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Latest Reviews

Welcome to the new MustHear.com! Listen to albums while you read the reviews. Find reviews & photos more easily with Search and Listings by Artist, Title and Musical Genre. View slideshows of every photo gallery, and much, much more!!!

Date: 2009
Release: STRUT

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Of all the conversations I had with my then-fiancé, the most important one in my mind involved Christmas. We were raised in two different faiths, though neither of us are particularly religious as adults. But I had to be sure. Religion I can get by without, but the tradition of dead trees in the house and songs about reindeer–that’s important.

“Sure,” he said, “we can have a Hanukkah bush.”

“You’re not getting it. It’s a Christmas tree,” I replied. “And the music, I have to listen to the music.”

Fortunately my powers of persuasion are strong, and so every year we get our tree from the Boy Scouts up the street and put on the Vince Guaraldi or the Bing Crosby or the Frank Sinatra Christmas records until we can’t take it anymore. Last year’s discovery of the Ramsey Lewis Trio’s Christmas album infused some fresh music, but the cheese-ridden holiday selection remains appalling. No, I do NOT want to hear Andrea Bocelli or Christina Aguilera sing holiday classics. And don’t get me started on the “Very Special Christmas” series.

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Date: 2009
Release: STRUT
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If the name sounds familiar, it may be because Astatke was heavily featured on the Ethiopiques album series (Volume IV is always on heavy rotation during the summer months here at musthear.com HQ). The third record in Strut’s “Inspiration Information” studio collaboration series features a pairing between one of Africa’s great bandleaders, Mulatu Astatke, with the British-based Heliocentrics collective.

Fortunately, this is one “old meets new” project that truly captures the sound of mutual respect. One of Ethiopia’s foremost musical ambassadors, Astatke (he was the first African student at Berklee College of Music) helped create a particular Ethio-jazz sound that flourished during the “Swinging Addis” era of the late ‘60s. No slouches themselves, The Heliocentrics have become one of the UK’s most prominent collectives of musicians, inspired by everyone from Sun Ra and James Brown to David Axelrod.

It’s the rare group of musicians who can put together an album this good in a mere ten days.
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Date: February 2, 1999 (release)
Release: Polygram #556074
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A heap of wrinkled laundry led me to discover Wes Anderson’s 1998 film, Rushmore, as well as its soundtrack. I had graduated high school a year earlier and was back at home after my first year in college, ironing in front of the television (what else to do in the ‘burbs on a viciously humid July afternoon? It seemed obvious at the time…), when I stumbled across a movie on cable that was visually and musically unlike anything I’d seen in all my young life. So there I stood for an hour and a half, transfixed and ironing as Rushmore transported me back to the weird time that was high school in songs and images.

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