Reviews

Rating System

5.0 – Perfect
4.5 – Excellent
4.0 – Great
3.5 – Very Good
3.0 – Good
2.5 – OK – Nothing Special
2.0 – Disappointing
1.5 – Bad
1.0 – Embarrassing
0.5 – Pathetic
0.0 – Wastes precious minutes of your life you will never get back


Queensrÿche – The Verdict

Released March 1st, 2019

The Verdict is Queensrÿche’s third outing with former Crimson Glory singer Todd La Torre, after replacing original vocalist Geoff Tate in 2012. La Torre continues to be an adequate Tate impersonator on The Verdict, but also proves to be skilled at taking over drum duties from original percussionist Scott Rockenfield (who’s been on hiatus for about two years). With only two original members guitarist Michael Wilton, and bassist Eddie Jackson participating they have become a bit of a parody of themselves on this affair. No mean feat given their history as a band. The album should please diehard fans, but offers little new to the casual listener

2.5 of 5 stars


Overkill – The Wings Of War

Released February 22nd, 2019

Overkill don’t mess with their sound much. Their 19th album, The Wings of War, is 50 minutes of pure thrash. With The Wings of War, Overkill further solidifies their reputation as one of the most consistent bands in metal. You could argue it blends so much into their catalog as to not stand out, but that’s the beauty of their consistency. If you are a fan of the band they’re all good.

4.5 of 5 stars


The Claypool Lennon Delirium – South Of Reality

Released February 22nd, 2019

South of Reality, the duo’s second album picks up where their 2016 debut left off. The songs are longer, which allows for some more jamming which both are known for. Lennon and Claypool set their own unique musical vibe throughout the nearly 50-minute run time. It is notable that with the exception for drums on three cuts, all the instruments are played by the duo. South Of Reality is very much a studio creation, with unusual overdubs pinging around, and it’s clear they labored over crafting each track.

4 of 5 stars


Candlemass – The Door to Doom

Released February 22nd, 2019

Doom metal originators Candlemass release their 12th studio album, The Door to Doom. With their original vocalist Johan Längqvist making a return to the band, the album makes for a strong outing of atmosphere, riffs, and lyrics that made their name so many years ago. Candlemass sound rejuvenated, as if Länqvist’s return was just the kick they needed to reassert their status. “Astorolus – The Great Octopus” features a prominent guest appearance by Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi and is a standout track.

4 of 5 stars


Dream Theater – Distance Over Time

Released February 22nd, 2019

Dream Theater’s expansive arrangements and complex songwriting haven’t been scaled back on their 14th studio album, Distance Over Time. A more streamlined affair than their last, Distance Over Time has plenty of intricacies and musical diversity, but then there is very little new musical territory left for them to explore. The musicianship as always is flawless. Almost 30 years later, Dream Theater remain relevant, consistently touring and releasing new material every couple of years without skipping a beat. Nothing really stands out on Distance Over Time but every track is solid and should be welcomed by their fanbase.

4 of 5 stars


My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult – In The House Of Strange Affairs

Released February 14th, 2019

My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult returns with their latest album, In the House of Strange Affairs, and it is everything a TKK fan could hope for. Over 30 years into their career—that started in 1987— and with 12 albums under their belt, the band remains as inspired and sleazy as ever. An hour in length, the 12 tracks on Strange Affairs perfect their sleazy swagger that first earned the band their die-hard following back in the early ’90s. The album executes on what TKK does best and gives you every flavor of their history while also staying consistent. Highly dance-able with some searing electric guitars adding flourishes to the pulsing synths and bass TKK is pure sex, drugs, and groove. In the House of Strange Affairs is quintessential TKK. Proving My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult is the best Afro-centric-erotic-space-groove-jazz-funk-acid-punk band in the world.

5 of 5 stars


Within Temptation – Resist

Released February 1st, 2019

Dutch symphonic metal act Within Temptation, led by vocalist Sharon den Adel, are back with their seventh studio album Resist. The new record is another chapter in their collection all which are diverse in melody and subject with each featuring strong guitar riffs and emotive lyricism. Resist is no different in that regard. Their music is always cohesive and passionate and known for incorporating various genres and influences into their sound as they see fit. Not quite to the extremes or excess as a band like Amaranthe but there is certainly a comparison to be made. Within Temptation are most notably described as a symphonic metal band, and this album walks that line admirably, and die hard fans of Within Temptation should be pleased with this effort.

3.5 of 5 stars


Incite – Built To Destroy

Released January 25th, 2019

On Built to Destroy, Incite stick to their tent poles, propped up on groovy riffs and angsty vocals. There are plenty of great riffs and grooves to be had, but the pacing from one song to the next could be improved, and few riffs could’ve benefited from some more room to breathe. Regardless, Built to Destroy shows Incite throwing some hard punches. The album includes guest appearances by Kirk Windstein (Crowbar) and Chris Barnes (Six Feet Under) and is certainly a worthwhile addition to their discography.

3.5 of 5 stars


Arch Enemy – Covered in Blood

Released January 18th, 2019

Fresh off pissing off the photographic world by creating an unnecessary controversy out of really poor management decisions, Arch Enemy releases an album of cover songs. Did I mention they’ve had poor management decisions of late? Cover albums are often hit or miss, and talk about a miss. What I can give them is adding their own flair and sound to the songs. But did that improve them, give them new life, or rise above the originals in anyway? Not really, in fact this features both the worst Judas Priest cover I’ve ever heard, as well as a horrendous Megadeth cover.

1 of 5 stars


Flotsam and Jetsam – The End Of Chaos

Released January 18th, 2019

Thrash-metal forefathers Flotsam and Jetsam have returned with the band’s 13th album, The End of Chaos. Fans of the band’s 2016 self-titled record, Flotsam and Jetsam have improved upon that formula with The End of Chaos, proving that they are still a dynamic force among bands half their age.

4 of 5 stars


Born Of Osiris – The Simulation

Released January 11th, 2019

I am reluctantly giving 3 stars  to The Simulation the new release by Born of Osiris when in fact it’s just okay overall. They provide their usual high level of musicianship (the reason for 3 stars as opposed to less), but the songs lack any real teeth, and are not memorable in the least. Additionally, it goes by in a flash. The album is short, very short. Only clocking about 20 minutes over “eight” songs. (It’s really only seven as “Recursion” is a 50 second instrumental intro to “Analogs in a Cell”). In many ways the album is ultimately one song—one that’s musically repetitive and formulaic.

3 of 5 stars


Soilwork – Verkligheten

Released January 11th, 2019

Three-and-a-half years after The Ride Majestic (their longest gap between studio LPs), Swedish quintet Soilwork continues where that record left off, offering a journey that devotees should enjoy on Verkligheten. With a slightly retooled line-up losing longtime drummer Dirk Verbeuren to Megadeth in 2016, and guest appearances from guitarist Dave Sheldon and vocalists Alissa White-Gluz (of Arch Enemy) and Tomi Joutsen (of Amorphis) Verkligheten—which translates to “reality”—is a good listen.

4 of 5 stars


Legion of The Damned – Slaves of the Shadow Realm

Released January 4th, 2019

Slaves Of The Shadow Realm by Legion of the Damned starts the year off with a solid eleven tracks. Slaves of the Shadow Realm is the band’s eighth album since changing their name from Occult to Legion of the Damned thirteen years ago. It will be the band’s thirteenth album overall. Few bands capture the essence of a riff-driven thrash like the  Dutch quartet Legion of the Damned do here allied with the aggressiveness, bombastic elements, and instrumental prowess any metal fan could ask for and receive.

4 of 5 stars


Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel

Released May 18th, 2018

Tell Me How You Really Feel is everything one would expect from the Sydney-born indie singer Courtney Barnett. She’s still one of the best new voices in music, Tell Me How You Really Feel is full of catchy riffs and the witty lyrics with which Barnett made her name.  By design Barnett’s sophomore effort may lack some of the instant affability of 2015’s Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, and it’s well worth a listen.

4.5 of 5 stars


Derek Smalls – Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)

Released April 13th, 2018

The long awaited solo album from Spinal Tap’s maestro on bass guitar Derek Smalls (aka Harry Shearer) has arrived. Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) is a star-studded lamentation of ageing in a rock and roll lifestyle at the age of 77. Fans of Spinal Tap will understand and appreciate this album. Those uninitiated to the legacy of Spinal Tap may not understand the brilliance behind this offering.

4 of 5 stars


War On Women – Capture the Flag

Released April 13th, 2018

“Co-ed, feminist hardcore punk” band War on Women confront the listener and make them listen. The band’s second full length album Capture the Flag’s messages are clear backed with driving riffs.

4 of 5 stars


Stone Temple Pilots – Stone Temple Pilots (2018)

Released March 16th, 2018

Stone Temple Pilots is the second STP album to be titled Stone Temple Pilots. Clearly the band is thinking of it as somewhat of a restart. A lot has happened over the years since the first self-titled release. Original frontman Scott Weiland was fired, rehired, and then died of an accidental overdose. Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington filled in for a few years leaving in 2015 and recently passed himself. At the end of 2017, the band revealed they’d hired Jeff Gutt (who appeared on the third season of The X Factor) as their new lead singer. This is Gutt’s debut and does a passable Weiland impersonation. The music remains strong STP and the vocals sound enough Weiland-like to pass, but the lyrics just don’t have the same punch.

3 of 5 stars


Hot Snakes – Jericho Sirens

Released March 16th, 2018

Fourteen years after releasing Audit in Progress, which appeared to be their final album, Hot Snakes have returned with Jericho Sirens.  The San Diego band have returned, reminding those who’ve paid attention that they can rock out like no time has passed at all. The only real difference now is that both of the band’s previous drummers Jason Kourkounis and Mario Rubalcaba are now each in the band at the same time. If reports from the band are to be believed, Jericho Sirens is only the beginning of a full comeback from Hot Snakes, with more new music to come.

3 of 5 stars


Ministry – AmeriKKKant

Released March 9th, 2018

Ministry’s 14th record AmeriKKKant  is what one would expect subject-wise: an open hatred for all thing GOP and Donald Trump. Frontman Al Jourgensen has trod this territory many times before, sampling George H.W. Bush back in 1992, and Bush junior on 2006’s Rio Grande Blood. The nearly year long delay in the release of the album from when it was originally written, puts the timeliness of his lyrics and samples at a severe disadvantage. People are already sick of hearing about “fake news” and “MAGA”. Musically the album is fine, though slower paced than the last several. Jourgensen’s signature vocal style remains unchanged. And despite the long run-time of some of its tracks (three tracks over eight minutes), AmeriKKKant is actually a fairly short album, with only nine tracks, two of which are intros.

3.5 of 5 stars


Judas Priest – Firepower

Released March 9th, 2018

Judas Priest are back with their 18th studio album, Firepower. The riffs are strong, choppy, hooky and powerful harnessing a back-to-basics full-throttled heavy metal they helped define as a genre. Firepower keeps the feel of their much earlier releases and stands up admirably against classics like Turbo, or Defenders of the Faith. Halford’s voice is still one of the best in the business, though there are noticeable less high notes, enough are sprinkled throughout to remind us of his vocal range.

4 of 5 stars


Suicidal Tendencies – Get Your Fight On!

Released March 9th, 2018

ST’s new release Get Your Fight On! starts out with a bit of nostalgic promise. “Nothing To Lose” sounds like it is straight out of their Self-Titled/Join the Army days. The rest is what we have become more accustomed to in the years since…bass heavy melodic riffs, periodic funk backdrops, and slower paces. Muir still has a tendency to repeat a lyric a few too many times, and make one wish for a more adept producer to reign in that habit. Get Your Fight On! should please fans for the most part. There’s nothing bad here, but nothing really new or great either. Sadly, it seems Mike Muir’s best days may be behind him.

3 of 5 stars


Ezra Furman – Transangelic Exodus

Released February 9th, 2018

31-year-old Ezra Furman gained a sizeable cult following 2013’s Day Of The Dog at the very point he was considering giving up music to become a teacher. His fourth solo record Transangelic Exodus is something of a concept album that will keep his cult status alive and well.  Furman  describes the album as “a queer outlaw saga”  that plays with a sense of despair and fear running through all thirteen tracks.

2.5 of 5 stars


Chemtrails – Calf of the Sacred Cow

Released February 9th, 2018

Chemtrails full-length debut Calf of the Sacred Cow Follows two EPs that introduced the London quintet’s brand of noise-pop. Like its predecessors, it was recorded in the living room of singer/songwriter/guitarist Mia Lust and singer/guitarist Laura Orlova and it’s sound quality is about what you would expect. At best Chemtails is a work in progress, but one with little to really hope for a successful coalescence.

1.5 of 5 stars


Bat Fangs – Bat Fangs

Released February 2nd, 2018

Bat Fangs are a committed 80’s rock homage that lacks substance. Which is ironic if you think about it. Most 80s bands weren’t known for their substance, unless it was in reference to substance abuse. Bat Fangs lacks passion, quality riffs, and the hooks that make groups in the genre work (a list that includes Ex Hex, Bat Fangs’ Betsy Wright’s better-known band).

2 of 5 stars


Hookworms – Microshift

Released February 2nd, 2018

Long-time fans of the Leeds quintet Hookworms might have been questioning if this third record from the band would never materialize from string of bad luck that included visa issues canceling a planned tour of the U.S. and Canada, and their studio being flooded. Microshift is perhaps the band’s most accessible record to date, but the subtle electronic idiosyncrasies woven throughout keep it interesting.

3.5 of 5 stars


Rhye – Blood

Released February 2nd, 2018

The time between albums was due to a mix of personal and label-related issues, a divorce, a new relationship and new label situation. Mike Milosh is now the sole member aided by whoever he managed to herd into the studio. The departure of Robin Hannibal doesn’t seem to have altered Rhye in their fundamentals. The second album Blood is mood music and well crafted, but could start to feel like a churning drone if you’re not in that right mood.

3.75 of 5 stars


Dream Wife – Dream Wife

Released January 26th, 2018

Dream Wife the London-based trio’s made up of Rakel Mjöll on lead vocals, Alice Go on guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass have an excellent debut on their hands. They all came together as a result of a performance art project while studying in Brighton but are now based in London. Their self-titled LP is an eleven-track gathering of anthemic pop punk songs and unyielding lyrics.

4 of 5 stars


Django Django – Marble Skies

Released January 26th, 2018

Business as usual for Django Django. The Scottish Dundee/London – based band’s third album, Marble Skies, has all the typical elements of their music front-and-center. And there is really nothing better you can say about this entry.

2.5 of 5 stars


Watain – Trident Wolf Eclipse

Released January 5th, 2018

Over the last 20 years the Swedish wolves have amassed a discography of contemporary black metal that deftly walks the line between tradition and evolution. Watain’s new release Trident Wolf Eclipse is no exception. Watain succeed in creating a double faceted album with songs for headbanging speed, and those for brooding contemplation. “Nuclear Alchemy” and “Furor Diabolicus” are basicially speed metal onslaughts, while “A Throne Below” and “Teufelsreich” are more traditional black metal offerings.

3.5 of 5 stars


Shining – X – Varg Utan Flock

Released January 5th, 2018

With antics like faking their own singer’s death in 2006, Sweden’s black metal Shining have always done their own thing. X – Varg Utan Flock is their surprisingly listenable tenth album. Presented almost entirely in Swedish (the title translates as “wolf without a pack”), is unmistakably black metal, but that of an earlier time when it was still feeling out the edges of what defined the genre.

3 of 5 stars


The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful

Released September 22nd, 2017

Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of the Las Vegas rock band The Killers, recently quipped, “I feel like I write a lot of solid 6s and 7s.” He’s 100% right. Despite more than a decade of trying, The Killers are inescapably a slightly above-average rock band with their best songs seemingly behind them. Wonderful Wonderful, their fifth studio album is chock full of sixes and sevens, arguably a few fives, but certainly no tens to be heard.

3 of 5 stars


LCD Soundsystem – American Dream

Released September 1st, 2017

LCD Soundsystem, return with their fourth album, American Dream, their first in seven years. LCD Soundsystem’s hiatus, which they claimed would be permanent could appear to be yet another cash-grab by “retired” artist. Luckily, Murphy has the perfect justification for their comeback; It was David Bowie who encouraged them to re-form. There will be those who remain dismayed by the band’s return a mere five years after such a deliberate full stop, but American Dream isn’t weighed down by expectations, nor is it an attempt to assuage anyone who feels betrayed. Murphy recently revealed that the spectre of fame and overbearing success lay behind his decision to close the door on LCD. “I suspected that our next record would be the big one…I didn’t want it,” he said.

4 of 5 stars


KMFDM – Hell Yeah

Released August 18th, 2017

KMFDM have never been shy about their political views throughout their three-decade career. Hell Yeah, the band’s 20th studio album is a true to form rally cry against fascism, conformity, and America’s new administration. The opening title track while enjoyable feels more like a mid album cut creating a bit of a slow burn, entry to the album. But at the end of the day few bands have been as consistent in sound, vision, and mission as KMFDM over the years and this album is no different in that regard. Hell Yeah is sure to please fans, and mix in well with their live sets.

4 of 5 stars


Prong – Zero Days

Released July 28th, 2017

So first I must confess I’ve been a prong fan from their Primitive Origins, and I’ve enjoyed every incarnation of the band. Thirty years into their existence, and one of the most underrated and talented musicians in metal Tommy Victor (the only original member) and Prong are back with 12th album Zero Days, their 4th studio album in the past 5 years. Changing up bassists for this outing with Mike Longworth (Jason Christopher is currently backing Victor’s longtime friend Al Jourgensen in his latest Ministry efforts) Zero Days continues Prong’s crossover sound. From straight rage to more melodic compositions blending a mixture of industrial, metal, thrash, hardcore, and groove (but all of it is inherently Prong/Victor) Zero Days does not disappoint. It features solid songwriting (this album favors groove and chord progression rather than Victor’s signature pinch harmonic riffs), and although it may not be the strongest of the most recent swing of albums (I’d give that title to Ruining Lives) it highlights how well they tweak elements yet remain surprisingly consistent. For fans of Prong, Zero Days is another in a long line of solid releases for the band.

4.5 of 5 stars


Alice Cooper – Paranormal

Released July 28th, 2017

Being an influential musician that has been in the business for over 40 years and is still active has to be difficult. Alice Cooper’s pushing 70 and has been touring solid for the last few years. If you had the pleasure of witnessing him on that stretch, you would’ve seen that Mr. Vincent Furnier can still command a stage with chilling skill, and he sounds great doing it. But putting out new music when the fans only want o hear 40 year-old classics has to be daunting. Can Alice Cooper still deliver the goods on a new record? Well, his first studio effort in six years, Paranormal, is here to provide the answer…and it’s yes. In short it’s a better album than it has any right to be. Paranormal is a well-crafted, thoroughly enjoyable distillation of the styles Cooper has explored over the years, and a fantastic reminder of how and why Alice Cooper has endured and continued to thrive.

4 of 5 stars


Fake Laugh – Fake Laugh

Released July 28th, 2017

Fake Laugh has been a side project for Kamran Khan for a few years now having teased their fans with a splattering of singles and EPs over the last few years but now their self-titled debut album provides 11 songs that capture their sound. The London-based, Berlin-born musician has been playing in both Japanese Hour and Lovepark primarily. Fake Laugh for the most part is a tiring and uneventful listen. Every track carries the same vibe and just falls short of the catchy hook or chorus that you’re hoping for. With every song having such a similar sonic pallet some of the tracks get lost, exposing some of Khan’s weaker songwriting. There are a few moments where it works, notably “Short of Breath,” but for most of the songs do not seem to warrant a relisten.

2.5 of 5 stars


Nine Inch Nails – Add Violence

Released July 21st, 2017

NIN-add-violence

Following on from last year’s Not The Actual Events, Nine Inch Nails return with Add Violence. The second in an apparent trilogy of EPs, it continues the thread of new NIN really rather nicely and proves Trent Reznor (with often collaborator Atticus Ross) still have plenty left in the tank. Musically, there’s nothing here that’s too out of left field for hardened fans. The sounds, the chord progressions, melodies, and lyrics all tick the boxes for Trent Reznor creations, but Reznor knows how to tweak his formula just enough to tread that line between enjoyable utopia and “it all sounds the fucking same” oblivion. What connects these EP’s remains a bit of mystery: “The narrative arc of linking the three records begins to emerge through the disassociated lyrics and provocative and clue-filled cover artwork,” say the press materials. So I guess we have to wait for the next to have the fully painted picture on that front.

4.5 of 5 stars


Cornelius – Mellow Waves

Released July 21st, 2017

cornelius-mellow-wave

Japanese soundscaper Keigo “Cornelius” Oyamada has been relatively quiet since his kaleidoscopic Point album in 2001, except for the Japan-only Sensuous, he’s restricted himself largely to collaborative work with similarly inclined outfits like Plastic Ono Band and Penguin Cafe. Not surprisingly, Mellow Waves, his first North American release in well over a decade, is a supremely chill affair. But despite a few nice moments, it’s also a fairly forgettable one.
2 of 5 stars


Avey Tare – Eucalyptus

Released July 21st, 2017

aveytare-eucalyptus

Animal Collective’s Avey Tare’s latest solo effort, Eucalyptus, renders most of the 15 tracks on it as completely forgettable sound collages. Amorphous to the point they are practically unrecognizable as songs, Tare’s heavily reverberated murmuring of cryptic lyrics do nothing to add to the interpretation. There are a few commendable moments on the second solo album from Animal Collective’s principle songwriter, but they are so infrequent it’s a chore to continue to listen for them.

2 of 5 stars


Waxahatchee – Out in the Storm

Released July 14th, 2017

waxahatchee-out-in-the-storm

Waxahatchee’s last album found its way to multiple “best of the year” lists. But Up until now I would have argued the elements needed to make Katie Crutchfield one of the great songwriters in indie rock have always been present, just not aligned to make it a reality. Out in the Storm the fourth album by the Philadelphia-based singer has her finally hitting her stride and might well make our “best of the year” list. It is certainly a big step forward and Waxahatchee’s best work to date.

4.5 of 5 stars


Sheer Mag – Need to Feel Your Love

Released July 14th, 2017

sheer-mag-need-to-feel-your-love

Seventies hard rock is back with a vengeance. Harboring arena-sized dreams in their DIY-hardcore hearts, Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag’s first full debut, Need to Feel Your Love, continues to build on the ground the set up over a trio of four-song EPs released annually since 2014. In singer Tina Halladay, they possess a denim-vested, raspy-voiced dynamo striking the right balance of melody and menace. Forgoing social media and a publicist, the band has garnered a devoted following  the old-fashioned way: by touring relentlessly across North America.

4 of 5 stars


Boris – Dear

Released July 14th, 2017

boris-dear

Originally conceived in 2015 as the album Boris would end their 25-year career with, the writing sessions for Dear “yielded three albums’ worth of material.” Then the band went on tour in 2016 performing Pink, one of their most overtly poppy albums, in full. On returning, drummer/vocalist Atsuo, guitarist/vocalist Wata, and bassist/vocalist Takeshi wrote more songs and whittled the entire pool down to this single record. Described as a “grateful” and “sincere letter to fans and listeners,” Dear is one of the most consistent records in the band’s 25-year career.

3 of 5 stars


HAIM – Something to Tell You

Released July 7th, 2017

HAIM-something-to-tell-you

HAIM are back with the sophomore follow up to their 2013 debut Days Are Gone. In the four years between they had an opening slot on Taylor Swift’s “1989 World Tour” and a Best New Artist Grammy nomination making them well known the world. The L.A. born and raised sisters Danielle, Este and Alana have returned with the rather safe and generic Something to Tell You. It’s well crafted pop that will undoubtedly sell millions, and yet leave people wanting…pop fans will want more, and music aficionados will want more risks to have been taken.

2.5 of 5 stars


Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

Released July 7th, 2017

bss-hug-of-thunder

Hug of Thunder is a decent record but not one that’s particularly enjoyable either. Like the album cover suggests it’s kind of like watching paint dry.

2.5 of 5 stars


Washed Out – Mister Mellow

Released June 30th, 2017

washedout-mister-mellow

Ernest Greene’s new “visual album” Mister Mellow is a bit of a dud. With the exception of “Hard To Say Goodbye” the music is dull and does nothing for the video visuals, which in turn don’t quite say anything new about Washed Out either. The reverb drowned vocals coasting over music played on an early 90s sounding sampling keyboard wash by without notice. Visually Mister Mellow is filled with warm browns and yellows. In the multimedia set (claymation, collage, clips of guys smoking weed, etc.) there is a definitive lack of a true overarching narrative. The film portion plays more like a string of music videos, each with a different director and visual aesthetic, which makes it truly pointless as a “visual album”.

1.5 of 5 stars


Ratboys – GN

Released June 30th, 2017

ratboys-gn

Chicago duo Ratboys GN (internet/text speak for ‘Good Night’) deals in various forms of loss. Personal experiences meld interchangeably with Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan’s re-imaginings of other narratives. On the surface, the country tinged rock ‘n’ roll found on GN appears to be lonesome and simple but there are times when the tracks can fray at the ends. The Ratboys’ sophomore album is an exercise in intimate storytelling, dabbling in both whimsical and somber themes. While it may not drive flocks of new fans their way, it should surely please those they already have.

