New Releases - 6/16/17

Beth Ditto – Fake Sugar CD (Virgin)
Beth Ditto, who rose to fame as the dynamic frontwoman of punk ‘n’ soul band Gossip, releases her debut solo album. In an interview with BBC 1 Radio, Ditto said she spent two years writing nearly 80 songs for her solo album, including some tracks written with producer Jacknife Lee. However, her main collaborator on Fake Sugar was songwriter and producer Jennifer Decilveo. “She was the rollerblades to my roller skates. We'd argue all day long and I loved it,” Ditto said of the collaboration. In addition to album opener “Fire,” the 12-song LP also features “Go Baby Go” that serves as a tribute to late Suicide singer Alan Vega. The singer's 2014 marriage to her longtime girlfriend also informed Fake Sugar's lyrics. “This is adulthood, baby,” Ditto added. “You fought for marriage equality, now you gotta live in it.”

Big Star – The Best Of Big Star CD/2xLP (Stax)
If the short-lived but fondly remembered Big Star could have experienced popular success in direct proportion to its posthumous influence, the rangy Memphis rock quartet would have lived up to its ambitious name, and then some. With the possible exception of the Velvet Underground, no other underground pop band has left such a lasting and indelible legacy. Taking the gritty soul of Memphis rhythm and blues and fusing it with the artful melodies and vocal harmonies of British power pop, and injecting it all with a flailing, pre-punk, garage-band energy, Big Star created a unique sound with a potentially universal appeal. This new Best Of compilation celebrates the founding fathers of power pop with 16 tracks spanning all three of their LPs (1972's #1 Record, 1974's Radio City and Third, released after the group disbanded). Includes rare single versions of some of their most popular songs, plus new liner notes.

Brandy – Brandy [Reissue/1994] 2xLP (Atlantic)
Double-LP reissue of the self-titled debut album by R&B singer Brandy. The album contains a range of contemporary genres, and the songs are a mix of soft hip hop soul, pop and contemporary mid-1990s R&B.

Broadside - Paradise CD (Victory)
As soon as the majestic opening licks of the album's lead off track burst onto the speakers, it's obvious that Broadside are setting bigger and better goals the second time around. An album of boundless energy, Paradise is a culmination of two years' worth of experiences, sacrifices, and tireless effort, and the end result is a go-for-broke tour de force in pop tinged punk rock. With the line “The sun peeking from the tall palm trees,” the title track “Paradise” sets the personality for a summer sunshine-stained statement. “The whole concept of Paradise is that you should chase that little view of happiness you create in your mind,” explains frontman Ollie Baxxter. “We often put our dreams and desires to the side believing they're unrealistic, but this record is about building a bridge to reach your goals, your dream, your...Paradise.”

Can – The Singles CD/3xLP (Mute)
The Singles collects all the A and B-side versions that the krautrock pioneers released over the course of their career (1969-1986). This unique document is the first time the singles have been presented together, from well-loved tracks like “Halleluwah,” “Vitamin C” and “I Want More” to more obscure and sought-after singles such as “Silent Night” and “Turtles Have Short Legs.” The tracks are all presented in their original single versions, many of which have been unavailable for many years and not presented outside of the original 7" releases.

Carach Angren – Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten CD (Season Of Mist)
The Dutch masters of horror are back with their most flamboyant album yet, pushing their unashamedly theatric style to a new intense height. On Dance And Laugh Amongst The Rotten Carach Angren have employed all the sonic colors on their palette to dazzling effect. Their trademark whipping guitars weave harsh melodies and sinister soundscapes, which are beautifully contrasted by opulent keyboards and majestic orchestrations. That Till Lindemann (Rammstein) and Peter Tägtgren (Pain) have called upon the composition talent of Clemens “Ardek” Wijers is a telling sign of his outstanding mastery of the craft. Another signatory counterpoint is provided by Seregor's fierce rasping and shrieking vocals. Adding to the impact, Namtar has become a relentless driving force with his hart hitting yet intricate drumming

Cheap Trick – We’re All Alright! CD (Big Machine)
Cheap Trick's eighteenth studio album We're All Alright! follows 2016's acclaimed Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello. Features the electrifying lead single, “Long Time Coming,” which Billboard raved is, “a crunchy hard rocker driven by a Kinks-flavored riff...a bit of a one-song tribute to Cheap Trick's influential forebears.” Cheap Trick is an indisputable American institution, beloved around the globe since 1974 for their instantly identifiable, hugely influential, brand of pop rock ‘n' roll. The band – Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar), and Daxx Nielsen (drums) – are true pioneers with an unparalleled streak of certifiably classic tunes, from “He's A Whore,” “California Man” and “Dream Police” to “Surrender,” “I Want You To Want Me” and the worldwide No. 1 hit single, “The Flame.” 2016 saw Cheap Trick's long awaited induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We’re All Alright! is available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds three bonus tracks, among them a kaleidoscopic cover of The Move's “Blackberry Way.”

Com Truise - Iteration CD/2xLP+MP3 (Ghostly Int'l)
Six years after Galactic Melt introduced the cosmic story of Com Truise, Iteration now concludes his sprawling saga. True to its name, the album is built on Com Truise hallmarks: neon-streaked melodies, big drums, robotic grooves, bleary nostalgia. But Iteration is also the most elegant and streamlined that Seth Haley's singular music has ever sounded. At the album's heart is an elaborate narrative, one full of longing, hope, anxiety, and triumph. Iteration illustrates the last moments Com Truise spends on the perilous planet Wave 1, before he and his alien love escape its clutches to live in peace. Some of Haley's smartest, catchiest work is here, from the weightless pop of “Isostasy” to “Ternary's” lush synth-funk. “Vacuume” somehow balances massive bass drops and smashing drums with angelic gasps, and “Usurper” gracefully pairs subtle poignancy and uplifting dance beats. The closing title track “Iteration” ends it all in a gush of majestic revelry. [Limited blue and white color vinyl pressing also available.]

David Lynch/Alan R. Splet – Eraserhead [OST/Reissue/1977] LP+7” (Sacred Bones)
An expanded, silver color vinyl reissue of the soundtrack to David Lynch’s landmark 1977 film. This limited deluxe edition includes: a 16 page booklet, three 11"x11" prints, digital download, and a limited edition Peter Ivers 7". A-side of the single is "In Heaven" and the B-side unearths a newly discovered original Ivers recording entitled, “Pete’s Boogie” taken from the original audio tapes and mixed by Lynch.

Dead Heavens – Whatever Witch You Are CD/LP (Dine Alone)
The early sparks of the Dead Heavens' sound began on a solo from frontman/guitarist Walter Schreifels (Vanishing Life, Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicks) with Drew Thomas (Youth of Today, Bold, Into Another) and Nathan Aguilar (Cults) as the backing band. They were obsessing over Cream's first album Fresh Cream and MBV, My Bloody Valentine's both miasmic yet blissful follow up to Loveless. Aguilar also introduced them to the psych beauty of White Fence on that tour, which resonated with Schreifels, who was in the mood for heavier music, guitar solos, and a big rock feeling after a recent Quicksand tour. Upon returning to NYC, Aguilar reacquainted Thomas and Schreifels with musician, painter, engineer and dude who came up with the title Use Your Illusion, Paul Kostabi, who had previously played in White Zombie and Psychotica. Eventually Kostabi joined Dead Heavens, which had morphed mid-recording from a project into an actual band, changing the sound dramatically. Heavier and dual guitar leads, more sonic possibilities. Whether they're connecting the sounds of the psychedelic ‘70s or channeling the now, Dead Heavens have sound tracked their explorations their full-length debut, Whatever Witch You Are.

The Drums – Abysmal Thoughts CD/2xLP+MP3 (ANTI-)
With The Drums' new Abysmal Thoughts, band founder Jonny Pierce is making the exact album he has always held in his heart. Of course, this is The Drums, so that heart is broken – but there's beauty and even bliss in this kind of heartbreak, as well as that special kind of glorious delirium that comes from taking everything life can throw at you and still walking away triumphant. If Abysmal Thoughts doesn't sound at all abysmal – really, Pierce has rarely been this irresistibly pop – that's because this is a story about how to figure out what happiness means once the worst has already happened: “If there's one thing I can rely on it's the healing power of being an artist,” he says. “I'm falling back in love with music.”

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up CD/2xLP (Nonesuch)
Crack-Up is the long-awaited and highly anticipated third album from Northwest indie-folk act Fleet Foxes. The Nonesuch Records release comes six years after the 2011 release of Helplessness Blues and nearly a decade since the band's breakout 2008 self-titled debut. All 11 songs on Crack-Up were written by Robin Pecknold who also co-produced the album with longtime bandmate and close collaborator Skyler Skjelset. The album comes preceded by “Third of May / Ōdaigahara,” a nearly nine-minute epic powered by piano and electric twelve-string guitar, string quartet, and the group's trademark sparkling harmonies. “When Fleet Foxes released the nine-minute album centerpiece ‘Third Of May / Ōdaigahara,’ they were sending a message, letting us know that this would be an album of multi-part suites and proggy digressions and quiet ruptures. On that score, they have been true to their word. Crack-Up is an album full of pretty, soothing music that nonetheless delights in taking odd turns, in branching off in unexpected directions.” – Stereogum

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound CD/LP (Southeastern Records)
“The title of Jason Isbell’s sixth album, The Nashville Sound, could be construed as either wildly presumptive or absurdly aspirational. In truth, it’s a little bit of both. The idea of a homespun artist like Isbell eclipsing any number of corporate country megastars as the public face of “the Nashville sound” is far-fetched, but it’s no longer entirely laughable. The bro-country backlash has made Isbell’s cerebral, folky brand of songwriting somewhat en vogue to the point that even the most mainstream country artists have started chasing at least the perception of the rootsy authenticity he exudes. Even if Isbell only plays a miniscule role in defining what comes out of Nashville these days, he’s exercising that influence the best he can on The Nashville Sound. The album is more eclectic and energetic than his other recent efforts, which have seen Isbell’s voice and vitality as a songwriter crystallize just as his sound has become slicker and more uniform. It may not entirely be the full-throated ‘return to rock’ we were promised, but it’s convincing evidence that the Nashville sound can and should encompass more than country—alternative or otherwise—and mean more than just somber acoustic dirges about sobriety and marriage.” – Slant [Limited vinyl pressing including a 11”x11”, 22-page songbook also available.]

Kevin Morby - City Music CD/LP (Dead Oceans)
City Music is an airplane descending over frozen lakes into Chicago. City Music is riding the Q Train out to Coney Island to smell the ocean and a morning in Philadelphia where great cranes reconfigure the buildings like an endless puzzle. City Music is also the new album by Kevin Morby. Full of listless wanderlust, it's a collection inspired by and devoted to the metropolitan experience across America and beyond by a songwriter cast from his own mold. It is a collection crafted using the other side of its creator's brain, the jumping off point perhaps best once again encapsulated by an image. “Here, Lou Reed and Patti Smith stare out at the listener,” explains Morby. City Music sees Morby joined once again by cohorts Megan Duffy (guitar) and Justin Sullivan (drums). Here the vocals were recorded at night, in darkness, overlooking a Pacific Ocean illuminated only by the stars, the wash and whisper of the ebbing tidal a distant soundtrack. The record was completed with Richard Swift in Oregon (producer of Foxygen, sometime member of The Black Keys). Here the album gives voice to all those cities speaking the same universal language of chaos and commerce and culture.

Moby & The Pacific Void Choir – More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse CD/LP (Mute)
As with much of Moby’s output during his nearly three-decade-long career, it’s not surprising that a spiritual & political questioning underpins the nine songs comprising latest full length album. In characteristically iconoclastic fashion, the weighty themes explored throughout More Fast Songs About The Apocalypse find expression as some of the most direct and personal music Moby has ever created. “That quality of atmospheric sadness I’ve done so much of before isn’t here – there’s nothing quiet or ambient,” he notes. “Sonically, this record isn’t subtle: it’s big & loud, with huge kick drums & massive choral choruses.” [Limited orange color vinyl pressing also available.]

Portugal. The Man – Woodstock CD (Atlantic)
“It’s been a long time coming since 2013’s Evil Friends from Portugal. The Man, but a new album is on the way. Between 2006 and 2013, the Alaska-born psych-indie pop group released a whopping eight studio records, never leaving more than two years in between. As we approach four years since their last album, fans have begun to wonder what the wait is, — would a new album ever come? On a trip back home, frontman John Gourley was met by the same questioning by his father, who asked him ‘What’s taking so long to finish the album?’ according to a press release. ‘Isn’t that what bands do? Write songs and then put them out?’ It light a fire under PTM’s collective asses, leading them to throw out all previous material of what they were going to call Gloomin’ And Doomin’, enlisting the help of Beastie Boys’ Mike D, Danger Mouse, and John Hill on the production side. With a bit of inspiration from finding an old Woodstock ’69 ticket of his Gourley’s father, PTM went back to the drawing room table to produce an album that can inspire some good in this ‘avalanche of flaming biohazard material sliding down a mountain of used needles into a canyon full of rat feces’ that sums up 2017 so far.” -- Indie88 [Vinyl edition due in August.]

Ride - Weather Diaries CD/2xLP (Wichita Recordings)
Ride's first album in over 20 years was produced by legendary DJ, producer and remixer Erol Alkan, and is packed with all the classic elements that made Ride one of the defining bands of the early-‘90s. Trembling distortion, beautiful harmonies, pounding rhythms, shimmering soundscapes and great songwriting all combine to make an album that's ambitious in scope, timeless and thoroughly addictive. Weather Diaries sees the band reunited with label co-founders Mark Bowen and Dick Green, who worked with Ride during the band's early years on Creation Records. It also brings the band back together with mixer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, Smashing Pumpkins, The Killers) who mixed their seminal 1990 album Nowhere and produced its follow up Going Blank Again.

