Label: Merge Genre: Indie Rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez Wielding an arsenal of crunchy guitars and a sweet (but mild) Southern voice, Katie Crutchfield is able to whip together some 90’s reminscent guitar pop gems. She refers to the album title as "a term I made up for directionless-ness, specifically of the 20-something, 30-something, 40-something of today, lacking regard for the complacent life path of our parents and grandparents." which I think is something most of us can relate to as lost college students….
Shlohmo - Dark Red
Label: True Panther Genre: IDM/Electronic Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez An appropriate title, this record feels murky and claustrophobic. Distorted synths lead you through the dark until you get lost in the seasick wails and glass shattering drums. Puts you in a trance. Works well for bed music.
The Mountain Goats - Beat the Champ
Label: Merge Genre: Folk Rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez When John Darnielle isn’t writing novels or lending a hand in various other musical projects, he constantly records lyrically whimsical songs under the Mountain Goats moniker. The record is thematically built on professional wrestling (???), though it’s probably a big metaphor for “nameless bodies in unremembered rooms…” - Joseph Fink
Ava Luna - Infinite House
Label: Western Vinyl Genre: Indie Rock/Math Rock/Soul Pop Reviewed by: Joe Turner Slurp. Mmmm. Juicy. This album is like one of those mysterious fruit smoothies with a bunch of vegetation that you like mixed in with other vegetation that you didn’t know you liked, or that you didn’t know you liked in the context of the fruit you already knew you liked. And then there is the question of which ingredient makes the title of the smoothie… Is it a banana smoothie with mango or a mango smoothie with banana? And where the heck does the coconut come into play?
Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart - Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart
Label: Secretly Canadian Genre: IDM/Indie Rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez
*An unlikely pairing, Suuns and Jerusalem In My Heart team up to craft a swirling and entrancing journey of a record. Middle Eastern flavors appear courtesy of Lebanese Jerusalem In My Heart. The songs take their time to blossom completely, with interesting electronics bubbling in and out in a repetitive trance-like state. Suuns apply some subtle guitar and drum work to distinguish this electronic record into something that feels more like a collaboration. Works well for bed music. *
Pale Blue - The Past We Left Behind
Label: Captured Tracks/2MR Genre: EDM/Ambient Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez Layers and layers of loops and reverb lift you to space, losing yourself in your own mind, before thumping bass unfailingly grounds you back to earth. The name of the group is a reference to Carl Sagan’s description of a photo of Earth taken from Voyager 1 back in 1990: “Pale Blue Dot.”
Label: Asthmatic Kitty Genre: Folk/Singer-Songwriter Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez This is the music I always pictured this guy making. Stevens reached his experimental climax with his last album, Age of Adz, five years ago and now he’s made a return to roots. Totally unlike Adz, this record feels earthly and organic. Thematically based on his strained and confusing relationship with his mother, the record was crafted as a way of coming to terms with her death in 2012. His voice is velvet as always but with the subtle addition of crackles and pops in the throat that come with age. Fragile melodies soar over fluttering guitars and collages of airy, washed out soundscapes. One of more pure and emotionally rich albums to be released this year.
Alex G - Trick
Label: Lucky Number Genre: Pop Rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez I stumbled on Alex G’s bandcamp a few summers ago and was struck by the mystery of it all.. Twelve albums of music were uploaded, accompanied by various iconic yet somewhat unappealing artwork. The email contact listed is firstname.lastname@example.org and tags include “shit” “nice” and “rugrats”. When you googled “Alex G,” you got a Youtube star that sings covers. Regardless, the music speaks for itself. This is the first music I heard from him and fell in love from the beginning strums of “Memory.” Alex writes songs about his life, and in turn, probably yours. Perfectly imperfect pop songs, often sent to a strange dimension with unorthodox screeches and spidery guitars. A reissue after the blow up of last year’s DSU, he’s gonna grow . . .
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Label: Mom & Pop Genre: Folk Pop/Indie Rock Reviewed by: Evan House Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett captures pure musical intimacy on “Sometimes I Sit”. These songs serve most importantly as gateways into her personal journal. House-hunting in a shabby Melbourne neighborhood and observing a pseudo-suicide attempt from a disgruntled office worker are just two examples of these entries. “Put me on a pedestal, I’ll only disappoint you” declares Barnett, whose emotional rawness draws immediate comparison to Patti Smith. This album is incredible.
