What our critics are listening to

06:59 PM, Jun 17, 2013

Chrisette Michele, who will perform at Rochester SummerFest, has a new CD. (Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images)/


BOARDS OF CANADA

TOMORROW’S HARVEST. Two weeks ago, I was listening to the new Daft Punk album, Random Access Memories. My reaction remains the same as it was then: Meh … Technology-driven music isn’t my thing, but there’s something going on here that is highly listenable. I’ve read that, much like Daft Punk, these virtually invisible musicians (a lack of style is in itself a style) frequently employ vintage equipment to get the proper retro sound. To be honest, no matter how 21st century you may think the technology is, most electronica hits my ears like Kraftwerk: kinda dated. Boards of Canada is different, because it creeps into the room like a melancholy documentary soundtrack, with a bass drone, the pop of vinyl from space and arpeggio beats. Tomorrow’s Harvest feels like a chilling prediction of our world’s future. It’s not a future we can dance to. — JEFF SPEVAK

CHRISETTE MICHELE

BETTER. We haven’t heard the lush vocals on Chrisette Michele on a new CD since 2010. She took time away, she says, to regroup because she was emotionally and physically drained. She’s all Better now, and this hipster chick with soul caresses the microphone as she warns a lover, “I’m not the one you should be running to, I’m not the one you want to get close to” on “Snow.” Beloved for her ballads, she picks up the pace a bit so that you can dance to “Be In Love.” The sound of Auto-Tune seems out of place on a CD featuring a true singer, but Chrisette Michele decided to use the electronic-enhanced sound on the seductive “Charades.” Thankfully, her vocals shine through the computer grooves. I look forward to seeing Chrisette Michele at Rochester SummerFest on July 13. — SHEILA RAYAM

ROBIN McKELLE & THE FLYTONES

SOUL FLOWER. Soul Flower is a great title for this is wonderful soul music, blooming fresh and alive in 2013. The superb vocalist, Robin McKelle, a Rochester native, is making a national impact, and this latest album will expand her reputation even more. (Catch her at the Rochester Jazz Festival on Friday and Saturday.) The new CD continues a shift from jazz to soul music. She sings with great feeling and style. (There’s a touch of Amy Winehouse about Robin, but with more vocal discipline and jazz chops.) The material mixes strong originals and three well-chosen covers —a fast-pace “Walk on By” from Dionne Warwick’s songbook, the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” and a deeply affecting reading of the Billie Holiday-Frank Sinatra classic, “I’m a Fool to Want You.” The Flytones are tasty, with a special nod to Ben Stivers on soulful keyboards at the center of much of the CD. Kudos also to guest vocalist Gregory Porter (another favorite) on “Love’s Work.” — JACK GARNER