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark? CD/LP (WB)
After becoming the biggest breaking British rock band with their self-titled 2014 debut album, Royal Blood returns with their eagerly anticipated second album, How Did We Get So Dark? The album’s first single “Lights Out” ups the ante on their first outing with a wrecking ball of a groove cemented by Thatcher's thunderous rhythms, while Kerr wrangles the twisted invention of his bass riffs to a whole new level. Their patented two-man artillery of carefully constructed melodic aggression is prevalent throughout, especially in “I Only Lie When I Love You,” which is a compelling cowbell-assisted reminder of the power of a stop-start riff and a strident chorus. There are times when Royal Blood are more visceral than ever – notably the gargantuan introduction to “Hook, Line And Sinker” and also the intense denouement that brings “Look Like You Know” to a close.

Sammy Brue – I Am Nice CD (New West)
Sammy Brue embodies the kind of wisdom, talent and natural empathy that are often signs of age and maturity, and yet at 15 years old, he can place himself in the shoes of others, real or fictionalized, and write stories about them. The Ogden, UT based songwriter has been writing songs since the age of 10. I Am Nice is a brilliant album with nuanced dimension that provides emotional resonance to Brue's songs which Rolling Stone described as “a collection of devastatingly beautiful songs that touch on heartbreak, jealousy, God and suicide.” They would further declare Brue “an Americana prodigy.” Though Sammy may appear quiet and unassuming, his songs speak volumes. From busking at Sundance at age 10, to opening for Justin Townes Earle, John Paul White, Lucinda Williams and John Moreland to mention a few, as well as performing at Summer Set and the Newport Folk Festival, you will be hearing a lot about Sammy Brue.

Steve Earle & The Dukes – So You Wanna Be An Outlaw CD/2xLP (WB)
If you ever had any doubt about where Steve Earle's musical roots are planted, his new collection, So You Wannabe An Outlaw, makes it perfectly plain. “There's nothing ‘retro' about this record,” he states. “I’m just acknowledging where I'm coming from. I'm always gonna be a Texan, no matter what I do. And I'm always going to be somebody who learned their craft in Nashville. It's who I am.” So You Wannabe An Outlaw is an homage to outlaw music. “I was out to unapologetically ‘channel' Waylon as best as I could.” says Earle. “...Waylon Jennings’ Honky Tonk Heroes was the template for the new album. And I've always considered that record to be really important. I consider his Honky Tonk Heroes the Exile On Main Street of country music.” The new songs include the gentle, acoustic folk ballads “News From Colorado” and “The Girl On The Mountain.” “Fixin' To Die,” on the other hand, is a dark shout from the hell of Death Row. “The Firebreak Line” returns Earle to his pile-driving, country-rock roots. “You Broke My Heart” is a sweet, simple salute to the 1950s sounds of Webb Pierce or Carl Smith. “Walkin' In L.A.” is a twanging country shuffle. The guitar-heavy “Sunset Highway” is an instant-classic escape song. And the deeply touching “Goodbye Michelangelo” is Earle's farewell to his mentor, Guy Clark, who passed away last year.

Sun Kil Moon - Common As Light & Love Are Red Valleys Of Blood 2xLP (Caldo Verde)
Mark Kozelek’s new double-album was recorded with former Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley in San Francisco, CA and Hoboken, NJ and for the most part captures events from January to August of 2016 and how the mercurial singer/songwriter processed it all while traveling. A disenfranchised Kozelek laments the Nice, France terror attack and Orlando nightclub shooting on “Bastille Day” and “Bergen To Trondheim” respectively and condemns Trump's election and tech culture on “Lone Star.”

Various Artists - Boombox 2: Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro And Disco Rap 1979-83 2xCD/3xLP+MP3 (Soul Jazz)
A new selection of early rap music from the period 1979-83, with barely a household name in sight. Featured here are some the earliest hip-hop records that came out of New York City following the enormous commercial success of the first ever rap record, Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang, in September 1979.

Various Artists – Chicago Slickers 1948-1953 [Reissue/1976] LP (Nighthawk)
Various Artists – Chicago Slickers Volume 2 1948-1955 [Reissue/1980] LP (Nighthawk)
Various Artists – Windy City Blues: The Transition 1935-1953 [Reissue/1976] LP (Nighthawk)

Vinyl reissues of ultra-rare recordings from Chicago's mid/late-‘30s to early-‘50s blues heyday. The explosive post-war outburst of musical creativity was matched by the rise of dozens of small independent labels, but after imprints like Parkway, Tempotone and Random went bankrupt, many blues classics were relegated to obscurity.

Various Artists – Seafaring Strangers: Private Yacht CD/2xLP (Numero Group)
The Numero Group's dive into the deep end of America's private press continues. With pop music's volume knob adjusted for deflation in the early '70s, softness begat smoothness. Crewmen arrived from the worlds of jazz, folk, rock, and soul, all peddling a product that was sincere, leisurely, and lofty. A sound that was buoyant, crisp, defined. Sometimes classified as West Coast - and, later, Yacht Rock - the compass points of our Private Yacht expedition are the blue-eyed harmonies of Hall & Oates, the cocaine-dusted Fender Rhodes of Michael McDonald, and the comb-over strums of James Taylor. Here, at the glassy apex of rock's softer side, 20 strong swimmers are gathered together. An album for both relaxation and reflection, where listeners can enjoy the present, a cool breeze, and a taste of the good life.

New Releases - 6/9/17

Ani DiFranco – Binary CD (Righteous Babe)
“Ani DiFranco records arrive like MoMA retrospectives. Ani on Heartbreak. Ani on Worker's Rights. Ani on Parenthood. Ani in Love. Each release is entirely immersive and seemingly exhaustive, not only because of the propulsive, intensely kinetic sound signature on the prolific singer-songwriter's past work, but because her attention to the subject at hand has been laser-focused. For her 20th studio album, Binary, the MoMA retrospective might be called Ani Exhales. DiFranco's voice has lowered and softened, her guitarwork has slowed down, she puts fewer lyrics in her songs, and her songwriter's skin has gotten thicker. Gone is the 18-year-old girl on the street in Manhattan, raging against ‘Our father/ who art in a penthouse.’ Now she's a woman at sea level, New Orleans in her blood, with a long view in every direction and a hard-won instinct for self-preservation. Where she used to favor immersion, DiFranco here favors integration. Binary isn't about one thing, or two things, or even three things. It's about everything.” – NP

Big Thief – Capacity CD (Saddle Creek)
The trails that Brooklyn's Big Thief - Adrianne Lenker (guitar, vocals), Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums) - take us down on Capacity are overgrown with the wilderness of pumping souls. Lenker's songs introduce us to a gallery of multifaceted women and deal with the complicated matters of identity – at once dangerous and curious, though never unbelievable. Lenker shows us the gentle side of being ripped open. Tricked into love, done in and then witnessing the second act of pulling oneself back together to prepare for it to all happen again, but this time to a sturdier soul, one who is going to take the punches better than ever before and deal some jabs and roundhouses of their own. The album is thick with raw, un-doctored beauty: most of the songs on Capacity were played for the first time in the studio and were recorded the same day. “There is a darker darkness and a lighter light on this album,” Lenker explains. “The songs search for a deeper level of self-acceptance, to embrace the world within and without. I think Masterpiece began that process, as a reaction from inside the pain, whereas I feel Capacity examines the pain from the outside.

Chuck Berry – Chuck CD (Dualtone)
Chuck is the final album and first new recordings in nearly four decades by founding rock & roll legend Chuck Berry, who passed away on March 18, 2017 at the age of 90. Comprised of ten new recordings, eight of which were written by Berry, Chuck is his first new album since 1979's Rock It. Some of the songs on Chuck were originally conceived as far back as the 1980s, with Berry developing them in his home studio in St. Louis over many years during down time between tours. He worked on the album through 2014. When health concerns forced him to stop touring and recording in 2015, Berry continued to oversee production and planning for Chuck, enlisting his family and close friend Joe Edwards, the owner of Blueberry Hill, to fulfill his wishes that the album be completed and released. And from album highlight “Lady B. Goode,” a spiritual sequel to the iconic “Johnny B. Goode” featuring ripping solos from three generations of Berry guitarists, to the poignant country balladry of “Darlin',” a duet with his daughter Ingrid, Chuck truly is a family affair. Along with his children Charles Berry Jr. and Ingrid Berry, the album features guest performances from Gary Clark Jr., Tom Morello, and Nathaniel Rateliff.

Game Theory – 2 Steps From The Middle Ages [Reissue/1988] CD (Omnivore)
Game Theory’s final studio album – remastered and expanded. Following up 1987’s Lolita Nation would be no easy task for the power pop band. But, Scott Miller and company were certainly up for the task. Re-teaming with producer Mitch Easter (R.E.M., Marshall Crenshaw, Velvet Crush), 2 Steps From The Middle Ages was released in 1988, and showed the band had no shortage of energy, experimentation, and excellent material. This reissue contains the original 13 songs supplemented with 11 bonus tracks – demos, live performances and covers – all previously unissued. This is another opportunity to discover this brilliant, adventurous band who, if there was any justice in the world, should have been as big as R.E.M

Gov’t Mule – Revolution Come… Revolution Go CD/2xCD/2xLP+MP3 (Fantasy/Concord)
Preeminent rock band Gov't Mule return with their tenth studio effort. Steeped in the roots and mystique of rock, blues, soul, jazz and country, Revolution Come… Revolution Go enriches Gov't Mule's distinguished legacy with cleverly-crafted songs, intelligent and timely lyrical commentary, and downright incendiary playing. While there are some political observations on the album, there are also introspective ruminations on life and love, like the countrified road song “Traveling Tune,” the soaring “The Man I Want To Be” and the slow-burning, reflective “Easy Times.” Throughout the record Warren Haynes' dynamic vocals swing between rock ‘n' roll grit and soulful crooning. Legendary Don Was co-produced on the powerful and moving “Dreams & Songs” and the thought-provoking “Pressure Under Fire.” Jimmie Vaughan makes a sizzling cameo on the super-charged “Burning Point.” “Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground” is the reworking of the traditional blues instrumental originally recorded by Blind Willie Johnson to which Haynes added lyrics and the band turned into an epic gospel rock closer.

London Grammar – Truth Is A Beautiful Thing LP+MP3 (Columbia)
Second full-length album from the British trio.

Lupe Fiasco – Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool [Reissue/2007] 2xLP (Atlantic)
Double vinyl LP pressing of the sophomore album from the rapper.

The Magpie Salute – The Magpie Salute CD/2xLP (Eagle Rock Entertainment)
The Magpie Salute is a new band bringing together former Black Crowes members Rich Robinson, Marc Ford and Sven Pipien. Their eponymous debut album was recorded live in front of a small audience at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, New York apart from opening track “Omission” which is a full studio recording. The Magpie Salute has added significance as it marks the last recorded work by the late Eddie Harsch, former Black Crowes keyboard player who passed away in November 2016. The album is a mix of Black Crowes songs, new tracks and cover versions, which reflect the band's wide-ranging roots. With half of the songs coming in at over seven minutes long, there is a musical freedom to the album enabling all the musicians to shine.

Phoenix – Ti Amo CD/LP (Glassnote)
Ti Amo is Grammy-winning band Phoenix's first album since 2013's critically lauded Bankrupt!. Produced by the band and recorded at La Gaîté Lyrique (Paris) with the help of longtime collaborator Pierrick Devin, the band describes Ti Amo as “an album about simple pure emotions: love, desire, lust and innocence, it's also a record about our European, Latin roots, a fantasized version of Italy: a lost paradise made of eternal Roman summers (hyper-light, hyper-clarity, pistachio gelato), juke-boxes on the beach, Monica Vitti and Marcello Mastroiani, fearless desire and Antique marble statues.” The New York Times calls Ti Amo “the band's most unabashedly romantic record yet” and it's ushered in by lead single “J-Boy,” a brilliant, shimmering explosion.

Rancid – Trouble Maker CD/LP+MP3/LP+7”+MP3 (Epitaph)
East Bay pop punk veterans Rancid are going on nearly 25 years together, and they’re showing no signs of slowing down. New album Trouble Maker spans 19 tracks produced by Bad Religion frontman Brett Guerwitz, who is also the founder of Epitaph. Born in the midst of the post-Reagan economic downturn in the San Francisco Bay Area, the East Bay region specifically, Rancid came to light as Armstrong and Freeman were moving forward after the first band they founded, Operation Ivy, reached a friendly demise. As Rancid, the band took up the torch of social commentary and the examination of the local scene and instantly inflamed the newly revived punk community, setting the stage for what was to come. After having seen the American dream dwindle and fade within their country, community and homes, Rancid put their description of its aftermath into their songs.

Secret Sisters – You Don’t Own Me Anymore CD/LP+MP3 (New West)
There are two ways of handling a dangerous, raging river: you can surrender and let it carry you away, or you can swim against the flow. For The Secret Sisters, there was a point after the release of their last record when they could have chosen to do neither – instead, sinking to the bottom as the weight of the world washed away their dreams. They went from touring with Bob Dylan to losing their label, purging their team, filing bankruptcy and almost permanently trading harmonies for housecleaning. But there's a mythical pull to music that kept sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers moving forward, and they came out with a biting and beautiful third LP, produced by Brandi Carlile, You Don't Own Me Anymore. The album is a document of hardship and redemption, of pushing forward when it would be so much easier to drown in grief. And it's a story about how passion and pure artistry can be the strongest sort of salvation – how art is left, like perfect grains of sand, when everything else has washed away. The resulting songs of You Don't Own Me Anymore are about life when everything you think defines you is stripped away.