2.5 of 5 stars


King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Murder of the Universe

Released June 23rd, 2017

kinggizzard-murder-of-the-universe

The Australian septet King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are back with album two (tenth album overall) of the five promised for release this year, Murder of the Universe. They’ve always been a bit on the odd side, but this year the guys have upped their game, taking things to a dark and twisted land worthy of Tolkien. The tracks are campy, angry and a bit bizarre jumping from one genre to the next in the blink of an eye. “Vomit Coffin” (a personal favorite track for its absurdity) flirts with heavy metal, garage, psych and even a bit of glam. It’s a mess, but what a glorious mess it is. If one genres not for you, it doesn’t matter, just give it a few seconds and they’ll be off onto something completely different. Murder of the Universe is an intense journey, an epic high fantasy tale told hurriedly through 21 tracks in less than three-quarters of an hour. An ambitious project, King Gizzard succeed into enticing you into fully absorbing yourself into their wild, bizarre universe. Gizzard thrives on gimmicks. They’ve built their whole carrier on them brilliantly, layering their albums with Easter eggs, fiendish puzzles, and cartoon absurdity. Murder Of The Universe is another worthy addition to King Gizzard’s ever-expanding discography.

4 of 5 stars


Lorde – Melodrama

Released June 16th, 2017

lorde-melodrama

Lorde (aka Ella Yellich-O’Connor) is among the smartest and most self-aware writers in pop music. Four years after her breakout debut that status remains with her follow-up Melodrama. Even at its weakest moments, the album is very good. The moments that do feel a little commonplace on Melodrama are vastly outweighed by songs where her uniqueness shines through. Like her 2013 debut Pure Heroine, Melodrama is a work of sleek self-possession, packed with bursts of peculiar rhymes and production that confound expected song formulas. While denser, more upbeat and dance-focused than her first effort, Lorde won’t be disappointing anyone with this release.

4.5 of 5 stars


Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

Released June 16th, 2017

royalblood-how-did-we-get-so-dark

Much like its self-titled predecessor, How Did We Get So Dark? is another 40 minutes of Royal Blood exploring their home turf on 10 shamelessly melodic rock songs that hit home. Progression in songwriting is subtle if at all, but that’s also what works here. As they say if its not broke don’t fix it, and they satisfactorily avoid the sophomore slump with this outing. The bright harmonies and endless hooks make for instantly catchy tracks. While understandably a little predictable at times, using the simple but fun melodies to their advantage they mess around both vocally and instrumentally when the other is in full groove, making something consistently interesting while accessible.

4 of 5 stars


Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

Released June 16th, 2017

fleetfoxes-crack-up

After frontman Robin Pecknold’s stint as a student at Columbia University, Fleet Foxes are back six years later to release their third full-length, Crack-Up. There are slightly different textures here (many more songs with abrupt shifts in sound, more synthesized sounds, etc.) but nothing too unfamiliar. While simultaneously Fleet Foxes’ music has grown increasingly more complex and less crowd-pleasing. Crack-Up may not be a great leap forward for broadening their fan base, but does that really matter?

3 of 5 stars


Rancid – Trouble Maker

Released June 9th, 2017

rancid-trouble-maker

It’s Rancid. If you’re a fan this album is exactly what you would expect, if you’re not a fan move along. They aren’t out to reinvent themselves at this point and why would you expect them to?

4 of 5 stars


Cigarettes After Sex – Cigarettes After Sex

Released June 9th, 2017

cigarettes-after-sex

Brooklyn quartet Cigarettes After Sex’s self-titled debut album is an even-keeled, slowcore collection; so even-keeled that it borders on ambient. The echoing guitars, soft hi-hats, elastic basslines could easily become boring, but hey deftly make an entrancing album, that even lead singer Greg Gonzalez takes pleasure in its ability to fall asleep to. Cigarettes After Sex becomes one of those restrained, low-boil albums where tempo, repetition, and muted composition construct an entire story within the pauses between the notes and the ideas between the lines. Gonzalez’s voice carries the album with his uniquely androgynous register. (Virtually everyone who doesn’t know otherwise seems to assume Cigarettes After Sex’s singer was female. Myself included upon first listen.)

3.5 of 5 stars


Beach Fossils – Somersault

Released June 2nd, 2017

beachfossils-somersault

“This year I told myself it’d be a better one,” croons Dustin Payseur on ‘This Year’, the opening track from Beach Fossils’ third album Somersault. It doesn’t sound like his promise to himself is coming true. The album is completely devoid of hooks with a series of lazy  and unmemorable melodies. The band, completed by bassist Jack Doyle Smith and guitarist Tommy Davidson (drummer Tommy Gardner left earlier this year) could be accused of being a little one note. Their compositions are lush and soothing but lack variety and are plagued by uncertainty and aimlessness.

2.5 of 5 stars


Marika Hackman – I’m Not Your Man

Released June 2nd, 2017

marika-im-not-your-man

On her debut record, 2015’s We Slept At Last, Marika Hackman emerged as a moody folk songwriter characterized by her literary lyrics and acoustic arrangements. London four-piece The Big Moon back Hackman on her second album I’m Not Your Man. Their addition allows the singer-songwriter throws off the folk label, and producer Charlie Andrew has balanced the sound of five women playing in a room with details that enhance the record. I’m Not Your Man shows Hackman to be an artist growing in her stride, increasing her capacity to be more artful and more true to herself.

3 of 5 stars


Chastity Belt – I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone

Released June 2nd, 2017

chastitybelt-i-used-to-spend-so-much-time-alone

On the surface, I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone sounds like a band more at ease with themselves than ever. Chastity Belt couldn’t have made an album like this unless they were far more confident in their own right. The band’s third album is most successful in its propensity for blending lyrical dejection with musical optimism. This album coalesces all the best aspects of everything they’ve done previously into a more homogenous approach focusing less on humor, and more on the band’s ability to channel malaise, nonchalance, boredom and procrastination.

3 of 5 stars


Charly Bliss – Guppy

Released April 21st, 2017

CharlyBliss-guppy

Frontwoman Eva Hendricks channels her inner Kay Hanley (an admitted influence) on Charly Bliss’ full-length debut album, Guppy.  The Brooklyn-based quartet (Eva Hendricks on vocals and guitar, brother Sam Hendricks on drums, Dan Shure on bass and Spencer Fox on guitar) breathe new life into the pop side of 90s indie rock sounds. Guppy is an upbeat, gritty, enjoyable romp through early 20s confusion, love, lust, travel, and therapy. Hendricks’ lyrics shine throughout the 10 song release in their endearingly blunt and occasionally ironic qualities. The only downside (if you can call it that) is that Guppy disappointingly doesn’t capture their energy as a live band. But it is an excellent listen and gives us plenty to look forward to in the future from them.

4 of 5 stars


Arca – Arca

Released April 5th, 2017

arca

Though described by one critic as “one of this generation’s most forward-thinking electronic musicians” and another trying to convince you that Arca is ” Transmuting the hopelessly bittersweet suffering and anguish of life into blindsiding art” there is in reality really nothing good to say about Arca’s self-titled third album. While some (as mention previous) have raved about the sparse haunting chords, eerie silences, foreboding sounds and hymnal chanting (the new addition of vocals of any kind is arguably noteworthy) it’s boring to listen to, completely unmemorable, and blindsidingly bad.

1.5 of 5 stars


Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

Released March 31st, 2017

mastadon-emperor-of-sand

Emperor Of Sand stands as the best full-length example of their attempts to marriage their stoner riffs to their prog interests. As a result both the disgruntled diehards who prefer “the early stuff” and an increasingly large mainstream rock contingent will doubtless be delighted to find something they like in the straightforwardly melodic fare that makes up much of the band’s seventh album.

3.5 of 5 stars


Pharmakon – Contact

Released March 31st, 2017

pharmakon-contact

Pharmakon’s music is hard to sit with, but that’s by design. For nearly a decade now, Margaret Chardiet has made music under the Pharmakon name. Like all things Pharmakon, Contact is a challenge, but a worthwhile one. In press materials, Chardiet says Contact is about “when our mind uses the body in order to transcend or escape it.”

3 of 5 stars


Aimee Mann – Mental Illness

Released March 31st, 2017

aimeemann-mental-illness

The title of Aimee Mann’s latest solo effort, Mental Illness, is not something you mull over or analyze in search of some hidden subtext or meaning. In an interview with Rolling Stone in January, Mann called Mental Illness the  “saddest, slowest” record of her 35-plus-year career. For 44 minutes, Mann slips into the skin of someone walking an emotional tightrope, and it’s an act she pulls of with grace and conviction.

3.5 of 5 stars


British Sea Power – Let The Dancers Inherit The Party

Released March 31st, 2017

britishseapower-let-the-dancers-inherit-the-party

It’s been four years since British Sea Power’s last release. Tenth album Let The Dancers Inherit The Party is a successful pop-rock album by a band operating in the narrow band of sound between The Cure and U2 that will surely please their fans.

3.5 of 5 stars


Crowfeeder – No Flowers

Released March 24th, 2017

Crowfeeder-NoFlowers

Crowfeeder’s new full-length album, No Flowers, features their signature over-driven guitars, breakneck drums, and an assortment of screams and melodic vocals that nearly matches the intensity of their live shows. Derek Paul’s sludgy metal guitar riffs, play counterpoint to clean chords throughout, ably backed by drummer Adam Norton. The album features heterogeneous songwriting shifting influences within songs, but keeping a unified sound throughout. The layered vocals though mostly screamed have a strong sense of melody that couples nicely with the aggressive sounding riffs and just the right amount of groove. If there was one small touch to improve, No Flowers, it would be to bring the vocals up a touch in the mix. But even with that small criticism, No Flowers, is easy among the best albums reviewed here so far this year.

4.5 of 5 stars


The Dollyrots – Whiplash Splash

Released March 24th, 2017

dollyrots-whiplash-splash

Fun, fast paced, pop punk with somewhat cheesy, sometimes clever, often comical lyrics, but with a certain authenticity most bands seek but never attain is what we’ve come to expect over their previous five albums. While it may not be an original formula, The Dollyrots have nailed it down to perfection on their sixth studio album, Whiplash Splash.

4 of 5 stars


Sorority Noise – You’re Not As ______ As You Think

Released March 17th, 2017

sororitynoise-youre-not-as--------as-you-think

The band’s third album, You’re Not As _____ As You Think, is a pop album steeped in the traditions of emo and pop punk, with big layered choruses offset by minimalist bridges, all in service of a record that’s basically a how-to guide for grief. Close your eyes and you can picture the band jumping up and down on a stage, blasting through a noise tinged pop punk song. It’s a joyous little scene that makes it possible for a line about Boucher’s friend hanging himself to go in one ear and out the other. But if you catch it, it doesn’t ruin the mood. With an aching, plainspoken delivery, Boucher contemplates faith and mortality in the face of tragedy and mourning. Unlike a lot of what has often clogged the emo genre, the sadness here is genuine, but Sorority Noise refuse to wallow in it. The strength behind the album is in stressing the importance of keeping things in perspective.

4 of 5 stars


Real Estate – In Mind

Released March 17th, 2017

realestate-in-mind

In lesser hands, the band’s tranquil manifesto would fall into motionless, “sounds pretty good” territory creating vague background music that doesn’t leave anyone with any kind of impression. But Real Estate’s gentle touch embraces their soothing orchestration like a parent holds their newborn. The group rarely write hard angles into their songs. Their lyricism leans on expressive language and mild surrealism. It’s been eight years since Real Estate’s debut self-titled album, a record in which you could practically hear the Jersey shoreline washing away in the background of their suitably chilled out indie-rock. The two albums since, 2011’s Days and 2014’s Atlas saw the band retain their initial sound, but utilize the bigger production values now afforded to them and saw their songs subtly grow in maturity. On, In Mind, Real Estate’s fourth album, to their credit have remained a consistent. No easy feat given their recent history. During a short break, late 2015/early 2016, numerous members took some time off to become parents, relocate, and explore their own side projects. Founding member, Matt Mondanile, used this opportunity to permanently depart from the group and pursue his other band Ducktails. Drafting in replacement lead guitarist, solo artist and long-time friend of the band Julian Lynch, the band has continued in the fashion that they left off. Real Estate are consistent to both themselves and their fans.

3.5 of 5 stars


Depeche Mode – Spirit

Released March 17th, 2017

depechemode-spirit

There is an argument often made about artists in Depeche Mode’s position, which suggests their new albums exist primarily as an excuse to announce tours, on which they fill arenas on the basis of music they made 25 or 30 years ago. The assumption is the public has no real desire to hear what they’ve been up to lately. Albums like this one would suggest that may not be the case. Following 2013’s Delta Machine, Depeche Mode (Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher) return with their 14th studio album, and most politically charged material to date. Spirit, the band’s second release on Columbia Records, sees the band return to form in a moving, mournful, state of the union address. It opens with “Going Backwards”, a bleaker, internet mob-inspired take on Devo’s theory of de-evolution. “We’re going backwards, armed with new technology, we’re going backwards to a caveman mentality.” It includes a literal call to action on “Where’s The Revolution?” and ends with “Fail”, on which Martin Gore offers the unpromising conclusion: “Our consciences are bankrupt – we’re fucked.”

4 of 5 stars


Spoon – Hot Thoughts

Released March 17th, 2017

spoon-hot-thoughts

The band’s ninth record, Hot Thoughts, is the biggest re-invention of their career. Over nearly 25 years they’ve always tinkered with their sound, experimenting liberally, but still keeping the overall aesthetic. However, Hot Thoughts sees Spoon shift their focus more drastically than ever before. Electronics play a far bigger role; a gamble that won’t please everyone. The press materials for Hot Thoughts make a big deal about how sexy this album supposedly is. Personally I don’t think of anything in those terms listening to it, but it is still a nice listen regardless of intended concept. My biggest complaint on this record is their inability to write a decent intro to any of their songs. Once they get going they work, but sometimes it’s hard to wait out the floundering first few seconds.

3 of 5 stars


Blanck Mass – World Eater

Released March 3rd, 2017

blanckmass-world-eater

Despite having built a compelling career in experimental electronic duo Fuck Buttons, Benjamin John Power continues his work under his solo moniker, Blanck Mass. The obvious overlap between both outfits is the wall of electronic noise; an unmistakable sound. But while Fuck Buttons draw their strength from the slow build, Blanck Mass throws everything at you all at once. While Fuck Buttons take one motif and soar upwards, adding layer after layer into towering skyscrapers of noise, Blanck Mass tracks are a rush forwards, hurtling from one idea to the next. The new album World Eater bares its teeth at you right from the cover art.  It’s a scattered, wide-reaching aggressive genre exploration which manages to disorient the casual listener. Abrupt endings, gear-shifts in texture, and unexpected vocal samples are just a few of the sounds thrown at you.

3 of 5 stars


Temples – Volcano

Released March 3rd, 2017

temples-volcano

Temples’ debut record, Sun Structures, presented the band as time-travellers with their pitch-perfect, late 1960s psychedelia. On their sophomore album, Temples trade in the guitar riffs and grooves from their previous album with pulsating synth and drum beats. Fans of the first record might miss that ’60s tone, though this certainly feels dated. The toothless Volcano is keyboard-heavy electropop with much less bite, pock-marked with dubious stylistic potholes. To put it bluntly, the album is a disappointment. There is nothing wrong with Volcano exactly but it’s kind of boring and one listen is enough.

2 of 5 stars


The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings

Released February 17th, 2017

orwells-terrible-human-beings
The Orwells have made a decent enough tribute album to The Pixies, on Terrible Human Beings. Their influence is directly acknowledged on “Black Francis,” which reveals a far more self-aware, even self-deprecating side of The Orwells, as they rightfully paint themselves as bluffing posers compared to the likes of the Pixies’s frontman. Still in their early 20s, The Orwells have a competent but unspectacular offering that’s more likely to reinforce the band’s place as indie rock also-rans than take them to the next level if they don’t outgrow their influences and alt-tropes soon. Although The Orwells do venture outside of indie punk templates on a few occasions, it’s not enough to make any significant shift or statement on the genre. The songs aren’t disastrous on Terrible Human Beings (in fact it’s a decent enough listen) just unmemorable. If you don’t expect too much from them, you might not be let down.

3 of 5 stars


Overkill – The Grinding Wheel

Released February 10th, 2017

 overkill-the-grinding-wheel

The Grinding Wheel is the eighteenth studio album by American thrash metal band Overkill. And, although they haven’t reinvented the (grinding) wheel, the old old-school thrash band still have an impressive array of riffs to offer bringing back the good ol’ days of 80’s thrash. Three years after the great White Devil Armory, the band’s still active and kicking ass on The Grinding Wheel. The album is a bit different to the three previous ones, musically speaking. It’s more diverse, sludgy and heterogeneous in the songwriting and melody departments coupled with fast riffs and the right amount of groove. Sure there are some ludicrous lyrics here and there, but then they’ve always done that. For the diehard members of the wrecking crew, The Grinding Wheel will surely mark 2017 as a success. It certainly surpasses the recent offerings from the Big Four.

4 of 5 stars


Rag’n’Bone Man – Human

Released February 10th, 2017

ragnboneman-human

Rag’n’Bone Man aka, Rory Graham, might be the BRITs Critics’ Choice Award 2017 winner, but the resulting hype seems to have had a detrimental effect on his music. His ‘debut’ album, Human, is bland and formulaic in comparison to the music we’ve come to expect from previous singles by Rag’n’Bone Man. Many of the formulaic songs sound indistinguishable. (Notably similar are “Be The Man” and “Grace”). The odd samples, ambient noises, bluesy jazz sections and overall freshness of his previous years have been left behind in favor of a more conventional pop sound. Human may have been preordained as a hit, but it feels like a disappointing artistic step backwards.

2.5 of 5 stars


Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Released January 27th, 2017

japandroids-near-to-the-wild-heart-of-life

While there are those who will decry a departure on Near To The Wild Heart Of Life (Synths, Ballads, Acoustic Guitars, etc.) And it is true, the album has all of those elements and more polished production. But at its heart, Near To The Wild Heart Of Life is a Japandroids album. The band has expanded its sound while hewing close to what it does best. Near To The Wild Heart Of Life persists with the eight track format, the Vancouver band stating that eight songs “is the standard template for a great rock ‘n’ roll album”. As King notes in the press materials for Japandroids’ new full-length, the group toured Celebration Rock until November 2013, then didn’t perform live again for three years. King moved to Toronto then to Mexico City, “totally transforming the way [they] write and work.” He and Prowse began working on new material in New Orleans in the fall of 2014, a process that continued for a year in the various cities the duo now call home.

3.75 of 5 stars


Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

Released January 27th, 2017

cloud nothings-life-without-sound

Cleveland indie rockers Cloud Nothings’ fourth offering was written and pieced together over the course of a year. Life Without Sound feels far more considered than anything Dylan Baldi has put his name to before. The band’s trademark fuzz is reined in and replaced with a more polished production value while retaining the youthful energy of their songwriting . It’s a move that benefits the band for the most part. Where Cloud Nothings’ early records seemed filled with post-teen angst, Life Without Sound is a more confident affair. Dylan Baldi claimed in October ,“This record is like my version of new age music.” Cloud Nothings has always felt like a perpetual work-in-progress and while it is an enjoyable listen Life Without Sound continues the trend.

3 of 5 stars


Cherry Glazerr – Apocalipstick

Released January 20th, 2017

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Since Cherry Glazerr released their debut album, Haxel Princess, a few years back they’ve literally become an entirely different band. Singer/founder Clementine Creevy is the only remaining member from the original line-up that recorded their first album. On Apocalipstick, Creevy is now joined by multi-instrumentalist Sasami Ashworth and drummer Tabor Allen. Apocalipstick is a clear development with better production and a more expansive sound.

4 of 5 stars


Austra – Future Politics

Released January 20th, 2017

austra-future-politics

Vancouver-based electronic outfit Austra’s third effort Future Politics may be their strongest full-length to date. Despite the limited and dense instrumentation and melancholy electronic beats experimentation with modern house music is evident throughout. Katie Stelmanis’ vocal performances consistently tug at the heartstrings with thought-provoking lyrics. Darkness has long been a recurring theme in the band’s work, representing the future but also the night, and nightlife potentially finding the sounds of the future on the dance floor.

3 of 5 stars


AFI – AFI (The Blood Album)

Released January 20th, 2017

AFI-afi

After bands have established career security groups often feel compelled to equal or better the quality of previous releases, or decide to indulge in experiments, complexities and whims. Twenty-two years after releasing its debut album the California quartet sounds fresh and rejuvenated on its tenth studio album, AFI (The Blood Album). Guitarist Jade Puget and vocalist Davey Havok have distilled AFI’s strengths into 14 hook-driven songs sure to please any loyal fan.

3.5 of 5 stars


The Rolling Stones – Blue & Lonesome

Released December 7th, 2016

stones-blue-lonesome

For the first time in their career, the Rolling Stones have elected to release an album consisting entirely of blues covers, Blue & Lonesome. The band have always  been among the loudest cheerleaders for the original artists and the quality of this homage speaks to their sincerity. The selection of cuts are not likely to be found on any Greatest Hits collections and are clearly the choices of discerning aficionados. The overall sound is seductively raw and live with a slight distortion to the whole affair.

4 of 5 stars


Peter Doherty – Hamburg Demonstrations

Released December 7th, 2016

peterdoherty-hamburg-demonstrations

Peter Doherty’s release of his second solo album proper, Hamburg Demonstrations, highlights his history of lyrical missteps and mediocrity as a songwriter. The album includes two versions of the same song; “I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Anyone)” and the appropriately titled “I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Anyone) V2” which is markedly inferior than the “first” version which begs the question of why he included “V2”?

3 of 5 stars


Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love!

Released December 7th, 2016

childgambino-awaken-my-love

Donald Glover is a busy man.  Cramming rap, music, film direction, an acting career, and stand-up comedy into his regular routine. Under his musical alter ego of Childish Gambino, his third album Awaken, My Love!, is his most cohesive, straightforward vision yet. An celebration of funk and soul’s most psychedelic moments. It’s a step forward from the goof-about wordplay (although there is plenty of goofy lyrics here as well) of his debut album Camp, to the slightly impenetrable, genre-clashing agenda of the follow-up, Because the Internet. As he races from one medium or project the next, it may be a struggle to keep up with what he’s trying to achieve, but Glover’s erratic approach is also clearly part of his appeal.

3.5 of 5 stars


Metallica – Hardwired…To Self-Destruct

Released November 18th, 2016

Metallica_Hardwired

While not directly positioned as such, Metallica’s 10th album, Hardwired… To Self-Destruct is their best work in some twenty years. Though the band seems to be slowing down with age, there are a few solid efforts on the overlong release. A few songs would have been better served at a faster pace, and shorter structure, but overall the album proves that Metallica is pretty good at being Metallica. That is to say while there are not enough risks taken here. They often stick too closely to Metallica’s songwriting formula. But a long term fan would certainly find something to like. The three singles released prior “Hardwired”, “Atlas Rise”, and “Moth into Flame” do the band and the album justice as excellent entries to their catalogue, but the real stand out of the album is the closing track “Spit Out The Bone.” It’s unfortunate that it has to be the album’s finale that shows what could have been throughout. More tracks in that vein could have made the album a classic for all time, but I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

3.5 of 5 stars


Sleigh Bells – Jessica Rabbit

Released November 11th, 2016

sleighbells-jessica-rabbit

The Brooklyn-based noise pop duo Sleigh Bells’ fourth album, Jessica Rabbit, is a band harnessing their raw power and pushing it in some new directions. The first release on their own label, Torn Clean, is splitting at the seams with the same monster riffs and relentless percussion that has marked their work all along. Jessica Rabbit represents Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss’ most equal distribution of labor yet as a song writing team. The only real weakness, while undeniably ambitious in scope, the album is too scatterbrained to make a truly cohesive statement. Some of the songs work exceptionally well “I can’t stand you anymore”, and “Throw me down the stairs”, while some float by with out imprinting anything on your memory.

3.5 of 5 stars


American Wrestlers – Goodbye Terrible Youth

Released November 4th, 2016

AmWrestlers-goodbye-terrible-youth

Goodbye Terrible Youth, hello terrible record. Okay maybe not terrible, but mired in such mediocrity it barely registers. The jangly guitar lines float by in a hazy and lazy fashion akin to a demo recording made in a teenager’s bedroom. This might well have the ability to lull listeners to sleep. Which is perhaps the most positive trait to the album. The lo-fi quality, however, isn’t what holds up the album. What holds Terrible Youth back from becoming a coherent, powerful statement is a kind of haphazardness in its arrangement and the total lack of any hooks.

2 of 5 stars


Mannequin Pussy – Romantic

Released October 28th, 2016

mannequinpussy-romantic

Mannequin Pussy’s 11-song, 17-minute sophomore album, Romantic, really packs a punch. Originally a pair of childhood friends – frontwoman Marisa Dabice and guitarist Thanasi Paul, the band evolved into a grungy trio for 2014’s Gypsy Pervert LP, and now with Romantic have enlisted drummer Kaleen Reading and bassist Colins Regisford who have been playing with them live for some time now. The Philadelphia based quartet flirts with punk, hardcore, and hints of pop sensibilities. At its core Romantic is an album about love, but love with all the trappings: emotional turmoil, breakup calls, bittersweet entrail-twisting, tear-soaked, puke-stained, expressions of love and hate.

