Aimee Mann – Mental Illness CD (SuperEgo)
“The title of Aimee Mann’s latest solo effort, her ninth, registers like a punch to the gut. In a world full of self-consciously clever and willfully obtuse album titles, Mental Illness is the equivalent of washing someone’s mouth out with soap. It’s not something you mull over or analyze in search of some hidden subtext or meaning. Instead, it smacks of cold reality. In an interview with Rolling Stone in January, Mann called Mental Illness the ‘saddest, slowest’ record of her 35-plus-year career. She’s not kidding. Her latest collection finds her singing love-spurned tales of heartache, anger, and remorse, giving the emotionally loaded title some added weight. But that doesn’t mean that Mann isn’t putting us on, at least a little bit. ‘I mean, calling it Mental Illness makes me laugh, because it is true,’ she said. ‘It’s so blunt that it’s funny.’ But while she might be having fun with us, she’s nonetheless created a remarkable character sketch. For 44 minutes, Mann slips into the skin of someone walking an emotional tightrope, and it’s an act she pulls off with grace and conviction. Mental Illness lays its hurt and sadness out so effectively that it’s hard to completely accept it as pure fiction. But even if we’re to take Mann’s word for it that these songs were created with some personal distance, it’s still no less powerful of a record” – Rolling Stone.
Bob Dylan – Triplicate 3xCD/3xLP (Columbia/Sony)
Triplicate is 38th studio set from Bob Dylan, and features 30 brand-new recordings of classic American tunes and marking the first triple-length set of the artist's illustrious career. The titles of the individual ten-track discs are ‘Til The Sun Goes Down, Devil Dolls and Comin' Home Late. For the set, Dylan assembled his touring band in Hollywood's Capitol studios to record hand-chosen songs from an array of American songwriters such as Charles Strouse and Lee Adams (“Once Upon A Time”), Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler (“Stormy Weather”), Harold Hupfield (“As Time Goes By”) and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh (“The Best Is Yet To Come”). According to Bob Dylan, “I am finding these great songs to be a tremendous source of inspiration that has led me to one of my most satisfying periods in the studio. I've hit upon new ways to uncover and interpret these songs that are right in line with the best recordings of my own songs, and my band and I really seemed to hit our stride on every level with Triplicate.”
Coco Hames – Coco Hames CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
Though it’s the first album released under her name, Coco Hames is no wide-eyed ingénue. As the singer, songwriter, frontwoman, and indomitable force behind beloved garage-pop combo The Ettes, she blazed a memorable trail across the ’00s underground. Following a final bittersweet album and tour in 2011, Hames decided to bring the curtain down on the Ettes’ run, but never lost the urge to write new songs. “The thing I loved, that I was always drawn to—the magic of creating something out of a fleeting idea and a few chords,” says Hames. “That passion never left me. I began to realize I had more that I wanted to write, and a lot more that I needed to say.” Hunkering down at Nashville’s The Bomb Shelter studio, Hames co-produced her eponymous debut with Andrija Tokic, who’d helped sire career-making albums for Alabama Shakes and Hurray For The Riff Raff, among others. Playing guitar, piano, and electric harpsichord, Hames was aided in her effort by a pair of longtime pals in bassist Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather) and drummer Julian Dorio (The Whigs, Eagles Of Death Metal). Lead guitar was supplied by young Nashville hotshot Adam Meisterhans (The Weight, JP5) while other friends and musical foils contributed, including veteran keyboard/organ wizard Dave Amels of Reigning Sound. Hames also enlisted top Music City vocalists Carey Kotsionis (Bobby Bare, Jr., Clem Snide) and Third Man artist Lillie Mae Rische (Jack White, Jypsi) to form an angelic mini-choir for the sessions.
Death – Human [Reissue/1991] LP (Relapse)
Vinyl reissue of Death’s legendary fourth album. Limited metallic gold color pressing also available.
Goldfrapp – Silver Eye LP (Mute)
Silver Eye, Goldfrapp’s seventh album, is dance music that evokes a pagan ritual rather than a club soundtrack. Cold, metallic electronics with a hot current of blood running through them. A 21st century moon dance.
