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.