4.5 of 5 stars


Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake

Released October 28th, 2016

testament-the-brotherbood-of-the-snake

Long considered to be the honorary fifth member of thrash metal’s Big Four, Testament, sparked a renewed following after reuniting their original ’80s lineup in 2005 and releasing two excellent albums in the ensuing years, 2008’s The Formation of Damnation and 2012’s Dark Roots of Earth. Despite a few missteps, mat noticeably “Canna-Business”, their newest release Brotherhood of the Snake, their eleventh album overall, continues the streak. The aggressive, riff-heavy, in-your-face thrash has always worked for them, and they don’t stray far from what you would expect musically, but the lyrics don’t fit the album’s overall concept and are laughably bad at more than a few instances. On the whole though, however, Testament prove why thrash metal should be as relevant in the modern era as it was in the ’80s.

4 of 5 stars


Amaranthe – Maximalism

Released October 21st, 2016

Amaranthe-Maximalism

In the arts, maximalism, a reaction against minimalism, is an esthetic of excess and redundancy. The philosophy can be summarized as “more is more”, contrasting with the minimalist motto “less is more”. Which is to say Sweden’s melodic metal masters Amaranthe’s fourth release, Maximalism, is aptly titled. This is a band having a lot of fun, and the resulting album is undoubtedly their most diverse and dynamic to date. Raw and heavy riffs, danceable beats, undeniably catchy choruses…while it may not be for everyone particularly angsty metal \m/ purists, but if you don’t mind a little pop sensibility and positive lyricism in your metal then this is for you. What is easily their most diversified and compelling album to date, Amaranthe, continue to push the boundaries of melodic metal. Every track is around the three-and-a-half-minute mark and meticulously crafted. The result is a collection of well-written songs following the standard verse-chorus formula. Granted, it is very formulaic, but you largely forget about the staid nature of it with the energy and conviction Amaranthe bring to each track. Maximalism is trimmed, concentrated and captures Amaranthe on their upward trajectory to the upper echelons of melodic/pop metal.

4.5 of 5 stars


American Football – American Football

Released October 21st, 2016

american-football

American Football reconvenes for its second self-titled album after nearly two decades. The current incarnation of American Football has changed in some aspects, though regrettably. That’s not to say that the band has lost everything of what made them stand out in the past. The overall result is a disappointment for a band that has had  close to twenty years to hone their skills for this effort. The lyrics are unfortunately uninspired and drab. The songs on the album though capably written, retain a uniformity with arrangements that are less enchanting and overly clean. They’re neat and slick, well recorded, but also largely forgettable and even stiff in carriage and expression.

2.5 of 5 stars


Kings of Leon – Walls

Released October 14th, 2016

kingsofleon-walls

Kings of Leon’s new album, WALLS, the head-scratching acronym which stands for “We Are Like Love Songs” isn’t some adventurous left turn towards a new genre or even a new beginning that their marketing department would have you believe. The band continues to struggle against the woodenness of their own sounds despite breaking form their longtime producer Angelo Petraglia in favor of Arcade Fire/Coldplay veteran Markus Dravs which is basically like swapping a chips ahoy for a chocolate chip cookie. With bold moves like that it seems nothing can shake the band off autopilot, and creating standard non-offensive radio rock at its most cliché. The biggest surprise on here is a few songs over the radio friendly 4 minute mark. And if you are going to pen a song titled “Conversation Piece”, it should actually be one.

2.5 of 5 stars


Phantogram – Three

Released October 7th, 2016

phantogram-three

New York duo Phantogram’s third and noticeably darker record (aptly titled) Three brings the duo one step closer to the inevitable stadium-filled mainstream audience it deserves. It’s the follow-up to 2014’s Voices, a record that firmly cemented them as the reigning force in indie trip-hop circles. With Three the band have perfected their trademark dream/trip-hop-pop, but it comes with an added, outer ring of moodiness. Sarah Barthel and Josh Carter have sharpened their music with pristine production and multi-layered instrumentation. The album arrives under a pall. This past January, Barthel’s older sister (who was close friends with Carter as well) took her own life, a personal trauma that hovered over the recording sessions. And, while that accounts for the darken mood to the proceedings the duo have never before sounded so animated, self-assured, and synchronized.

4.5 of 5 stars


Green Day – Revolution Radio

Released October 7th, 2016

greenday-revolution-radio

Teen angst, shitty families, rebuking “mainstream society”, it all appears on Revolution Radio. Green Day are a bit of a know quantity after all. Have they ever really written a bad song? I’d say no. Some are better than others to be sure, but none are just bad and the is the case on the band’s latest solid effort. “Bang Bang” is the clear stand out on the album, a shout-along ’80s punk dust-up, its SoCal mohawk of a melody carrying a vocal castigation of gun violence in the age of Instagram. Revolution Radio is the perfect “comeback” vehicle for a trio of middle-aged punk rockers recovering from a four year hiatus rife with personal issues and identity crises. (Armstrong’s very public breakdown at the 2012 iHeartRadio festival forced him, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool to pump the breaks for several years.) While Armstrong dealt with his alcoholism and addiction, entering rehab, Dirnt dealt with his wife’s cancer, and Cool enjoyed a honeymoon phase traveling with his new wife. Hitting the reset button and returning to their origins, Revolution Radio marks their first album in 15 years with no gimmick, no triple EP, no over the top elevated concept. Their signature power chord structure, Armstrong’s ironically self-aware lyrics, and a catchy chorus is all they’ve ever needed.

4 of 5 stars


Bon Iver – 22, A Million

Released September 30th, 2016

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Bon Iver’s first album in five years takes an unexpected turn toward the strange and experimental. And, while I give kudos for taking risks an experimenting, it just doesn’t work out well. 22, A Million features unpronounceable track listings, cut and paste lyrics, densely autotuned vocals, and fractured production. It’s clear Justin Vernon is intentionally trying to distance a segment of his audience, to what end one can only guess, it’s certainly Bon Iver’s most difficult record. But the experimentation, despite having a few transcendent moments, too often substitutes effect for affect.

2 out of 5 stars


Regina Spektor – Remember Us to Life

Released September 30th, 2016

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Remember Us to Life delivers stunning songs with intriguing unconventionality and her brand of pop appeal. Whether her writing is a little more accessible, or we all got a little weirder to meet her in the middle the album still manages to call back to her earliest work while still being undeniably fresh. With Remember Us to Life, Spektor foregoes some of the whimsical narratives on previous albums and digs back into more personal thoughts, showcasing her inimitable vocals and piano talents. Her style is still niche, but Spektor’s growth as a musician and a storyteller lets her piano do a lot of the talking, in harmony with her voice. As a result Remember Us to Life is one of Spektor’s most carefully considered and elegant statements to date.

4 out of 5 stars


Jenny Hval – Blood Bitch

Released September 30th, 2016

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Jenny Hval makes difficult experimental avant-garde pop music. Blood Bitch is the fourth album under her own name by the ever-inventive and fascinating Norwegian artist. It’s arguably her best to date, or at least the most accessible. There are drones and white noise scattered across Blood Bitch and some spoken word conversations mostly circling around the female body and menstruation, and the idea of art itself. Quite often, listeners (myself included) don’t know how to react to Hval, but her works encourage multiple listens to try and sort it out. And, that in it’s own right is an accomplishment.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Warpaint – Heads Up

Released September 23rd, 2016

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Los Angeles quartet Warpaint have returned with a third studio album, Heads Up. An album written while often working separately as they balanced various side projects, and a near break up of the band entirely. As a result Heads Up is an eclectic, and nuanced collection of songs. The recording quality reflects the disjointed writing style with mismatching reverbs and in some cases the band sound as thought they are in fact in different rooms, but Heads Up is intriguingly gloomy and marks a fresh start for Warpaint.

4 out of 5 stars


Beach Slang – A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings

Released September 23rd, 2016

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Beach Slang’s sophomore album, A Loud Bash of Teenage Feelings is a more than worthy follow up to their debut record, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, an album critics and fans alike were quick to embrace. Beach Slang’s knack for writing “honest” tracks, with rattling guitars, crashing drums, and erratic enthusiasm carries over nicely here. The tracks on Loud Bash capture the duality of youth and nostalgia. A 14-year-old can come to the record and see themselves as they are now, while a 40-year-old can see how they were then. The themes of loneliness, discovery, and uncertainty speak to the generation experiencing them in the now, as well as anyone who ever has. Singer James Alex manages to recreate the teenage experience without moralizing, belittling, or coming off disingenuous.

4 out of 5 stars


Merchandise – A Corpse Wired for Sound

Released September 23rd, 2016

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Tampa trio Merchandise’s second album on the 4AD label A Corpse Wired for Sound features the band back to their core three-piece lineup of Carson Cox, Dave Vassalotti, and Pat Brady. And while it’s not particularly animated, this corpse isn’t completely dead on arrival. Fans of 80’s flair post punk pop will find a few things to enjoy here.

3 out of 5 stars


Against Me! – Shape Shift With Me

Released September 16th, 2016

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Against Me! singer Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012. The album that followed her transition, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, was a sprawling punk record that was unflinchingly honest, but also a lot of fun. Following up such a notable release, Against Me! have decided to make a “relationship album” Shape Shift With Me. A potent mix of the personal and political viewpoints, the album chronicles Grace contending with those complications of her new life. The album itself features everything you would expect musically: catchy choruses, short track times, maelstrom riffs, and blitzkrieg drums. In short it is well crafted pop-punk paint by numbers brimming with classic chord progressions, but executed at the highest level and a joy to listen to.

4 out of 5 stars


St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Sea of Noise

Released September 9th, 2016

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R&B old-school revivalists Alabama’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones second LP Sea of Noise was worth the wait. The songwriting is elevated from their 2014 debut. Sea of Noise features classy but unpredictable production, sharp playing, clever lyrics, memorable melodies and dialed down arrangements that step forward successfully avoiding the sophomore slump.

4 out of 5 stars


Angel Olsen – My Woman

Released September 2nd, 2016

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Singer-songwriter and Asheville, NC resident Angel Olsen’s third album My Woman marks her return after “almost quitting music” following the success of her 2014 breakout Burn Your Fire for No Witness. Having found the success of her previous release alienating, she channeled those feelings into this new body of work, with a slightly expanded sonic palette. While the lyrics are often poignant and her voice shines through, the lo-fi/ dull recording quality dampens the affair. And despite her obvious vocal chops, thoughtful lyrics, and generally pleasant melodies the songs strangely are ultimately forgettable.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Morgan Delt – Phase Zero

Released August 26th, 2016

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Morgan Delt jumped to Sub Pop for his second effort, Phase Zero. The album continues Delt’s blend of ’60s psychedelia, acid rock, folk-rock and twisted sunshine pop all filtered through a home studio aesthetic. Delt hasn’t lost any of his dazed wonder, hasn’t moved his operation to a big studio, didn’t collaborate with anyone, and basically took what he did on the first album and gave it an extra dose of sunshine resulting in a well-realized psych-pop album, with perhaps better songwriting but less charm than the previous.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Cold Pumas – The Hanging Valley

Released August 26th, 2016

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Cold Pumas opt for a shoegazey version of dissonance, duration and repetition on The Hanging Valley. You could quite easily sit listening to The Hanging Valley without paying attention to a single lyric which may be for the best. Cold Pumas expanded their lineup to a four-piece and swapped Brighton for London. Not that any of that seems to have had a particularly profound effect on their sound: post-punk that’s long since been done to death. The album perhaps feels a bit wearying as a whole piece, and to be honest it’s difficult to listen to all the way through, because even though the whole set is only 38 minutes, each song is long enough to push your capacity for concentration somewhat.

2.5 out of 5 stars


of Montreal – Innocence Reaches

Released August 12th, 2016

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Kevin Barnes company head more toward an updated glam-pop sound for album fourteen, Innocence Reaches. Of Montreal (Barnes and his revolving roster of a band) have expanded their sound ever so slightly to incorporate more hazy synths, and glammed up freak-outs. Innocence Reaches works at its best when offering surprises after seducing the listener in with slinky bass lines and sleepy synths. Barnes states the album is influenced by the EDM, IDM and indie pop sounds of artists like Jack Ü, Arca and Chairlift. Throughout the album’s 12 tracks, of Montreal sound inspired, and re-energized utilizing new sounds rather than rehashing old ideas piling on layers of dense beats, left-field rhythms, and low-end synths.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Dinosaur Jr. – Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not

Released August 5th, 2016

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Dinosaur Jr know exactly what they’re good at, and they’re not going to change for anyone. Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, the eleventh studio album by the Massachusetts band is pretty much business as usual. But when the formula works this well, what’s the point in switching it up?

4 out of 5 stars


Wild Beasts – Boy King

Released August 5th, 2016

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Heavy-handed metaphors, check; cringe worthy choruses (and verses), check…The vocals and lyrics on this release reveal the boys of Wild Beasts taking on the tropes of masculinity with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and lyrics that are about as clever as a head-on collision. Boy King the fifth album is bit of a u-turn. The core elements are all still there. Vocalists Hayden Thorpe and Tom Fleming are as prominent as ever but they’re obnoxious, oppressive, and overbearing in their delivery. Much of the joy to be found in this record is in its production (Recorded by John Congleton in Dallas, Texas). As for the songs themselves, despite the cleaner, gleaming sound, to their detriment don’t yield much on repeated listens, and the song arrangements begin to feel antiseptic.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Descendents – Hypercaffium Spazzinate

Released July 29th, 2016

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The Descendents’ 2016 album Hypercaffium Spazzinate speaks to the inevitability of adulthood, and how it impacts your life. Those geeky, misfit kids are now middle-aged men. They are all over 50, greyer, heftier, and in various states of health. Milo Aukerman’s vocals are as strong as ever. Stephen Egerton’s guitar work is precise and effective, Karl Alvarez’s basslines and Bill Stevenson’s drumming provide a sturdy platform for their music. Four decades into their career the Descendents once again prove that the genre isn’t just a young man’s game. Hypercaffium Spazzinate doesn’t reinvent the wheel it just sees the band continue to update their views from the vantage point of their advancing ages, “On Paper” and “No Fat Burger” are great examples. There’s plenty of life left in the Descendents, even if they do have to watch their cholesterol these days, there are no signs it’s slowing them down.

4 out of 5 stars


Viola Beach – Viola Beach

Released July 29th, 2016

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I always review albums with as little information about the artist as possible on the first listen. Sometimes that’s hard to do with well-known acts, but with smaller indie acts it rarely is a problem. I do this in an effort to review the music not the persona/band. I later then go back and get as much information as possible from multiple sources. So I had never heard of Viola Beach before listening to this release. In a word I would describe this album as: clunky. It lacks a certain polish, it’s relatively short at nine tracks, and the pacing is not particularly strong. But it all becomes clear why, as you learn the story behind the album. On February 13, 2016, the band: Kris Leonard (guitar/vocals), Jack Dakin (drums), River Reeves (guitar), and Tomas Lowe (bass) and their manager Craig Tarry were killed in Sodertalje, Sweden when their car plunged off a bridge. A freak accident cutting their lives short in an instant. This posthumous debut are the studio recordings that had been completed before their tragic deaths collected on a nine-song self titled memorial. Released with the support of the members’ families, the band’s debut while cohesive understandably isn’t fully realized. The album is far from perfect, but that’s also part of its charm. It’s a reminder that fate often has other plans, and not to take for granted the time we are given. And for that reason alone, it is worth a listen.

3 out of 5 stars


Bear’s Den – Red Earth & Pouring Rain

Released July 22nd, 2016

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Red Earth & Pouring Rain  by this London-based band Bear’s Den falls firmly into the sophomore slump. Perhaps it was the amicable departure of founding member Joey Haynes early in the year, maybe it’s the step in a more electronic direction for the band, whatever it is the result is clumsy and perhaps this year’s most painfully middle-of-the-road release.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Look Park – Look Park

Released July 22nd, 2016

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Chris Collingwood insists this isn’t a solo record, it’s a side project from his other job as one of the two principals of Fountains of Wayne, though almost no one will see it that way. Look Park is understated to the point of diffidence. The busy arrangements of songs like this make it hard to feel the dynamic punch that might have better sold this album. Look Park’s weakest points are the frills that seem to dominate more than half of the album. They overshadow songs at times like the incessant strings in the background of “Stars of New York”.

3 out of 5 stars


Periphery – Periphery III: Select Difficulty

Released July 22nd, 2016

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I think they recorded the drum tracks in a cave. They follow their formula down to the last measure, musically, album titles, album cover, etc. The problem with Periphery is everyone agrees with a broad statement that they are good, but a band with this much talent could do so much better. After three LPs and a double album they have rapidly hit the point were everything is entirely stale, and basically the same as it was last time. It’s one thing to stick to “your sound”, it’s another not to grow as a band in any noticeable way.

2.5 out of 5 stars


The Amazing – Ambulance

Released July 22nd, 2016

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The Amazing just don’t live up to their name. They never really have. Their fourth LP Ambulance is aptly titled, because if I have to listen to it again I will surely hurt myself and be in need of one, with the one exception of “Blair Drager” which is actually quite a nice tune.

2 out of 5 stars


The Paranoid Style – Rolling Disclosure

Released July 15th, 2016

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Rolling Disclosure the debut full length album by The Paranoid Style. The Paranoid Style took their name from historian Richard J. Hofstadter’s 1964 essay The Paranoid Style in American Politics. Lead singer and songwriter Elizabeth Nelson channels articulate social and political observations through the group’s punk rock numbers. Nelson and husband/guitarist Timothy Bracy are joined on the album by an extensive list of musicians that includes Bruce Bennett of The A-Bones and Scott McCaughey among others. The ten songs clock in around twenty-eight minutes, and pack a punch full of puns, politics, and punk rock riffs.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Jack & Amanda Palmer – You Got Me Singing

Released July 15th, 2016

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Amanda Palmer and her once estranged father Jack have healed their relationship via music. You Got Me Singing  a collaboration covers album by the two is the result. Her father who turns 72 this year brings his best Johnny Cash to proceedings while she brings her usual bag of tricks. Jack and Amanda haven’t always been the closest father and daughter, Jack having left when she was only a year old. While touring their relationship was reestablished, when Amanda invited Jack to shows and occasionally stayed at his house. Palmer has said about the album, “It was a really good reason to spend healing time together, sharing our musical histories”. The collection of songs is surprisingly relevant, and the arrangements tastefully simple.

4 out of 5 stars


The Julie Ruin – Hit Reset

Released July 8th, 2016

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Originally created as an experimental 1998 lo-fi solo project between her tenures in Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin is the brainchild of singer, songwriter, and feminist punk icon Kathleen Hanna. After re-launching the venture as a band in 2010, Hanna and her co-conspirators delivered their brash group debut, Run Fast, in 2013. Kathleen Hanna is know to be musically diverse, not just from band to band, but from album to album. The second album Hit Reset with her most recent band The Julie Ruin is the perfect blend. Though the album has its lighter moments, Hit Reset is mostly anything but. It’s an album about Hanna’s survival of the abuse she suffered in childhood, and in all its complexity and anguish, and right from the statement-of-intent opener it’s wrought with emotional pain. The constant changes of pace ensure that this is a record you’re never allowed to settle into. Equal parts harrowing parts of sorrow,  and lighter moments of pure joy. Hit Reset is a 13-track sonic blast containing some of Hanna’s most personal material. It’s an enthralling listen where practically every moment feels as important as it is brilliant.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Big Business – Command Your Weather

Released July 8th, 2016

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Big Business’ fifth album, Command Your Weather, is the duo’s first recording devoid of additional personnel to fill out their sound. Fortunately for devotees, the guys satisfactorily fill in the newfound swathes of negative space with amplified versions of Big Business’ tinnitus-inducing murky, abyssal bass riffs, and simplicity, heaviness, and blackened hooks. Bassist Jared Warren and drummer Coady Willis (both of whom moonlight as the rhythm section for the Melvins) unleash an unrelenting bomb of low-end grooves and unpleasant feedback that passes by in a harsh blur. There’s so little space on the album Command Your Weather is almost purposefully inaccessible to the point of masochism, and truly digging into the album requires commitment and endurance. With out taking time to truly digest the material, all the songs end up sounding the same, and I’m not sure that’s what they were going for.

3 out of 5 stars


Shura – Nothing’s Real

Released July 8th, 2016

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“The queen of awkward,” (her words) Aleksandra Denton aka Shura has released her debut full-length album Nothing’s Real. It’s a plain-talking, 80s influenced album from first note to last, full o heartbreak, anxiety, love and well crafted songwriting. Nothing Real isn’t faultless with an occasional momentum lull, but it makes up for it with infectious songs that are unafraid of going near pop cheese while smartly and deftly staying just short. It’s a statement packed with future potential, and that’s all you can really ask for from a debut record.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Gone Is Gone – Gone Is Gone

Released July 8th, 2016

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Gone Is Gone is the first release by the “supergroup” of the same name. Gone Is Gone unites members of Mastodon (Bassist-singer Troy Sanders), Queens of the Stone Age ( guitarist Troy Van Leeuwen), the recently reunited At the Drive-In (drummer Tony Hajjar), and multi-instrumentalist Mike Zarin. The eight tracks clock in at about 31 minutes but feels longer as they take you through a trip of muddy somber and somewhat psychedelic hard rock numbers. The sludgy sweltering distortion is reminiscent of early Sound Garden. The ballad-ish “Starlight” will delight 90s era goth kids. While overall it’s all stuff we’ve heard before, it is done well. The band’s debut EP carves out its own compelling radio rock combining Queens’ scorched stoner-metal squall, Mastodon’s prog-metal bombast and ATDI’s post-hardcore.

4 out of 5 stars


Fates Warning – Theories of Flight

Released July 1st, 2016

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Following a near-decade-long gap, progressive metal band Fates Warning made a bold return to form with 2013’s Darkness in a Different Light, a muscular set that married the precision of their late-’90s highlights with the hard-won emotional range that only comes from time and experience. They now follow it up with 2016’s Theories of Flight, featuring some of the most solid songwriting of the band’s career. The same core lineup of founder Jim Matheos (guitar), longtime member Ray Alder (vocals), Joey Vera (bass), and late-period drummer Bobby Jarzombek have proven themselves and made a statement on this outing. Twelve albums and over three decades into their career, Fates Warning can still bring it.

4 out of 5 stars


Bat For Lashes – The Bride

Released July 1st, 2016

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Bat For Lashes, AKA Natasha Khan, draws from her studies of film, visual art and fashion design to create a tangible world on The Bride. This fourth album, a concept album, plays out a slow style of storytelling that rewards the patient listener. Khan takes listeners on the journey of titular character, The Bride, whose fiancé, Joe, dies on the way to their wedding. To be sure the journey is achingly/appropriately sad as The Bride tells the story of a woman whose fiancé dies in a car crash on their way to their wedding. Overcome with grief, she leaves the church and goes on their honeymoon alone.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Blink-182 – California

Released July 1st, 2016

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Blink-182 has returned with their seventh LP, California. After a stretch of uncertainty and stagnation, after Tom DeLonge was kicked out and Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba stepped in, we come realize they weren’t really missed. And California does little to make us want them back. California is the sound of a band desperately trying to remain relevant by outsourcing its creativity. Goldfinger frontman, John Feldmann was tapped as both the producer and a co-writer of California. The result is a collection of songs that could just as easily pass for any other band in Feldmann’s stable. And while it doesn’t wallow in formulaic nostalgia, it does sound like a desperate grasp at lost youth and faded glory.

3 out of 5 stars


Dorothy – ROCKISDEAD

Released June 24th, 2016

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ROCKISDEAD (Roc Nation Records) is the full-length debut album by Dorothy. The album features 35 minutes of straight forward rock. While the sound is rooted firmly in the 70s blues rock sound, bringing to mind Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, Dorothy manages to make it feel fresh and familiar at the same time. DJ Black’s guitars are fuzzy and grunge worthy. Zac Morris’ drums are straight forward and driving, while bassist Gregg Cash glues it all together. However, the real highlights of the album come from the bands namesake front-woman Dorothy Martin who wails her way though each track exuding rock and roll. The classic rock style draws you in, the modern edge to them will keep you listening.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Deerhoof – The Magic

Released June 24th, 2016

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Anyone who has heard Deerhoof knows their reputation for raw, experimental songwriting that vehemently defies categorization. To record their 16th release, The Magic, the band comprised of vocalist/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, guitarist John Dieterich, drummer Greg Saunier, and guitarist Ed Rodriguez rented out an abandoned office space in the desert of New Mexico. The album was written over a seven-day period without relying on predetermined riffs or songs, the band went in with nothing but their imaginations, and simply played. The result is their typically diverse set of influences  and eclectic sounds. The album plays out somewhat inconsistently and Matsuzaki continues to produce lyrics that can be difficult to follow. Occasional dud aside, the album is well crafted and worth a listen.