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand CD/2xLP (Reprise)
Emperor Of Sand finds Mastodon returning to a deeply imaginative and complex conceptual storyline that ponders the nature of time. Threading together the myth of a man sentenced to death in a majestically malevolent desert, the band conjures the grains of a musical and lyrical odyssey slipping quickly through a cosmic hourglass. “Emperor Of Sand is like the grim reaper,” says drummer/vocalist Brann Dailor. “Sand represents time. If you or anyone you know has ever received a terminal diagnosis, the first thought is about time. Invariably, you ask, ‘How much time is left?’” “We're reflecting on mortality,” adds bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders. “To that end, the album ties into our entire discography. It's 17 years in the making, but it's also a direct reaction to the last two years. We tend to draw inspiration from very real things in our lives.” Emperor Of Sand was recorded at The Quarry Recording Studio in Kennesaw, just outside Mastodon's hometown of Atlanta, with producer Brendan O'Brien (Pearl Jam, Neil Young, AC/DC, Rage Against The Machine), who first worked with Mastodon on their seminal 2009 album Crack The Skye.
The Mavericks – Brand New Day CD/LP (Mono Mundo Recordings)
More than two decades into a career that’s always avoided the predictable path, the Mavericks – whose Tex-Mex twang, Cuban-influenced country and retro rock made them unlikely stars in the mid- ‘90s and critical darlings during later years – turn another corner with the new album Brand New Day. “We’re gonna love all our troubles away,” Raul Malo sings on the title track, whose throwback, symphonic sweep recalls the wall of sound arrangements of the 1960s. Malo pulls double duty as frontman and Phil Spector-ish producer, stacking the song high with bells, horns, harmonies and plenty of four-on-the-floor stomp. Also pitching in are three longtime Mavericks — drummer Paul Deakin, guitarist Eddie Perez and keys man Jerry Dale McFadden — and co-producer Niko Bolas, who helped birth songs like Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” and Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer.”
Nelly Furtado – The Ride CD/2xLP (Nelstar Music)
The Ride is the Canadian musician Nelly Furtado’s sixth album and first studio set in five years. Speaking to Cosmopolitan about her latest venture, Furtado said: “I came [into the studio] broken. I came there really empty. As cliché as it is, when you're really going through it, it can be so good for songwriting. I hate saying that, because then people feel like they have to go through adversity to write good stuff, which I don't think is true ... but I'm hands down more proud of these lyrics than any I've ever written.” She claimed in a Twitter Q&A that The Ride is similar in style and tone to 2000 hit album Whoa, Nelly. On the album’s second single, “Pipe Dreams,” the singer goes for an airier, lighter sound than the previously released synth-pop dance track “Islands Of Me,” which she debuted two months ago. “Don't sell me no pipe dreams,” she sings on the track. “I want to live in a kaleidoscope.” Speaking with The Fader, which premiered the song, Furtado had this to say about the album and single. “A lot of [The Ride] touches on [the false hope of dreaming], in terms of sanity versus reality,” she said. “The comedown, the hangover after the rush, and how you put the pieces back together, and how you make amends with the realer parts of life.”
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Once More With Feeling 2xDVD (Bad Seeds Ltd.)
One More Time Feeling is a feature film about the making of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ acclaimed Skeleton Tree directed by Andrew Dominik (Chopper, The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford). Visually unique, One More Time With Feeling is a stark, fragile and raw documentary. Shot in 3D, color and black & white, the film probes the deeply personal circumstances surrounding the making of Skeleton Tree (the band’s 16th studio album) and features interviews and live performances by the band in the studio, along with interjected voice-over commentary by Nick Cave. This double-disc release features three exclusive short films from Andrew Dominik. “An undeniably moving contemplation of shattering loss… a tremendously moving collage.” -- The Guardian
Pile – A Hairshirt Of Purpose CD/LP (Exploding In Sound)
Never afraid to switch styles, Pile’s music has morphed over the years, embracing both the ferocious and gentle sides of punk, indie, folk, and noise rock, delivering their own brand of gnarled intensity.
Sneaks – It’s A Myth CD (Merge)
With little more than a bass, drum machine, and deadpan vocals, Sneaks, a.k.a. Eva Moolchan, makes minimalist music that takes up space—something she herself has made a point of doing in the male-heavy Washington, D.C., DIY punk scene that has been her home. It’s A Myth builds on Sneaks’ playfully stark approach to post-punk, which, as her hometown City Paper described it, causes listeners to go “from curious to provoked to hungry.” Like most of Sneaks’ music, album closer “Future” is in constant gyroscopic movement—thumping rhythm cutting around deep bass, spoken-word patterns somersaulting through image fragments, childhood nostalgia, and cryptic wordplay. Moolchan calls Sneaks “a character” that she’s playing, and there’s certainly an element of mystery around the persona and her riddles. But it’s also all her, born out of full solo creative control after stints in a number of D.C. bands. “When I'm writing songs, it's actually pretty selfish, because it's like, this is what I need to hear right now in my life,” she has said.