By Bliss Bowen
THE STEOPLES, Wide Through the Eyes of No One
(Stones Throw): 3
Advancing beyond the “unresolved” drift of 2017’s “Six Rocks,” GB (longtime L.A. beatmaker Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker) and Yeofi Andoh (the U.K. vocalist aka A Race of Angels) position silken harmonies front and center in often surreal R&B soundscapes textured with folk melodies, Latin rhythms, analog vinyl loops, acoustic guitar and sweeping synthesizer. The results can still feel intentionally diffuse (“Leaning on Me”), yet soothing. Highlights: “Everybody’s Song,” the melancholy “Lonely Behavior,” “In the Dance,” “The Real Wealth” (“To get real peace of mind/ I suggest you love what you are/ I suggest you love that you are/ Know this life itself’s the real wealth”).
JAKE BREAKS, Breaksy (Wide Hive):4
An absorbing instrumental set from guitarists Gregory Howe and Ross Howe and bassist/pianist Matt Montgomery of the Bay Area’s Throttle Elevator Music jazz-rock collective, titled after mysterious turntablist collaborator Jacob B. In contrast to early-2000s TEM recordings (which centered around then-leader Kamasi Washington’s saxophone), these nine tracks are more percussive and psychedelic, exploring the mood-setting capacities of guitars and bass. The strongest tracks — “Approaching the Mystical,” “Low Light Bar Scene,” “Shade Streaming,” “Befreee” — feature guest saxophonist Douglas Rowan, trumpeter Timothy Hyland and trombonist Michael “Rinnie” Rintabone, and evoke a midnight world of exploration and catharsis.
LOS LOBOS, Native Sons (New West): 3½
Opening their self-described “ode to Los Angeles” with a greasy spin on Thee Midniters’ “Love Special Delivery,” the beloved East L.A. band proceeds to honor the city and folk, R&B, rock and pop heroes and peers whose rhythms they internalized while developing their recognizable sound. David Hidalgo and Louie Pérez’s soul-swaying title tune, the lone original, fits comfortably between a high-spirited update of Percy Mayfield’s “Never No More” and a saxophone-ribboned romp through “Farmer John” that pays righteous props to Pasadena’s Don & Dewey. Other highlights: a robust take on Lalo Guerrero’s “Los Chucos Suaves,” stormy versions of Stephen Stills’ “Bluebird” and “For What It’s Worth,” and a ruminative glide through War’s “The World is a Ghetto” (enhanced by Little Willie G. and Barrence Whitfield).
TITO JACKSON, Under Your Spell
(Gulf Coast/Hillside): 3½
Love, trust and togetherness are the focus of the scion of the Jackson tribe throughout this smoothly produced R&B set. A spate of good-natured groovers includes the slow-burning “Big Leg Woman,” “Dyin’ Over Here” and the new Gamble & Huff song “All in the Family Blues” (“Growin’ up in the family ain’t no peaches and cream”). The highlight is lead single “Love One Another;” over infectious harmonies, Stevie Wonder’s harmonica solo and a stomping beat, its hopeful message exemplifies the album’s mood: “Why don’t we walk with one another/ Talk with one another/ If only we love one another now.”