4 out of 5 stars


Minor Victories – Minor Victories

Released June 3rd, 2016

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Minor Victories is an apt title/moniker for this project as that is all it achieves. The band eschews the term “supergroup” (a term that implies a degree of star power they can’t quite deliver) for good reason. Justin Lockey (along with his brother James) of Editors conceived of a noise rock project anchored beneath ethereal, wistful vocals, so circuitously and through some happenstance, he shared the concept with Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell and Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite. Minor Victories don’t especially sound like any of the three projects that make up its membership and have forged a sound of their own, although not an especially revolutionary one. Their self-titled debut is a mix of sighing shoegaze, cinematic wanderlust, and gloomy riffs resulting in nothing particularly memorable.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Tegan and Sara – Love You to Death

Released June 3rd, 2016

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Tegan and Sara took a turn from indie singer-songwriter to glossy, electronic mainstream pop music a few years back. Ignoring the risk of alienating thier old audience in search of a new one (or at least an expanded one) that may ever materialize. The fans of the old could be heard hurling accusations of selling out, fuelled by the longstanding belief that the world of the indie singer-songwriter is a righteous and noble one and mainstream pop lacks integrity as a writer. Love You to Death’s 10 songs clock in at a concise 31 minutes of mainstream pop that no one would argue is lacking in integrity. The hooks reel you in, and the choruses stick. While unmistakably radio-friendly, and also a little predictable in song structures, Tegan And Sara’s honesty and intelligence shine through at all times.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Beth Orton – Kidsticks

Released May 28th, 2016

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When Beth Orton released the folk-leaning Sugaring Season in 2012, many thought she had moved as far as possible from her “folktronica” origins. She’d taken guitar lessons from Bert Jansch, written more formally conventional songs, and used an organic all-star studio band that included Brian Blade, Eyvind Kang, and Rob Burger, with string arrangements by Nico Muhly. Four years on, Beth Orton has made a 180-degree creative pivot for her sixth solo album, Kidsticks, on which she’s completely re-embraces technology. Instead of turning to acoustic guitar, the U.K. singer-songwriter first hunkered down in a garage and crafted keyboard loops with co-producer/Fuck Buttons co-founder Andrew Hung. Orton then spent the next 18 months building and sculpting Kidsticks’ songs by adding live musicians and her own production flourishes. The result is an adventurous album that at times feels a bit unfocused, but worth a listen none-the-less.

3 out of 5 stars


Holy Fuck – Congrats

Released May 28th, 2016

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Following 2010’s solid album Latin Toronto’s Holy Fuck flickered out. The band didn’t break up by any official account, they seemed to just not be around anymore. Head honchos Brian Borcherdt and Graham Walsh worked on other notable projects over the past few years. Walsh recorded and produced albums by Metz, Alvvays, and the former Viet Cong, while Borcherdt saw to his other bands and projects. Now six years later, out of nowhere, Holy Fuck released another record, Congrats. It continues their form of artful electronic-rock bristling with celestial noise and jogging grooves. “This album is exactly what we couldn’t do then,” Borcherdt said in the press release about the new Congrats. The album features the same lineup from Latin and does in fact still sound like Holy Fuck. Congrats is the welcome return of a foursome of dudes that are still plenty proficient at creating crooked, cock-eyed, almost-club jams and piling on swirling effects and rhythms to a critical mass without ever sounding like they’re losing control.

4 out of 5 stars


Mutual Benefit – Skip a Sinking Stone

Released May 20th, 2016

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Jordan Lee, with his project Mutual Benefit, Lee is back with his second LP, Skip a Sinking Stone. Skip a Sinking Stone is a new entry in the comforting singer/songwriter genre that expectedly shifts back and forth from saccharine to just plain boring.

2 out of 5 stars


Marissa Nadler – Strangers

Released May 20th, 2016

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Boston native Marissa Nadler forges ahead on her seventh album, Strangers, with a mix that comfortably sits within her typical sullen-to-sinister range. Nadler and producer Randall Dunn, who served as her producer for 2014’s July, have added little to her repertoire. The songs are musically sparse, bleak and boring. Nadler’s language has always been mostly monochromatic. Sure there are more drums and heavier guitars this time around, but the choruses simply implode and lack a hook. Her music is wearying at the best of times, and 45 minutes of reverb drenched forgettable noir is just a bit too much.

2 out of 5 stars


Eagulls – Ullages

Released May 13th, 2016

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Have you ever wondered what The Cure would be like without any hooks, and no catchy melodies? Ullages the sophomore effort by Eagulls is the answer. Their 2014 self-titled debut moved with driving, danceable bursts of energy and a melodic post-punk bent. Since then they changed management and spent the following couple of years regrouping and reassessing their wares, ushering in a change to their sound. There’s a more reflective and at times introverted homage to all things goth here. Eagulls are a band in transition. There are elements to like here, but they still need to iron out a few wrinkles.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Nothing – Tired of Tomorrow

Released May 13th, 2016

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Nothing’s Tired of Tomorrow is a new entry to the sophomore slump category. The band sticks closely to the shoegaze sound of their debut Guilty, while adding some new instrumentation here and there. The lack of any dramatic shifts in dynamics lessen the impact of the record. The songs are dissipated where they should be punchy, bland where they should be sharp, and smoothed out to the point where it just washes over the listener in a very unmemorable way. The main problem with the album is that the songs aren’t very compelling and the sound isn’t very distinctive. Despite some variation on the second half of the album giving some glimmers of hope, Nothing have made something quite standard issue and disappointing. The songs could have been placed in any order as the majority are interchangeable and indistinguishable from one another. You’ll be tired of Tired of Tomorrow by tomorrow. I know I was.

2 out of 5 stars


Rob Zombie – The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser

Released April 29th, 2016

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And the award for most ridiculously long album title of the year goes to…

The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser is Zombie’s sixth solo effort. Chock full of his sinister-meets-schlocky vibe the album is decent for those looking for the familiar. The album is structured like a soundtrack, and word is he apparently making a film to go along with The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser. While it is an enjoyable listen, what stands out on this solo effort is how much of it sounds like other artists. “Get Your Boots On! That’s The End Of Rock And Roll” rolls out like a ’90s-era Marilyn Manson song (fitting as half his band is from Manson). “Well, Everybody’s Fucking In A U.F.O.” is a dead ringer for Primus, and easily the best track on the record. “Medication For The Melancholy” is a jack-hammering, psych-metal Ministry-esque track. Beyond that Electric Warlock is full of razor sharp guitar aggression, and the usual doses of electronic programming, a bucket-load of B-movie schlock, intergalactic acid-industrial, sex and violence.

3 out of 5 stars


Pity Sex – White Hot Moon

Released April 29th, 2016

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Pity Sex decided to stick to their guns for their second album with their brand of lo-fi, buzzing guitar shoegaze pop. White Hot Moon takes the same traits as their 2013 debut and just press on. The quartet, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, use the LP’s 12 tracks mostly to run through memories of lost love and rejection. Pity Sex do a respectable job of balancing noise with melody, using both in equal amounts throughout, mixing in shoegaze’s standard loud-quiet dynamics. While the whole album is worth a listen, the track “Plum” stands out above the rest.

3.5 out of 5 stars


dälek – Asphalt For Eden

Released April 22nd, 2016

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dälek has returned from their “indefinite hiatus” started in 2011 after five albums. And though they’ve lost founding member Oktopus in their return, the bands sixth album Asphalt for Eden, Dälek is still strong but with some noticeable changes. Opener “Shattered” greets the listener with the band’s knack for using decaying textures and tones. While “Masked Laughter (Nothing’s Left)” and “6dB” reveal a band cultivating a lighter, more introspective side. After a four-year gap, the album still feels like something of a stopgap itself, like an overture to something more fleshed-out and fully elaborated. But this new material shows no sign of them either being creatively spent or looking to latch onto current trends. Instead Asphalt For Eden sees them stay reliably true to the band’s original artistic blueprint of creating music that’s dark, noisy, and atmospheric.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Greys – Outer Heaven

Released April 22nd, 2016

greys-outer-heaven

Toronto post-punk band Greys have ventured into new territory on their second studio album Outer Heaven. The album greets the listener with a sound that’s still distinctly Greys, but more multi-dimensional than in the past. Shehzaad Jiwani’s sharp-witted lyrics broach topical subjects like racism in the wake of terrorism (“No Star”), mental illness in a relationship (“Blown Out”) and the effects of product marketing (“In for a Penny”), a stylistic shift from his mostly personal prior work. The album fearlessly embraces elements of both art-rock experimentalism and pop accessibility.

3 out of 5 stars


Surgical Meth Machine – Surgical Meth Machine

Released April 15th, 2016

surgical-meth-machine

The self-titled release by Surgical Meth Machine is Al Jourgensen’s post-Ministry sonic vehicle. The 12 track album starts with the noisy opener “I’m Sensitive” featuring Jourgensen screaming “I don’t fucking care” in regard to Facebook rants against him and his music. It’s a bit juvenile in concept and lyrics, but it sticks with you. I have heard this track running through my head at some point during nearly every conversation I’ve had since hearing it. First single “Tragic Alert” is perhaps the most vintage Ministry-esque, and a very satisfying track. “I Want More” could also easily pass for a Ministry track. But he quickly shifts gears to bring more influences into the pantheon. “Rich People Problems” sees the album get a bit more punkish, which fitting leads into the Jello Biafra driven “I Don’t Wanna”. “Smash and Grab” is the most industrial, synth driven track bringing me flashbacks to the late 80s/early 90s and late nights listening to Skinny Puppy, Nitzer Ebb, and Front 242 but without sounding dated at all. Surgical Meth Machine is Al Jourgensen at his best and free of his seemingly self-imposed constraints he felt with Ministry. Even with the variety of styles and samples blended throughout, Surgical Meth Machine is distinctly a Jourgensen project/product, a satisfying culmination of all of his past projects and side-projects blended into one. It is also easily, one of, if the not the best release so far this year.

5 out of 5 stars


Misty Miller – The Whole Family Is Worried

Released April 8th, 2016

mistymiller-the-whole-family-is-worried

The South Londoner, Misty Miller, first introduced herself back in 2011 as a fresh-faced, blonde, with a ukulele in hand playing whimsical folk music. Having scrapped her old look and for all we know burnt her ukulele, Misty has resurfaced with black hair, black eyeliner, tattoos and a punkish new sound. The Whole Family Is Worried has a host of strong moments. Her accessible lyrics show off what a talented songwriter she is. You don’t really get a collage, or an impression of what Miller thinks, you get straight up what she feels. The album is perhaps a bit uneven, but the family should stop worrying, the new direction has a lot of promise.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Moving Units – Damage with Care

Released April 8th, 2016

moingunits-damage-with-care

The often maligned Moving Units new full-length album Damage with Care is actually quite enjoyable. Now that the dance-punk revolution is a nostalgic throwback, their music can be heard with fresh ears rather than comparisons to their more popular contemporaries in the genre.

4.5 out of 5 stars


September Girls – Age of Indignation

Released April 8th, 2016

septembergirls-age-of-indignation

Dublin five piece September Girls are back with their sophomore LP, Age of Indignation. The noisy Irish quintet have shed any remaining indie pop affectations and honed themselves into a force unto themselves. The album is a convincing and credible advance, and September Girls return with their songwriting finely honed. Age of Indignation has the vocals front and centre, crisp and sharp where they were so murky on their debut, but there’s still a keen sense of how reverb and noise can build atmosphere. September Girls’ lyrical concerns are informed by a clear-eyed and concise social political commentary rumbling with anger throughout.

4 out of 5 stars


Filter – Crazy Eyes

Released April 9th, 2016

filter-crazy-eyes

What does a band do when they realize they have become a nostalgia act but still want to record new material? On Crazy Eyes, Richard Patrick reintroduces the ominous energy from the early industrial-leaning releases and sprinkles in references to former associates Nine Inch Nails. Backed by new bandmates, and handling the production himself Patrick fully embraces Filter’s sonic legacy. Throughout the 12 tracks, Patrick assesses what he calls the “insanity of the human condition.” References to the Michael Brown shooting and subsequent Ferguson riots, commentary on religious bigotry are addressed, as well as, more personal subjects such as Patrick’s late father on “Take Me to Heaven.” Crazy Eyes effectively treads new ground while respectfully acknowledging the sound that propelled the band in the first place.

4 out of 5 stars


Woods – City Sun Eater in the River Of Light

Released April 9th, 2016

woods-city-sun-eater-in-the-river-of-light

Brooklyn’s Woods’ 9th proper LP, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, continues their streak of quality folk music that refuses to be defined by any particular label. It’s largely rooted in the same ’60s indie-folk pop and druggy psychedelic Americana rock that’s defined all the band’s records, but periodic shadings of reggae and healthy dose of Ethiopian Jazz (akin to Mulatu Astatke) take the songs to some new and interesting places. The new influences are particularly well-timed, coming as it does after 2014’s With Light and With Love, an enjoyable, if ever-more-predictable familiar-on-arrival LP that left even many Woods loyalists longing for a shakeup.

4 out of 5 stars


M83 – Junk

Released April 9th, 2016

m83-junk

The 80’s infatuated Anthony Gonzalez has kindly saved us the time of writing a review by using it as the title of the record. Junk is a superficial thrill ride full of gloss, eclecticism and bubblegum melodies with the occasional highlight, but without any truly evocative moments. As a result it lacks staying power.

3.5 out of 5 stars


The Last Shadow Puppets – Everything You’ve Come to Expect

Released April 1st, 2016

lastshadowpuppets-everything-youve-come-to-expect

For band with only two albums it seem dangerous to title that second release, Everything You’ve Come to Expect. Even if it is eight years after your debut. It immediately tells your audience that there will be no growth, no variation, or anything “new” really. As it turns out The Last Shadow Puppets (Miles Kane and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner) have in fact done little in the way of growth, so maybe it is an appropriate title. If anything they’ve mellowed their tempos a bit, but still stick to their 60s/70s pop sound. But they are enjoyable, and that’s not a bad thing.

4 out of 5 stars


Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

Released March 18th, 2016

iggypop-post-pop-depression

Post Pop Depression is Iggy Pop’s first solo effort in four years. The album was self-financed, recorded in secret and co-written by Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme. Rumored to be his final album, Post Pop Depression doesn’t find the famed singer going out with a bombastic but instead is reflective, haunting and mournful. The album is smart, thoughtful, intelligent and introspective.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Låpsley – Long Way Home

Released March 4th, 2016

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Despite making her name, initially, with spectral, minimalist bedroom productions, Liverpudlian musician Holly Lapsley Fletcher who performs simply as Låpsley explores new territory on her full-length debut Long Way Home. With the majority of the songs both universal and complex this is a confident first album form a performer with great potential. Sonically the piano tones still serve as the framework for most of the songs, and she continues to push the boundaries explored in previous releases incorporating varied percussion sounds, and warped electronic noises into the mellow soundscapes.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Yuck – Stranger Things

Released February 26th, 2016

yuck-stranger-things

Not that long ago Yuck made a noisy, raw, and rather well received debut album. They then followed it with an album that stunk, Glow & Behold. It was an effort to listen to all the way through. The reasons for that sophomore slump were readily apparent. Having lost a key member (guitarist and primary songwriter Daniel Blumberg) certainly didn’t help their lackluster efforts. Most bands would never be able to recover from such a drastic drop-off in quality, and would have been desperately in search of day jobs. Surprisingly their newest release Stranger Things, exceeds even lowered expectations. It is a thoroughly entertaining album that successfully blends melody and noise, pop smarts and guitar fuzz. Yuck may have just figured out how to thrive in a post-Blumberg world.

4 out of 5 stars


Death Index – Death Index

Released February 26th, 2016

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Death Index is comprised of Merchandise frontman Carson Cox collaborating with Italian hardcore veteran Marco Rapisarda. Their self-titled debut is a noisy, industrial-tinged intercontinental punk project. Even though Cox claims to have become disenchanted with punk, Death Index is some of his hardest, most punk-influenced music yet. Lyrically, the entire album is appropriately fixated on death, pain, and dissatisfaction, railing against conformist society and pausing to pay tribute to a fallen hero. Cox’s vocals are more of a deep crooning than a raging punk snarl, which makes even the most aggressive tracks seem sleepy. The album feels loose, but a bit too much so, as the recording quality is just not sharp enough to bring out the high points that exist in the music but are barely heard. The clearest sound on the recording is the guitar feedback that starts most of the songs.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Santigold – 99¢

Released February 26th, 2016

santigold-99-cents

Santi White remains focused on her wide-ranging mix of new wave, reggae, R&B, synth pop, and more. Her third album, 99 Cents lets in a little fun from the artfully cheap-looking cover to its music. White enlists an all-star cast of indie and pop artists and producers to bring 99 Cents to fruition. “Banshee” features songwriting by veteran hit-maker Cathy Dennis, production by White’s longtime collaborator John Hill, and backing vocals by Charli XCX, while “Rendezvous Girl” sees Swedish pop mastermind Patrik Berger helping out. 99 Cents is Santigold’s most accessible work yet. 99¢ is a record of many different sonic flavors and emotions, that will keep her fans dancing.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Animal Collective – Painting With

Released February 19th, 2016

animalcollective-painting-with

Animal Collective’s tenth studio album Painting With is a splurge of sound morphing and mixing together without containment. An album about doing away with boundaries, escaping definition, and running riot that runs headlong into those boundaries they are trying too hard to escape. The ever changing lineup settled on Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), and Geologist (Brian Weitz) for this release. In many ways Painting With is antithetical to their last release. It would be too big a stretch to call it a comeback album but Painting With has the band moving back in the right direction. The synths are watery and clear and devoid of reverb this time around which helps musically. As an album Painting With lacks any genuine standout tracks, aiming for consistency. Arguably too much so, as many tracks are too similar to differentiate between.

3 out of 5 stars


Radiation City – Synesthetica

radiationcity-synesthetica

Just as in their previous records, the band’s sound combines space-age soundscapes with shimmering synths ripped straight out of a lost Stereolab album. While the album does make strides from their earlier work, it doesn’t come without its shortcomings. Synesthetica feels repetitive at times.
3 out of 5 stars


Basia Bulat – Good Advice

basia-good-advice

Musically, Good Advice is a long way from the folk-leaning sound of Basia Bulat’s earlier work, but it sounds as personal and heartfelt as anything she’s released. Already an established star in her native Canada, folk singer Bulat relocated from Montreal to Louisville for her fourth album, enlisting My Morning Jacket’s Jim James for production. The Canadian singer-songwriter’s heart bursts open and out pours spirited, feel-good pop about the emotional rollercoaster that is surviving a romantic break-up.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Prong – X (No Absolutes)

prong-x-no-absolutes

Prong, led by founding vocalist/guitarist Tommy Victor, return with their 10th studio album X: No Absolutes. With a rotating cast of backing musicians over the past 30 years, Victor continues to refine his craft with each new album, with No Absolutes being their most adventurous effort to date. Produced by Tommy Victor, with trusted collaborator Chris Collier as co-producer and engineer, X – No Absolutes broadens the horizon sonically. And while moving in new directions with urgency and angst, No Absolutes, does a good job of balancing the old and new, offering many of the elements Prong fans have come to expect and crave: thrash, hardcore, industrial metal, etc. The anthemic title track is reminiscent of their Rude Awakening days, by revisiting electronic industrial textures prevalent at that time without feeling dated. “Do Nothing” has Prong coming as close to ballad territory as they ever have. Closer “With Dignity,” is a slower paced track with a real weight behind it. X – No Absolutes is Prong at their best.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Dream Theater – The Astonishing

Released January 29th, 2016

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The Astonishing is a prog concept album inspired by popular sci-fi franchises complete with ridiculous character names, fictional locations, and a symphony. Dream Theater’s 13th album, was conceived by guitarist John Petrucci asking “What would happen if with all the advances in technology that music [became] all artificial?” The result is The Astonishing. Whether it’s good or bad is up to how much you’re willing to buy into the story. To their credit Dream Theater have intensely dedicated themselves to telling Petrucci’s story. The album’s lyrics come in 31 pages, in screenplay format, to help guide listeners through the sprawling dystopia that is The Great Northern Empire of the Americas. Led by Lord Nafaryus in the year 2258. All music is made by machines called NOMACS. Lost yet? Because the story just gets more complex as it plays out over 34 tracks spanning two-and-a-half hours and two discs. The band promises elaborate animations for their upcoming live shows, as well as the possibility of books and maybe even movies.

3.5 out of 5 stars


MONEY – Suicide Songs

Released January 29th, 2016

money-suicide-songs

MONEY’s aptly titled second full-length album, Suicide Songs, is unsurprisingly a rather bleak affair. Channeling their home of Manchester, England in which the industrial gray, bitter cold, and ceaseless rain helped to forever nourish great, hopeless art Suicide Songs continues the tradition of a genre that can only be described as romantic miserablism. Another record of young Brits singing songs about despair and getting smashed at the pub isn’t exactly a novel concept. On the nine oppressive/depressive tracks MONEY adds instrumental texture to their atmospheric, guitar-driven indie rock via strings, brass, woodwinds, simple piano lines, and sparse drums.

2 out of 5 stars


Megadeth – Dystopia

Released January 22nd, 2016

megadeth-dystopia

Megadeth fans had one wish for this album: don’t make another Super Collider. The maligned 2013 album was heavily criticized for being a poorly executed attempt at radio rock, and is without question the lowest point in the band’s late-era work. Mustaine took note, and was quoted just under a year ago saying he would never write another radio song again as “it’s not really what Megadeth fans want to hear.” The arrival of Dystopia, the 15th studio album by metal legends Megadeth, brings with it a new roster of bandmates (Angra guitarist Kiko Loureiro and Lamb of God drummer Chris Adler replace Chris Broderick and Shawn Drover as full-time members) and an aggressive return to thrash. In large part, Mustaine has delivered on his promise of a more aggressive sound, employing a number of elements both compositional and lyrical that the band’s classic work made use of. It’s miles ahead of their rather forgettable last album, and there’s still enough here for fans to celebrate Megadeth getting back on track and starting a new chapter in the band’s storied career. The lyrics are not for everyone perhaps, depending on your political stances. But, politics aside this is the most relevant album Mustaine has put out in years. The music is ferocious, catchy, and arguably the band’s best since the early ’90s.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Tindersticks – The Waiting Room

Released January 22nd, 2016

tindersticks-the-waiting-room

For their eleventh studio album Tindersticks further redraw a sound that has previously touched on chamber pop, soul, lounge jazz, and other areas. The Waiting Room is certainly faithful to the chamber pop template that has long proved the group’s calling card. It’s gloomy, sparse and atmospheric. The combination of rich layered instrumentation, unorthodox arrangements with carefully orchestrated strings and Stuart Staples’ vocals give feelings of loss and loneliness a cinematic grandeur. “We Are Dreamers!” finds the singer joined by Jehnny Beth of Savages.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Savages – Adore Life

Released January 22nd, 2016

savages-adore-life

Adore Life, is the sophomore release by Savages. like its 2013 predecessor, Silence Yourself they’re still exciting, but the tone has shifted considerably. Not all of the songs work resulting in a bit of inconsistency, as a couple tracks float by with no real hook, but the best moments here more than make up for that. Adore Life is a collection of love songs (which singer Jehnny Beth refers to as “a disease,” among other things). She has been quoted referring to this release saying they set out to “write the loudest songs ever.” So, these are not “love” songs in the popular sense. The guitars are still serrated, and the band seems restless. But they come across as a band taking strides forward, not content to just rehash a formula. Which gives one the impression that their best work is still ahead of them.

4 out of 5 stars


Panic! at the Disco – Death of a Bachelor

Released January 15th, 2016

Panic-death-of-a-bachelor

Death of a Bachelor is the follow up to 2013’s dark, synth-laden Too Weird To Live, Too Rare To Die. Panic! returning somewhat to their roots but with a “Panic!-by-numbers” whimper. Brendon Urie, the sole remaining founding member of the band, recorded the album just before getting married. A mere 15 seconds or so into the album has Urie wailing through an absurdly long, raspy note in string of unoriginal melodies that inspires a mild headache. The band (Urie) would do better to substitute some more original melodies for all the wide-eyed, slickly produced gusto. Especially since Panic! now officially functions as Urie’s nom de plume. With no one to answer to, Urie, aided by producer and co-songwriter Jake Sinclair (Fall Out Boy, Weezer) paint a picture we’ve all seen, or in this case, heard before.

2 out of 5 stars


The Anchoress – Confessions of a Romance Novelist

Released January 15th, 2016

theAnchoress-confessions-of-a-romance-novelist

The Anchoress is the latest iteration of Catherine Ann Davies persona following releases under the name Catherine A.D. Confessions of a Romance Novelist  is the debut as The Anchoress from the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Davies’s lyrics, combined with the high drama of her delivery, smacks of inflated self-importance. It’s a thirteen-track ode to literature, lost love and full to the brim with a sense of drama. Largely The Anchoress’ arrival on the scene is a textured and lovingly crafted treat, bursts of melody, backing vocals and tweaked samples making for a lush soundscape. This is an album stuffed full of different moods and ideas; daring, confident, confrontational and packed full of vivid imagery. Davies is a PhD graduate in literature and queer theory (the study of “mismatches” between sex, gender and desire) and her academic background is a major influence throughout the record. And speaking of influences there are large hints of Nick Cave, Tori Amos, Amanda Palmer and Regina Spektor sprinkled within this collection of insightful, intelligent songwriting provided on this entertaining album.