Slow Dancer – In A Mood CD/LP (ATO)
Simon Okely is lost in time. Or at least, his songs sound that way: warm, near-whispered indie-rock love letters to the ‘60s and ‘70s rhythm and blues records his parents would play on family car rides down Australia's winding west coast, heavy on nostalgia and even heavier on imagination. With his new album, In A Mood, Okely is aiming even higher on his new material, featuring a “more expansive, more ambitious” sound that's “less about the stories we tell ourselves when in love and more about the moods that can come creeping over a relationship” at any time. “It's a little more tasteful, involving new instruments, like drum machines and strings,” says the 31-year-old, whose lush tales of new romance, awkward courting and 'scraggly, mangy love that's fading and waning' have been striking a chord with fans of Mac DeMarco, Tobias Jesso Jr, Connan Mockasin and more.

Third Eye Blind – Third Eye Blind 20th Anniversary [Reissue/1997] 3xLP (Elektra)
Special digitally remastered and expanded 20th Anniversary Edition of Third Eye Blind's eponymous debut album, which features the hits “Semi-Charmed Life,” “Jumper,” “How’s It Going To Be.”

Various Artists – Music From The American Epic Sessions 2xCD (Columbia/Sony)
Airing June 6, 2017 on PBS in the United States, The American Epic Sessions, directed by Bernard MacMahon, is a feature-length film showcasing an all-star roster of contemporary artists, led by Jack White and T Bone Burnett, replicating a 1920s recording session and paying tribute to the great artists of the past. For the film, The American Epic team reassembled the very first electrical sound recording system from the 1920s, which consists of a single microphone, a towering six-foot amplifier rack, and a live record-cutting lathe powered by a weight-driven pulley system of clockwork gears. All the musical performances for the film were recorded live, and the soundtrack features many additional live performances, including those by: Alabama Shakes, The Americans, Ana Gabriel, Ashley Monroe, The Avett Brothers, Beck, Bettye LaVette, Bobby Ingano, Elton John, Frank Fairfield, Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton, Los Lobos, Stephen Stills, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nas, Pokey LaFarge, Christine Pizzuti, Raphael Saadiq, Rhiannon Giddens, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Taj Mahal, Jack White, and Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

New Releases - 6/2/17

All Time Low – Last Young Renegade CD/LP+MP3 (Fueled By Ramen)
Maryland pop-punk mainstays All Time Low follow-up 2015's Future Hearts with the new release Last Young Renegade. The band's seventh studio effort overall comes preceded by the anthemic title cut banger which sets up the ten-track collection's lyrical narrative. Frontman Alex Gaskarth explains, “We tried a lot of new things on this album, all within the context of what we love so much about All Time Low – There's no denying that we were binge watching Stranger Things at the time, while also reflecting on the loss of some of our favorite musicians; Prince, Bowie, George Michael. I think the influence comes through in the best ways. We all felt pulled to exciting and different places as we searched for inspiration, approaching something that's become so familiar to us from a new direction.”

Alt-J – Relaxer CD/LP+MP3 (Canvasback/Atlantic)
Alt-J is a group that can’t be pigeonholed. Plenty of bands place a solid mix of fast- and slow-tempo songs on their albums, and while Alt-J is no exception, there’s something different about their mix of music. Literally. No two songs sound the same. They’ve got a knack for creating unpredictable music, pleasantly surprising fans with a new sound on each track. From the horse’s mouth, that’s because they’re their own harshest critics. Their past two albums have met critical success both in the UK and North America, with their debut record An Awesome Wave winning the 2012 Mercury Prize and their sophomore effort This Is All Yours earning a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album in 2015. Their new album, Relaxer, was recorded all over London – from Shoreditch to St John's Wood, Crouch Hill to Brixton – with producer Charlie Andrew at the helm for the third time. A first taste of the album comes in the form of the broody lead single “3WW.” The stereo-heavy tune is a production gem, sending out shakers into your eardrums and guitar chords into your heart one line at a time.

Beach Fossils – Somersault CD (Bayonet)
The long-awaited return of Brooklyn's Beach Fossils, Somersault showcases a band in bloom. Augmented with more complex instrumentation, including string arrangements, piano, harpsichord, flute, and sax, the new songs offer multi-layered pop guided by sharp, poignant, and honest lyrics. Orchestral pop gem “Saint Ivy” shines with plucked strings, buoyant basslines and a propulsive, wayward, guitar. “Tangerine,” a driving, tightly wound melody, rushes forward and briefly leaves the ground due to the gossamer guest vocals of Slowdive's Rachel Goswell. The cloudy, wistful “Social Jetlag,” bustling with samples of crowded streets, features the type of candid, off-the-cuff lyrics that make the entire effort immediately illuminating. Somersault evokes the laid-back mood of a warm, breezy city night, the air crackling with humidity and excitement. These songs pulse and pull, capturing a blend of promise and heartache. It's beautiful and layered, a refined, sweeping creation that threads together numerous styles, textures, and themes into a refreshing, singular vision.

Benjamin Booker – Witness CD/LP (ATO)
Witness is the follow-up to Benjamin Booker's critically acclaimed self-titled 2014 debut album. Here, Booker delves deep into his passion for eccentric soul, R&B and blues. It draws on William Onyeabor's '70s African psych-rock, Freddie Gibbs and Pusha T while never straying too far from the garage-punk intensity that made Booker's debut a creative breakthrough. The title track, Booker's most profound and incisive song to date, features a guest vocal by Mavis Staples. The song's origins date to a writing trip he took to Mexico City, during which James Baldwin's observation that “Once you find yourself in another civilization you are forced to examine your own,” took on the weight of experience. “Am I going to be a witness?” Booker asks in the statement (and the song). “And in today's world, is that enough?”

Bleachers – Gone Now CD/LP+MP3 (RCA)
After building a devoted fan-base through a year and a half of non-stop touring behind his band Bleachers' well-received debut album Strange Desire, Jack Antonoff realized his second album needed to “sound like New York and New Jersey and the actual space I grew up in, in the most specific way.” So he built his own studio in his New York apartment and it was there in that room – surrounded by posters and flyers from punk shows he saw as a kid and his old baseball trophies and Star Wars figurines – that Antonoff created the epic, synth-driven anthems that appear on Bleachers' new album Gone Now. “The crux of the new album is my desperately trying to find a way to become some version of an adult, and not just be a giant child,” Antonoff explains. “I thought a lot about things like, ‘Where do I want to go from here? Do I want to be a person who has this extremely vibrant relationship with their art, but their life suffers in a million other places? Where do I want to go with my life?’”

Chastity Belt – I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Hardly Art)
I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is Chastity Belt's third full-length album to date. Recorded live in July of 2016, at Jackpot! in Portland, OR with producer/mixer Matthew Simms of Wire, it's a dark and uncommonly beautiful set of mood-driven rock that's also unabashedly introspective. More personal and more direct than 2015's marvelous Time To Go Home, I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone is a brave and often exhilarating tangle of mixed feelings and haunting melodies that connects dizzying anguish (“This Time Of Night”) to shimmering insight (“Different Now”) to gauzy ambiguity (“Stuck”). It's a serious record but not a serious departure, defined best, perhaps, by a line that Julia Shapiro shares early on its staggering title track: “I wanna be sincere.”

Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song CD/LP (Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch)
Dan Auerbach’s second solo album, Waiting On A Song, is a love letter to Nashville. As such, he recruited some of Nashville’s most respected players to write and record his latest, including John Prine, Duane Eddy, Jerry Douglas, Pat McLaughlin and Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman of the Memphis Boys. Auerbach said about working with his musical heroes: “Living in Nashville has definitely changed the way I think about music and the way that I record it. I didn’t have all of these resources before. I am working with some of the greatest musicians that ever lived.” Auerbach moved to Nashville from his native Akron, Ohio in 2010 and with this release, his first solo album in eight years, it is clear that he has made Music City his home. During the summer of 2016, taking a break from the non-stop touring he’d done with The Black Keys and the Arcs, he finally got acquainted with the city he loves so much, as well as the world-class musicians who live there, and subsequently collaborated with some of Nashville’s heavyweights. [Limited edition blue/yellow color vinyl pressing also available.]

Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa CD (WB)
The self-titled debut studio album by English singer and songwriter Dua Lipa has spawned six singles: “New Love,” “Be The One,” “Last Dance,” “Hotter Than Hell,” “Blow Your Mind (Mwah),” and “Lost In Your Light.” Lipa describes the album as “dark pop.” The lyrical themes revolve around her personal views of love, rising above, sex and self-empowerment. Commenting on the album's direction, Lipa said “When I had taken interest with my own music, I would listen to Nelly Furtado, P!nk and Destiny's Child, but as I grew older I found my love for hip-hop … I love the realness behind it, that's why I try to also bind that into the music.”

Flogging Molly – Life Is Good CD/LP (Vanguard)
The social and political awareness that drives Flogging Molly's music is never more prominent than on their new release Life Is Good - a strikingly powerful album that arrives at a strikingly key time. The sixth studio album by the renowned Celtic-punk rockers now in their 20th year is mature, well crafted, equally polished and almost aggressively topical. It is filled with rousing songs that are timeless in their sentiment, but directly related to today's most pressing concerns: Politics, the economy, unemployment, planned boomtowns gone bust, immigration policies gone awry, and much more. Imagery abounds on Life Is Good, and one of the most memorable images might be found in “Adamstown,” the saga of a planned community west of Dublin that came to a halt in mid-construction a decade ago when the Irish economy crashed - and left little more than a ghost town in its place. Thematically, hope and inspiration are a major part of “The Hand Of John L. Sullivan,” a rollicking track about the legendary “Boston Strong Boy” who was the first ever heavyweight champion of gloved boxing from 1882-1892. And what's uniquely distinctive about Life Is Good is that the gravity and weight of these themes never overshadow the sheer fun and exuberance felt in each song.

Halsey – Hopeless Fountain Kingdom CD/LP (Astralwerks)
Grammy-nominated multi-platinum alternative pop maverick Halsey returns with her second full-length album, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom. The 13-track affair honestly exorcises moments of sorrow, pain, joy, and love through a whirlwind of poetic lyricism, cinematic production, and searing hooks. She invites a few friends such as Quavo, Lauren Jauregui (Fifth Harmony), and Cashmere Cat along for the ride, as well as producers Benny Blanco, Greg Kurstin, Ricky Reed and more. Lead single, “Now Or Never,” offers the first taste of what fans can expect from the new album, a track with a soulful refrain over dystopic, shuddering synths. The vocals segue from a delicate croon into an R&B-style bridge, highlighting her impressive range. [Limited edition red with yellow splatter color vinyl pressing also available.]

Iggy Pop – The Idiot [Reissue/1977] LP (Virgin)
Iggy Pop – Lust For Life [Reissue/1977] LP (Virgin)
Iggy Pop ‎– TV Eye 1977 Live [Reissue/1978] LP (Virgin)

Marika Hackman – I’m Not Your Man CD (Sub Pop)
It's amazing how the floodgates open when you shut out all the internal and external noise, stop pandering to stereotype, cease listening to your anxieties, and disregard the compartment society has built for you. I'm Not Your Man, begins with an impromptu hearty laugh. It's not the sound of silliness; it's the sound of liberation, spontaneity, and joy. 24-year-old Hackman is feeling more herself than ever. Life isn't necessarily funnier or happier, but when there's cause for a joke or a big ballsy statement, she's not holding back any more. “The record's all about female relationships, romance and breakdowns, but there's also a dim worldview going on. ‘I'm Not Your Man' can either mean ‘I'm not your man, I'm your woman,' or it can mean 'I'm not a part of this.'” Hackman cranked up the knobs in the studio, turning away from the quieter sounds of her past to realize her teenage fantasy of fronting a raucous band. “I wanted to let rip and lose control. When I was younger I wasn't looking at Joni Mitchell. I was looking at Nirvana thinking, 'I wanna be like that!'” To channel this feral female energy, Hackman recruited London quartet The Big Moon as her backing band. The results are a dynamic, multi-genre album tied together by razor-sharp wit.

Merry Clayton ‎– Gimme Shelter [Reissue/1970] LP (Real Gone Music)
White color vinyl reissue of an overlooked soul classic. (Clayton’s most famous vocal turn, of course, was her 1969 duet (“It's just a shot away!”).

North Mississippi Allstars – Prayer For Peace CD/LP (Sony)
Prayer for Peace is North Mississippi Allstars eighth studio album and self-produced by the Dickinson Brothers. It was recorded across the country at six different studios: including the famous Royal Studios in Memphis with Boo Mitchell and their legendary father Jim Dickinson's Zebra Ranch in Hernando, MS. Special guests on the album include bassist Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers Band, Dead & Company), Graeme Lesh (Midnight North, The Terrapin Family Band), vocalist Sharisse Norman, bassist Dominic Davis (Jack White), and singer/fife player Shardé Thomas, daughter of Mississippi blues giant Otha Turner.

Omar Souleyman – To Syria, With Love CD/LP (Mad Decent)
To Syria, With Love is the third album from Syrian musician Omar Souleyman. The album is a departure musically and lyrically from his previous material, with focus on more elaborate keyboard and techno elements. Completely setting politics aside, Souleyman consciously shares this personal ode to his native country with an emphasis on his emotional connection to the land and people but not without heartache in view of the nation's current state. “It's been six years I've been away, and I'm tired of looking for home and asking about my loved ones. My soul is wounded and it's like having dust in my eyes,” Souleyman says.

