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The Inbox

The Inbox: Bilal, Johnny Marr, Ana Moura and More

by Rob Harvilla

The Inbox: Bilal, Johnny Marr, Ana Moura and More


Welcome to The Inbox, a recurring feature in which we take a spin through the week's hottest new releases (along with a bit of Napster's own reviews) and pair each album with the weirdest, coolest, (sometimes unintentionally) funniest stuff we can find on the Internet. This week we've got everything from erotic funk to throwback alt folk, along with a few goat duets, 1,500-calorie burritos and visionary Janet Jackson cartoons. Enjoy.

Best Lascivious, Emotionally Complex R&B Jams for If You're Truly Nasty:

Bilal, A Love Surreal
A Love Surreal begins as an erotic funk romp: "Let me lick you and roll you up," Bilal purrs on "Climbing," elsewhere bragging about his "Winning Hand." But then he shifts moods, and the music grows far more abstract. [Mosi Reeves]

Best Country/Americana Duets Since the One Involving Taylor Swift and a Goat:

Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Old Yellow Moon
Need a good cry? Proceed directly to "Back When We Were Beautiful." Geez. That spare, wistful, devastating ballad highlights the gentle mastery and easy chemistry of these critic-beloved all-timers, softly bleeding into every classic-country note here. [Rob Harvilla]

Best Pristine, Gorgeous Britpop from the Most Prominent Member of The Smiths Who Didn't Spend This Week Antagonizing the Dudes from Duck Dynasty:

Johnny Marr, The Messenger
It's impossible to determine whether Marr intended to make a classic-sounding Brit rock album, or if it's just that the legendary guitarist is classic-sounding Brit rock incarnate. Either way, The Messenger has it all, from '80s jangle over Motown bop ("The Right Thing Right") to this-town's-closing-in-on-me melancholy ("Lockdown") to Manchester dance rock ("Word Starts Attack"). [Stephanie Benson]

Best Electrifying Windy City Afrobeat to Help Bulls Fans Take Their Minds Off the Whole Derrick Rose Thing:

Chicago Afrobeat Project, Nyash Up!
You know how Afrobeat bands always end up sounding like Fela imitators? Chicago Afrobeat Project have a different approach: They capture the soul of Afrobeat, which they carry over into their own unique, updated sound. So Nyash UP! is thick with politics and passion, and nearly boiling over with simmering funk. But while fat, familiar low brass darts in and out, that's filtered through jazz, avant-R&B, lounge and hip-hop. [Rachel Devitt]

Best Showstopping Fado Diva Who Does the Raddest Joni Mitchell Cover Since That One With Vanessa Carlton and Counting Crows:

Ana Moura, Desfado
The mark of a great fado singer is that she can convince you of anything: that her heart is breaking. That her desire is so fervent she could just die. And most of all, that anything can be a fado. Ana Moura is just such a singer, and she proves it with an album that turns anything and everything into brooding passion. [Rachel Devitt]

Best Gritty, Morose Throwback Alt Folk Jams for Folks Who Still Like to Take Old-Timey Photos at Amusement Parks:

Mount Moriah, Miracle Temple
With sure footing in both indie folk and alt country realms, North Carolina's Mount Moriah will hit a soft spot for all who enjoy a good wallow. Heather McEntire's voice rings with a haunting tone that conjures up sepia-toned images of tumbleweeds and Dust Bowl hardships with as much depressing depth as a Steinbeck novel. [Linda Ryan]

Best Overstuffed Swedish Indie Pop Confections for Those with Appetites Large Enough to Accommodate the Musical Equivalent of the Chipotle Super Burrito:

Shout Out Louds, Optica
Four albums in, these buoyant, coed, '80s-leaning Swedes are practically indie pop veterans. And while Optica may lack a smash hit in the "Young Folks" or "Somebody That I Used to Know" vein, fans of either tune will thrill to the cool, coy, disarmingly sweet synth-and-jangle truffles here, packed with the lovelorn, literate wit of vintage Belle and Sebastian. [Rob Harvilla]