4 out of 5 stars


Her – Her Tape #1

Released January 15th, 2016

her-her-tape-1

Her on their debut EP, Her Tape #1, bring Bee Gees-like crooning, synths that caress like satin gloves, feline riffs that slink and yowl…oh and a whole lot of sexism/misogyny. The story of Her goes something like this, two men believe they can devote themselves to ‘the female race’. So they write a few recycled soul songs about sex and call themselves Her. Because obviously, the essence of femininity is fucking men. This is what Tape #1 promises, but what it delivers is a very one-dimensional vision of so many tropes and clichés, that it falls flat. The way these songs keep to a mid-tempo range make it a relaxing listen, with a style and message that has been done to death.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Daughter – Not To Disappear

Released January 15th, 2016

daughter-not-to-disappear

Daughter’s debut, 2013’s If You Leave, possessed space-filled arrangements and minimal instrumentation, which placed frontwoman Elena Tonra’s vocals and ruminating on ruined relationships at the forefront. Not To Disappear, also takes an economical, meticulous approach with somewhat denser arrangements. The record’s prominent electronic elements form a cold sonic landscape that’s equal parts lush and sterile, inviting and terrifying. Lyrically the album focuses on the collapse of important relationships (whether romantic, familial, or even the one people have with their own self) and examines the wreckage with an empathetic but candid perspective. Daughter’s previous work had been criticized for being too gloomy, that Tonra was just too damn sad, Not to Disappear grapples with this as well, but in the end, the only reprieve Tonra can find is detachment. “No Care” and “Alone/With You” are must listens.

3.5 out of 5 stars


HINDS – Leave Me Alone

Released January 8th, 2016

Hinds-leave-me-alone

Looking at the release schedule 2016 is shaping up to be the year of lo-fi garage rock. While Hinds haven’t reinvented the genre on their debut, Leave Me Alone, they make it feel fresh again. The Madrid four piece started catching some buzz with their 2014 demos.  Keeping the rough playfulness and haphazard arrangements, their first proper release, is just gritty enough to stay lo-fi, but offers a bit more clarity. The band’s whimsical, frenzied lyricism flows like a surreal stream of consciousness. Garage rock typically relies on unhinged messiness and raw power. Hinds execute the genre’s touchstones effortlessly. The laidback nature of Hinds’ double-vocals throughout the record add to the playful, punkish nature of the record, with vocalists singing together, back and forth and sometimes over top of one another. Hinds have described the 12 tracks on Leave Me Alone as the various “faces of love” they experienced while writing their debut, and therefore is more emotionally varied than their previously lighthearted singles.

4 out of 5 stars


jennylee – right on!

Released December11th, 2015

jennylee-right-on

Warpaint bassist, Jenny Lee Lindberg, is out with her solo debut as jennylee, right on! Lindberg puts rhythm first with several nods to influences like of Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Cure and their respective peers and offspring. As it is with Warpaint, Lindberg’s songs are really nothing more than lyrical refrains/whining choruses and monosyllabic fragments masked by studio theatrics, namely too much reverb on the voice which at times masks the high quality backing music. It makes for an airy experience that has a few missteps here and there but overall worth a listen. The middle of the album is where she really hits stride with a string of solid entries, whereas album closer “Real Life” is a dud bringing the album to a close with a thud.

3 out of 5 stars


Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams

Released December 4th, 2015

coldplay-a-head-full-of-dreams

Adored by millions, winners of numerous Grammys, and fresh off the announcement that they will play the Super Bowl half time show Coldplay releases their seventh (and possibly/hopefully final) album, A Head Full of Dreams. With an egregiously bad album cover, and their over produced sound, it seems even Coldplay is bored with being Coldplay.

“While Martin says A Head Full Of Dreams as ‘a bit like a finale, or a final scene’ for the band, he insists the group aren’t breaking up—nor does he have any ambitions to do a solo album. ‘If I ever do that, text me and say, Chris, you’ve officially lost it. That would just be awful. I need to be surrounded by people that can tell me to fuck off. [laughs]’”—Entertainment Weekly (23 Nov 2015)

For a majority of its running time, Martin and friends feel the need to rip off other, better songs. Not a new practice as a few years ago they blatantly stole a hit from Joe Satriani. This time they “borrow” heavily from Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance”, as well as, riffs from Phosphorescent and Kendrick Lamar. A Head Full of Dreams is emblematic of Coldplay’s burning desire to be all things to all people: symphonic Britpop, night club-thumpers, dentist-office soft rock, finger-snapping R&B, etc. Despite trying to dip their toes in everything, they do so with no real risk, no real adventure, and very little fun inevitably drifting back onto predictable paths. And don’t even get me started on the lyrics. I tried to like this album, but it’s just so unbelievably forgettable.

1.5 out of 5 stars


Danzig – Skeletons

Released November 27th, 2015

danzig-skeletons

Between his work with the Misfits, Samhain, and Danzig, Glenn Danzig become an icon. Danzig has decided to release a long time passion project of his Skeletons. An album of cover songs that were influential to him and had a strong impact on his career. Skeletons is mostly a mixture of ’60s rock and pop songs, from artists like Black Sabbath, Aerosmith to Elvis Presley and The Everly Brothers. Skeletons’ canned production is a real draw back to the songs. It plays out like a collection of demos rather than a series endeavor. The crappy recording quality, at times muddy other tinny, and no polish on his crooning makes one long for the original versions of each and every track. The clearest thing on this album is that he should have kept these skeletons in his closet.

1 out of 5 stars


Arca – Mutant

Released November 20th, 2015

arca-mutant

Mutant is Arca’s second full length release following up 2014’s Xen. Venezuela-born producer Alejandro Ghersi’s work as Arca is defined above all by its fluidity and flexibility. Individual notes twitch and vibrate, refusing to stay with a single pitch and tempos vary at unexpected points. Arca tracks are never one fixed thing. Mutant leans toward soundscape, avoiding proper songs. The twenty overwhelming tracks here stretch for over an hour, but lines between them are unclear. As the tracks tick off and you lose track of how far into the album you actually are. It’s not an easy listen, it’s awkward, ugly but with occasional breathtaking harmony. While it will undoubtedly find it’s audience of people touting genius (and the rest of us “just don’t understand”), the truth of the matter is that Mutant is a bewildering, unlistenable mess of twitchy soundscapes.

2 out of 5 stars


Chorusgirl – Chorusgirl

Released November 13th, 2015

chorusgirl

Chorusgirl’s overall sound is a successful hybrid of pop, punk elements and dark soundscapes. The group was conceived by Silvi Wersing, originally from Germany but who has since relocated to London.  Wersing had become fed up of being in other people’s bands and Chorusgirl was born. As a whole, Chorusgirl floats in the sparkling waters between post-punk and pop: muted drums, reverb-laced guitars, spindly bass lines, and catchy hooks with flashing melodies.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Floating Points – Elaenia

floatingpoints-elaenia

Sam Shepherd has been releasing EPs and 12-inches as Floating Points since 2010. He back with his full length debut Elaenia, a headphones album with intimate, subtle details owing more to free jazz tendencies than the dance floor electronica he is most familiar for. Elaenia is still undeniably an electronic record but strays from previous dance/dj hybridism, putting together a cohesive jazz influenced album that may not appeal to everyone in his fan base. Sam Shepherd spent five years putting the record together, juggling its production, DJing and traveling around the world, all while completing a PhD in neuroscience. Which is an impressive feat no matter how you look at it.

3 out of 5 stars


Puscifer – Money Shot

Released October 30th, 2015

puscifer-money-shot

Since Tool hasn’t released an album since 2006’s 10,000 Days, and A Perfect Circle has no known plans for a new album Maynard James Keenan has had to keep himself busy tormenting Tool fans by releasing statements how much he can’t stand them, and releasing the third Puscifer full-length, Money Shot. What started as a joke band in a Mr. Show sketch has become a source of artistic refuge for Keenan. Money Shot is a less varied collection in comparison to its predecessor. Rarely straying from their electro alt-rock this time around, this new focus at times comes at the cost of more inventive compositions. On a number of songs Keenan harmonizes with vocalist Carina Round who adds nicely to the sonic palette.

3 out of 5 stars


Corrections House – Know How To Carry A Whip

Released October 23rd, 2015

correctionshouse-know-how-to-carry-a-whip

Know How to Carry a Whip is the eagerly anticipated sophomore album from Corrections House. The Ministry-esque sounding collaboration features Mike Williams of Eyehategod, Scott Kelly of Neurosis, Bruce Lamont of Yakuza and Sanford Parker of Minsk. The new release follows the band’s 2013 debut, Last City Zero, which displayed their diverse sound that combines industrial metal and doom. “I Was Never Good At Meth” and “Burn the Witness” are must listens.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Killing Joke – Pylon

Released October 23rd, 2015

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Killing Joke have always enjoyed a good apocalypse. On their 15th album Pylon they serve up a new helping of political, humanitarian and spiritual hopelessness. Killing Joke still carry artistic merit, creativity and something to say. And, they do it well.

4 out of 5 stars


Born of Osiris – Soul Sphere

Released October 23rd, 2015

Born-of-Osiris-Soul-Sphere

Born Of Osiris’ new album Soul Sphere is a step up from their (by most accounts) disappointing Tomorrow We Die Alive. In general the music, compositions, and execution are not particularly inventive, but it is a move in the right direction. Soul Sphere is a fairly safe album for Born of Osiris. The synths are a little more tasteful and toned down this time. There is more variety, increased melody, and clarity to the vocals all of which highlights the sub-par lyrics. On the plus side these tweaks result in Soul Sphere being a much more accessible album. This may drum up some new fans, and if you’re already a fan you’ll likely be happy/content as well.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Ugly Kid Joe – Uglier Than They Used Ta Be

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Breaking out in 1991 with “Everything About You” from As Ugly As They Wanna Be and  buoyed by MTV videos and inclusion on the Wayne’s World soundtrack, Ugly Kid Joe was a polarizing act. Some loved it, some hated it. Arguably more fell into the latter category. After fizzling out around 1997, the band reunited in 2010, and released an EP of new material in 2012. Proving the loyalty of their original fan base, they have returned with the crowd-funded Uglier Than They Used Ta Be. Still rooted in the 90s sound the release is a fairly solid rock record.

4 out of 5 stars


State Champs – Around the World and Back

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Albany’s State Champs second full-length release Around the World and Back is the culmination of exactly that, having toured relentlessly in the past two years. The album is a consistent set of eleven songs that doesn’t contain a bad track, and everything from a song’s structure to its duration can pretty much be predicted to a tee on this thirty-six minute release. And while for most albums/acts that would be a bad thing, here it works. Let’s face it pop-punk has never really worked when pushing the boundaries too far, and State Champs knows what to keep in the formula to make a successful release.
4 out of 5 stars


The Spook School – Try To Be Hopeful

Released October 9th, 2015

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On their second album Try To Be Hopeful the Edinburgh punk rock four-piece The Spook School try to do just that. Not an easy task when singing songs that explore gender and sexuality very honestly and openly. Try To Be Hopeful dissects identity, fidelity, romantic despair, romantic bliss and a multitude of other fuzzy and confusing feelings. With songs that make the yearning and pain universal to anyone who ever had a heart, the album is honest and uplifting. “We need you to know that we exist,” sing The Spook School. A rallying cry encouraging you to speak up, to be heard, to exist in whichever way you feel most comfortable.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Protomartyr – The Agent Intellect

Released October 9th, 2015

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The Agent Intellect  is third album from the Detroit band Protomartyr. Frontman Joe Casey’s lyrics are rooted in hurt, pain, neglect, and disappointment but are undoubtedly brilliantly crafted. Casey lost his father to a heart attack and his mother to Alzheimer’s disease as he was writing the record, and their presence on Intellect provides some of its most wrenching emotional moments. Casey has described his stage demeanor as “30 minutes of a fat guy yelling at you,” but on Intellect, he’s more measured. The words can get lost in Casey’s talk-singing, and can pass by without pulling listeners’ heartstrings like reading the lyrics might.

3 out of 5 stars


Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down

Released October 2nd, 2015

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After a seven year hiatus Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme are back as the Eagles of Death Metal. The two packed a lot into those seven years between Heart On and Zipper Down. Josh Homme returned to Queens of the Stone Age and started another band, Them Crooked Vultures, with Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones. Jesse Hughes became an ordained minister, appeared in a movie with Grace Jones and Iggy Pop, and worked on his solo project, Boots Electric. On Zipper Down the pair serve up their brand of back-to-basics rock satire. Zipper Down is EODM’s first album since moving to major label Universal, but you wouldn’t know it from any grand flourishes in the music. It sounds bigger than the band’s first three albums, but this is still EODM.
3.75 out of 5 stars


Julia Holter – Have You in My Wilderness

Released September 25th, 2015

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Have You In My Wilderness is Julia Holter’s fourth full-length release. Having set out on a path to the avant-garde with earlier projects including a version of John Cage’s “Circus On” (a score consisting of an instruction on how to turn a book into a performance) to make music out of a Los Angeles church-club cookbook from the 1920s, releasing a pink vinyl 7in single of phonetic translations of songs in foreign languages, among many other experimental collaborations, on Have You in My Wilderness her pop inclinations start to break through. Still defiantly avant-garde, the words “commercial breakthrough” don’t readily come to mind, but it is her most accessible work to date. The result is a genuinely entrancing album filled with plush arrangements, skewed songs, that are unconventional without ever feeling overly affected.

4 out of 5 stars


Girl Band – Holding Hands with Jamie

Released September 25th, 2015

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Girl Band’s debut full-length Holding Hands With Jamie is full of promise but again has yet to fully deliver. The Dublin quartet’s earliest material fell squarely in the world of noise punk. Just musical enough to swallow, and just raucous enough to rattle your bones their music has by no means become more accessible. If anything, they sound harsher than ever. The nine-track LP was recorded at Dublin’s Bow Lane Studios in less than 48 hours, just two days after the unit returned from their inaugural American tour. The resulting recordings are the rawest Girl Band tracks yet recorded…and while they need to be raw, some level of production value (particularly with the drum sound) would have really made this come alive. “Pears for Lunch” is the only track that fully works with its urgency, absurdity, and balance.

3 out of 5 stars


U.S. Girls – Half Free

Released September 25th, 2015

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Illinois-born, Toronto-based Megan Remy has proven her dedication to lo-fi pop weirdness throughout her prolific career in U.S. Girls, but with Half Free this is her most complete and, arguably, accessible album yet. The album relays a series of unflinching portraits of ladies women with no self-esteem reeling from inattentive, cheating, or absentee lovers. Remy takes us into the spaces that are supposed to provide us with solace (home, family, relationships, etc) and make them feel awkward and uncomfortable. The women at the center of these songs are indeed half free; prisoners to bad choices, cruel circumstances, and duplicitous men, but they’re starting to take control of their situation. Likewise, Remy’s music which has thrived on the conflict between the familiar and foreign, pop and experimental, is more under control. Half Free fortifies the common ground between Remy’s diamond-cut melodies and avant-garde urges into her most cohesive effort.

4 out of 5 stars


Sexwitch – Sexwitch

Released September 25th, 2015

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Sexwitch is something of a tangent for Natasha Khan. With collaborators Toy and producer Dan Carey, the Bat for Lashes singer subjects old, mostly Middle Eastern folk and psych tracks to esoteric new treatments. Khan says that her inspiration is “the scream of rage and rebellion from women dispossessed for millennia.” Its six tracks are all renditions of traditional folk numbers from the mid-20th century, only one of which is of Western origin; the others span Iran, Morocco, and Thailand. Musically, Sexwitch does little to distract from Khan’s voice, which single-handedly animates these songs, dancing and slithering non-stop. The album is essentially devoid of crescendos, instead sticking to thickly layered, polyrhythmic beats. Percussive grooves hurtle into post-punk guitars.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Chvrches – Every Open Eye

Released September 25th, 2015

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From early demos through to debut The Bones Of What You Believe, the Scottish trio Chvrches impact on the pop landscape has made itself known. Touring the world, moving up bills, gathering fans in high places and with their sophomore release Every Open Eye they should be hitting arenas in no time. An electronic band with an organic soul, there’s nothing faceless about Chvrches. Lauren Mayberry’s vocals brings Chvrches skyward. Whereas, the point where Martin Doherty takes over for a vocal turn on “High Enough to Carry You Over” is when they fall flat. When he is relegated to backing vocals, or duet mode, he doesn’t muck things up to badly. But really, he should just leave the singing to Mayberry. Get ready to hear “Empty Threat” on every pop/dance radio station for the next year. It has all the hall marks of a hit song, a near perfect example of a pop song.

4 out of 5 stars


Glen Hansard – Didn’t He Ramble

Released September 18th, 2015

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As one half of folk-rock duo in The Swell Season (working with ex-flame Marketa Irglova), long-time frontman for Dublin rock band The Frames and sometimes actor, the 45 year old, Irish singer-songwriter has had a diverse 25-year career. Didn’t He Ramble is his second solo outing, and second release of this year. (He recorded a tribute album It Was Triumph We Once Proposed…Songs Of Jason Molina earlier in the year.) Hansard’s deep burnished voice is inviting and easy going, as if he’s personally welcoming you to hear his stories and confessions. Despite being recorded in various locations (New York, Dublin, Chicago, and France), the album remains cohesive. He’s often lamented the difficulty of capturing his stage energy in the studio, something he still hasn’t managed to do to the disappointment of long time fans. Produced by Hansard’s friends and regular collaborators Thomas Bartlett and Frames band-mate David Odlum, the record also features John Sheahan of The Dubliners, Sam Beam of Iron and Wine and Sam Amidon. Didn’t He Ramble shimmers, saunters and charms.

4 out of 5 stars


Slayer – Repentless

Released September 11th, 2015

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Repentless, the 12th album from the thrash metal institution Slayer, is dark and aggressive as anything in their catalogue. Founding guitarist and songwriter Jeff Hanneman’s passing in 2013 from cirrhosis of the liver and founding drummer Dave Lombardo having been replaced by previous member Paul Bostaph had many fans concerned. They shouldn’t have worried. The song structures, overall sound, and vocals are all classic Slayer, where as Gary Holt’s (also of Exodus) solos are noticeably in his style adding a new subtle element. Anyone who is disappointed with this album for whatever reason (no Lombardo, new guitarist, etc…) needs to get over themselves because it’s a worthy entry into their catalogue. Listen to “Take Control” and try to say otherwise.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Ben Folds – So There

Released September 11th, 2015

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Ben Folds’ fondness for comfort-zone-stretching collaborations has resulted in some of his most interesting work. In recent years, Folds has teamed up with everyone from a cappella groups to author Nick Hornby, and now yMusic, a critically acclaimed New York classical sextet. So There is the resulting collaborative release of eight songs, and then an additional three-movement “Concerto For Piano And Orchestra” recorded with the Nashville Symphony. No matter how far Folds strays from his roots, he’ll never be able to shake his core love of music that challenges as well as entertains.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls

Released September 4th, 2015

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Iron Maiden’s highly anticipated 16th studio album Book of Souls was (mostly) finished in 2014. But was delayed when vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis and treatment delayed its release until he was medically cleared. It’s their first double album, a mere 92 minutes long, with three of its 11 tracks over ten minutes in length. The music is cleanly divided between the two discs. Rather than becoming a nostalgia band Maiden keeps pushing their boundaries and effectively so. The sequencing on both halves of The Book of Souls is very strong throughout, Kevin Shirley, working on his fifth album with Iron Maiden, once again sticks to Harris’s vision of what a Maiden album should sound like with a very dry, natural, little to no processing sound.

4 out of 5 stars


F Ingers – Hide Before Dinner

Released September 4th, 2015

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I’ve been at this a long time, both critiquing music and performing it, and while it will certainly find an audience of those looking for something new, to those of us elders this sounds the like work of someone lacking confidence in their abilities and trying to pass it off as intentional. Can’t play guitar? just add a shitload of delay, hate the sound of your voice? Drown it in reverb and bury it in the mix. Hide Before Dinner, the debut LP from the Australian group F Ingers is a cavernous, cadaverous mess. Guitars billow and glisten, cheap synths drip like melting icicles, and Carla dal Forno sings as if she’s deathly afraid you might hear her; emotionless and distant.

2 out of 5 stars


Helena Hauff – Discreet Desires

Released September 4th, 2015

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Hamburg-based DJ and producer Helena Hauff began releasing records in 2013, with releases on labels like L.I.E.S. (Long Island Electrical Systems) and The Trilogy Tapes. Her first full-length, and third overall release for Actress’ Werkdiscs imprint, has a much wider scope, sounding fuller and more melodic while avoiding sounding polished or sterile. The influence of vintage electro and industrial/EBM was always evident in her work, but it comes into full focus here. The tracks on this album are far more concise than many of the tracks on prior EPs. On the whole, Discreet Desires is a more unified piece than a selection of similar tracks, like her earlier EPs.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – The Night Creeper

Released September 4th, 2015

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Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats burst on the scene five years ago with their blatant Black Sabbath worship. This late ’60s-early ’70s pastiche is part of the stoner/psychedelic/doom revival that has taken off in the past decade, and Vol. I was a chaotic, lo-fi affair that offered both casual and hardcore fans of the genre a much needed fix. Now on their 4th album, The Night Creeper, Uncle Acid & Co. have succumbed to recycling themselves and not in a positive way. The Night Creeper feels forced. Most of it feels dull and exhausted, as it indulges in the same themes and patterns as previous installments did. Also, the music feels lazy and does nothing to differentiate itself from the other records. Moreover, the guys seem to be stuck at mid-tempo, rewriting the same patterns again and again. There are no dynamics, relying on the same chords for 6 minutes, while Kevin’s voice becomes irritating at times.

2 out of 5 stars


Blank Realm – Illegals in Heaven

Released September 4th, 2015

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Blank Realm, the Brisbane Australian quartet made up of three siblings and a “spiritual brother”  have released the band’s fifth album (not including the numerous, now impossible to find cassette recordings and CDRs from their formative years), and the first proper studio outing for this determinedly lo-fi band. Blank Realm still sound thin and treble as you’d expect but, Illegals in Heaven is their most complete statement as a band. It’s taken them a decade to reach this point, where their rough beginnings have been sculpted into a solid combination of pop, art and noise.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Public Image Ltd. – What The World Needs Now…

Released September 4th, 2015

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Humor and angst up front John Lydon’s personality dominates every song.  The punk icon who resorted to selling butter to pay for their last album may still best be known as the former face of The Sex Pistols, but it’s with Public Image Ltd and its various line-ups that John Lydon has created his most compelling work. PiL reassembled in 2009, and extensive touring and live releases eventually resulted in the self-financed, defiant This Is PiL in 2012. Now back with their 11th album What The World Needs Now… John Lydon (who is nearly 60 now) is still angry, and obviously has a lot more to say, even if its about needing a plumber to fix the toilet. He is making music that caters to no-one but himself and his band mates. Lu Edmonds fires off jagged dissonant shards of guitar riffing. Scott Firth supplies roaming and thumping bass lines. Yes, PiL have made better records but they still sound vital and relevant. Which merits a listen.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Motörhead – Bad Magic

Released August 29th, 2015

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You have hand it to Motörhead (and especially frontman Lemmy Kilmister who turns 70 this December) is still kicking ass. Lemmy in a recent interview supposes his own invincibility while revealing his new dietary regiment (a decision to swap bourbon for vodka with extra ice in response to his recent health woes). And while he’s not truly invincible, he seems unstoppable. Bad Magic, Motörhead’s 22nd studio album whose release marks 40 years of Motörhead’s trademark rock ‘n’ roll is exactly what it should be. Produced by Cameron Webb and featuring the Motörhead line-up that we have known the longest, at just over 20 years, Bad Magic, is a Motörhead album through and through. And, while detractors say if you’ve heard one album you’ve heard them all, that consistency is precisely why Motörhead fans keep coming back.

4.5 out of 5 stars


The Bohicas – The Making Of

Released August 21st, 2015

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Most bands do not find themselves the subject of a film before their debut album has been released. With a tour documentary (Made by the same group that Blur’s No Distance Left to Run and LCD Soundsystem’s Shut Up and Play the Hits) released back in June The Bohicas have done just that with The Making Of. The Essex indie quartet blends riff-heavy, bluesy, indie, and garage-rock. While it is hardly revolutionary, if not somewhat commonplace, it is a solid first outing that deserves a listen.  Frontman Dominic McGuinness’s shrill voice ushers their way through a swaggering set of songs about love, lust, and getting the girl. With eleven tracks of arena-ready choruses, plenty of punch, and crunch they seem to be off and running.

