Oh progressive R&B, how I enjoy your sound.
That trend in music _ a movement that includes Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, Miguel and Dawn Richard _ will continue to blow up in 2013, and New York-based singer-songwriter-producer I/O should be among those to look out for.
His second mixtape, “Isolation,” is an impeccable adventure of R&B and eerie sounds that heal your ears. He’s singing _ really cooing _ about heartache and heartbreak on this 12-track staple, but he doesn’t come off as annoying. He’s smooth. And cool. And reflective.
The epic “I’d Be Lying” is the best example, where I/O is motivated and looking for more in life. “Piece of Mind” is nicely jelled with electronic sounds, and his soft voice shines on “Strangers” and “We’ll Always Be,” with its addictive hook full of hand claps.
I/O, whose real name is Ayo Olatunji, is a newcomer on the rise. We’re onboard.
_Mesfin Fekadu, AP Music Writer (twitter.com/musicmesfin)
Various Artists, “The Return of the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of” (Yazoo Records)
Too often we reflexively think that music is born when it is recorded, that it simply comes into existence fully formed. But every riff, every melody, every harmony has its own rich history. When it comes to the American songbook, taking rides through the deeper parts of that history can be as thrilling and immediate as seeing a live concert.
This is the wonderful calculus of “The Return of the Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of,” a two-disc set with great documentation that travels back to the 1920s and unearths some of the earliest recordings of homegrown American music. Here’s the Fruit Jar Guzzlers (best band name ever?) doing a prehistoric version of the “Stack-O-Lee” ballad. Here’s blues legend Charley Patton going deep into the Delta. Here’s a fiddler named Elder Golden P. Harris sounding like something coming through the open windows of a 19th-century Southern church as he twangs out “I’ll Lead a Christian Life.”
Other traditions are represented, too: Two Eastern European tracks are welcome additions to the mix, jarring in the most evocative way amid all the country and blues. A great American musical lesson that puts the best of emerging legends alongside the long-forgotten _ just as record collectors might dream of.
_Ted Anthony, AP National Writer (twitter.com/anthonyted)
Ty Segall, “Twins” (Drag City)
Ty Segall may have been the busiest man in music this year, releasing three albums under different band alignments while producing and contributing to several more.
His solo record, “Twins,” is the best of the lot and shows why everyone is so excited about the 25-year-old garage rocker from San Francisco. He plays most of the instruments here on 12 tracks full of fuzzy goodness.
Segall sets the mood with album opener, “Thank God for Sinners,” an anthemic fist to the face that shows you right where his heart is. Other highlights include the shambolic “Ghost,” the relentless “They Told Me Too” and “Love Fuzz,” which has a self-explanatory title.