Rachel Baiman – Shame CD (Free Dirt)
Shame, the debut full-length album from Rachel Baiman, is a work of striking importance from a fresh voice that is bound to reach many ears in the years to come. On the album's ten tracks, Baiman commands attention with songwriting prowess and a depth of presence well beyond her 27 years. The album is a thought-provoking exploration on life as a female in America, with a strong lyrical focus on social justice issues. Despite the serious subject matter, the sound of the album remains light and centers around groove-based, largely acoustic instrumentation. Produced by Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange, the lush and varied musical texture heard on Shame is a departure from Baiman's previous stripped-down duo work with 10 String Symphony. Baiman's vocals are arresting throughout; simultaneously rich and subdued, her husky tone and unaffected delivery pair beautifully with the record's stew of folk, alt country, and gospel sounds. 

Robert Lamm – Time Chill: A Retrospective CD (Omnivore)
As a founding member of Chicago, Robert Lamm has been writing and recording hit material for 50 years. Time Chill: A Retrospective is the first ever look back at the music Robert has been composing as a solo artist for nearly twenty years. This collection contains 15 songs that hail from solo albums Robert has been producing since 1999. Included are tracks from his collaboration with Carl Wilson of The Beach Boys and Gerry Beckley of America; previously unissued remixes by longtime Lamm producer John Van Eps (including a take on Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”) and a previously unreleased version of Bobby Hebb’s classic “Sunny.”

Roger Waters – Is This The Life We Really Want? CD/2xLP+MP3 (Columbia)
Roger Waters, the creative power and song writing force behind Pink Floyd, returns with his first rock album in 25 years, Is This The Life We Really Want? Waters' last studio album, 1992's Amused To Death, was a prescient study of popular culture, exploring the power of television in the era of the First Gulf War. The long-awaited follow-up is an unflinching commentary on the modern world and uncertain times and serves as a natural successor to classic Pink Floyd albums such as Animals and The Wall. Produced and mixed by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Beck, U2), Is This The Life We Really Want? includes 12 new Waters musical compositions and studio performances. Contributing musicians are: Roger Waters (vocals, acoustic, bass), Nigel Godrich (arrangement, sound collages, keyboards, guitar), Gus Seyffert (bass, guitar, keyboards), Jonathan Wilson (guitar, keyboards), Joey Waronker (drums), Roger Manning (keyboards), Lee Pardini (keyboards), and Lucius (vocals) with Jessica Wolfe and Holly Proctor.

Saint Etienne – Home Counties CD/LP (Heavenly/PIAS America)
Saint Etienne grew up in the Home Counties. Here are sixteen new songs they have written about a day in the life of this doughnut of shires that ring the capital, punctuated by bursts of BBC radio to remind you what time it is, and all connected by train journeys - main lines, branch lines, commutes, escapes. It begins with “Something New,” and a teenage girl creeping through the front door after staying out all night. It stops at “Whyteleafe,” and imagines what might have happened if David Bowie had remained David Jones of Bromley, stuck with a desk job. It summons up the Enfield Poltergeist on “Heather,” and the anarchy of Essex's Plotland settlers on “Sweet Arcadia.” “Train Drivers In Eyeliner” wonders what the railway network might be like if it was organized according to ASLEF’s (the label for releases by the UK train drivers trade union, Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) taste in music.

Tom Petty And The Torpedoes – Damn The Torpedoes [Reissue/1979] LP (Geffen)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎– Hard Promises [Reissue/1980] LP (Geffen)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎– Long After Dark [Reissue/1982] LP (Geffen)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎– Southern Accents [Reissue/1985] LP (Geffen)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎– Pack Up The Plantation - Live! [Reissue/1985] 2xLP (Geffen)
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers ‎– Let Me Up (I've Had Enough) [Reissue/1987] LP (Geffen)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎– Into The Great The Wide Open [Reissue/1991] LP (Geffen)
Tom Petty – Full Moon Fever [Reissue/1989] LP (Geffen)

TOPS – Sugar At The Gate CD/LP (Arbutus)
For Sugar At The Gate, Montreal's TOPS peaced out to L.A. They lived and recorded at “Glamdale,” a mini-mansion and former brothel located in the Jewel City, Glendale, California. The unassuming record unfolds slowly, taking time to reveal itself. Like nearly everything TOPS does, multiple meanings overlap with the album's title referring to orgasm, but also to carrot chasing, gatekeeping, and the social contract. “Living in L.A. was living out a teenage fantasy,” says vocalist-songwriter Jane Penny, “living with your band and practicing in the garage. It was also the first time we've ever had that much space to make music. I took the experience of living L.A. as a challenge to make music that I know is real to me, in the sense of it feeling true and containing true feelings, but also recordings of great songs, the real thing.” Layers of sarcasm and sincerity seem to enfold the group like flower petals, yet TOPS' flawless musicianship and profound grasp of pop fundamentals are the surest sign that at the core, it's all as real as it sounds.

Various Artists – Mavis Staples I’ll Take You There: An All-Star Concert Celebration CD/2xCD+DVD (Blackbird Presents)
A historic, all-star concert featuring over twenty performances spanning many genres by artists including Gregg Allman, Win Butler & Regine Chassagne of Arcade Fire, Eric Church, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Jeff Tweedy and many more. Filmed at Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theatre, this performance brought some of the biggest names in music together to honor the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and American icon. Throughout an unparalleled career that spans over six decades, Staples soulful songs of justice and equality have become a soundtrack for the Civil Rights Movement, and inspired multiple generations of artists. In addition to the performances, I'll Take You There includes exclusive interviews with many of the artists, exploring Staples cultural and musical impact. The Deluxe Edition includes six extra songs plus a DVD of the entire concert including two songs not included in the broadcast version.

New Releases - 5/19/17

(Sandy) Alex G – Rocket CD/LP+MP3 (Domino)
Rocket is Philadelphia-based artist Alex G's eighth full-length release – an assured statement that follows a slate of humble masterpieces, many of them self-recorded and self-released, stretching from 2010's Race to his 2015’s Beach Music. Amid the Rocket recording process, Alex made headlines for catching the attention of Frank Ocean, who asked him to play guitar on his two 2016 albums, Endless and Blonde. More than any stylistic cues, what Alex took from the experience was a newfound confidence in collaboration. Rocket wears this collaborative spirit proudly, and in its numerous contributors presents a restless sense of musical experimentation - effortlessly jumping from distorted sound collage to dreamy folk music to bouncing Americana. Rocket illustrates a cohesive vision of contemporary American experience; the cast of characters that Alex G inhabits have fun, fall in love, develop obsessions, get in trouble, and – much like rockets themselves – ultimately they burn out.

Basement – Promise Everything [Deluxe Edition] LP+MP3 (Fueled By Ramen)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. This deluxe reissue of Basement's critically adored album includes remixed/remastered versions of the original release's ten songs and four bonus tracks: a cover of The Cardigan's “My Favourite Game,” acoustic versions of “Aquasun,” “Blinded Bye,” and the acoustic track “Cloud,” which originally appeared on a limited run 7”. Limited color vinyl pressing.

Beastmaker – Inside The Skull CD (Rise Above)
The glittering technological future we were all promised has turned into a dystopian nightmare. If music must reflect the times, the hour has plainly come to reject the mainstream status quo and get down to the roots and rhythms of life's elemental heaviness. And that's where Beastmaker come in. Purveyors of some of the most ecstatically thunderous and raw doom metal to emerge in decades, this three-man riffing machine from Fresno, CA, are manifestly the real deal. From the old school evangelism of opener “Evil One” and the warped psychedelia of “Now Howls The Beast” through to the twisted fury and fire of “Psychic Visions” and creepy closer “Sick Sick Demon,” Inside The Skull is not just a muscular hymn to the glory days of heavy metal's genesis and early prosperity: this is a vital, virile and venomous slab of wildly creative but spiritually pure doom devastation, designed to rescue us from the drab harshness of present day reality and transport us somewhere cooler, somewhere better and, in the best way possible, somewhere much heavier.

Biters – The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be CD (Earache)
Recalling the early spirit and danger of rabble-rousing rock heroes, Biters have faithfully built upon their punk heritage and their love of ‘70s rock to deliver music that ignites, incites and excites in equal measure. Possessing a heart full of rock ‘n’ roll, the band play foot stomping, fist pumping, spit-on-the-floor anthems possessed of a fighting spirit that refuses to give in. The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be is an instant rock ‘n’ roll classic that makes the genre exciting and relevant again. “Corporate pop culture and fair-weather fads are just something I'm not interested in. I still choose to play rock ‘n' roll, because I still believe in rock ‘n’ Roll.” -- Tuk Smith, Biters

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love! 2xLP (Glassnote)
Released last December on CD – now available on vinyl. As Childish Gambino once again sheds his skin, Awaken, My Love! is a sonic evolution. It has been described as R&B meets Pink Floyd, by one journalist while others have cited an amalgam of rock, funk, and soul influences. It is a groundbreaking next step following the genre blending STN MTN / Kauai mixtape and the twice-Grammy nominated rap album, because the internet.

Crimpshrine – Duct Tape Soup [Reissue/1992] LP (Numero)
Crimpshrine – The Sound Of A New World Being Born [Reissue/1998] LP (Numero)

Before Green Day, Operation Ivy, and Lookout Records put the East Bay's burgeoning punk scene on the map, a trio of Berkeley kids were reinventing the genre with music that was melodic but full of feedback, and a singer who sounded like he gargled glass. Crimpshrine's debut EP was Lookout's fourth release, followed by an album, a second EP, and a slew of split singles and compilation tracks before the band imploded in 1989 after a ridiculous two-and-a-half-month tour in a Ford Pinto hatchback.

Daddy Issues – Deep Dream CD (Infinity Cat)
When singer and guitarist Jenna Moynihan saw the phrase Daddy Issues scribbled on the bathroom wall of a now-defunct Nashville DIY venue, she mistakenly assumed it was the name of an all-girl punk outfit sure to become her next favorite band. Upon realizing that no such band existed, Moynihan and friends Emily Maxwell (drums) and Jenna Mitchell (bass) picked up their instruments, taught themselves how to play and started their own band. Produced by Jake Orrall (JEFF The Brotherhood, Colleen Green), Daddy Issues' full-length debut Deep Dream combines the best of '80s alternative, '90s grunge and '00s pop, tackling the difficulties of friendship, heartbreak, mental health, sexual assault and a number of other issues that come with the package of youth in the modern world.

Daniel Romano – Modern Pressure CD/LP+MP3 (New West)
Daniel Romano is an Ontario-based artist, poet, musician and performer of international acclaim. A genre-defying student of musical experimentation and a brilliant multi-instrumentalist, Romano is acutely well versed in the languages of melody, shape, lyric construction and song arrangement. Apt in its title, Modern Pressure picks up where Mosey left off, boldly asking, “What age is this? What blooming weight do we carry through these stolen streets?” Written in observational scrutiny beneath the overcast atmosphere of 2016, the record vigorously tackles the present-day heaviness we contain in the jotting bones of our guilty expressions. It pleads for the restoration of empathy and resonance, to fill the empty chamber once again.

Do Make Say Think – Stubborn Persistent Illusions CD/2xLP (Constellation)
Do Make Say Think is widely celebrated as one of the preeminent instrumental rock bands of the ‘90s-‘00s. Stubborn Persistent Illusions is the group's first album in eight years - and a brilliant addition to one of the most consistently inventive and critically praised discographies in the ‘post-rock’ canon. The band has been acclaimed as “the supernova in Constellation's stellar network...arguably the finest back catalogue of any currently operating instrumental rock band” (Drowned In Sound), creating “some of the most honest, unpretentious, group-oriented rock of their time” (Popmatters). Among the band's strengths is an ineffable naturalism that avoids anything too woolly, proggy, purist or clichéd, while remaining a fundamentally guitar-driven group whose ornate four-and six-string interplay uniquely balances rockism, pastoralism, and electronic-influenced post-production. Stubborn Persistent Illusions is at once familiar and as fresh as anything DMST has committed to tape; produced and mixed as always by the band itself - a continuing affirmation of the group's DIY ethos and their singular self-production acumen and aesthetic. [180gm double-vinyl edition features an etching on the D-side.]

Iron Maiden – The Complete Albums Collection 1990-2015 3xLP (Sanctuary)
Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying [Reissue/1990] 2xLP (Sanctuary)
Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark [Reissue/1992] 2xLP (Sanctuary)
Iron Maiden – The X Factor [Reissue/1995] 2xLP (Sanctuary)
Iron Maiden – Virtual XI [Reissue/1998] 2xLP (Sanctuary)

Unlike the '80s reissues which were cut from the original analogue master tapes, the vinyl audio for this reissue campaign of their ‘90s catalog has been cut from the high-resolution remasters of 2015 when the Maiden catalogue was digitally upgraded.

Jlin – Black Origami CD (Planet Mu)
A percussion-led tour de force, Jlin's long awaited second album Black Origami is a creation that seals her reputation as a unique producer with an exceptional ability to make riveting rhythmic music. The album is driven by a deep creative thirst which she describes as “this driving feeling that I wanted to do something different, something that challenged me to my core.” Spirituality and movement are both at the core of Black Origami, inspired largely by her ongoing collaborations with Indian dancer/movement artist Avril Stormy Unger whom she met and collaborated with at her debut performance for the Unsound festival – “There is a fine line between me entertaining a person and my spirituality. Avril, who collaborates with me by means of dance, feels the exact same way. Movement played a great role in Black Origami. The track ‘Carbon 7’ is very inspired by the way Avril moves and dances. Our rhythms are so in sync at times it kind of scares us. When there is something I can't quite figure out when it comes to my production, it's like she senses it. Her response to me is always ‘You'll figure it out.’ Once I figure it out it's like time and space no longer exist.”