4 out of 5 stars


Grace Potter – Midnight

Released August 14th, 2015

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After five albums with the group, Potter has opted to leave behind her longtime band The Nocturnals. (At least in name, as a fair number of the members show up on this release, including her drummer/husband Matt Burr). Midnight, her first solo effort moves away from country and Americana flavored offerings of the past and aims for a more general pop feel. While the shift may alienate some longtime fans of the singer, it shouldn’t. The album is a solid concise, hooky collection of songs any one of which could be released as a single.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Bullet For My Valentine – Venom

Released August 14th, 2015

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Following up 2013’s sterile generally disliked Temper Temper must have seemed a daunting task and put the band on the defensive. The Welsh metal outfit Bullet for My Valentine have always worn their influences proudly on their sleeves (Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Metallica, etc.) But the band is also a product of its time, and post-hardcore breakdowns and generic blasts of screamo-fueled angst creep in to the proceedings of their fifth album Venom. Venom offers up an aggressive 11-track set aimed squarely at diffusing some of the concerns that fans and critics voiced on the previous release. It’s full of all the things that made them successful in the first place: dueling guitars, pounding breakdowns and choruses built to scream along to.
4 out of 5 stars


Palehound – Dry Food

Released August 14th, 2015

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21-year-old Palehound singer/songwriter Ellen Kempner, a recent dropout of Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, has a way with a guitar. The riffs and roils that Kempner has put forth (first on 2013’s Bent Nail EP now) on her full-length Dry Food justify their looped knotted density. Pretty much every guitar band going is currently toiling in the same ’90s nostalgia mines that Kempner dives into here, but few are able to do so with both technical prowess and its emotive content intact. Her tumbling fretwork circles her lyrics in a way of underscoring or punctuating meaning. Lyrically she focuses inward, and soberly. Ellen Kempner sounds like someone who’s spent a lot of time alone in her room. That comes through in her lyrics, but, more obviously in her musicianship. Touring the country and publicizing this strong album should mean less time in her room practicing guitar, and gaining plenty of new experiences from which to write about.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Soulfly – Archangel

Released August 14th, 2015

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Never really a band to break the mold of their predecessors Soulfly’s  tenth album Archangel sees the template remains firmly in place, and the band is aimlessly trekking through well-trodden terrain of the same old clichés. There’s nothing here we haven’t heard before and nothing that hasn’t been done better. Although with that said, “Live Life Hard!” is a decent and enjoyable track.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Deaf Wish – Pain

Released August 7th, 2015

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On their first full length for Sub Pop, the Australian punk rockers Deaf Wish present a series highly individualized tracks lacking cohesiveness and none of which are quite successful and lives up to the albums title. Keeping a relatively low profile, Deaf Wish have been recording and performing music for eight years and with releases like this one they will continue to keep to the shadows. Each member takes turns at lead vocals, and each have a singing style that’s decidedly their own. But the song writing, lo-fi recording, and general lack of musicianship detracts from the positives and as a result this album just leaves you in Pain.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Fear Factory – Genexus

Released August 7th, 2015

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Fear Factory is back and in a big way. Complete with their trademark chugging staccato riffing, industrial elements to Burton C Bell’s arguably best performance on vocals. Fear Factory were ahead of the game when they burst on the scene some 20 years ago and Genexus demonstrates how easily they can stay one step ahead. The assault of syncopated kick drums, sci-fi/industrial laden keyboard surges, vocal hooks, and aggressive guitars results in their finest album in two decades.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Teenage Time Killers – Greatest Hits, Vol. 1

Released July 31st, 2015

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Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 is the debut album by the punk-metal supergroup Teenage Time Killers. The outfit is led by My Ruin guitarist Mick Murphy, Corrosion of Conformity drummer Reed Mullin, and producer John Lousteau and features a huge list of guest artists filling out the band on each track including: Dave Grohl, Jello Biafra, Queens of the Stoneage’s Nick Oliveri, Lee Ving of Fear, Randy Blythe from Lamb of God, Slipknot’s Corey Taylor, Neil Fallon of Clutch, Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio, Stephen O’Malley of Sunn 0))), Goatsnake guitarist Greg Anderson, Bad Religion guitarist Brian Baker, and Prong’s Tommy Victor to name a few. All in all, over 20 individual vocalists contribute on Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 backed by various guest musicians. Greatest Hits, Vol.1 is both a blast from the past and amalgamation of punk, thrash, and hardcore that invokes everyone from Suicidal Tendencies, Minor Threat to Rancid and the Misfits. Highlights include: “Crowned by the Light of the Sun”, “Hung Out to Dry”, “Ode to Sean Hannity”, “Days of Degradation”, and “Big Money”.

4 out of 5 stars


Lamb of God – VII: Sturm und Drang

Released July 24th, 2015

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The seventh studio album VII: Sturm und Drang comes at the end of a tumultuous three-year period for the band. During that time Randy Blythe was arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately exonerated for manslaughter charges stemming from the onstage death of a fan at a 2010 Lamb of God show in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. The financial strain nearly decimated the band. Sturm und Drang (German for “storm and stress”) has much of the usual aggressiveness but a few tracks show a move toward getting some mainstream appeal. First single “512” gets its title from the number of a cell in Pankrác Prison, where singer Randy Blythe was held in 2012.  But now, exonerated and free, Blythe clearly has plenty of fresh axes to grind.

3.25 out of 5 stars


Public Enemy – Man Plans God Laughs

Released July 15th, 2015

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Public Enemy are back with a brand new 15th studio album, Man Plans God Laughs. The follow-up to the legendary hip-hop outfit’s The Evil Empire of Everything will drop worldwide on July 27th through RCS Music, but ahead of that it’s streaming exclusively on Spotify. While sitting for an interview last month with Maxim, Chuck D explained that he took influence from modern rap heroes like Kendrick Lamar and Run the Jewels, adding, “but [we] stayed far enough away from them to still be Public Enemy. We’re making a comment about the 21st century in this technological yet still political world. It will be able to tell its own story without me trying to talk to it.” The album marks the first time since 1991’s Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black that the group worked with just one producer. In this case, Gary “G-Wiz” Rinaldo. A few things become readily apparent when listening to the album. Public Enemy is still fighting the power. Chuck D still got it. And, they are still stronger and more relevant than any of the younger new artists coming out in the genre.
5 out of 5 stars


Camera Shy – Camera Shy

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Camera Shy the American indie pop band from Oakland, California consisting of Nick Bassett (also of Whirr and Nothing) and former Whirr band member Lexy Morte.  Having already released two EP’s they are back with their debut self-titled full-length album. The innocence in the indie pop rock music comes through in a similar fashion as The Cure. The album is a good listen, with a light airy feel, thanks to a lot of reverb on the vocals.

4.5 out of 5 stars


The Chemical Brothers – Born in the Echoes

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Since The Chemical Brothers’ last full-length release in 2010, mainstream dance music has turned toward what has come to be known as EDM. Ed Simons and Tom Rowlands are now the elder guard in a corner of the word overtaken by Skrillex, Tiesto, Avicii, etc. The Chemical Brothers have helped run the electronic music scene for 20 years and don’t have much of anything they need to prove to anyone at this stage in their career, but on their eighth studio effort, they show the world they can still make suitable electronic music and get in the ring with the new kids on the scene. Born in the Echoes makes the statement that the current crop of EDM poster children can have the limelight, but they can only hope to sound this relevant 20 years down the road.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Ninja Sex Party – Attitude City

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Ninja Sex Party is a musical comedy duo consisting of Danny Sexbang (Leigh Daniel “Danny” Avidan) and Ninja Brian (Brian Wecht). Their videos have been featured on the front pages of Funny or Die, CollegeHumor, and Dailymotion. Attitude City is their 3rd studio album of “comedy” which features low quality recordings of somewhat catchy songs with asinine lyrics, that are supposed to qualify as “comedy”. Where they truly miss the mark is the very simple fact that none of their songs are remotely funny. Comedy is often walking a razors edge of funny vs. stupid/offensive. On Attitude City they never even dip their toes in the deeper waters of comedy and are content to stay in the shallow end of stupid.

1 out of 5 stars


White Reaper – White Reaper Does It Again

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Louisville, Kentucky’s White Reapers full length debut White Reaper Does It Again (the follow up to their self-titled EP) is full of punchy, fuzzy, fun punk chaos. Guitarist and singer Tony Esposito snarls and spits lyrics about some nameless girl who’s just as emotionally fucked as he is, suffering from the nagging claustrophobia, self-fulfilling prophecies, isolation, superstitions, and speculative what-ifs that poison young love. Their sound is rounded out by keyboardist Ryan Hater, bassist Sam Wilkerson, and drummer Nick Wilkerson. If you want your rock & roll served up hot and loose with giant hooks, a sense of melody, lighthearted swagger, and just the right amount of noisy clatter, this is the album for you.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Veruca Salt – Ghost Notes

Released July 10th, 2015

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Ghost Notes is Veruca Salt’s fifth album. The first with the original lineup since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You. Unlike a large number of reunited bands, however, Veruca Salt don’t aim to recapture the past. On Ghost Notes, the four-piece ditches easy nostalgia to embrace of their alternative rock roots. The band knows better than to dwell on the past, but still knows how to keep their sound while venturing into new avenues. And, the volcano girls (Nina Gordon and Louise Post) still have their strong melodies in synch. Veruca Salt are still writing catchy raging songs. Veruca Salt’s original lineup still feels their youth, but accepts their age, and pulls it off nicely.

4 out of 5 stars


Old Wounds – The Suffering Spirit

Released June 30th, 2015

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The Suffering Spirit is simple run-of-mill hardcore. The drumming of Brandon Gallagher is competent. Kevin Iavaroni’s raw vocal performance is satisfactory. The real issues with the record is that nothing stands up and grabs you, but at the same time it’s not bad. It is a decent listen that fans will enjoy, but those looking for innovation and grab you by the balls hooks should look elsewhere.

3 out of 5 stars


Senses Fail – Pull The Thorns From Your Heart

Released June 30th, 2015

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Maintaining any sort of consistency is always a challenge for a band, but when you’ve had the kind of revolving-door lineup that New Jersey post-hardcore unit Senses Fail has had, it becomes especially tough. Originally formed in 2002, the Senses Fail of 2015 is led by singer James “Buddy” Nielsen, the band’s sole original member. Their sixth LP, Pull the Thorns from Your Heart has its moments but in general sounds somewhat forced, and the songs stick to the basics, which makes one question if the new line-up is trying to hard to emulate the previous material, the genre itself or both rather than bringing their new influence to the table.

3 out of 5 stars


Tess Parks & Anton Newcombe – I Declare Nothing

Released June 29th, 2015

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Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre and Tess Parks joined forces at the start of 2014. I Declare Nothing is the consequence of their collaboration. Recorded in the heat of a Berlin summertime, their joint debut is easy to switch off your mind and float away. Whether you want to tune out or zone in, I Declare Nothing provides an opportunity. As these broad soundscapes twist and evolve, it seems there’s no limit to the swimming through psychedelic effects as the vocals haze out of focus.

3 out of 5 stars


LA Priest – Inji

Released June 29th, 2015

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“For the last five years my experiences in music have been anything but experiences through the internet,” stated Sam Dust during the run-up to his debut album as LA Priest, Inji. Removed from the web for nearly half a decade Dust picks out his synths with only a mild sense of nostalgia. Five years in the making, the album swirls together funk, disco, soft rock, dub, soft-focus pop, and weeping guitar melodies into a digitized language as screachy as his vocals. Inji is the sound of Dust looking for his own identity. And to achieve this, he tries and regurgitates just about anything and everything that crosses his path.

3 out of 5 stars


Refused – Freedom

Released June 30th, 2015

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Noted punk band breaks up in the wake of its best album…eighteen years have passed, nearly two decades of silence kickstarted by the well-documented inter-band conflict explored in the documentary Refused Are Fucking Dead since we last heard new music from Refused. It didn’t take a miracle to bring Refused back from the dead, however, just a brief reunion tour in 2012. After years of not speaking to each other, Refused found themselves locked into a groove. “Things happen, other things fall into place, and then all of a sudden you’re in L.A. recording a Refused record,” frontman Dennis Lyxzén told Rolling Stone recently, sounding incredulous at the band’s return. Freedom is unlike its predecessors with a conscious shift precipitated by the firing of guitarist Jon Brännström. “Nothing has changed,” cries Refused vocalist Lyxzén on the first track of the band’s long-awaited comeback record but unfortunately that is not really the case. The one thing notable when listening to Freedom from start to finish is that the songs are indistinguishable. No, Refused are not fucking dead, but it’s unclear from this album what they came back to accomplish.

3 out of 5 stars


August Burns Red – Found In Far Away Places

Released June 29th, 2015

augustburnsred-found-in-far-away-places

Not many bands are talented or creative enough to break away from an already successful formula. August Burns Red are no exception.  On Found In Far Away Places, the band move away from their dependence on their trademark formula. While that formula still peppers the release, these explorations diversify their brand of metalcore, while occasionally getting lost in their detours (i.e. the hoedown on “Separating the Seas”, and the country-esque detour on “Majoring in the Minors”). If their song writing skills allowed them to transition and blend into these detours they perhaps would be more successful than suddenly dropping into them.

3 out of 5 stars


Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool

Released June 23rd, 2015

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The London quartet Wolf Alice (whose name is taken from literary references) have released several songs already, many of which didn’t make the cut on My Love Is Cool. Approximately 20 songs dating back years were taken into Wood Green studio for producer Mike Crossey to assess with the band before the final line-up of 13 were chosen. Formed in 2010, Ellie Rowsell and Joff Oddie (who were joined by drummer Joel Amey and bassist Theo Ellis in 2012 to complete the lineup) have explored many styles ranging from folk-rock to post-punk releasing singles along the way. Their full length debut album is finally here and reflects their growth and finds them sounding more eclectic than ever. Despite My Love Is Cool‘s stylistic shifts they don’t sound like they’re having an identity crisis. Nobody comes fully formed, years of experimentation, mistakes, missteps and false dawns can pass before finally finding a real identity which Wolf Alice nearly does here with strong entries like “Your Loves Whore”, “Moaning Lisa Smile”, “Lisbon”, and “Freazy”.

3.75 out 5 stars


Breaking Benjamin – Dark Before Dawn

Released June 23rd, 2015

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The fifth studio album by Breaking Benjamin and the first outing from basically a completely new lineup (founder, frontman, and namesake Benjamin Burnley remains at the helm), Dark Before Dawn offers up little in the way of innovation. However, as well produced, inoffensive generic hard rock goes, you could do a lot worse.  What Breaking Benjamin lacks in nuance they more than make up for in sheer melodic power and longtime fans will appreciate the fact that they stay true to the band’s allegiance to all things late-’90s/early-2000s post-grunge/nu-metal/hard rock.

4 out 5 stars


Creepoid – Cemetery Highrise Slum

Released June 23rd, 2015

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Creepoid’s third LP (first as a full-time band) Cemetery Highrise Slum is a downcast ’90s revival. Since forming in 2010, the Philadelphia indie quartet has honed its textural pastiche of spacy noise rock, grunge, and shoegaze. Written and recorded in a matter of weeks, Cemetery Highrise Slum, occasionally does have its hiccups, mostly when the ’90s textbook formulas are followed too closely. Fronted by singer/guitarist Sean Miller, who occasionally splits vocal duties with bassist Anna Troxell, the band headed down to Savannah, Georgia to work with producer Peter Mavrogeorgis at his Dollhouse Studios. despite their own personality shining through only some of the time Cemetery Highrise Slum is a worthy effort with a highly crafted vibe.

4 out 5 stars


The Membranes – Dark Matter/Dark Energy

Released June 23rd, 2015

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The Membranes’ first album in 26 years Dark Matter/Dark Energy is an extraordinary comeback. Fronted by music critic John Robb, Blackpool’s Membranes last heard in the  ‘80s underground can still pack a punch. Dark Matter/Dark Energy muses on mortality and the universe, and was inspired by a conversation between Robb and physicist Joe Incandela. It makes for an album well worth the wait.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Fist City – Everything Is A Mess

Released June 19th, 2015

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Everything Is A Mess, Fist City’s third (second “official”) album starts with 20 seconds of unnecessary ambient noise before exploding into a song called “Fuck Cops”, one of the strongest tracks on the album. Throughout the others songs they filter in more unnecessary formless interludes (six in total) that detract from the energetic songs between. The Alberta, Canada quartet rips through the 11 songs with reverb-heavy and distorted guitars, Kier Griffiths’ feverish vocals, and bassist Brittany Griffiths chiming in now and then.

3 out of 5 stars


Dog Party – Volume 4

Released June 16th, 2015

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On Dog Party’s 2015 album Vol. 4, the Giles sisters (Gwendolyn on guitar and vocals, Lucy on drums and vocals) sound tougher, more mature, and even more in control of their sound. Gwendolyn’s guitar playing is stronger with a fuller, heavier sound and her vocals have a newfound power. Lucy sounds assured and rock-solid on drums too, and the whole thing has a newfound punch. It’s still pretty straightforward punk-pop, with songs about lame guys, crappy stuff that sucks, and wanting to be treated right, but they deliver it with such high levels of snappy attitude and hooky joy that it’s even more impossible to resist than before.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Sorority Noise – Joy, Departed

Released June 16th, 2015

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Sorority Noise frontman Cameron Boucher states in his band’s bio that he doesn’t “want to be in an emo band anymore,” but has “no problem with people calling us that, because in the strictest of senses, we are an emotionally driven band.” Joy, Departed is longer and stronger where it counts. Sorority Noise explores the entire scope of alternative pop. They’re quirky when necessary, dark elsewhere, and weave punk riffs throughout. Sorority Noise is neither lyrically nor sonically over-polished but still enjoyable.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Fucked Up – Year of the Hare

Released June 16th, 2015

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Since 2006’s ‘Year Of The Dog’, Fucked Up have released seven Chinese Zodiac-themed EPs that sound almost nothing alike. If the A-sides share one thing in common, however, it’s in providing the Canadian hardcore sextet an opportunity to take risks. The A-side, “Year of the Hare,” clocks in at over 21 minutes, while the B-side, “Cold California,” is more efficient but still lengthy coming in at over eight minutes. Year of the Hare is as ambitious as it is long, and well…Fucked Up. This is a swaggering, expansive, wandering record, which picks apart the construct of song writing. This is music in its purest, most experimental form. This is a record which doesn’t make sense, because it doesn’t have to. This is Fucked Up having fun, and making no apologies.

3 out of 5 stars


PINS – Wild Nights

Released June 9th, 2015

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PINS have gone for a slightly less aggressive approach on their second album, Wild Nights. The result reveals that PINS have more of a pop sensibility than they were willing to let on to before. However, there are still hints of the steely, garage rock crunch that introduced them as a girl gang you probably didn’t want to cross. Even if they wrap themselves in prettier packaging, they’re as sharp as ever. Wild Nights is a well crafted run through both the noisier side of the band and the unabashed pop influences that have been at their core from the very beginning.

4 out of 5 stars


Jenny Hval – Apocalypse, girl

Released June 9th, 2015

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Experimental singer/songwriter Jenny Hval’s work is cryptic, yet enjoyable, prone to obsession, and a few surprises. She recorded her latest album when she was 33, and as a result, Apocalypse, girl has plenty of what-does-it-all-mean moments. All things gender remain omnipresent in the lyrics and music of Jenny Hval. “That Battle is Over” (her ironically titled single) reminds us that we’re still at the fourth wave of feminism. Musically, Apocalypse pushes boundaries that were barely visible on her last album. She deconstructs her pop sensibilities while still assembling catchy and memorable compositions. Hval’s lyrics, float by with intriguing bits of concrete imagery in a matrix of stream-of-consciousness abstraction. The end result is basically white noise mixed with nice melodies.

3 out of 5 stars


No Joy – More Faithful

Released June 9th, 2015

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More Faithful, the third full-length album from Montreal outfit No Joy, was recorded while spending up to twelve hours a day in an isolated farmhouse/makeshift studio in rural Costa Rica. The nature of their makeshift Costa Rican studio gives the sound a certain unique lo-fi aesthetic quality in which everything feels homemade. Though it won’t be to everyone’s taste. The majority of More Faithful is No Joy’s fastest, heaviest and most complex record to date. The music is still shoegaze-y nuances of post-punk, grunge, and neo-folk.

3.5 out of 5 stars


The Deslondes – The Deslondes

Released June 9th, 2015

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The Deslondes self-titled debut conveys an entire history that spans New Orleans rhythm and blues, early Memphis rock, Louisiana Hayride country, and every pick-up jazz band ever to busk on Royal Street. The Deslondes are highlights of an unlikely country scene based in New Orleans, a city with a rich and renowned music history that includes everything but country. The Deslondes cut their teeth in street bands busking for tourist change. The Deslondes sounds like something scavenged and salvaged, as though the band members found that walking bass line or that rockabilly rhythm just lying around on the street, unused and abandoned. They know it’d be a shame to let it go to waste. Album highlight “Less Honkin’ More Tonkin’” is worth a definite listen.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Of Monsters and Men – Beneath the Skin

Released June 9th, 2015

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It’s probably not what was intended  with the title of the album, but yes, Beneath the Skin we are all the same. Or, in this case on Beneath the Skin all the songs sound the same. In an interview with Rolling Stone, co-vocalist Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir promised that the differences between Of Monsters and Men’s first album, 2011’s My Head Is an Animal, and this effort, Beneath The Skin, are “black and white – they’re pretty polar opposite.” However, if you listen to the new album, this is not the case. Beneath the Skin does dip its toe in a more electric sound, but still utilizes acoustic instrumentation as its foundation. The band has turned in a safe record that doesn’t stray too far from their last offering. This is an unremarkable collection of songs by a band apparently contented to churn out the same simple crowd pleasing muck that an easily pleased fan base will lap up.
2.5 out of 5 stars


Muse – Drones

Released June 8th, 2015

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For their seventh album Muse have by their own words gone “back to basics”. If by that they mean losing their own distinct sound, revealing influences and outright emulating other bands, well…then mission accomplished. Drones is a prog-rock concept album/statement about remote killing machines, dehumanised drones, the death of love and in their words “the journey of a human, from their abandonment and loss of hope, to their indoctrination by the system to be a human drone, to their eventual defection from their oppressors.” Lost yet? The meandering, bit off more than they could chew, album in short is disappointing. The longer the album goes on, the more confusing the plotline becomes. The song “Psycho” sounds like a Marilyn Manson song, one that would be better preformed by Manson. “Reapers” starts with their best Eddie Van Halen/Yngwie Malmsteen had a love child guitar tapping. Then there is still the obvious Radiohead and Pink Floyd references. Drones is the sound of a band trying desperately to still be relevant past their prime and losing their sound by trying to expand it.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Florence + The Machine – How Big How Blue How Beautiful

Released June 2nd, 2015

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Since Florence Welch made her debut in 2009, she has built her career on the premise that she feels things more painfully and powerfully than anybody else, belting out music that turns heads and widens eyes. She’s a ­flamboyantly imaginative writer and a captivating vocalist and performer. Accordingly, her band’s third studio album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful is one long breakup record from the point of view of someone who is absolutely convinced that her breakup is the most devastating thing that has ever happened to anyone. In her recent Billboard interview, Welch credits Taylor Swift of all people with counseling her that she needed to draw more directly on her life for her songs. The payoff is immediately audible on How Big. It’s not a radical reformation in her music but she is resorting less on abstract, lofty imagery and speaking more frankly and with more immediacy. This is a record, built for arenas as the band is among the headliners at this year’s Bonnaroo, Roskilde, Lollapalooza and Governors Ball festivals.

4 out of 5 stars


Four Year Strong – Four Year Strong

Released June 2nd, 2015

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Self-titled records are becoming a genre of their own lately, but it’s obvious why Four Year Strong have named their fifth studio album after themselves from the first few notes. Four Year Strong sees the Massachusetts four-piece at their peak. Some will argue they took a turn for the mainstream, or some may even say they “sold out”. But any curmudgeon saying those words just isn’t paying attention. Four Year Strong have lost none of their swagger, intensity, or energy. What they done is make subtle adjustments to provide more hooks and fun without sacrificing themselves. As a result the eleven tracks succinctly sum up their fourteen year history, and confidently remind the world at large that they’ve still got something to offer.

4 out of 5 stars


Goatsnake – Black Age Blues

Released June 2nd, 2015

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The expectations were high for Goatsnake’s first full-length album in over a decade. Formed in 1996, the L.A. band broke up in 2001 and briefly reunited in ’04 to release the Trampled Under Hoof EP. Throughout 2010 and ’11, Goatsnake played a few festivals, but Black Age Blues marks the official end of the band’s 11-year hiatus. There is little to no separation between their last full length release 2000’s Flower of Disease and Black Age Blues. Quite literally as the album opener “Another River to Cross” contains the final moments of the earlier album’s closer, “The River,” before venturing into new ground. Black Age Blues, features a new bassist in Scott Renner alongside these three original members, and while a decent album, it doesn’t quite live up to the band’s previous albums. Five of the tracks are backed by an all-female chorus consisting of Wendy Moten, Gale Mayes, and Andrea Merritt collectively known as Dem Preacher’s Daughters. A few songs on Black Age Blues could’ve been cut for a better finish, but it’s still a Goatsnake album that will satisfy their fans after such a long drought.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Anti-Flag – American Spring

Released May 26th, 2015

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For more than 20 years, the spirited Pittsburgh punks Anti-Flag have worked tirelessly to make their music count.  Ten albums into a fruitful career comes their newest release American Spring on which Anti-Flag is still chiseling away at the social ills that irk them. Album opener “Fabled World” starts swinging out the gate with both fists clenched and never lets up. Musically, the band continues its shift toward anthemic pop punk. To that end their collaboration with the masters of the genre “Brandenburg Gate”, featuring Rancid’s Tim Armstrong on guest vocals, is easily the record’s most infectious pop-punk tune. American Spring shows Anti-Flag can still put up a fight.

