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Spocket - 'Spocket'

Alex Marianyi
Staff Writer
alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi

Spocket’s self-titled and first release represents the best in funk rock coming from the younger side of the Chicago jazz scene. It manages to be clean and slick without being over-produced and gimmicky. The horn players are tight as a section yet speak with pronounced individual voices when called upon to do so, and the rhythm section is a single fluid entity roiling beneath the melodies, both predetermined and improvised.

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David Bowie - 'Blackstar'

Alex Marianyi
Staff Writer
alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi

David Bowie gave us one last masterpiece: ★ (pronounced "Blackstar"). And true to form, it leaves us with more questions than answers. I began writing this review before Davie Bowie died, and the work becomes that much more powerful when you realize he knew it would be his last. The whole album is an almost alien journey through the center of the Blackstar formed by an epic--in every sense of the word--collision of an older pop star going supernova and a neighboring system of younger stellar bodies.

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Romain Collin - 'Press Enter'

Alex Marianyi
Staff Writer
alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi

Like the exposition of a futuristic sci-fi flick, Romain Collin's Press Enter remains grounded in the familiar acoustic piano trio but gives glimpses into a world that’s been fundamentally changed. The establishing shot of the film is the short lead-in track "99" followed by the second track, "Clockwork", which drops you fully into the world being created, and throughout, the uniformity of production really does give the feeling of a world being created.

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Benjamin Clementine - 'At Least For Now'

Alex Marianyi
Staff Writer
alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi

It seems everyone wants to tell and talk about Benjamin Clementine's life story. However, no one does so better than Clementine himself on At Least For Now; so, let's leave that to him. In addition to his intensely personal narratives, the overwhelming musicality on this album continues to reinvent itself track after track.

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Marena Whitcher's Shady Midnight Orchestra - 'Ghostology'

Alex Marianyi
Staff Writer
alex.marianyi[at]gmail.com / @alexmarianyi

Art about ghosts, spirits, and the afterlife can quickly become trite and unnecessarily serious, but Marena Whitcher and her Shady Midnight Orchestra ensure that subject matter doesn't get in the way of good music and fun times on Ghostology. This album gets really weird without getting pointless and always manages to somehow stay aesthetically focused even as it moves through vastly different sections and songs.