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Monday, June 11, 2012

Stream: Neneh Cherry, Fiona Apple, Frank Ocean, Ravi Coltrane

  • Courtesy Neneh Cherry and the Thing
Besides their evocative names, Cherry, Apple, and Ocean (and don't forget Coltrane) all have new mood music to kick off a moody Monday. NPR's First Listen is streaming heavy this a.m. so let's start there:

Cherry: Since Gabe Vodicka gave us a sneak peek of former dance/pop ingenue Neneh Cherry's forthcoming project with Swedish free-jazz band the Thing, I've been waiting to hear more of The Cherry Thing (out June 19). The collaboration features covers of songs from artists as varied as the Stooges ("Dirt"), Ornette Coleman ("What Reason"), and MF Doom/MadVillain ("Accordion"). It's untamed and beautiful. Stream The Cherry Thing at NPR's First Listen.

Apple: I've often likened Fiona Apple's music to a combination wet dream/rude awakening. Like traveling without arriving. But there's a sense of fulfillment even when Apple sounds as unfulfilled as she does on "Left Alone" - one of 12 songs on her forthcoming release The Idler Wheel (due June 19). In all, it's as playful and tormented as any work she's done in the past with producer Jon Brion. Pop critic Ann Powers borrows the idea of "ugly feelings" from cultural theorist Sianne Ngai to describe Apple's effect: "amoral and noncathartic, offering no satisfactions of virtue, however oblique, nor any therapeutic or purifying release." Yeah, that about sums it up. Stream The Idler Wheel at NPR's First Listen.

Ocean: So Def Jam was late to Frank Ocean's party, despite his being signed and squirreled away by the label when he started dropping Internet bombs on R&B - along with contemporary the Weeknd and, arguably, The-Dream - giving the genre a much-needed new millennium feel a decade after the fact. But the venerable hip-hop label is 100 percent behind his upcoming full-length, Channel Orange, due July 17. The album's first leak, "Pyramids," dropped late last week via SoundCloud. It's "a 10-minute R&B event," according to Pitchfork, and hints at extravagance (Prince, circa 1988) without being totally self-indulgent (Kanye, circa 2008). Stream "Pyramids" on


If you've been waiting on an excuse to catch up on Ravi Coltrane, the progeny of jazz legends John and Alice Coltrane, shame on you, first off, but now's your chance. Spirit Fiction, out June 19, is the saxophonist's sixth album. It's an interesting straight-ahead experiment in which Coltrane "divides his quartet in half, sets both duos loose on their own paths and aims for their intersection," according to NPR. Stream Spirit Fiction on First Listen.

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