Friday, 13 December 2013

ON THE DOWNLOAD: The season's best new music -- and one to look forward to

Strictly The Best Volume 49 (VP Records) 
Various Artists 
The latest compilation disc from the popular VP series assembles an all-star line-up of established and emerging talent, featuring several of 2013's most radio-ready and hypnotic dancehall and reggae tunes. While Damian Marley and Sean Paul bring the heat with their hard-hitting jam "Riot," (video premiering this week), sassy newcomer Samantha J adds some girl power to the mix with the debut hit "Tight Skirt." And what modern dancehall various-artistes disc would be complete sans contributions from the likes of disciples Mavado and Vybz Kartel, who supply the chart-topping singles "Million Dollar Man" and "Business," respectively. 

Foreverly (Reprise Records)
Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong 
Two of folk-alternative's brightest stars join forces in paying tribute to "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us," serving up 13 heartwarming tracks steeped in traditional Americana, close-knit harmonies and soul-stirring balladry. If the critics are to be believed, two for the price of one never sounded so good. 

Inside Llewyn Davis (Nonesuch Records)
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 
Combine the brilliance of filmmaking auteurs Joel and Ethan Coen, the wonderfully tuned voices of Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan, with the engineering mastery of living legend T. Bone Burnett and the result is this year's most buzzed-about film soundtrack -- 14 down-to-earth tunes from a critically acclaimed new movie centred on a young musician navigating the folk-music scene of the 1960s. This one certainly has the makings of a collector's item. 

High Hopes (Columbia Records)
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band 
As Sean Penn once famously noted, if Bruce Springsteen ain't the boss, nobody is. The musician's vastly diverse and inspiring body of work long made him the voice of his American generation. The reason to believe, as some would say. Next month promises the arrival of the iconic band leader's 19th studio album, High Hopes, a fusion of E-Street's trademark melange of rock-n-roll swagger and nostalgic elan sure to please longtime fans and win new listeners finally feeling The Boss' vibe.

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