Years ago, there were no significant album releases after Thanksgiving. That’s obviously no longer the case.
Animal Collective, “Fall Be Kind” (Domino): Art rockers started the year with the most critically acclaimed and popular album of their career with “Merriweather Post Pavilion.” Just in time for the holidays, they give their fans a little end-of-the year present with this five-track EP that includes samples from both Zamfir, the pan flute master, and the Grateful Dead. Is there anyone else who can get away with that?
Alicia Keys, “The Element of Freedom” (MBK/J): R&B/pop singer’s fourth album takes the listener on an emotional journey that shows both Keys’ strengths and vulnerabilities, including, according to an interview with Billboard, her battle with depression. Plus, there’s a duet with Beyonce and part two of her massive hit with Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind.” Read review here.
Julian Lennon/James Scott Cook, “Lucy” (theRevolution): After an 11-year hiatus, Lennon eases back into the recording process with this EP, named after childhood friend, Lucy Vodden, the inspiration for the Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” who recently died of lupus. James Scott Cook is the first artist signed to theRevolution, a label co-founded by Lennon.
Kylie Minogue, “Kylie: Live in New York” (Astrelwerks): Minogue’s third live set was recorded earlier this year at New York’s Hammersmith Ballroom at the conclusion of her North American tour.
Robin Thicke, “Sex Therapy: The Session” (Star Trak/Interscope): Thicke crosses over from sensual to full on sexy with his fourth studio album that includes appearances from Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, Kid Cudi, Estelle and the Game. God knows he’s got the smoky, sex-drenched voice to deliver a song like “Make U Love Me” or “It’s in the Mornin’.”
Various Artists, “Avatar” (Atlantic): We don’t normally include film soundtracks, but most movies aren’t “Avatar.” Along with James Horner’s score, you get the Leona Lewis-warbled theme, “I See You,” which wants with all its heart to be the new “My Heart Will Go On.”
Phil Vassar, “Traveling Circus” (Universal South): One of country’s top songwriters releases his fifth studio album. While his career hasn’t reached the heights of those he’s penned songs for (Tim McGraw and Alan Jackson, to name two), he’s always a good listen.