4 out of 5 stars


Zhala – Zhala

Released May 26th, 2015

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Robyn protégé Zhala, the debut signee to Konichiwa Records, has been bubbling under the surface since last year’s Sweden Grammis performance and Prophet EP. The Stockholmian who is self-described as “cosmic pop” has put much of the Prophet EP into Zhala including its title track. In the press release announcing her debut, Zhala spoke of a dedication to physical reactions: “I didn’t think about what others would think: I thought about how they would feel… I focused on the experience.” But what it feels like is one of those tragic cases of people who are capable, but not overtly talented, being misled by a bunch of “yes”-men. You can just picture them cooing “It sounds great!, You’re amazing…” while ignoring all the signs that this is mediocrity at its finest.

2 out of 5 stars


The Vaccines – English Graffiti

Released May 26th, 2015

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Their first two albums saw The Vaccines embark on a steep upward climb that culminated in a Number One, certified gold record and critical acclaim. On English Graffiti, their third record, The Vaccines take a bit of a turn sonically. English Graffiti spills over with fuzzy glam guitar trashiness and the neon glare of new wave synthesizers, all channeled through a post-punk filter. The Vaccines are happy to settle for the surface, finding excitement in the basics of a big hook and an overly stylized patina. Even with the sonic shift the song “Handsome” proves The Vaccines still know how to write a hit. When English Graffiti does sound like The Vaccines or yore, it’s a kitschier, colorful, stylized version.

4 out of 5 stars


Total Babes – Heydays

Released May 19th, 2015

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The current trend of Nineties-leaning music shows little signs of abating. Total Babes brings another entry with, Heydays, an old fashioned generally upbeat and poppy indie rock album with a cheap recording aesthetic…or as the polite would say lo-fi. Four years on from their debut Swimming Through Sunlight the Ohio quartet finally return with a follow-up. Heydays‘ eight tracks barely crosses the line between album and EP. Especially with songs like the unnecessary “Sunny Side”, a piano ballad that’s not particularly good and not keeping in their established cannon. Which they then follow by “Repeat Gold” which also is a bit out of the mold with its slower pace and lack of quality writing such that it sounds like it were written by a different band. These entries on such a short album makes it seem like they didn’t have enough material ready for a release and forced the issue.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Faith No More  – Sol Invictus

Released May 19th, 2015

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Since returning to performing live in 2009 (after their initial breakup in 1998), the rumors of a new album was whispered for some time. Sol Invictus is the album so long whispered about and waited for by their legions of fans. It marks their first new offering in nearly 20 years. Faith No More has always been a bit of an oddity, bucking the norm and way ahead of their time. At least they were. Mike Patton’s unhinged and unpredictable vocals in 1991 have become a little more predictable. But, that doesn’t say anything of their quality. He remains one of the strongest frontmen in the business. Sol Invictus is occasionally a bit too deliberate, more than any of their previous outings. It isn’t a perfect album, and it’s not their best work. It is, however, a solid entry into their catalogue despite a little rust. And, despite that rust Faith No More certainly have and album that was worth the wait.
4 out of 5 stars


Coal Chamber – Rivals

Released May 19th, 2015

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It’s been thirteen years since Coal Chamber’s Dark Days album. Dez Fafara is reunited with Miguel “Meegs” Rascón, Mike “Bug” Cox and Nadja Peulen to bring us a new entry, Rivals, into the Coal Chamber catalogue. Rivals is an album that comes across with the assurance their now veteran status would imply. The performances are solid, if a bit repetitive. But, their “consistency” has always been one of Coal Chamber’s defining features. Rivals is a flashback bundle of energy, complete with a guest appearance by Ministry’s Al Jourgensen on “Suffer in Silence” (Though as much as I love Al’s music he adds very little to the song here). For those out there who have been craving a new Coal Chamber album, this will fit the bill nicely. It is a natural continuation of what the band were doing before they went their separate ways, and they do it well.

4 out of 5 stars


Tau Cross – Tau Cross

Released May 19th, 2015

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The debut album from supergroup Tau Cross has arrived. The band is comprised of Amebix vocalist/bassist Rob “The Baron” Miller, Voivod drummer Michel “Away” Langevin, Misery guitarist Jon Misery and War//Plague guitarist Andy Lefton. The music is really solid. The lead vocals on their own are passable but don’t really work with the music here, they sound like someone doing a metal vocal impersonation rather than a sincere effort…and the gang vocals on “Hangman’s Hyll” are just downright awful. The album isn’t without its highlights. The acoustic blues rock influenced “We Control The Fear” (while seemingly random stylistically compared to the rest of the album) is the strongest and most convincing and sincere song on the album.

3 out of 5 stars


Du Blonde – Welcome Back To Milk

Released May 19th, 2015

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Beth Jeans Houghton is back with a new name, new style, and whole lot of attitude. While working the follow-up to her debut album Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose, She experienced a creative block that led to scrapping an entire album’s worth of songs, dissolving her band The Hooves of Destiny, and ultimately resulted in her new persona Du Blonde. Houghton’s previous incarnation, saw her slightly dismissively pigeonholed as a kind of weird folky chick. Her first album under the Du Blonde name, Welcome Back to Milk, proves that this is more of an identity opportunity than an identity crisis. Houghton has a wonderful singing voice, gifted with subtlety in its delivery and a great range. And she uses it to convey a range of emotions, subtly as well as furiously over more rock oriented numbers and a few ballads. What’s in a name? Not much, perhaps. But changing hers seems to have had a largely positive outcome.

4.5 out of 5 stars


The Helio Sequence – The Helio Sequence

Released May 19th, 2015

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The Helio Sequence (Brandon Summers on guitar and vocals and Benjamin Weikel on keyboards and percussion) reportedly wrote and recorded the tracks for their self-titled sixth album as part of a challenge in which they sought to see how many songs they could crank out in a month. As a result The Helio Sequence sounds like the experiment it was. Given that these ten songs were supposedly the best of 26 tracks banged out in a month, it’s hard not to wonder if this album might have benefited from more work on the songwriting, stylistic range, and recording quality. Most of them resemble one another just a bit too much, and the recording is drowning in reverb. The project speaks of craft more than enthusiasm. The music is more than a little short on inspiration, and the finished product sounds less like music they had a passion to create than something they were put up to… and that is exactly what they’ve told us it is.

2 out of 5 stars


Holly Herndon – Platform

Released May 19th, 2015

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San Francisco based Holly Herndon’s second full-length, Platform, continues her exploration of contrasts and electronic production. Herndon’s music continues to push against the dichotomies of human and machine, intimacy and technology. It’s important to remember that Platform is an album as much concerned with making important political points as it is with new musical ideas. “Home” makes this most explicit, featuring as its core refrain, “You know me better than I know me”, in an ode to the NSA. Herndon crafts organic bodily noise into challenging and wiry electronic music. The snipped vocals coalesce into of words and lyrics. It’s a serious interrogation of the limits of what can be seen as lyrical, and it’s simultaneously sonically stimulating, emotionally engaging and conceptually rigorous. Generally they become equal parts compelling and unsettling, which may hurt repeated listens for some listeners.

4 out of 5 stars


Snoop Dogg – Bush

Released May 12th, 2015

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Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. was doing more than fine as Snoop Dogg, but after a 2012 trip to Jamaica, he became convinced that reggae was his true calling and that the Rastafarian lifestyle would guide the rest of his life as Snoop Lion. Admittedly, the guy smokes a lot of pot. By his own admission, he smokes over 80 blunts a day – enough to comatose a stampeding rhino. However, Rastafarians argued that this wasn’t really a good enough reason to start calling yourself the reincarnation of Bob Marley. It whiffed of that cringe-worthy attitude that because you smoke pot, you have a connection to Rastafarian culture. Three years later and his disco-funk album Bush, a Snoop Dogg release resets firmly back into his comfort zone. Bush sees Snoop working in the studio with long-standing collaborator Pharrell Williams and producing material which gravitates around his staple of hip hop and pop. Sonically, Bush dabbles with funk with collaborations including Stevie Wonder, Gwen Stefani, Charlie Wilson and Kendrick Lamar. But there is still a growing sense that Snoop may be running out of ideas. The record is listenable, but for all the new funk packaging we have still heard this many, many times before. The grooves are stale, the lyrics are at times just rotten. It all makes for an aimless album that fills a gap nobody needed filling.

3 out of 5 stars


Sóley – Ask the Deep

Released May 12th, 2015

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Iceland has what could safely be described as an incestuous music scene, and multi-instrumentalist Sóley Stefánsdóttir has a been a big part of it for a while now. Having played in the now cult band Seabear before making the transition to a solo artist, she still plays keys for fellow Icelandic cohort Sin Fang and also produces compositions for stage plays and the occasional puppet show. Her classical piano training has always been showcased in her off-kilter pop with the aid of her trusted loop pedal and longstanding backing drummer and guitarist. On her second full-length album, Ask The Deep sees Sóley’s omnipresent macabre side presenting itself with renewed vehemence in tightly wound compositions awash with sinister lyricism. The lyrics throughout this album hark back to a traditionally macabre narrative style readily present in Icelandic culture. Sóley has a finely-tuned feel for atmosphere. She courts eerie sounds and dark imagery, but in a way that makes you feel like you’re looking at the shadow of something frightening, not at the monster itself.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Blanck Mass – Dumb Flesh

Released May 12th, 2015

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Benjamin John Power, the electronic drone musician founded Fuck Buttons in 2004 alongside Andrew Hung and they immediately began cultivating their combination of minimal techno and post-rock noise. Power peeled away for some alone time. He shrouded himself in the ambient work of his new solo moniker, Blanck Mass, for 2011’s self-titled which featured ‘Sundowner’ that was aptly used to fill the stadium during the London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony. On his sophomore full-length, Dumb Flesh, Ben Power’s leaves behind hazy dreamstates in favor of cybernetic surgical experiments. From the beginning of ‘Loam’, it’s clear Blanck Mass has undergone an identity shift. In a recent interview, Power noted his love of Depeche Mode, and the influence of their brand of dark-edged synthetic beat-riding is without a doubt present in Dumb Flesh. The album allures and repels in equal measure showing that perhaps he could have used another hand. Blanck Mass appeared to be Power’s chance to escape the twisted electronics of Fuck Buttons, but on Dumb Flesh he returns to it. It sounds like the warped remains of a bitter John Carpenter track.

3.5 out of 5 stars


The Weather Station – Loyalty

Released May 12th, 2015

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Tamara Lindeman is no longer singing about white lilacs, wild columbine, rhubarb pie and big jars of honey. On two previous albums as The Weather Station, Lindeman used acoustic guitars, banjos and a lexicon of rustic imagery to write graceful folk songs. Even the Toronto songwriter’s most intense reflections on love and lust espoused a down home familiarity. On Loyalty, Lindeman’s third full length album continues the looking inward trend of last year’s EP, What Am I Going to Do with Everything I Know. Her confessionals have morphed into intimate but impressionistic character studies, where the songwriter spares neither herself nor her subjects an analytical eye. Loyalty feels like a 40-minute glimpse into a personal world, where familiar people lead intriguing lives. All of the material seems like a confidential list of life problems that Lindeman is still trying to sort out for herself. Vocal comparisons to Joni Mitchell are spontaneously and incorrigibly conjured by Lindeman’s voice. As folk-based songs, the arrangements are simple. If you are a folk lover, then The Weather Station will certainly please.

3 out of 5 stars


Chris Connelly – Decibels From Heart

Released May 12th, 2015

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Decibels from Heart reveals the one constant in Chris Connelly’s career as a solo artist and vocalist in bands ranging from Fini Tribe, Ministry, Revolting Cocks to Pigface and High Confessions is change. Decibels From Heart features a backing band of veteran Chicago players who illustrate an adventurous, wide-angle rock landscape. The female voice is an equally important part of Connelly’s sound. Six very different duet partners appear on as many tracks. Claire Massey, Meshell Ndegeocello, Rebecca Pidgeon, Roxy Swain, Ruby (Lesley Rankine), and My Brightest Diamond contribute not only textural contrast to Connelly’s tenor, but aesthetic dimension, and provide a deliberate otherness that balances his poetic lyrics, turning them back on themselves inside-out in the melodies. Decibels From Heart weaves Connelly’s many musical and lyrical obsessions into one of the most accessible entries in his catalog.

4 out of 5 stars


Human Future – Spectrum

Released May 12th, 2015

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Human Future are one of those bands that want to play in all the amorphic ‘post’ genres: postpunk, hardcore, metal, etcetera. The press release says that the label Truthseeker Music was established with the explicit aim of not releasing anything predictable and Spectrum only slightly avoids this stated pitfall. It does feature all the elements you might expect from the post-hardcore/alternative metal world. It features long songs with complicated, non-traditional song structures, a mix between melodic and atonal riffs and shouted vocals with some occasional spoken word sections. A potential problem with this kind of music is that it can sound too cold and calculated. A trap that Human Future trips into head first. The songs feel like a succession of ideas welded together with little thought to the progression. Getting rid of traditional song structures doesn’t mean that your music doesn’t have to flow. Spectrum succumbs to this several of occasions and on this front Human Future are a little hit-and-miss…more of a miss as nothing quite impresses that much.

3 out of 5 stars


Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

Released May 12th, 2015

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Joanna Gruesome’s music is immediate and in your face. There 2013 debut Weird Sister had been a hit on the indie rock circuit and beyond as the band won the Welsh Music Prize in 2014 for it. Other bands might have wilted under the pressure or attempted some kind of musical departure, but Joanna Gruesome decided to take their sound and boil it down to the bare essentials. On Peanut Butter it feels like Joanna Gruesome have challenged themselves to outdo their previous efforts in every possible aspect. As a result Peanut Butter is more concise, louder, and angrier. It’s an album that grabs you by the collar and demands that you fucking listen to what it has to say. The songs are short and to the point, there’s not a millisecond wasted. But, while it may be delivered at breakneck speed, Peanut Butter never feels like it’s been passed off in a hurry, nor does it feel like its 22 minute run time short-changes us. As a band their imprint on the public consciousness has been somewhat gradual, but the caliber of this release should put them front and center.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Kamelot – Haven

Released May 5th, 2015

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Thomas Youngblood and the Kamelot crew are back following a successful transition on the mic from Roy Khan to Tommy Karevik on their last effort Silverthorn. The band has now released four albums within the past eight years, and are continuing to swing for the fences with their latest ambitious power metal project, Haven. Haven is a solid album that is sure to please. Guest musicians on Haven include Alissa White-Gluz (Arch Enemy), Troy Donockley (Nightwish) and Charlotte Wessels (Delain). Karevik resumes his post at microphone, endorsed by Youngblood as having exceeded expectations. Thematically, Haven reflects dark times we’re facing as a society, cited by Youngblood as “loosely about a grey cloud forming over our world.” Karevik sounds even more at ease than he did on Silverthorn. Thomas Youngblood and Oliver Palotai shred the guitar and keyboards respectively. The album has a pounding theatricality, blast measures, power grooves, cinematic embellishments and strong vocals. Power metal, symphonic metal, whatever you want to label Kamelot with, they’ve proven resilient without sacrificing quality. Having just seen their stage show, Haven, translates well live.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Rose Windows – Rose Windows

Released May 5th, 2015

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On March 30th of this year, Seattle psychedelic rockers Rose Windows announced via Facebook that they had broken up. It wasn’t a slightly early April Fool gag either. They really have called it quits just a month before their second (and last) self-titled album was released. “We are all broken hearted,” the Facebook statement stated. “Sometimes it’s not enough, sometimes we have to let go.” As a result, what could have been a statement of future intent instead becomes a posthumous memorial to an act with some promise. The nine tracks here vary widely. Perhaps that’s the problem for Rose Windows. They are (or were) a band proficient in many styles. The album only features nine tracks, but somehow still manages to feel a bit too long and lacking cohesion. It’s not without its highlights though, like “The Old Crow” and “Glory, Glory”.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Pale Honey – Pale Honey

Released May 5th, 2015

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Pale Honey are a burgeoning two-piece from Gothenburg, Sweden. Their songs demonstrate their refreshingly simplistic approach to making music. Pale Honey features silky smooth melancholy vocals of Tova Lodmark making for an incredibly interesting listen, and effectively combines guitar, synth and drums into songs that feature up-tempo minimalist beats. Each song is layered with a musical depth, which is still in keeping with the overall impression of simplicity. The album acts as a good introduction to the duo, making them appear instantly appealing.

3.75 out of 5 stars


The Lovely Eggs – This Is Our Nowhere

Released May 5th, 2015

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Husband and wife duo Holly Ross and David Blackwell have been putting out their own peculiar take on fuzzy pop-punk as The Lovely Eggs since 2006. Over the last nine years they’ve built up a considerable underground following. The pair’s fourth album, This Is Our Nowhere, is their most focused to date, pruning back the scattershot approach to previous albums while keeping their somewhat skewed take on everyday life that taps into comedy and the absurd. This being The Lovely Eggs, there’s plenty of strange ideas, such as holding convention on top of a massive bonfire…there are definitely peculiar and funny moments, but they’re wrapped in perfected musical moments and as a result could never be dismissed as comedy songs.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Torres – Sprinter

Released May 5th, 2015

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Torres (a.k.a. Mackenzie Scott) the Georgia native, former Nashville resident, and current Brooklyn artist has released her sophomore album, Sprinter. The album opens with muted staccato strums, slightly mistimed and plodding it feels almost like she doesn’t know how to play her own song with Scott’s exhausted-sounding voice quietly offering, “Heather, I’m sorry that your mother/Diseased in the brain/Cannot recall your name.” And, with that what at first feels strange suddenly becomes poignant. The album is co-produced by Scott and longtime PJ Harvey (to whom many compare Torres to) collaborator Rob Ellis. The album also has contributions from bassist Ian Olliver and guitarist/producer Adrian Utley of Portishead. Musically or technically, Torres isn’t trying to break new ground on Sprinter. The record places its weight on lyrics, songwriting, and the emotion in Scott’s voice and it succeeds nicely.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Death & Vanilla – To Where the Wild Things Are

Released May 5th, 2015

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Since they started releasing music in 2010, the Swedish duo of Marleen Nilsson and Anders Hansson, better known as Death and Vanilla, have had all the makings of a cult band. They put a priority on vinyl over downloads and are seemingly interested in creating music that sounds both futuristic and simultaneously rooted in the past’s idea of what the future could sound like. To Where the Wild Things Are (the duo’s second album, or technically their third, if you count the release of last year’s improvised Vampyr soundtrack) was recorded in their rehearsal space using just one microphone, which they salvaged from a flea market. The result is an airy album with a fuzzy feel, with a penchant for over-long outros. The songs “Arcana” and “The Hidden Reverse” are the most complete compositions presented here.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Fireflight – Innova

Released May 5th, 2015

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Innova, the band’s fifth album is a slight departure from their usual rock. Fitting that  Innova is a Latin term meaning ‘renew’. Here they add more electro-pop elements. The result is rocking yet danceable tunes, overwrought with synths, breathy vocals, and sing along choruses. The album plays out like a teen coming of age movie soundtrack. The lyrics are all about a Christian love of God, and His influence. Since I’m more on the Atheist side, I found it rather off-putting but hey if it your thing go for it. And, they seem to have plenty of fans that go in for that sort of thing.

3.5 out of 5 stars


The Weepies – Sirens

Released April 28st, 2015

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The Weepies’ fifth album, Sirens, was recorded during a period of turmoil. Husband and wife duo Deb Talan and Steve Tannen started making the album during two turbulent years, starting in the throes of Talan’s third pregnancy and followed by a cancer diagnosis and treatment. Talan was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer before Christmas in 2013 and declared cancer-free in summer 2014. Sirens represents the indie folk duo healthy and on top of their game. The title is a reference to the mythological creatures that lured sailors to their deaths with song, and also to ambulance sirens. Much of the album was recorded in their Iowa home studio during Deb Talan’s treatment for cancer, which left the two essentially unable to travel. Several guest musicians stepped in via remote to contribute performances to the 16 track record which is full of their characteristic warm harmonies and soft folk-pop, and two well crafted covers (Tom Petty’s “Learning to Fly” and Mark Geary’s “Volunteer.”).

4.5 out of 5 stars


Apocalyptica – Shadowmaker

Released April 21st, 2015

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When Apocalyptica Plays Metallica by Four Cellos made its appearance. It wasn’t just another metal band playing it safe regurgitating another bands work. Instead it was a Finnish cello wielding quartet reimagining the lines between rock, metal and classical music. The years passed and what could have been a flash in the pan, or fad, didn’t end up that way, and now Apocalyptica have released their ninth full-length Shadowmaker. Though the band often featured guest vocalists on many of their previous singles, Apocalyptica now have a dedicated vocalist in Franky Perez (formerly of Scars on Broadway). In the past guest vocalists, and their lyrics, were always supposed to feel like a hidden gem on Apocalyptica albums; something to be revered. Those lyric driven tracks were often poignant and eye-opening, or simply fantastic covers that you didn’t expect to hear. So the idea to bring in a new full-time leading frontman seemed the most natural progression. It is also the reason that the inclusion of a lead singer has many fans perplexed and hesitant…and with good reason. Admitedly there is only so much room to grow with just their instrumental offerings, but Franky Perez is not doing anything that hasn’t been done before and considerably better. Shadowmaker is easy listening, veering a little too close to cock rock cheese. Tracks like “Cold Blood,” “Shadowmaker,” “House of Chains” and “Come Back Down” have distinct similarities to the works of Shinedown and Alter Bridge. In other words, they have gone from a bit of a novelty in the music world to just being another trendy alternative rock band. This becomes blatantly obvious with the inclusion of purely instrumental tracks like “I-III-V Seed of Chaos,” “Reign of Fear,” “Riot Lights” and “Till Death Do Us Part.” which are superior in every way to those with vocals.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Passion Pit – Kindred

Released April 21st, 2015

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If you pay attention and listen, you can hear Passion Pit everywhere around you. Fast food commercials, YouTube ads you can’t wait to skip, and a myriad of other artists tracks like “Pay No Mind”, a single from Madeon’s March debut Adventure. Kindred is Angelakos’ first record after conducting a very public self-examination of his mental health and its effects on his life and loved ones. Instead continuing down that path, Angelakos shifts focus to the parts of his life that gave him strength as he endured personal and professional turmoil…his family, faith, and the love that comes from both.  Kindred is his most concise record to date, it’s only 10 songs, and the songs themselves are more interested in speed and economy. On the whole the scale and layering of his songs on Kindred feels aimless. Angelakos has never been a particularly artful lyricist, but he writes with a sincerity and directness that makes you want to root for him. Kindred is ultimately both transitional and a mixed bag. Kindred lives and dies on the strength of its melodies, and some of those melodies just don’t work as well as others.

3 out of 5 stars


Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer

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Speedy Ortiz, the Massachusetts indie rockers sophomore full-length, Foil Deer is a snarling, twisted, mischievous creation. It opens with Sadie Dupuis singing that she’s good with a knife and she knows when to use it on “Good Neck”. Dupuis, a recent MFA candidate in poetry at UMass Amherst, shows once again why she is becoming one of the strongest lyricists of her generation. The visceral lyrics gleaming with threats involving sharp blades both literal and figurative. She turns her sour experiences into anthems about clawing back from self-doubt She vividly writes mysterious scenes that require interpretive work on the listeners’ behalf. As Dupuis grows more self-possessed, she and her bandmates continues to evolve around their most ambitious compositions to date.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Low Cut Connie – Hi Honey

Released April 21st, 2015

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Hi Honey marks the point where Low Cut Connie make the leap to the big leagues. Adam Weiner and Dan Finnemore retain a taste for the lowbrow, something that separates them from legions of other retro-rockers. It’s as much evident within their lascivious lyrics but also in their rock & roll rhythms. Hi Honey makes it clear, Low Cut Connie are at their heart a party band. They want to get you out of your seat and dancing with a drink in your hand. Hi Honey replicates the kinetic sensation of hearing a stack of 45s being spun through an old jukebox, but Low Cut Connie keeps it from feeling like a throwback.

4 out of 5 stars


Incinerate – Eradicating Terrestrial Species

Released April 21st, 2015

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Despite the departure of founding member and guitarist Scott Ellingboe, Minnesota-born death metal band Incinerate return with force on their third full-length album, Eradicating Terrestrial Species. Original member and vocalist Jesse Watson is joined by drummer Darren Cesca, as well as, bassist Sasha Wilczynski, and guitarist Ted Isac to follow up the band’s 2008 record, Anatomize. Keeping straight to the point, Eradicating Terrestrial Species comprises about a half-hour of unwavering, no frills technical death metal that’s full of genre cliches, and a couple of unnecessary interludes between tracks. Maintaining a consistent pace throughout the record, Incinerate showcase their penchant for speed, technicality and unoriginality on a terribly mastered offering.

