De La Soul, “and the Anonymous Nobody” (AOI)
Long before Frank Ocean was making avant-garde hip-hop, De La Soul — Dave, Maseo and Posdnous — crafted weird, wordy, rapping ’hood prose and cut-and-paste collage soul for humorous (often scathing) critiques on the genre’s overt machismo and consumerism. On silly, catchy, Prince Paul-produced albums “3 Feet High and Rising” (1989) and the merrily mordant “De La Soul Is Dead” (1991), the trio of self-described Daisy Agers sampled Hall & Oates, Chicago and French-language recordings while rapping blowzily about hippie activities like potholes in their lawns and roller-skating Saturdays.
They continued to make really good albums, but nothing with their initial spark — until now.
Sounding like the logical successor to its first two albums, “and the Anonymous Nobody” continues the piquant path of De La’s oddball poetry, but now with the sage wit that comes with age and experience.
Combine such snarky smarts with a speckled brand of Martian/Jamaican electro-hop that borrows from Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz (De La appears on their records; Albarn repays the favor here on the dubby daffy “Here in After”) and New Wave high-life funk (to which David Byrne contributes on “Snoopies”) and De La Soul make the perfect hosts.
Add caramel-coated carnal R&B (“Greyhounds”), sparsely orchestrated atonal electronica (“Drawn”), and the good old-fashioned loping Long Island beats they started with, and De La Soul has (re)risen well past those initial 3 feet.
A.D. Amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer
Barbra Streisand, “Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” (Columbia)
It may sound like blasphemy, especially where Streisand is involved, but perfection is overrated.
Though Streisand has spent much of her legendary career fretting about every single note she sings, on her new album, there are some notes that are less than perfect and, somewhat shockingly, a few may belong to her — because the delivery conveys the moment better or it adds to her duet partner’s performance.
For this warm, enjoyable collection, Streisand works with actors to tackle some Broadway classics, using dialogue to set the scene. It works remarkably well with Hugh Jackman on the stormy “Any Moment Now” and with Alec Baldwin on “The Best Thing That Ever Has Happened,” where his loose, likable delivery sets up Streisand gloriously.
The real revelation here, though, is Chris Pine, whose wonderful croon on the medley of “I’ll Be Seeing You” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” should have Michael Bublé quaking.
With “Encore,” as on her accompanying tour, Streisand embraces the realities of her 74-year-old voice and that decision pays dividends for everyone involved — including her fans.
GLENN GAMBOA, Newsday
• Angel Olsen, “My Woman”
• The Wedding Present, “Going, Going ... ”
• Wiley, “Godfather”
• Jamie T, “Trick”