Ghastly Menace - Songs of Ghastly Menace
Label: The Record Machine Genre: Indie Pop Reviewed by: Courtney Wilson This is the Chicago-based band’s first full-length album and it’s full of soft vocal and catchy guitar hooks. The album carries an overarching theme of coming to terms with the endings experienced in life (relationships). These guys are like a more upbeat version of Grizzly Bear.
Label: Third Worlds LLC Genre: Industrial Hip Hop/Punk Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez The polarizing and violent noise mutilators return with a double album; the first disc containing warped Bjork vocal samples and the second taking on a more traditional (if you can call it that) punk feel featuring guitar from Nick Reinhart of Tera Melos. Musically chaotic and bursting at the seams, play this if you don’t give a shit about if your listeners will like it or not.
Mitski - Bury Me At Makeout Creek
Label: Don Giovanni Genre: Punk Pop Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez Initially released last year on a limited run through mini label Double Double Whammy, Don Giovanni has swooped in to distribute her work more widely. Mitski’s music would be beautiful bare and acoustic (her voice is enough) but she has the incredible talent of using her arsenal of sounds as a complement to bring it to new creative levels. Grungy guitars sludge along and Halloween-y synths make unexpected appearances. Great songwriter that will continue to gain recognition...
The Skints - FM
Label: Easy Star Records Genre: Reggae/Dub Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez We tune into 103.Skints as DJ Mr. Versatile spins these Londoners, who making some authentic sounding reggae music. The best tracks feature vocals from special guests (MC Horseman, Tippa Irie). Bass is phat, the occasional skippity of guitar delay is a nice touch. Groove on.
Label: True Panther Genre: Singer Songwriter/Pop Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez What it boils down to is that this dude writes damn good songs. With the majority of the production handled by former Girls member JR White, the instrumentation is crisp, warm, and sounds like he’s playing in your room. This is pop perfection; every chorus is a banger. Paul is definitely a major influence...
Swervedriver- I Wasn’t Born To Lose You
Label: Cobraside Genre: Shoegaze / Dream Pop / Alt Rock Reviewed by: Len Comaratta First album since 1998! They aren’t as abrasive as their 90s work, but they still have the same fire in their belly.
Chris Lightcap’s Bigmouth - Epicenter
Label: Clean Feed Genre: Post Bop / Modern Jazz Reviewed by: Len Comaratta Craig Taborn and Gerald Cleaver!! And TWO tenors! Chris Creek and Tony Malaby. So freakin’ good. Follow up to their debut Deluxe. This is a true super group that together creates a cohesive whole, resulting in grand collective statements of driving, ethereal beauty.
Ryley Walker - Primrose Green
Label: Dead Oceans Genre: Folk Jazz Rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez A sprawling jam of feathery folk rock songs arranged by guitar connoisseur Ryley Walker. Acoustic guitars spindle over piano chords that swirl into psychedelic live jams that reminisce the old classic rock bands they may take influence from. Some nice music to start the spring off with.
Lady Lamb the Beekeepers - After
Label: Mom+Pop Genre: Folk Rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez Aly Spaltro aka Lady Lamb layers her gorgeous voice over jangly folk rock songs that also incorporate the bite and bop of surf rock. Very hooky rock music that could be made if you combined Angel Olsen with Wavves. Kinda derivative musically, but her voice brings it to another level.
Will Butler - Policy
Label: Merge Genre: All sortsa rock Reviewed by: Steve Ibanez Brother and bandmate of Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler, Will is known for his wild and unceasing energy during his primary band’s shows. Here on his debut solo album, he brings some of that fury into the songs themselves. It’s pretty diverse musically, ranging from bouncy (5), to thrashy (6), to ballad-like (3). His goofy voice reminds me of Violent Femmes.
Twin Shadow - Eclipse
Label: Warner Bros. Genre: Pop/New Wave Reviewed by: Evan House George Lewis Jr.’s generic response to his preceding bunch of highly acclaimed works. The grandeur of the perceived soundscape is washed out entirely by flashiness and gaudiness. Although mentionable, catchy moments exist on “Eclipse”, the album appears to be more of a release lacking the necessary supplemental pressure.
Screaming Females - Rose Mountain
Label: Don Giovanni Genre: Punk Rock Reviewed by: Ben Conlon I heart chick lead singers! A three part band that is well composed. Fast guitars with catchy licks that can get heavy at times
and can get your feet tapping if your into that kind of stuff. Marissa Paternoster, ze lead singer & 2012 spin guitarist 77th greatest guitarist of all time has a girthy ;) voice with an inflection style that sort of reminds me of a more masculine sounding Coheed and Cambria lead singer Claudio Sanchez . She probably would be good at singing sea shanty's or funeral dirges but there's no money in that (R.I.P my career). This release sounds a little bit clearer and more polished than previous releases. Also their from the Jerz so they get a big thumbs up from me.