Land Of Talk – Life After Youth CD (Saddle Creek)
Life After Youth is the first Land Of Talk album since 2010's Cloak And Cipher. After taking a few months off after Cloak And Cipher’s touring cycle, frontwoman Elizabeth Powell got back to work on a follow-up. Instead, a series of mishaps - post-tour fatigue, a crashed hard drive with new demos, and her father's stroke in 2013 - turned “a few months” into “a few years.” While caring for her father, Elizabeth fell under the spell of classical, ambient, and Japanese tonkori music, whose meditative quality aided his recovery. Immersing herself in those sounds would change her entire approach to music making; she started writing songs without her trusty guitar, instead building tracks up from synth beds and programmed loops. Life After Youth’s centerpiece track, “Inner Lover,” presents the most radical results of those experiments. It's an audio Rorschach test of a song: key in on the incessant synth pulse underpinning Elizabeth's pleading vocal (“take care of me!”) and the track assumes an ominous intensity. But when you surrender to the relaxed drum counter-rhythm and subliminal harmonies, “Inner Lover” projects a graceful serenity. Even the songs built atop more traditional rock foundations exist in that liminal space between dreaming and waking life, confidence and doubt, raw feelings and soothing sounds.

Linkin Park – One More Light CD (WB)
For any career artist, making new material matter can be the biggest challenge. Inspiration is a fickle thing, and past success often draws a bar that is hard to overcome. But once in a while, unexpectedly, lightning strikes – and an artist we think we know goes somewhere we didn't know was possible. Miraculously, Linkin Park's seventh studio album One More Light does just that. And it doesn't achieve it by being louder or bigger, more avant garde or more dramatic. It achieves it by being more human. One More Light is a moment in time. It's built on personal stories, sweat-stained and reeling from injuries – the product of six voices, each coming clean about their lives and struggles, as if it were the first time. We get an unobstructed view into what makes the band tick as people, fathers, husbands, musicians, and friends. Looking back, there were signs of One More Light in Linkin Park's earlier releases. There has always been a catharsis in the lyrics, and genre-bending in the sounds. One More Light continues that tradition, but with a perspective and craftsmanship that only a band of this caliber could command.

Matisyahu – Undercurrent CD (Fallen Sparks)
Singer-songwriter Matisyahu has been on a journey inward for more than a decade. The journey has been private and public. The journey has at times been explicitly external, even while being driven by internal change. Now, nearly thirteen years after the release of his first studio record, Matisyahu and his band have done something unmatched in his past repertoire; they have crafted that journey into a musically thematic eight-song-movement. The band features longtime guitarist Aaron Dugan, Dub Trio's bassist and drummer Stu Brooks and Joe Tomino, and keyboard virtuoso BigYuki - and the journey starts with them. The band improvised for hours in the studio with Matisyahu watching on as an admirer without singing a single lyric. Out of the improvisations grew melodic themes, rhythmic peaks and valleys, blissful and proto-song guitar passages, deep dub meditations and ultimately an inspired instrumental record unto itself. Only once the band had crafted this musical narrative, did Matisyahu begin to work on a lyrical narrative of his own - one that is simultaneously informed and integrated with the music yet driven by his own personal journey.

Mountain Goats – Goth CD/2xLP+MP3/2xLP+12”+MP3 (Merge)
From Peter Hughes of the Mountain Goats: “The theme this time around is goth, a subject closer to my heart perhaps than that of any Mountain Goats album previous. And while John writes the songs, as he always has, it feels more than ever like he's speaking for all of us in the band, erstwhile goths (raises hand) or otherwise, for these are songs that approach an identity most often associated with youth from a perspective that is inescapably adult. Anyone old enough to have had the experience of finding oneself at sea in a cultural landscape that's suddenly indecipherable will empathize with Pat Travers showing up to a Bauhaus show looking to jam, for example. But underneath the outward humor, there is evident throughout a real tenderness toward, and solidarity with, our former fellow travelers – the friends whose bands never made it out of Fender's Ballroom, the Gene Loves Jezebels of the world – the ones whose gothic paths were overtaken by the realities of life, or of its opposite. It's something we talk about a lot, how fortunate and grateful we are to share this work, a career that's become something more rewarding and fulfilling than I think any of us could have imagined. We all know how easily it could've gone the other way, and indeed for a long time did.” [Deluxe color vinyl edition cut at 45rpm and including a bonus 12” also available.] 

Nathaniel Rateliff – In Memory Of Loss [2010] 2xLP (Rounder)
Before Nathaniel Rateliff was topping charts around the world with his hit song, “S.O.B.,” he was a solo singer-songwriter, who made his debut with 2010's In Memory Of Loss. With deeply personal and introspective lyrics, critics drew comparisons to early Bob Dylan and drew high praise from The Telegraph (UK) who called it “highly promising.”

Nick Hakim – Green Twins CD (ATO)
The story of Nick Hakim's debut album Green Twins truly began when, armed with the masters for his critically acclaimed Where Will We Go Pt. I & II EPs, Hakim moved from Boston to Brooklyn, spending his time fleshing out unfinished ideas in his bedroom. He came up with lyrics on the spot while playing the live circuit, recording sketches and lyrics on voice memos and a four-track cassette recorder, and embracing the local community of musicians by performing with bands like Jesse And Forever and Onyx Collective. From there, Green Twins came about as a sum of its parts: Hakim took the demo recordings to studios in New York, Philadelphia and London and built on them, keeping the original essence of the songs intact. Hakim says of Green Twins, “I felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs.” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green's Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib, and Screaming Jay Hawkins.”

Papa Roach – Crooked Teeth CD (Eleven Seven)
Papa Roach have never taken the easy way out and they aren't going to start now. Over the past two decades the group have established themselves as true trendsetters in heavy music: They've been nominated for two Grammy Awards, toured the globe with everyone from Eminem to Marilyn Manson and crafted the nü metal anthem “Last Resort,” which is still in heavy rotation on rock radio seventeen years after its original release. However, the group's tenth full-length Crooked Teeth sees the band returning to their humble – and hungry – roots. From the instantly infectious nature of the title track to the atmospheric sheen of the moody ballad “Periscope” (featuring Skylar Grey) and the acoustic/hip-hop rock mashup of “Sunrise Trailer Park” (featuring Machine Gun Kelly adding a verse to Shaddix's rap) Crooked Teeth displays the various sides of Papa Roach and illustrates why they've managed to remain relevant while other musical trends ebb and flow. 

Pokey LaFarge – Manic Revelations CD/LP (Rounder)
Pokey LaFarge tries to make sense of trouble he's seen and trouble he's been in. This is the Great Why of his unending passion for songwriting. Each chord, each riff shades the stories he sets up in his lyrics, always in search of the purest truth within the 10 forlorn, haunting melodies on Manic Revelations. A musician, a storyteller, a narrator of the messy, unkempt American experience...Pokey LaFarge sits, he watches, he writes. Everything that's worth happening happens in his songs. From the broad social narrative of “Riot In The Streets” to the internal tension of “Must Be A Reason” and “Bad Dreams” to the profound alienation of “Silent Movie,” these Manic Revelations are questions, they are answers, they are an epoch for Pokey LaFarge. Album single ‘Silent Movie’ “is just the sort of refreshing breeze we could all use in these harsh days, blowing in on shambling guitars and sighing horns. As the instrumentation calms your worried mind, LaFarge reminds you to keep in touch with the things that actually make life worth living because, when all is said is done, we only get one shot at this. ‘Growing up is a scam/ The truth is a lie,’ he sings. ‘Better of staying a child/ Till the day you die’” – Consequence Of Sound. [Limited edition 180gm transparent blue vinyl pressing also available.]

Soundtrack – Singles [OST/Reissue/1992] 2xCD/2xLP+CD (Sony Legacy)
The newly expanded, 25th Anniversary Edition of the Singles soundtrack features the album's original 13 tracks, newly mastered, with a bonus CD of rarities and unreleased tracks. The new bonus CD (also included on the double-vinyl edition) features previously unreleased recordings by Mudhoney, Paul Westerberg, Mike McCready and Chris Cornell in addition to rarities such as Cornell's 1992 EP Poncier (debuting an early rendition of “Spoonman”) and tracks from the film not included on the original soundtrack album. This expanded edition includes, for the first time on CD, “Touch Me I'm Dick,” the signature track from Singles performed by Citizen Dick (a fictional band created for the film featuring frontman Matt Dillon backed by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament).

The Steel Woods – Straw In The Wind LP (Woods Music)
Straw In The Wind is the debut album from Nashville-based rock band The Steel Woods, a commanding musical force that blends an amalgam of influences with a Southern-infused foundation. The group's sound is a hybrid of rock, blues, folk, gospel, heavy metal, Americana, soul and bluegrass.

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Live From The Fox Oakland 3xLP+MP3 (Fantasy/Concord)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. In September of 2016, Tedeschi Trucks Band set out for the West Coast to make a live album. After 10 shows, there was no shortage of great music to choose from, but for everyone on the tour, one night stood out from the rest: September 9th at the Fox Theatre in Oakland. Live From The Fox Oakland is a live double album that David Fricke calls “a new peak in the continuing story of a great American rock & roll family band.”

Tiger’s Jaw – Spin CD (Black Cement/Atlantic)
Making yourself vulnerable isn't easy but it often makes for lasting art and that is certainly true of Tigers Jaw's fifth full-length, Spin. The album marks a new chapter for the Scranton, PA-based indie rock band for many reasons: Not only is it the first collection of songs that was completely written and recorded solely by Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins, but it was also the first time they had a full month in the studio without having to worry about outside responsibilities. Furthermore it's the inaugural release on Atlantic's new imprint Black Cement, a label spearheaded by longtime collaborator Will Yip who returned to the production helm for Spin. All of these factors converged to create an album that sounds more fully formed than anything Tigers Jaw have done in the past and simultaneously establishes them as a band whose appeal truly transcends genres. Over the course of twelve tracks, the album moves from the sweetly syncopated, fuzzed-out bliss of the opener “Follows” to the midtempo melodicism of "June" and liltingly lovely ballad "Bullet.” Profoundly personal and vibrantly textured, Spin exhibits Walsh and Collins' remarkable ability to capture the sentiments and complexities of a moment through melody and introspection. [Vinyl edition due June 23rd.]

Wavves – You’re Welcome CD/LP (Ghostramp)
The word “brat” has followed Nathan Williams around for almost a decade, but at the age of 30, with a fully-fledged business to his name, as well as the ongoing success of band Wavves, his rebellious streak has proven not just purposeful but pretty damn inspiring. You're Welcome is the soundtrack to this new lease of freedom. It's Williams' tongue-in-cheek rebirth as a self-released, self-actualized, self-promoting punk kingpin, and despite putting his money where his uncensored mouth is, he's emerged not just unscathed but with the upper hand. You're Welcome is mostly comprised of Williams' oddball, sample-led brainstorms: he came up with 40 tracks, now whittled down to twelve, fat-free punk zingers. A sample nerd, Williams delved into his obsession with 1950s doo-wop and – surprisingly – international folk, including Cambodian pop and '70s psychedelia from South America. The results make for one of the most diverse and intricate Wavves records yet. “Come To The Valley” contains a Phil Spector meets Beach Boys '60s high school dance vibe, whereas title track “You're Welcome” riffs on sound effects that could almost originate from Bizarro World, never mind Cambodia. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]

New Releases - 5/12/17

Art Pepper – The Art Pepper Quartet [Reissue/1957] CD (Omnivore)
Recorded in late 1956 and released in early 1957, the same year as the landmark Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section, The Art Pepper Quartet (Art Pepper: saxophone, Russ Freeman: piano, Ben Tucker: bass, Gary Frommer: drums) is back for its 60th anniversary. Pawelski. In addition to the album’s seven classics, this remaster includes five bonus tracks—alternate takes of “Pepper Pot” and “Blues At Twilight” (originally issued in 1990 in Japan) and a journey through the creation of “Val’s Pal” (including previously unheard incomplete takes and false starts) via three more tracks. New liner notes from Laurie Pepper trace the story of how her (and many folks’) favorite Art Pepper record was not only conceived, but ended up back where it belongs—with Art’s estate, and in the eyes, ears, and hands of jazz lovers everywhere.

Between The Buried & Me – Coma Ecliptic Live 2xLP (Metal Blade)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Between The Buried & Me performed their 2015 Coma Ecliptic in its entirety live on October 4, 2016 at The Observatory North Park in San Diego, CA.

Christopher Paul Stelling – Itinerant Arias LP+MP3 (ANTI-)
Released last week on CD – now available on vinyl. There is a fearless quality to the music of Christopher Paul Stelling. A voice that sounds both old and young, an effortless yet intricate finger-picking guitar style and lyrics that are both dramatic, and intensely confessional. It’s a sound that channels the restless spirit of a young man who left home to travel the country, haunting and impassioned songs formed by endless nights alone on stage with a guitar, playing to packed houses, other times to nearly empty rooms. Stelling estimates that he’s played over four hundred shows in just the past three years. It places him within a longstanding tradition that serves to nurture one’s character and art.

