Last year one of my favorite albums that was independently released was Daniel Caesar's Freudian. The Canadian R&B/Soul artist received a Grammy nomination for "Best R&B Album" in 2017 for his quiet-storm, gospel-inspired first full length LP. Freudian is a record filled with love songs, psychological reckonings, existential crises, and emotional epiphanies.
In 2007, just over a decade ago, the Swedish electronic band Little Dragon released their eponymous debut album on Village Again Records. What makes Little Dragon's initial release so outstanding is its great tracks with songs like "Twice," "Constant Surprises," "Recommendation," and "Turn Left." It's the kind of album I would want to listen to on a rainy day or meditating in a blissful-zen state.
The Armenian jazz virtuoso pianist, Tigran Hamasyan is a powerhouse musical force to be reckoned with. In 2017, the 31-year-old composer released probably his most accessible and gorgeous album to date, An Ancient Observer. He manages to capitivate his listeners with his sheer raw talent and intricate melodies inspired by world-folk music and Eastern European traditional tunes. He also beatboxes and hums falsetto harmonies while shredding away on both a synthesizer and a grand piano.
Fatoumata Diawara is an Ivory Coast born Malian singer/songwriter who currently resides in Paris, France. In 2011, she released her first full-length album, Fatou, featuring West African drummer Tony Allen, virtuoso kora player Toumani Diabaté, and Led Zeppelin bass legend John Paul Jones.
Back in 2001 British DJs and sound engineers Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker created their first studio album called Simple Things under the moniker Zero 7. What makes Simple Things such a stellar album is its fantastic collection of downtempo, trip-hop songs that hypnotically lull you into a blissful zen-like state once hearing the album in full.
I am looking at last year's Moonchild album called Voyager. This album infuses a chilled out mixture of neo-soul, jazz, lounge, electronic, and funk. The spacey, jazzy arrangements on this record are filled with softly strung harp chords, smooth Rhodes licks, funky bass lines, and tight drum samples.
Last year's record A Social Call by 26 year old jazz vocalist Jazzmeia Horn earned Ms. Horn a grammy nomination. What make this album stand out from some of the other recent jazz releases is its crafty qualities of a musical melting pot of politics, religion, race, spirituality, shifting moods, and of course jazz.
Ben Williams's second full length album, "Coming of Age," was released in 2015 to pretty remarkable reviews from various jazz critics. Williams infuses elements of R&B/neo-soul, fusion, post-bop, funk, and hip-hop into his innovative compositions. The 31-year old Washington D.C. upright bass player, Ben Williams, sheds a new prominent voice in the rising jazz scene
On February 11, 1997, 21 years ago Erykah Badu fcreated an album that became the essential go to neo soul album of the 1990s. This album was called "Baduizm," and was very highly acclaimed when it was initially released, earning Ms. Badu a 3X platinum certification. Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Badu can be compared to [...]
In 2016, the Toronto jazz quartet BADBADNOTGOOD (BBNG) released an album called IV, blending the genres of hip-hop, jazz, and electronic all together into one incredible album. The album IV is most likely BBNG's most accessible album to date.