Label: Mute Genre: Avant Instrumental Electronic Reviewed by: Len Comaratta The principle force behind Depeche Mode returns with another solo album that once again is far removed from the more accessible pop of DM. Some of this reminds me of Eno’s darker ambient themes (#2) and some of it reminds me of John Carpenter films of the late 70s early 80s. #12 reminds me of Fuck Buttons
Alabama Shakes - Sound & Color
Label: ATO Genre: Soul / Blues Reviewed by: Len Comaratta Exquisite blend of soul, blues and even some funk. Relix described this as “the festival world’s leading retro-soul revivalists turn in a psychedelic, sci-fi epic”. Brittany Howard and troupe return with a soul stirring follow-up to a phenomenal debut filled with “volcanic thrashers (8)…silky soul (3)…spacey psychedelic soul jams (4)” [Rolling Stone]. The ballads are phenomenal
Death - N.E.W.
Label: Tryangle Records Genre: Punk / Rock Reviewed by: Len Comaratta YES!!! A Brand new Death album! III wasn’t a fluke. This is some hard hitting rock (more so than than harder punkier earlier stuff). Inspired by the positivity brought to them by ever-increasing numbers of new fans, the current lineup (Bobby and Dannis Hackney, Bobbie Duncan) completed several songs started back in the 70s by brothers Bobby and David Hackney. Reminds me a lot of OFF! if that band was about half-speed. Heck, “At the Station” reminds me of Bowie!!
Mew - + - (plus minus)
Label: Play It Again Sam Genre: Psych Pop / Psych Folk Pop Rock Reviewed by: Len Comaratta Mew’s first album in 6 years. Danish prog rock psych noise meisters soar on their latest album. The band has been evolving into a far more vibrant, expansive sounding band over the course of their albums and this is certainly a grand next step in their journey. GOOD STUFF!!!
Squarepusher - Damogen Furies
Label: Warp Genre: IDM / Drum n Bass / Electronic Reviewed by: Len Comaratta Another phenomenal notch in the belt! A wonderful blend of pretty much everything he is known for – experiments w/ musique concrete, spastic boundary warping drum n bass, aggressive interpretations of ensemble jazz. He attempts to recapture the passion, innovation and retromanic tendencies that have fallen on the wayside as the medium and genre blew up into the mainstream….And he does it. CoS described it as “the hyperactive love child of EDM and traditional jazz”.
Saun & Starr - Look Closer
Label: Daptone Genre: Soul / Soul Revival Reviewed by: Len Comaratta Saundra Williams and Starr Lowe aka THE DAPETTES. Yes, the back up singers to the one and only Sharon Jones are now stepping out in front and they do so with every bit of soul, style, class and gravitas you’d expect. This is a wonderful album. And it’s an ALL ANALOG production!!! Any fan of soul and especially DapTone will get down with this!! GOOD GOOD GOOD STUFF!!!!
Rose Windows - Rose Windows
Label: Sub Pop Genre: Post Rock / Indie Rock Reviewed by: Len Comaratta
*The follow up to Sun Dogs opens with a gloomy haunt laden with gorgeous sonic imagery that drops you into a smack down of musical templates and textures that once again prevent any blanket labeling of this band. This album has a more playful feel to it with some of the arrangements. If you are a fan of My Morning Jacket you’ll dig this. *
Metz - II
Label: Sub Pop Genre: Noise Rock / Post Punk / Indie Rock Reviewed by: Len Comaratta per their press release “the 10-track effort promises to be “much heavier, darker, and sloppier,” its lyrical tone stemming “from a year of loss and doubt, of contemplating [the band’s] relationships with death and the planet.” These guys are touring with FIDLAR and Lightning Bolt!!!
Wire - Wire
Label: Pink Flag Genre: Post Punk Reviewed by: Len Comaratta Album 13!!!And it smokes (despite it also being way mellower than most Wire) If only Buzzcocks could maintain the way Wire has. Filled with swooning pop melodies with a hint of 60s nostalgia and irresistible rhythms. Fans of classic Wire will find things to enjoy here. Think of these songs as something of a little brother or cousin melodically to Chairs Missing and 154.