Colter Wall – Colter Wall CD (Young Mary’s Record Co.)
Husky voiced 21-year old Canadian singer-songwriter Colter Wall releases his self-titled debut album. Helmed by Grammy Award-winning producer Dave Cobb, Colter Wall was recorded at Nashville's historic RCA Studio A. In addition to Wall on vocals and acoustic guitar and Cobb on acoustic guitar, the album features Chris Powell (Brent Cobb, Jamey Johnson) on drums, Robbie Turner (Waylon Jennings, Chris Stapleton) on pedal steel and Mike Webb (Southern Family) on piano. A native of Swift Current, Saskatchewan Canada, Wall's sound is comprised of resonate and raw baritone vocals, folk and bluegrass style guitar and banjo picking, steady kick-drum stomping, and visually provoking, storytelling lyrics. Since debuting in 2015 with the release of his EP, Imaginary Appalachia, Wall has received overwhelming acclaim – Steve Earle declares, “Colter Wall is bar-none the best young singer-songwriter I've seen in twenty years,” while Rick Rubin, who recently signed Wall to his American Songs publishing company, proclaims, “Colter sings and writes songs in ways seemingly lost in time. There is an agelessness about him so unusual in someone so young.”

David Bowie/Trevor Jones – Labyrinth [Reissue/1986] LP (Capitol)
New remastered vinyl reissue of the soundtrack to the Jim Henson film featuring David Bowie, returning to vinyl for the first time since its original 1986 release.

Don Bryant – Don’t Give Up On Love CD/LP (Fat Possum)
Memphis soul original and Hi Records hit man Don Bryant returns to music with Don't Give Up On Love. Recorded in honor of his wife of 43 years, the soul legend Ann Peebles, the collection is Bryant's first release in decades. From the opening vamps of the classic “A Nickel And A Nail,” it's evident that Don Bryant, at 74 years old, is in prime fighting shape and as versatile a performer as ever – sensual and expressive on “It Was Jealousy,” swaggering and suave on “One Ain't Enough,” and swept up by the grandeur of the Almighty on “How Do I Get There?” These ten songs – including seven Bryant-penned originals – show a soul survivor in action, exhibiting the kind of sharp vocal acumen that can only be honed by years spent on the road and in the studio.

Dreamcar – Dreamcar CD (Columbia)
There's something romantic about a band's early days. A sense of innocence, optimism, and wonder courses through the music. In the summer of 2014, No Doubt's Tony Kanal (bass), Tom Dumont (guitar), and Adrian Young (drums) and singer Davey Havok (AFI, Blakq Audio) began writing and demoing music together. Without telling a soul outside of their significant others, the four musicians clandestinely moved into a cramped downtown Los Angeles rehearsal spot and revved up what would become Dreamcar. When Havok heard the first four demos, the music immediately resonated, transporting him back to his childhood fascination with the celebrated New Romantic movement. Rife with shimmering guitar tones, percussive slap bass, bombastic drums, and a neon-lit dancefloor dreaminess, Dreamcar gleefully nods to the decade of Boy George and Back To The Future through a kaleidoscope of wisdom. The first single “Kill For Candy” instantly enchants with its upbeat energy and sweet, saccharine chant punctuated by a twisting and turning guitar and driving rhythms. The album swings between the Frankie Goes To Hollywood-style risqué spoken narrative of “On The Charts” to the delicate longing of the synth-washed “Slip On The Moon” where Havok pleads, “Just look for me, I will look for you.” “Born To Lie” builds from a breathy verse into an expansive refrain, while the opener “After I Confess” sees his hypnotic and haunting vocal soar over airy and open soundscapes.

Jake La Botz – Sunnyside CD (Hi-Style)
Jake La Botz's story seems entirely too cinematic to be true. On his album Sunnyside, Jake's songs are heavily informed by his life, one that wraps shades of Merle Haggard, Charles Bukowski, Jim Jarmusch, and Sid Vicious all in one. La Botz learned from pre-war blues masters such as David Honeyboy Edwards and Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis, but Sunnyside makes a sonic move well beyond string blues. Sunnyside was produced by Jimmy Sutton at Hi-Style Studios in Chicago, whose previous production work includes albums for JD McPherson and Pokey LaFarge. The rock ‘n’ roll groove is paramount throughout, propelled by driving bass and drums, ethereal piano, and doo-wop inspired gang vocals. This isn't your dad's blues music - it's roughhewn by La Botz's stories from the more shadowy corners of America, with an unforgettable atmosphere that hangs like thick smoke and lingers long after the first listen. [Vinyl edition due June 16.]

Jazzmeia Horn – A Social Call CD (Prestige)
Jazzmeia Horn - winner of both the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition and Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition - releases her highly-anticipated debut recording A Social Call, an album that reveals a talent ready to take its place alongside the best headlining jazz vocalists of today. The album features 10 tracks composed of originals and covers. “On this superb recording, a highlight might be the medley of ‘Medley: Afro Blues / Eye See You / Wade In The Water.’ It begins with an imaginative, tour de force reworking of the Mongo Santamaria classic, initially performed as a duet with Jennings before the rhythm enters and has some operatic vocalizing at the upper reaches of her extensive range. This segues into a spoken social commentary rap before transitioning into the spiritual with gutbucket trombone also heard. The album closes with a lively and uplifting cover of Mary J. Blige's ‘I'm Going Down.’ Again, she her vocal soars while she delivers a message for brothers and sisters to hold on and stay strong in trying times. Jazzmeia Horn is a most gifted singer whose originality, horn-like phrasing, timbre and timing will enthrall listeners on this auspicious debut.” – In A Blue Mood

Los Colognes – The Wave CD/LP (Big Deal Media)
One of the highest and rarest aspirations in popular music is to reach for the transcendental, to access the spirit. On the third album The Wave by Nashville based Los Colognes, they succeed just this - in breaking through the confines of everyday pop song lyricism to tell a sort of holistic story. It's not a concept piece, but it's a brooding and still joyful song cycle filled with philosophical rumination, effortless hooks, inspiring musicianship, and expansive arrangements. It's an album perfectly suited of the current zeitgeist of unease and hope. It is an album about archetypes and about the everyday. There are allusions to the Great Flood, to Plato's Cave, to Poe, to the hero's quest so iconically defined by Joseph Campbell. There are recurring metaphors about the water, about the vastness of the ocean and the delicate balance between riding the wave and being pulled under. There is struggle, there is dread, there is hope, there is ultimately the knowledge only gained by a journey. It's an album about attempting to gain acceptance with the flow of adulthood, life in the music business, the changing awareness that only time and maturity can hand to someone.

Panic! At The Disco – A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out [Reissue/2005] LP (Fueled By Ramen)
Vinyl reissue of the double platinum Vaudeville-meets-pop-punk full-length debut from the Las Vegas, NV pop/punk band

Paramore – After Laughter CD (Fueled By Ramen/WB)
Paramore are back with their fifth album and first in four years. After Laughter marks the return of drummer Zac Farro, who quit the band in 2010. The album also represents the first-time Paramore recorded an LP in their native Nashville, with the group laying down the album at the city's famed RCA Studio B with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen. In an interview with The New York Times, the band cites Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Cyndi Lauper and Blondie, as influences on the new album. “We’ve gotten to a point with our new music where we don’t really want to headbang anymore,” guitarist Taylor York said. Singer Hayley Williams revealed it was a difficult process getting to this point, due to various personnel changes, lawsuits and personal issues. “You can run on the fumes of being a teenager for as long as you want, but eventually life hits you really hard,” Williams explained. “I didn’t even know if we were going to make another record. There was a moment when I didn’t even want it to happen. Then it was like, I want it to happen, but I don’t know how we’re going to do it.”

Paul Weller – A Kind Of Revolution CD (Parlophone)
Weller releases his eagerly awaited thirteenth studio album A Kind Revolution -- ten absolute classic modern Paul Weller songs (expanded double-CD and five-piece 10” vinyl editions contain both an instrumental version of the album as well as eight remixes and the non-album track “Alpha”). By “modern Paul Weller songs” we mean, instantly recognizable but in no way predictable. He doesn't make a “kind of” album, he fits together all his influences - rock, R&B, soul, jazz, funk, folk...whatever - and builds a song from them, delivering something that drifts through genres unselfconsciously and at ease. Two great examples of this are two of the most reflective, contemplative songs, “Long Long Road” and “Hopper,” which in lesser hands might have been delivered as ballads, but Weller adds so much texture and color to each that they defy categorization. With great age comes great wisdom...

PWR BTTM – Pageant CD/LP+MP3 (Polyvinyl)
“Every episode of RuPaul's Drag Race — reality TV's finest drag queen competition — ends the same way. Host and judge RuPaul turns to the assembled queens and says, with an air of total sincerity: ‘If you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you going to love somebody else?’ The sentimental send-off is corny, but it comprises a powerful truth about being queer: In a world where LGBT identity can get you fired from your job, or kicked out of your home — or jailed or even killed — the act of loving yourself (and loving the capacity of queerness to upset entrenched norms) can be radical. Pageant, the sophomore album from pop-punk duo PWR BTTM, may as well take RuPaul's question as a mission statement. Over 13 tracks, the duo fleshes out its razor-sharp pop-punk sound while exploring the challenges and rewards of queer self-actualization. Many tracks include horns and flutes, and some even feature the operatic vocals of Hopkins' mother. The album feels larger and more mainstage-ready than the band's earlier music, while retaining the intimacy fostered during years of performing in dorm rooms and basement venues. Most importantly, PWR BTTM hasn't lost its sense of joy: the kind that inundates the songs' singalong hooks, cascades from Hopkins's flamboyantly extravagant guitar solos and sparkles in Bruce's campy, swaggering humor” – NPR. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]

Soundtrack – The Bob’s Burgers Music Album 2xCD/3xLP+7”MP3 (Sub Pop)
The Bob's Burgers Music Album features 109 songs from the first 107 episodes of the show (all six existing seasons), plus five special cover versions of songs from the show. Originally broadcast within the episodes – and often in abbreviated form – these songs appear here in their freestanding glory for the first time. The Bob's Burgers Music Album – in both its standard edition and its impressive deluxe edition – is a must-have for any fan of the show (and, really, any sentient life-form). The album features the main cast members – Bob (Jon Benjamin) and Linda (John Roberts) and their children Tina (Dan Mintz), Gene (Eugene Mirman) and Louise (Kristen Schaal) – singing original songs that build on the show's unique sense of humor. Also featured are many of the show's recurring and special guests, from comedians like Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Kevin Kline, Bill Hader, Zack Galifianakis, and Fred Armisen, to musical guests Cyndi Lauper and Carly Simon. Includes five never-aired “Bob's Buskers” cover versions of songs from the show performed by St. Vincent, The National, Lapsley, and Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields. [Limited Deluxe “condiment” color vinyl pressing also available.]

Todd Rundgren – White Knight CD (Cleopatra)
Veteran producer, pioneering performer and legendary songwriter Todd Rundgren returns with a new album featuring a stellar line-up of all-star guest performers. White Knight showcases Rundgren's incredibly diverse range of styles from soulful art rock to ambient synth pop and includes performances from Rundgren's equally diverse musical companions such as Trent Reznor, Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Joe Walsh (The Eagles), Daryl Hall, Dam Funk, Joe Satriani, Robyn and others. Rundgren says: “It's easy to get used to playing to your own audience, even if you are absorbing and experimenting with new ideas. I wanted to collaborate not just for the musical possibilities, but also to play for new audiences and expose my fans to the range of artists I enjoy working with.”

Zac Brown Band – Welcome Home CD (New Elektra)
“Zac Brown isn’t just trying to sell records, he’s selling a way of life, a Southern Fried way of life, and he’s doing it very successfully. He and his band are as tight as a small community and they play a highly professional, appealingly commercial country style. His voice is a warm, comforting aubergine and the tunes are homespun and inclusive. There was a feeling they over elaborated on their last couple of albums, so on Welcome Home they are back to the simplicity of their breakthrough, The Foundation, with some songs completed in one take. It’s very skillfully produced and very easy on the ear. Ten tracks, forty minutes, job done. This is music with its feet firmly on the ground. Welcome Home evokes a family gathering in the sunshine, barbecue smoking away, a few beers being drunk, children and dogs running around. Then, dad fishes out his guitar, uncle Jimmy places his fiddle under his chin, cousin Clay tickles an ivory and they are away until the sun sets” – The Afterword.

New Releases - 5/5/17

Afghan Whigs – In Spades CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
From its evocative cover art to the troubled spirits haunting its halls, In Spades casts a spell that challenges the listener to unpack its dark metaphors and spectral imagery. On the one hand, it is as quintessentially Afghan Whigs as anything the group has ever done – fulfilling its original mandate to explore the missing link between howling Midwestern punk like Die Kreuzen and Hüsker Dü, The Temptations’ psychedelic soul symphonies, and the expansive hard-rock tapestries of Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. At the same time, this new record continues to push beyond anything in the Whigs’ previous repertoire – another trademark, along with the explosive group dynamic captured on the recording. “This is the first time since Black Love [the Whigs’ 1996 noir masterpiece] that we’ve done a full-blown band album,” Greg Dulli says. The joys, sorrows, and upheavals of innocence and experience echo throughout In Spades: it powerfully documents where The Afghan Whigs have been, and where they might go next.

