as college students in New York City in 2007. After a few years of informal collaboration, they declared their official musical intentions in the summer of 2012. After releasing a few songs on their own, including the acclaimed "Don't Wanna Be Your Girl," the band began attracting a diverse and loyal following. Now, The New York Times, Spin, The Guardian, and NPR are among those who are singing Wet’s praises. You will too.
St. Lucia
Matter
Columbia

 
Matter is the much-anticipated follow-up to St. Lucia’s breakthrough debut album, When The Night. The new album is produced by Chris Zane (Passion Pit, The Walkmen), and is a departure for principal songwriter and bandleader Jean-Philip Grobler, who takes a more direct, essential approach. In his words, "If the last album sounded like the tropics, this album is the desert." St. Lucia's version of the desert is still an inviting place, though, one inspired by blending Grobler's fearless embrace of 80's pop, R&B, and alternative rock influences into an instantly captivating concoction.
 
Following 2014’s self-titled debut, Birmingham, AL based Neu-gaze trio, Wray, has spent the better part of the past year developing the ideas and sonic palette that would become Hypatia. Through experimentation (and lots of touring) Wray has finally come into its own as a distinct entity. Co-produced by the band with Lynn Bridges (Jack Oblivian, Devendra Banhart) and mixed by Daniel Farris (Man or Astroman?, St. Vincent) Hypatia takes its own path from swift energy to quiet contemplation while exploring a space of subtle contrasts and originality – not to mention a blazing take on Faust’s Krautrock classic, “Jennifer.” Though the band’s debut was brimming with energy, Hypatia has a more refined sense of urgency – not to mention a sonic palate that swerves their music away from retro pastiche into a stratosphere all its own. To put it another way, plenty of dream pop induces drowsiness rather than rendering the listener somnambulant. Not so with Hypatia: The record has the trippy rush of a deep dream – making it more like a true psychedelic experience Headphones only intensify this feeling via Farris’ deeply-considered mix. And, at a mere 38 minutes, it's easy to take that trip again and again. In fact, I'd recommend it... And don’t miss them live. You need this.

WRAY -
Hypatia

Communicating Vessels
moremusic

The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. CIMS was founded in 1995; its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 47 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support.

Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in its community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.

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