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Andrew Shilling

Staff Writer

Corinne Bailey Rae “The Sea”

Release Date: Jan. 26, 2009

There’s a good reason why it’s been four years since Corinne Bailey Rae’s feel-good, self-titled debut in 2006. Her new album “The Sea,” is an emotionally driven album about the tragic drug overdose of her husband Jason Rae. Bailey Rae’s voice is remarkably unique, smooth and guiltless as she sings about her life in the past and newfound love.

Grade: B

Download (don’t steal): “Are You Here” by Corinne Bailey Rae

Charlotte Gainsbourg “IRM”

Release Date: Jan. 26, 2010

On her new album, Charlotte Gainsbourg whispers steady, prying French lyrics over James Bond-themed songs, very much reminiscent of her father, Serge Gainsbourg’s record, “Histoire de Melody Nelson.” “IRM,” (MRI in French) describes, at times in great detail, a horrifying emergency room visit the 38-year-old Gainsbourg experienced after a severe skiing accident that ultimately resulted in a life-threatening brain surgery. With a little help from Beck, she recollects her time on likely the best album to come out this still very young year.

Grade: A

Download (don’t steal): “Le Chat de Café Des Artistes” by Charlotte Gainsbourg

Charred Walls of the Damned “Charred Walls of the Damned”

Release Date: Feb. 2, 2010

For those of you who have not been following the hype behind Richard Christy’s (a writer from the Howard Stern Show) new band, Charred Walls of the Damned, the moment is upon us to experience endless nail-breaking metal ballads from the depths of Tradio hell—a reference Howard Stern fans will know all too well.

Christy plays drums on the record with Steve DiGiorgio, formely of Death. Together they join forces with Tim “Ripper” Owens, once vocalist of Judas Priest and Jason Suecof, Trivium guitarist, to form nothing less than a heavy metal super group.

Streaming available now on AOL Music.

Grade: B-

Download (don’t steal): “Manifestations” by Charred Walls of the Damned

Joe Firstman “El Porto”

Release Date: Jan. 26, 2009

The former leader of Last Call with Carson Daily’s house band, Joe Firstman, sings about small towns, his home in North Carolina and relationships throughout his third studio album, “El Porto.” The music is stripped down and at times feels like an acoustic Counting Crows album, bringing back some of the forgotten aura of the early 1990s.

Grade: C

Download (don’t steal): “Mr. Winston” by Joe Firstman

Pat Metheny “Orchestrion”

Release Date: Jan. 26, 2010

Pat Metheny’s newest instrumental jazz album, “Orchestrion,” is probably the most innovative piece of work since some of the first electronic synthesizers were developed some 40 years ago. Inspired since childhood by the player pianos of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Metheny spent the past decade designing a completely automated jazz orchestra, all of which he controls through his guitar. It took a team of inventors to design all of the mechanics that make up this project; something that you really have to see to believe. (Videos of “Orchestrion” are available at

Grade: A

Download (don’t steal): “Spirit of the Air” by Pat Metheny

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