At The Drive-In – in·ter a·li·a CD (Rise)
“Ever had that feeling when introducing a friend to a band you love – the envy that they get to discover them for the first time, to hear it with fresh ears? Well, At The Drive In are making a comeback almost two decades after Relationship Of Command with in•ter a•li•a. It feels like in•ter a•li•a quite literally picks up where At The Drive In left off, with familiar chord attacks from Omar Rodriguez Lopez and the yelping emotion of Cedric Bixler. ‘No Wolf Like The Present’ and leading single ‘Governed By Contagions’ could have come directly from the band’s 2000 release, with the exception of the slightly more solid production. It’s still got the post-‘90s prog obsession, but it’s been cleaned up a bit. in•ter a•li•a does avoid being overly nostalgic with tracks like ‘Pendulum In A Peasant Dress’ and ‘Incurably Innocent’ which seem in turn to swing At The Drive In’s new release from one side to the other of their sonic spectrum. ‘Pendulum…’ takes the stuttering skat-like vocal performance of Bixler to an extreme, while ‘…Innocent’ seems closer to ‘I Brought You My Bullets…’ era My Chemical Romance – and no that’s not a bad thing, get over it” – Skateism. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]

Bad Brains – Build A Nation [Reissue/2007] LP (Megaforce)
2007's Build A Nation served as Bad Brains' first proper studio album in over a decade and featured all of the original members: HR, Darryl Jenifer, Dr. Know and Earl Hudson. Produced by long-time fan, Adam Yauch aka MCA of the Beastie Boys, Build A Nation was a rock-solid return to form for the band who helped define American punk and hardcore music.

Blondie – Pollinator CD/LP+MP3 (BMG)
Pollinator is Blondie’s 11th album. Alongside original band members Chris Stein, Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke, the album also features contributions from Johnny Marr, Sia, Dev Hynes, Charli XCX, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Nick Valensi (The Strokes) and The Gregory Brothers. “Pollinator starts strong with four hook-driven tracks, each a unique pop offering accented by song-launching drumrolls, funk-inspired riffs, and plenty of synth for ears to swim in. Joan Jett duets with Debbie Harry on album opener ‘Doom Or Destiny,’ a fitting match that pairs the rough edge in Jett’s voice to Harry’s sweeter croon. She’s not the only guest, not by a long shot, and it’s the corollary talent that winds up making Pollinator such a success” – Consequence Of Sound. [Limited edition color vinyl pressing also available.]

Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy – Best Troubador LP (Drag City)
With Best Troubador, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy pays homage to a long-time and forever hero, the late Merle Haggard. A singer who, some 25 years previously, first performed in public by playing a Merle Haggard song, Bonny has often cited Merle's work in performance, on records and in conversation with anyone who was around, even talking to Merle himself for Filter magazine in 2009. The songs sung on Best Troubador are pulled from all over -- from Haggard's third album in 1967 through to his 47th in 2011 -- but this is no simple hits compilation. Capable only of occupying a shared space between himself and Merle Haggard, Bonny chose personal favorites, singing the songs he wanted to sing, to find Merle and himself together in the music. Only two of Hag's thirty-eight (!) country number ones are included, and only two others that charted at all. Seven of the sixteen songs are from his later period, after his long run at the top of the country charts had ended, but before encroaching mortality could finally cease the singular and indefatigable creativity of Merle Haggard.

Cayetana - New Kind Of Normal LP (Plum)
Coupling expertly crafted, hooky pop songs like lead single “Mesa,” with sparse, dark, and deeply emotional synth-laden tracks like “World,” New Kind Of Normal is a record that captures quiet moments of crushing vulnerability and the hardened highs of personal strength with equal grace.

Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Betty’s Blends Volume 3: Self-Rising, Southern Blends 2xCD (Silver Arrow)
Chris Robinson Brotherhood's acclaimed live album series Betty's Blends returns with Volume 3: Self-Rising, Southern Blends. Recorded and mixed live from the soundboard by legendary Grateful Dead archivist and recording engineer Betty Cantor Jackson, this latest edition captures the CRB on a Southern swing through Atlanta, Raleigh and Charleston in November 2015. The set includes original staple CRB material like “Clear Blue Sky,” “Roan County Banjo” and “Oak Apple Day,” but focuses on the band's sprawling selection of cover material ranging from Allen Toussaint's “Get Out Of My Life Woman” to the Leiber/Stoller classic “I'm A Hog For You,” Bob Dylan's “She Belongs To Me” to the Slim Harpo rarity “The Music’s Hot.” It also marks the first release in the series with current CRB drummer, Tony Leone. In Robinson's own words, “With Betty, we trust her sonic sensibilities and give her the space and freedom to do what the woman does, and what she does is beautiful and unique. It’s the stuff rock ‘n' roll dreams and recordings are made of.”

Chris Stapleton – From A Room: Volume 1 CD/LP+MP3 (Mercury Nashville)
Chris Stapleton follows up his Grammy award-winning 2015 debut Traveller with not one but two albums in 2017. From A Room: Volume 1 is the first, while the second installment From A Room: Volume 2 will appear later in the year. “I'm real proud of this record,” Stapleton exclaimed at a record release party at RCA Studio A in Nashville, TN. “We made it right here in (RCA Studio A) like the last one. We camped out in here...and had a lot of fun recording things.” Produced by Dave Cobb and recorded live with Stapleton's band, the nine-track affair includes eight originals co-written by Stapleton and the lone cover “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning” which has been recorded by Willie Nelson. Chris' soulful vocals and understated guitar work are supported here by Cobb on acoustic guitar, Morgane Stapleton on harmony vocals, J.T. Cure on bass, Derek Mixon on drums, Mickey Raphael on harmonica, Robby Turner on pedal steel, and Mike Webb on keys.

Descendents – Everything Sucks [Reissue/1996] LP+7” (Epitaph)
Deluxe 20th Anniversary edition of Descendents 1996 masterwork pressed on 180gm vinyl including a 7” with a pair of unreleased bonus tracks.

Grateful Dead - Cornell 5/8/77 3xCD/5xLP (Grateful Dead)
Cornell 5/8/77 was recorded live directly from the soundboards by Betty Cantor-Jackson. After several years the master tapes were seemingly lost for good, but that all changed at the end of 2016. The lost tapes, or lost “Betty boards” as they are commonly known, finally made their way back home to the Grateful Dead vault, making it possible to officially bring the world this legendary show just in time for its 40th Anniversary.

Hoops – Routines CD/LP (Fat Possum)
Bloomington, IN based four-piece band Hoops craft hyper-melodic songs, built around power-pop chords, deceptively complex drum patterns, and rock-anthem sentiments that hide some tellingly dark thoughts. Three of the four members write and sing, each a frontman and a sideman simultaneously. During a live show, the bandmates can be seen frequently swapping instruments and positions on stage. The setup isn't democratic so much as it is simply adaptable and committed: doing what the song demands, getting the sound just right. Hoops' full-length debut, Routines is a bittersweet and honest record that sounds both warmly familiar and jarringly distinctive.

Ho99o9 – United States Of Horror CD/2xLP+MP3
(Toys Have Powers/999 Deathkult) Originally from Newark and currently residing in LA, Ho99o9 (pronounced Horror) mix the ferocious sounds of hardcore and punk with politically charged hip-hop. “Ho99o9—theOGM (Jean) and Yeti Bones (Eaddy)—seem to have an innate understanding of punk iconography and why logos and imagery is so important for fans to connect with a band’s message on an emotional level. The visual side of their image feels fresh and authentic and they look like very modern rockstars. The sound of their new album United States Of Horror puts me in mind of the Boredoms, Skinny Puppy or Brainiac at their most abrasive and yes, Bad Brains, although I hasten to add that I say this because both bands are bone-crushingly intense, not because of anything necessarily ‘Afro punk’ related, although there is that, too, naturally” – Dangerous Minds. [Limited color vinyl pressed at 45rpm also available.]

Little Dragon – Season High CD (Loma Vista/Concord)
Gothenburg, Sweden Grammy-nominated electro-pop outfit Little Dragon follow-up their acclaimed 2014 album Nabuma Rubberband with Season High co-produced by James Ford who also mixed the record. Consequence Of Sound called lead single “High” a “warm slice of alternative R&B” while equally as captivating second single “Sweet” is a saccharine-induced dance floor number framed by lead singer Yukimi's lush vocals. Yukimi muses, “We want to exist in our own bubble where we can stay curious about sounds. The magic feeling that sounds can sprinkle over any boring day is what got us all hooked. That feeling of escapism...maybe because Gothenburg is a grey place for most of the year, our curse and blessing is that we never quite succeed.”

John Moreland – Big Bad Luv CD/LP (4AD)
Big Bad Love marks a change in Moreland's sound and outlook on life. With lyrics that are as intense and unfiltered as his earlier work, Moreland delves into finding peace within. He also branches out sonically, which is injected with a heavier dose of rock ‘n’ roll.

Mac DeMarco – This Old Dog CD/LP+MP3 (Captured Tracks)
Before you ancients out there turn your heads and scoff at the premise of a twenty-something rock-and-roll goofball calling himself an old-anything, consider this: said perpetrator, he who answers to the name Mac DeMarco, has spent the better part of his time thus far writing, recording, and releasing an album of his own music pretty much every calendar flip, and pretty much on his own. This Old Dog makes for his fifth in just over half a decade -- bringing the total to three LPs and two EPs. According to the DMV, MacBriare Samuel Lanyon DeMarco is 26. But in working-dog years, ol' Mac here could easily qualify for social security. To stay gold, turns out all he needed was some new tricks. [Limited edition white vinyl pressing also available.]

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) 2xCD/3xCD+DVD/3xLP (Mute)
Lovely Creatures was compiled by Nick Cave and founding member Mick Harvey, with help from the current Bad Seeds. Band members past and present raided their personal archives to provide previously unseen photos and memorabilia which have been collected into a beautiful hardcover book, along with a series of original essays. The book is available as part of the limited edition Super Deluxe album collection that also comes with a two-hour DVD containing rare and unseen archive footage. Lovely Creatures is available in four formats, all featuring personal and rare photographs of the band. “There are some people out there who just don’t know where to start with The Bad Seeds. Others know the catalogue better than I do! This release is designed to be a way into three decades of music making. That’s a lot of songs. The songs we have chosen are the ones that have stuck around, for whatever reason. Some songs are those that demand to be played live. Others are lesser songs that are personal favorites of ours. Others are just too big and have too much history to leave out. And there are those that didn’t make it, poor things. They are the ones you must discover by yourselves.” -- Nick Cave

Perfume Genius - No Shape LP+MP3 (Matador)
2014’s Too Bright showcased Mike Hadreas stepping out saucily onto a bigger stage, expressing, with the production help of Portishead’s Adrian Utley, emotions arranged all along the slippery continuum from rage to irony to love. Here in 13 new ferocious and sophisticated tracks, Mike Hadreas and his collaborators blow through church music, makeout music, an array of the gothier radio popular formats, rhythm and blues, art pop, krautrock, queer soul, the RCA Studio B sound, and then also collect some of the sounds that only exist inside Freddy Krueger. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]

Slowdive – Slowdive CD/LP+MP3 (Dead Oceans)
UK shoegaze pioneers Slowdive enter their second act and offer up a fourth studio opus, their first in 22 years. Self-titled with quiet confidence, Slowdive's stargazing alchemy is set to further entrance the faithful while beguiling a legion of fresh ears. Deftly swerving what co-vocalist/guitarist Rachel Goswell terms “a trip down memory lane,” these eight new tracks are simultaneously expansive and the sonic pathfinders' most direct material to date. “It's poppier than I thought it was going to be,” notes principal songwriter Neil Halstead, who was the primary architect of 1995's previous full-length transmission Pygmalion. This time out the group dynamic was all-important. "When you're in a band and you do three records, there's a continuous flow and a development. For us, that flow re-started with us playing live again and that has continued into the record.” “There's a different energy about it,” adds drummer Simon Scott. “It took ages to get back together and write songs and for it to click in the studio, but this album doesn't feel like a bolt-on -- it's got an energy that's as vibrant as Souvlaki and Just For A Day. It feels very relevant to now.” [Limited edition silver vinyl pressing also available.]

Sun Ra – Singles 2 3xLP+MP3 (Strut)
The second volume of definitive singles released by jazz maverick Sun Ra during his Earth years, spanning 1962 to 1991.

Taj Mahal + Keb’ Mo’ – TajMo LP (Concord)
TajMo is a collaboration between two generations of blues giants, converging their singular talents for the first time ever on an album of original songs and covers, featuring cameos from Bonnie Raitt, Joe Walsh, Sheila E., Lizz Wright, and many more. TajMo brings out the best in both artists, with the pair merging their distinctive voices, personalities and guitar styles to create vibrant, immediate music that's firmly rooted in tradition yet ruled by a playful sense of adventure. “Don't Leave Me Here” is a love letter to the south that sounds like an instant classic, and “Soul” interweaves world music with blues in a way that only Taj could pull off. Taj and Keb' put a soulful spin on Mayer's “Waiting On The World To Change,” on which Raitt lends her unmistakable vocals. The 11-song set also includes covers of John Mayer and The Who.

The Sword – Greetings From… CD/LP (Razor & Tie)
There's an unspoken edict handed down through the ages when it comes to rock bands: there are no rules. Austin, Texas metal luminaries The Sword – John Cronise (vocals, guitar), Kyle Shutt (guitar), Bryan Richie (bass), and Santiago Vela III (drums) – cut out boundaries since day one. Their style never stood predicated on a trend or a template. They always create what feels right and let the results speak for themselves. Greetings From... is a collection of nine live tracks spanning the band's career. From Age Of Winters to their latest, High Country, Greeting From... creates a seamlessly crafted cocktail showcasing the music of The Sword throughout the past decade.

U2 – 18 Singles [2006] 2xLP (Interscope)
18 Singles is U2's most recent greatest hits album. Originally released in 2006 and featuring two new songs, “The Saints Are Coming” (with Green Day) and “Window In The Skies.”

