El Dee’s latest effort is a gorgeous little record. The band’s name is likely derived from the initials of singer Lauren Deming, who has one of the most beautifully unique, emotive and damned sultry voices in town. The band is at its best when it’s leaning heavily into the past while stamping one foot down in the now and even the future. “Moon Eyes” could be from the ’40s, were it played on different instruments. As it is, the strong keys give it a modern feel. The whole album follows that theme, resulting in perhaps the best local album of the year so far.
Charles Boles Quartet featuring Ron English
Detroit Music Factory/Mack Avenue
This is a beautifully delicate jazz record from Boles, who grew up in Detroit’s famed Black Bottom and was mentored by the legendary Barry Harris, sitting in on jam sessions at Harris’ house. “There was always something going on over there,” Boles says. “Back then, jam sessions were mostly a learning experience, especially at Barry’s house.” He was able to pick up tips from some of the best then, and it shows today. Along with guitarist Ron English, and a very good band, Boles has constructed an excellent jazz, post-bop and blues album.
Tinariwen is a band from the Sahara Desert region of northern Mali, though the Emmaar album was recorded in another desert, Joshua Tree in California, and released by Anti-, the sister label of Epitaph. It’s a frankly stunning piece of work. The traditional vocals and hypnotic, authentic guitar work blend beautifully with guest spots by the likes of poet Saul Williams, Chili Peppers guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and fiddle man Fats Kaplin. Half of the band has been founding members since the ’80s, while others grew up as fans and joined in the ’90s. It’s intergenerational multi-culture at its finest.