New Releases - 4/28/17

All That Remains – Madness CD (Razor & Tie)
Madness is the eighth studio album by All That Remains and it was produced by Grammy award winning Howard Benson (Halestorm, In Flames, Chris Cornell) and co-produced by Mike Plotnikoff. This album is full of undeniable hooks, incisive riffs, electronic samples and a variety of vocal styles. Integrating personal experiences, political rants and controversial commentary with music that s just as confrontational, Madness is an unapologetic showcase of honesty and ingenuity. All That Remains have created 50 minutes of attitude-laden music with a combination of rock, metal, ballads, and a cover of “Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks. “We really wanted this record to be different,” said vocalist Phil Labonte, explaining the inclusion of electronic samples and the dramatic juxtaposition between roaring chaos and accessible craftsmanship. “We wanted to really push ourselves and push the boundaries of what we’re allowed to do.” [Vinyl edition due May 12th.]

BNQT – Volume 1 CD/LP (Dualtone)
“BNQT is billed as the new supergroup, although that seems a little grandiose a term for a project fashioned out of the remnants of moderately successful indie bands you probably remember from your teens. This effort sees Midlake’s Eric Pulido (supported by McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler) merge with Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, and Travis’ Fran Healy. Volume 1 sounds very much like you would imagine music made by a mash-up of late ’90s-early-2000s indie groups might sound: meandering and nostalgic with a clean, crisp production that really showcases the instrumentals. I love the upbeat opener ‘Restart’, and the surreal love song ‘Hey Banana’, in which you can’t quite work out, by the end of the song, whether Banana is someone he wants to fuck or kill. Or maybe actually Banana is the small child who does a cameo midway through. Whatever. I liked it.” – Loud & Quiet

Feist – Pleasure CD/2xLP (Interscope)
Feist's first album in six years reflects on secrets and shame, loneliness and tenderness, care and fatigue and is at its core a study on self-awareness. In addition to reaffirming Feist as a cagily inventive guitar player, Pleasure threads her shape-shifting and often haunting vocals into sparse and raw arrangements.

Gorillaz – Humanz CD/2xCD/2xLP+MP3/14x12”+MP3 (WB)
Being a virtual band was always part of the sales pitch of Gorillaz, the pairing of the Blur musician Damon Albarn and the illustrator Jamie Hewlett, which has been releasing hip-hop-influenced concept albums since 2001. And yet with Humanz, the fifth Gorillaz album and the first since 2010, Mr. Albarn found himself at the center of a decidedly real-world conundrum. To unify the album and its many collaborators, he tried to imagine an apocalyptic event — the election of Donald J. Trump — and the possible reactions to it. Then he convened some of the most vibrant talent in hip-hop, R&B, house, reggae and more: the pointed rappers Pusha T and Vince Staples, the nimble singer Peven Everett, the dancehall tear-jerker Popcaan, the early house music innovator Jamie Principle, the soul legend Mavis Staples and many more. [Available in Regular, Deluxe, and Super Deluxe editions. Deluxe CD edition features a five-track bonus disc. The Super Deluxe vinyl box set is presented across 14 individual pieces of different color 12” vinyl, packaged in individually art-worked sleeves. Each piece of vinyl features an album track, backed with an exclusive alternative version. The box also includes a 54-page, cloth-bound, foil-blocked, hardback book featuring exclusive Gorillaz artwork by Jamie Hewlett plus a download card, all housed in a bespoke 12" vinyl case.]

J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only LP (Dreamville/Roc Nation/Interscope)
Released last December on CD – now available on vinyl. Multi-platinum-selling North Carolina rapper J. Cole's newest release 4 Your Eyez Only serves as his fourth consecutive No. 1 album following 2011's Cole World, 2013's Born Sinner and 2014's Forest Hills Drive. Sticking with tradition Your Eyez Only contains zero features with Cole owning every writing credit.

Jimmy Urine – The Cinematic Sounds Of Jimmy Urine CD/LP (The End)
For over a decade, Mindless Self Indulgence, a four-member outfit based out of New York City featuring frontman Jimmy Urine, have been whipping crowds of eager fans in to furious riots with their heart-pounding electro-punk and death-defying stage antics. Over the years, they developed a devoted following, spawned bidding wars between major labels, and earned a reputation as a tough live act to follow, from clubs to arenas. With MSI currently on hiatus, Jimmy Urine is extending his creative palette in movie soundtracks and video game music including “Metronomicon,” “I Want To Be Human,” “The Hive” and more. These songs and more have been collected on The Cinematic Sounds Of Jimmy Urine.

Mew – Visuals CD/LP+MP3 (PIAS America)
Visuals is Mew at their most compact, their chemistry at its most potent. With only one song over five minutes, it's their most concise album. Frontman Jonas Bjerre says there was no need for a grand, overarching concept. Each song on Visuals represents its own little chapter and story: nothing needed to be overly long. The discordant stomp of “Candy Pieces All Smeared Out” sums up the emotional to and fro and captivating contrariness at the heart of Visuals: it's an album that's both nostalgic and contemporary, that looks back whilst marching forward. The blissful glide of “In A Better Place” is a prime example of the impulsive environment that the songs were written in, whilst the atmospheric rock of “Ay Ay Ay” was based around a choir part that Bjerre had come up with a few years ago. Bjerre says that the celebratory groove of “Learn Our Crystals” “is one of our weirdest songs.” Poppy and fantastical, it had a familiar feeling to the singer as soon as he wrote it. The soulful sway of “Shoulders” has an R&B feel to it, whilst the band had earmarked the mesmerizing intricacy of “Carry Me To Safety” as the album's closer as soon as it'd been written.

Pinegrove – Everything So Far CD/LP+MP3 (Run For Cover)
An anthology of all of Pinegrove’s output up to the point of their breakout Run For Cover Records full-length, Cardinal.

Sylvan Esso – What Now CD/LP (Loma Vista/Concord)
“Deceptively simple” encapsulates Sylvan Esso’s entire brand. You can plumb the hidden depths of their work, or not; they’re going to have a good time either way. Over 10 tracks on the duo’s sophomore album, What Now, Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn unravel familiar themes of physicality and immediacy, building on and complementing, but never managing to overtake, their debut’s aggressive minimalism. The tricky thing is that their sound is distinctive and largely theirs alone: It is Sanborn’s electronic beats and burbles that manage to never feel cluttered or heavy, coupled with Meath’s lyrics, dripping with urgency and delivered in her flawless croon. “Die Young” is one of the album’s truest gems, an unexpectedly sweet love song about readjusting plans for an early death to accommodate a promising relationship. It seems hard to imagine that anyone who isn’t overtly suicidal would assume their death would happen in a fire or a “crash off a ravine,” as Meath posits, but she sells it; more than any other track, this one sticks with me.” – Consequence Of Sound

U2 – How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb [Reissue/2004] LP (Interscope)
U2's 11th studio album is back in print on vinyl.

Various Artists – Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 CD (Walt Disney)
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios' Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team's adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill's true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes' aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand. This time our heroes are accompanied by classic tracks from Electric Light Orchestra, Sweet, Fleetwood Mac, Sam Cooke, Glen Campbell, George Harrison, Cheap Trick, Cat Stevens, Parliament, and more.

Willie Nelson – God’s Problem Child CD/LP (Legacy)
God's Problem Child is Willie’s first album to debut all-new songs since Band Of Brothers in 2014. It includes 13 new songs, including seven recently written by Willie and Buddy Cannon, his longtime collaborator and producer. The album's title track, penned by Jamey Johnson and Tony Joe White, includes vocals by both writers and the legendary Leon Russell (on what may be Russell’s very last recording). Closing the album is “He Won't Ever Be Gone,” a song written by Gary Nicholson that pays tribute to Willie's outlaw country comrade, Merle Haggard. “While remaining endlessly prolific, Nelson has always looked at the album as a totemic work, collecting songs in ways that add up to something bigger than the individual pieces. Let’s not forget that this is the songwriter who crafted one of country music’s first concept records (1971’s Yesterday’s Wine) and one of its first crossover standards collections (1978’s Stardust). God’s Problem Child continues that tradition—approaching life and love from angles that can only result from a career spent studying both with a restless sense of wonder. It’s the kind of perspective that most songwriters can only dream of attaining: for Willie Nelson, it’s just another day at the office.” – Uncut

New Releases - 4/21/17

Andrew Combs – Canyons Of My Mind LP (New West)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Dallas native Andrew Combs, for years regarded as one of the more promising young singers and songwriters in Music City, has inked a deal with New West Records. Combs’ maiden album for the label, Canyons Of My Mind, is an 11-song set that was produced by Skylar Wilson and Jordan Lehning and recorded at Battle Tapes Studio in East Nashville. “Canyons Of My Mind is a collection of songs, all put together, that embodies the idea of a young man growing older. The album consists of the customary songs about lost love and travel, but also hits on more mature issues, such as environmental awareness, spirituality, mental illness, and political exploitation. Taking on a more introspective and controlling role in the writing and recording process, I dug deep inside my own heart and mind to create what I think is a good illustration of a man becoming more comfortable in his own skin” -- Andrew Combs.

Big Star – Thank You Friends: Big Star’s Third Live …And More 2xCD (Concord)
Experience Big Star’s Third album through the prism of a collective of immensely talented musicians. While the band may not be Big Star per se, the fabled group's sole surviving original member, Jody Stephens, heads an amazing cast, whose membership includes latter-day Big Star alumni Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer of the Posies, R.E.M.’s Mike Mills, Let's Active's Mitch Easter, Chris Stamey of the dB's, and others. Jeff Tweedy and Pat Sansone of Wilco, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, Robyn Hitchcock, Dan Wilson of Semisonic, Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Jessica Pratt, Brett Harris, Django Haskins, and Skylar Gudasz are among the guests who were joined by a full chamber orchestra helmed by the Kronos Quartet, performing scores created directly from the original multi-track tapes from Ardent Studios for this event. Carl Marsh, who wrote the original orchestrations, conducted.

The Black Angels – Death Song CD/LP+MP3 (Partisan)
Death Song is the Austin psych-rock band’s first full-length release in four years. Written and recorded in large part during the recent election cycle, the music here serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease. “Currency,” a strong contender for the heaviest song the band has ever put to wax, meditates on the governing role the monetary system plays in our lives, while slow-building psychedelic earworm “Half Believing” questions the nature and confusing realities of devotion. Recorded between Seattle and Austin, Death Song features production from Phil Ek (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins). The 11-track collection offers a sharply honed elaboration on their signature sound -- menacing fuzz guitar and cutting wordplay, steeped in a murky hallucinatory dream.

Boss Hog – Brood X CD/LP (In The Red)
Recently released on vinyl – now available on CD. Boss Hog returns from the wild with their most subversive record — this is the seductive soundtrack for the second coming of militant rock ‘n’ roll, and the groove has never been stronger. Brood X — emerging from the dirty streets of New York City after seventeen years of gestation — is a futuristic brew of 21st century blues, toxic punk rock beat music, and hyper-focused, outer-space psycho assaults. Thermonuclear chanteuse Cristina Martinez blisters the hypocrites, the haters, the heartless, and the clueless hangers-on with a full-tilt microphone attack. A sex-bomb salvo for troubled times, Martinez gives voice to America’s pain while pulling no punches.

David Bowie – No Plan 12”+MP3 (Sony)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. The No Plan EP features single “Lazarus” from Blackstar backed with three final, non-album tracks recorded during the Blackstar sessions. Limited color and laser etched vinyl pressings available.

Isis – Live VII 2xLP (Ipecac)
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. A full live set from Isis' final Australian tour in 2010. The 9-track set features material from their fifth and last album Wavering Radiant, as well as select highlights from the band's additional four full-lengths. Although rooted heavy metal and the punk/hardcore aesthetic, Isis' music relies just as heavily on ambience, atmosphere, and tone as it does complexity and aggression.

Overcoats – Young CD/LP (Arts & Crafts)
Overcoats is the New York-based female duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell. Their debut album Young captures a sound rich in minimalism and melody: songs of connection and tension, on the depths of love and challenges of family. Overcoats' music draws strength from vulnerability, finding light through darkness, and the catharsis of simple, honest songwriting.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band – So It Is CD/LP+MP3 (Legacy/Sony)
So It Is finds the classic PHJB sound invigorated by a number of fresh influences, not least among them the band's 2015 life-changing trip to Cuba. “In Cuba, all of a sudden we were face to face with our musical counterparts,” says bandleader/composer/bassist Ben Jaffe. “There's been a connection between Cuba and New Orleans since day one – we're family. A gigantic light bulb went off and we realized that New Orleans music is not just a thing by itself; it's part of something much bigger. It was almost like having a religious epiphany.” Producer David Sitek, a founder of art rock innovators TV On The Radio, offered both a keen modern perspective and a profound respect for the band's storied history. Upon arriving in New Orleans to meet with the band, Sitek recalls he and Jaffe accidentally stumbling into one of the city's famed second-line parades. “I was struck by the visceral energy of the live music all around, this spontaneous joy, everything so immediate,” he says. “I knew I had to make sure that feeling came out of the studio. It needed to be alive. It needed to sound dangerous.” The music on So It Is, penned largely by Jaffe and 84-year-old saxophonist Charlie Gabriel, stirs together that variety of influences like classic New Orleans cuisine. Longtime members Jaffe, Gabriel, Clint Maedgen and Ronell Johnson were joined by Walter Harris, Branden Lewis and Kyle Roussel, and the new blood hastened the journey into new musical territory.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers ‎– She's The One: Songs And Music From The Motion Picture [Reissue/1996] LP (WB)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Echo [Reissue/1999] 2xLP (WB)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – The Last DJ [Reissue/2002] 2xLP (WB)
Tom Petty – Highway Companion [Reissue/2006] 2xLP (WB)
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Mojo [Reissue/2010] 2xLP (WB)

Back in print on vinyl.

Weedeater – God Luck And Good Speed [Reissue/2007] LP (Season Of Mist)
Limited gatefold clear vinyl reissue.