2 out of 5 stars


Girl Band – The Early Years

Released April 21st, 2015

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The obvious joke with Girl Band is that the Irish quartet features no girls. They conform to standard punk-rock parameters with a yelping singer, fuzz loving guitarist and bassist, and a hammer handed drummer, but their music lacks the emotionally raw, primal catharsis we associate with these kind of acts. They come off more like lab technicians administering shock treatment for dubious purposes. The tracks on The Early Years have been compiled by Rough Trade to introduce Girl Band to North American audiences. The EP is also a snapshot of a band still figuring out their sound without conforming to conventions. Like the Girl Band name itself, the title of The Early Years is a joke. First, the EP doesn’t even include the band’s earliest recordings and secondly, the period that it faux-nostalgically canonizes covers a mere 19-month span that ended just last summer.

2 out of 5 stars


Agnostic Front – The American Dream Died

Released April 21st, 2015

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The 11th studio album from the veteran New York hardcore band Agnostic Front, The American Dream Died opens with a barrage of sirens. The condemnation of greed and corruption is a hardcore punk pantry staple, but here it is well-timed in the aftermath of a series of high-profile police brutality cases and general malaise towards governmental infrastructure. Not to mention, Agnostic Front is a band that’s in their third decade of sticking it to the man. Since they’re veterans of the cause, they manage to transcend the generic outrage put out by so many of the newer acts coming through the pipeline. Agnostic Front may be a little long in the tooth, they’re still sharp, and have lost little in their bite.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Built to Spill – Untethered Moon

Released April 21st, 2015

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Untethered Moon is the first Built to Spill record Doug Martsch has released in six years. Built to Spill albums have themes, on Moon’s 10 songs, a diffident soul finds his faith restored and his soul lifted by the music he’s loved his whole life. There are new moments and some darker colors here, if you listen closely for them.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

Released April 21st, 2015

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Alabama Shakes is a band with old-fashioned blues, soul, gospel, and country in their blood but raised on modern rock. On Sound & Color, they let loose, and push themselves further in each direction, likely because the album uses its title as a creed. Sound & Color takes flight when Alabama Shakes channel their energy into shifting, liquid performances and make music that sounds like the “Deep South.” Or at least what one might imagine the “Deep South” was like based on pop culture portrayals.  Brittany Howard’s ability to channel any emotion through her voice, and the band’s Southern rock sound come over naturally.

3 out of 5 stars


Wire – Wire

Released April 21st, 2015

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Nearly 40 years into their career, Wire remain unpredictable, going through aesthetic phases, reincarnations, breakups, and re-assemblings while dealing with final departures and new members. The core trio of founder Colin Newman, Graham Lewis and Robert (Gotobed) Grey do not step too far away from the pulsing grooves that have come to typify their sound over the course of 13 albums, but the addition of new guitarist Matthew Simms adds very little. Given Wire’s long history, it’s disappointing how flat they have become. There is no real depth to anything here, the music, the singing, the recording, is all seemingly monotone. The songs all sounding more or less the same. Instead of a the full peaks and valley of a healthy heartbeat, they seem to have flat-lined.

2 out of 5 stars


Yelawolf – Love Story

Released April 21st, 2015

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Yelawolf’s second major-label album, Love Story, starts by getting abducted by aliens into outerspace and then has a  hard landing in the South. The album starts with a fast tempo, upbeat, almost Rage Against the Machine track, and then turns on dime for a stronger embrace of his Southern roots.  But that’s better than the failed stabs at arena rap of his 2011 debut. He’s less Eminem here, and more Kid Rock. The Alabama native serves up slow-burn ballads, and corn fed guitar licks. Over the course of 18 tracks he still shows that, deep down, he’s still a proud “American fuck-up” who grew up next to “spoon-cooking heroin junkies” and “methadone clinics.”

3.5 out of 5 stars


Squarepusher – Damogen Furies

Released April 21st, 2015

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Composer and producer Squarepusher (aka Tom Jenkinson) tweaks his sound, experiments with new textures, technologies, or conceptual limitations with each new release. A new Squarepusher album is usually one part repelling, one part intriguing (more in theory than practice), and one part captivating. On Damogen Furies, his first album in three years, Jenkinson is in his version of pop mode. So much so, the first track (most likely unintentionally) rips off the melody of an 80s song. His customary warp-speed drum loops still run off the rails, but here he relegates them to the role of accompaniment to electronic compositions with catchy synth melodies. Tracks like these are the closest Squarepusher has gotten to festival-ready EDM.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Gallows – Desolation Sounds

Released April 14th, 2015

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Hertfordshire hardcore unit Gallows honor their grim name on Desolation Sounds, their fourth record. Desolation Sounds, whose bleak title refers to a large body of water in Western Canada. They’ve grown a lot, their songwriting’s improved, and the loss of both Carters has sharpened their sound, but Gallows are certainly not getting any happier, and they’ve got torment down to a science. Which unfortunately is exactly why the release is a thoroughly standard hardcore metal affair that makes me want to hang from the gallows just to get away from it.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Skinny Lister – Down On Deptford Broadway

Released April 14th, 2015

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London shanty-punk quintet Skinny Lister swagger into their second album Down On Deptford Broadway full of pirate bravado, and drunken jig-along-the-gangplank fun. These are boozing sing along songs of love, brewed from intoxicating hooks, a flagon of rum to their lips and their teeth smashed from a fight. While not novel in their approach, they sure are fun.

4 out of 5 stars


Stranger Cat – In The Wilderness

Released April 14th, 2015

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The debut album from New York’s Stranger Cat, which consists of Brooklyn singer/songwriter Cat Martino and producer/multi-instrumentalist Sven Britt, offers up a sonically lush, emotionally charged blast of soaring, electronically induced, R&B-kissed indie pop. Conceived during a period of personal upheaval that saw Martino retreating into the Sierra Nevadas for some self-evaluation, it should come as no surprise that the aptly named In the Wilderness is consumed by a sense of deep-seated yearning. It’s relatively untethered stylistically. A collection of coolly exploratory sonic experiments united under a patient, sophisticated approach and Martino’s primary asset: her voice. Most of the songs are structured around her impressive range, which spans from earthy growls to smooth cooing. Most of the tracks make use of the voice as both central focus and complementary musical accompaniment.

4 out of 5 stars


Kathryn Calder – Kathryn Calder

Released April 14th, 2015

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Kathryn Calder’s self-titled album, her third solo effort since joining the New Pornographers a decade ago, is a kaleidoscope of sound. The music shimmers and immerses the listener in an empty reverberating space akin to being underwater, while Calder’s vocals climb in layers towards the surface. Although subtle death references continue to be a constant on her solo albums. By now its presence should just be assumed, even though she seldom addresses it directly. The album is filled with anecdotes, peaceful moments interrupted by reminders of life’s impermanence. It’s as if every time Calder set out to write a love song, she emerged with a portrait of survivor’s guilt. Most of the time this music drifts on clouds of synthesizer patches hovering over a spare landscape of massed voices, distant drums, and single-string guitar patterns.

3 out of 5 stars


The Mowgli’s – Kids In Love

Released April 14th, 2015

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The California rock outfit The Mowgli’s continue “being in love with love”. Kids in Love is The Mowgli’s second major label outing full of tunes cranked-up-to-11; the vocal harmonies are always in full blast. The most notable thing  about The Mowgli’s is that they remain eternal poptimists, even when singing about dour subjects they turn on the happy. Filled to the brim with maximalist vocal harmonizing, pristine big label production, and enough platitudes to keep the Hallmark card company in business in perpetuity, Kids in Love is, in every way, what we’ve come to expect from the Mowgli’s. The harmonies are on full blast and the hooks are never placed anywhere but the forefront. These musicians clearly love what they do, and they’re clearly quite happy with the place that they’re at now that they’ve hit it big. While for some it may be a problem that the band never deviates from their wheelhouse, confining themselves to a blueprint we’ve heard before. It can be heard as generic, but really, they are a pop band that makes happy, summer time fun, pop songs…and “generic” or not, they do it well.

4 out of 5 stars


Lowland Hum – Lowland Hum

Released April 14th, 2015

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Lowland Hum are a husband and wife duo, juggling the music business and domestic bliss. They quit their day jobs shortly after they were married in 2012, opting to pursue careers in music, which is not the most certain strategy when a newlywed couple is trying to establish their finances for the future. And like their unassuming name Lowland Hum, as the name suggests, is hardly the boldest sound out there. Lauren and Daniel Goans’ sound isn’t one that leaps out at you and begs immediate attention. Their new self-titled album is evidence of their ability to wield seamless harmonies, and a handful of songs take flight, but nothing here really breaks the mold or shows any evidence of expanding their M.O. The melodies drift along in a general haze, a mournful solitude and sobriety that offers little respite. Lauren Goan’s vocals dominate the proceedings, her voice mesmerizing at times, but somewhat elusive as well. While soothing the haunting melodies are bereft of hooks and handles, hardly the kind of thing that encourages any sort of sing-along.

3 out of 5 stars


Now and on Earth – Blacked Out

Released April 14th, 2015

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Montreal’s Now and on Earth are the calling card of metalcore. Now and on Earth seem determined to make their debut album, Blacked Out, an angry and sad piece of work; in their press release, guitarist Mathieu Maltais described the album as “really heavy, but also really sad and depressing.” What is sad and depressing about Blacked Out is how every song is interchangeable and insincere. It will be fine for any metal fan with no discerning tastes, but those who actually care about what they are listening to may want to skip this one.

3 out of 5 stars


Hank Williams III – Take as Needed for Pain

Released April 14th, 2015

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Take as Needed for Pain is compilation of out takes and covers and leftovers being peddled as a new album by a label that hates the artist (and vice versa for HW3’s part) in question just to squeeze a few extra dollars out of him. Hank Williams III and Curb Records parted ways some four years ago after when his contract with the label ran out. Take as Needed for Pain is the fourth Hank III album Curb (or their alias Bruc Records) has released since Mr. Williams moved on after a volatile relationship between himself and the label. Rehashing session outtakes and tracks HW3 cut for various tribute albums, Curb seems so determined to rub HW3 the wrong way that it’s hard to believe it’s not personal. Featuring Black Flag’s “No Values” (first released in 2004 on Rise Above: 24 Black Flag Songs to Benefit the West Memphis Three) and ANTiSeeN’s “Ruby, Get Back to the Hills” covers (not to mention two numbers from an Eyehategod tribute set) this album shows Curb is running out of ways to recycle HW3’s catalog. HW3 barely appears on “Get Outta My Life” (from the Rebel Meets Rebel album, with David Allan Coe backed by members of Pantera). Take as Needed for Pain is simply a sign of blatant disrespect to the artist, who had nothing to do with its compilation or its release.

3 out of 5 stars


Joywave – How Do You Feel Now?

Released April 14th, 2015

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Rochester New York natives Joywave are self-confessed haters of genre labels, which is unfortunate because despite showing influences beyond it’s scope they are an 80s influenced synth pop band.  But they have come a long way in a year. 2014 saw the release of their debut EP How Do You Feel, numerous festival appearances, and their debut performance on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Now a year later, Joywave starts 2015 with the release of their debut full length album How Do You Feel Now? The band mixes in old-fashioned rock influences, groove-driven electronica, occasional samples (from Disney’s Fantasia and Bambi) and danceable synths to appeal to a broad audience. The 80s vibes permeate the music while the lyrics navigate the common struggles of today’s static youth. Kids either with no ambition or work ethic, to those unable to move out of their parents’ homes due to financial and/or employment instability.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Halestorm – Into the Wild Life

Released April 14th, 2015

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Into the Wild Life  is the third studio album from the Grammy Award-winning rockers Halestorm. Led by vocalist Lzzy Hale, Into the Wild Life doubles down on the more radio-friendly elements that were introduced on 2012’s The Strange Case Of… Hale’s vocals remain the center piece on tracks ranging from the metal influenced “Mayhem” (in my opinion the best track on the album) to the heartfelt ballad “Dear Daughter”, where again the vocals shine but the song itself is formulaic and contrived “girl power” entry. In general the album plays out like it is, a band trying to graduate to arena rock. There are some solid songs on here but a few misses as well, and in general the second half of the album disappoints.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Tree Blood – I Am A Disgusting Pig

Released April 7th, 2015

treeblood-i-am-a-disgusting-pig

The debut album, I Am A Disgusting Pig, from Minneapolis noise punks Tree Blood was recorded live in two sessions (one for each side of the cassette release). The group which consists of guitarists/vocalists Colin Wilkinson and Simon Brooks and drummer Walker Neudorff co-own Dead Media record store that specialize in cassette tapes from the fringes, stocking their shelves with punk, indie, and DIY releases similar to their own sound. The trio’s feedback-laced songs are written with a grimy basement show audience in mind and are recorded with a spare approach featuring just a few microphones aiming to capture the untamed intensity of their stage set. The result is what you would expect of a basement recording…a demo tape. One that they’re trying to pass off as a finished product.

2 out of 5 stars


American Wrestlers – American Wrestlers

Released April 7th, 2015

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Using a drum machine to replicate a live backing band tends to have the opposite effect, making solo home albums can sound even more isolated. Case in point, American Wrestlers’ self-titled debut. As of now, it’s Gary McClure’s project with his imaginary friends and his alone, but the songs won’t require a lot of maintenance to be ready for the road: guitars, bass, piano and vocals are layered about the same way they would have if American Wrestlers were four guys in a cheap studio. American Wrestlers is an anonymous project, an attention-seeking tactic that went out of fashion many years ago. The music feels a few steps behind the times as well. The mucky production appears to be the natural result of McClure’s rudimentary equipment and skills rather than an allegiance to lo-fi aesthetics. McClure demonstrates a curious ability to bury concise hooks in seemingly unfinished songs.

2.5 out of 5 stars


White Hills – Walks For Motorists

Released April 7th, 2015

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White Hills’  Walks For Motorists is the psych-rock New York duos fourteenth full length release. It is a collection of rugged riffs, serrated noise and otherworldly vocals. Singer and guitarist Dave W. and bassist/singer Ego Sensation bring a leering intensity to the nine songs, which are equally hypnotic as they are thunderous. Despite a different focus on Walks for Motorists, it’s less a reinvention for White Hills than an evolution from a prolific band with a restless streak. White Hills is a band comfortable in its own skin. Within the wide realm of ‘psych’ they move around freely, almost at will. Gears shift from song to song. The tones, the vibes, all slip and slide. At times it feels as if they are seeking to make as much noise as  possible for two people to make together at any one but there are more than a few moments where their alchemy is synched perfectly and something sublime happens.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Marriages – Salome

Released April 7th, 2015

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The genre-blending Los Angeles trio Marriages have finally delivered their debut album. Salome is a reverb drenched wash of gothic, shoegaze post-rock fronted by vocalist and Red Sparowes guitarist, Emma Ruth Rundle. Salome is actually the debut album of Marriages, nearly three years after their first EP Kitsune. They’ve cleaned things up a bit, polishing and sanding the jagged edges. While still milking the shoegazing sound which defined Kitsune, Marriages have scaled it back. Salome is a neatly wrapped package. Clear and definable, Vocalist Emma Ruth Rundle, for the first time, is perfectly audible. She gives the album its earthy, powerful drive. It’s a shame that Salome is smothered under oddly muted production, but it is still a quality ride.

4 out of 5 stars


Colleen – Captain of None

Released April 7th, 2015

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Captain of None, is the sixth solo album from Colleen (French multi-instrumentalist Cécile Schott). Her primary instrument is a Renaissance-era treble viola da gamba, and she does all she can to extend its conventional range of sounds, drawing direct inspiration from the studio techniques of dub masters Lee “Scratch” Perry and King Tubby for English-language songs featuring her own vocals. The gut-string viola da gamba first appeared in the mid-15th century and it’s seldom heard outside of specialized ensembles. This general lack of use and natural versatility make the instrument difficult for modern ears to easily identify. When bowed, it can sound like a cello. When it’s plucked or strummed, it can sound like a harp or lute, And when tapped it can sound similar to a hammered dulcimer. Schott has made use of all of these techniques at various points, but usually in a more traditional sense. On Captain of None, Schott casts tradition aside and uses her viola da gamba as a percussion instrument to create impressively rich, dub-inflected basslines. The effects pedals, dub influences, and baroque instrumentation all slide into place, like pieces of a mosaic.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Lord Huron – Strange Trails

Released April 7th, 2015

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The Michigan bred, Los Angeles based Lord Huron’s sophomore album Strange Trails plays like a collection of short stories. Ben Schneider’s voice has a lonesome twang as the narrator. While the defining feature of the band’s sound is a wealth of Americana, a collage of folk, rockabilly and rock that contentedly dips between contemporary and historic. The result is an airy, welcoming story-telling band of indie folk, and the production features liberal use of reverb. The only issue is when you reach the end of Strange Trails, and you realize the trails weren’t really all that strange and that you haven’t been as adventurous as the record promises. It’s as if the band, having gone to all the effort of building the car from scratch, then hitting he road with a half-filled tank and the tires flat.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Ólafur Arnalds & Alice Sara Ott – The Chopin Project

Released April 7th, 2015

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In classical music, it is the instrumentalist (with the aid of the conductor) to interpret the music written on the page, to invoke their own character and emotion into the proceedings. Icelandic composer and performer Ólafur Arnalds has held a life long respect for the works of Frédéric Chopin wanting to interpret Chopin’s compositions by his own means. He invited German-Japanese pianist Alice Sara Ott to join him in the development of The Chopin Project. Purposefully using vintage equipment sometimes beaten, sometimes out of tune instruments, Arnalds and Ott make a compelling team. Occasionally sneaking in between the lines of Chopin’s their own original compositions to meld together a story of their own. Arnalds’ pieces employ his own electronic keyboard textures, plus a live string quintet. On top of this, the pianos are vintage instruments hunted down in Reykjavik, and the ambience was created by recording in various venues and with various microphones. Arnalds adds ambient noises (sounds of conversation, whispers, papers rustling, etc.) to the music. No one has ever tried anything much like this, either with Chopin or with any other composer, and it makes a compelling case for others to explore some of the ideas presented here.

4 out of 5 stars


The Mountain Goats – Beat the Champ

Released April 7th, 2015

mtngoats-beat-the-champ

A concept album about the pre-WWE wrestling world of the ‘70s and ‘80s justified by heady Postmodernist quotes by French philosopher Roland Barthes, who summarized the appeal of professional wrestling in his landmark essay collection, Mythologies, as “What wrestling is above all meant to portray is a purely moral concept: that of justice.” That’s the recipe to wind up sounding like a pretentious twit. The lyrics come across as comedy. The music being incredibly inconsistent doesn’t help matters along.

3 out of 5 stars


Young Fathers – White Men Are Black Too

Released April 7th, 2015

youngfathers-white-men-are-black-too

After last year’s surprise Mercury Prize win for their album Dead, you might expect the band to have suffered follow-up anxiety. And guess what, they did. White Men Are Black Men Too represents the band’s return to the studio following the sudden groundswell of international interest. Young Fathers stand at the precipice of striding in success, or tumbling back into obscurity. They seemingly chose obscurity, the album consists of monotone noise. The band fails to make a significant statement of their immediate necessity with this sophomore effort. Too much fluff surrounds the high points and the vintage fuzz aesthetic clouds the entire record. The strongest tracks never eclipse the highlights of Dead.

1 out of 5 stars


Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp

Released April 7th, 2015

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Katie Crutchfield grew up in Alabama, naming her project after Waxahatchee Creek, where her parents have a house on a lake and where she’s made a lot of her music. She’s in Philadelphia now, an East Coast city that’s cheaper than New York and that allows for more time to make music and just live. Ivy Tripp, her third album as Waxahatchee, features songs that are more cohesive and accomplished than previous releases. In a statement about the album, Crutchfield said the title of the record is “just 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.” She added: “I have thought of it like this: Cerulean Salt is a solid and Ivy Tripp is a gas.”  The one thing that can drag Ivy Tripp down a little is that the lyrics are at times a bit vague or interchangeable. As it result the songs have difficulty progressing. It turns out discussing emptiness can maybe feel a bit empty, and the words here don’t always hit as hard as some of her prior work.

3 out of 5 stars


White Noise Sound – Like a Pyramid of Fire

Released April 7th, 2015

whitenoisesound-like-a-pyramid-of-fire

White noise sound is, let’s be blunt, rather boring. You’ve got to be some kind of sadist to actually enjoy listening to it and if for some reason you don’t know what it is, hit the search engines and find some, but don’t say you weren’t warned. Formed in 2006, the Welsh outfit came together through natural evolution more than anything else, as various local acts joined ranks. In 2010 they released an acclaimed debut described in some quarters as “psychedelia meeting krautrock”. The album is the sound of confusion as experiments begin to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another. The vocals often buried in the mix to the point of subliminal messages.

3.5 out of 5 stars


The Lilac Time – No Sad Songs

Released April 7th, 2015

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Every once in a while, an artist that seemed to have faded quietly into permanent obscurity can summon up a late career renaissance. One that brings to mind the phrase “Don’t call it a comeback” and in this case you really shouldn’t unless you call more boring “adult contemporary” a comeback. Personally I consider it a throwback…

3 out of 5 stars


This Is The Kit – Bashed Out

Released April 7th, 2015

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This Is The Kit leader Kate Stables’ singing is neither loud nor showy, and is all the better for it, capable of both soothing tones and quietly arresting clarity; perfect for folk and she wraps it around oddly compelling parables about weather, sailing and nutrition. Kate Stables is not someone completely beholden to the past and the purity of folk music, that timeless oral tradition which needed clarity in order to be passed down through generations. In This Is The Kit she and her band have evolved, slowly but surely, over a number of years to the point where it would be a pointless to call Bashed Out “folk music”. It pulls off being both unsettling and welcoming in a satisfying way.

3 out of 5 stars


Toro y Moi – What For?

Released April 7th, 2015

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South Carolina’s Chaz Bundick has always had a chameleonic quality, he is much more of a shape shifter than people give him credit for, yet Toro Y Moi has been labeled and pigeonholed with the best of them. Which is probably a good thing as nobody wants the word ‘chillwave’ following them around. The 28-year-old’s fourth Toro y Moi album What For? brings more change and falters along the way. What For? doesn’t address much of anything directly, and that’s an issue on a record which tries to make Bundick’s chops as a songwriter and a lyricist a focal point. What For? is so passive it leaves your system the moment you’re done with it. It’s an unproductive shrug of an album that can be charming and pleasant if you don’t think too hard about it. But it’s also devoid of new or interesting ideas. Bundick’s lyrics don’t help either. He could easily be anyone, speaking about any situation. The result is an album that feels inauthentic and calculated.

2 out of 5 stars


Flo Rida – My House

Released April 7th, 2015

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I leave this short like the album. It’s fun house party music. It’s not particularly amazing but it’s not bad either. The seven songs are all three minutes long to maximize radio and licensing placements which they are sure to get.

3.5 out of 5 stars


East India Youth – Culture of Volume

Released April 7th, 2015

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East India Youth (William Doyle) first gained attention with 2014’s Total Strife Forever, an album of atmospheric pieces melded with racing kick drums and synthesizers. The problem with releasing such a critically acclaimed first album is that it sets expectations. Culture of Volume is different enough you could at times think it was a different artist altogether. The departure is daring, rather than choosing not to simply rehash what made Total Strife Forever a success. The album is somewhat held back by his erratic singing with wildly contrasting tones juxtaposed in uncomfortable places. Doyle is a talented producer, but on Culture of Volume there’s a sense that he is trying to turn the focus onto himself as a frontman.  Unfortunately, he isn’t a very engaging one working in the territory of meandering crooning and overly long electro ballads.

3 out of 5 stars


Hannah Cohen – Pleasure Boy

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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Hannah Cohen’s second album, Pleasure Boy, brings atmospheric, tense synths and dissonant effects for a cinematic feel on the collection of lyrically striking torch songs. This is an album brimming with ideas, that shows off the range of Cohen’s vocals, a clear, bright delivery that’s consistently excellent. The melancholy lyrics and feeling to this album is rather unrestrained, but the music itself is too constrained to match. She has a remarkable talent and would be better served pushing the music to be more experimental, while remaining accessible. This is nicely arranged, pop music, with well handled production. Everything is crisp and precise and to the albums detriment the songs are structurally predictable. There is potential here for sure, and with the right producer that would push the music boundaries a bit further, she could become something special.

3.5 out of 5 stars


The Lucid Dream – The Lucid Dream

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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The Lucid Dream is the band, album title and state of consciousness the music is reaching for. The Lucid Dream is their self-titled sophomore album. After being immediately turned off by the opening “riff” of the 8 minute album opener featuring screechy guitars with too much reverb…a few minutes in it turns into a real song. One that has a nice driving beat and catchy bass line. The music to the song “Cold Killer” is fantastic with a surf beat, driven punchy bass line, atmospheric guitars, and airy vocals. Then there are songs like “Moonstruck” which is almost satisfying, but it’s a song that sounds like it’s building to something, then never gets there. Overall its an inconsistent record with some solid music and a few songs going overlong. There’s little doubting their talent and potential, but they could use some guidance for sure.

3 out of 5 stars


Marching Church – This World Is Not Enough

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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This World Is Not Enough, Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s solo debut, sees the unsmiling frontman stray ever further from his hardcore roots. Pretentious and less than riveting, the album sounds like someone try to emulate elements their dad’s Cure albums in the most horrible garage band sort of way. The recording quality is poor both in sound (it really sounds like a garage) and in its musicianship. In what could have been a tight groove, the loose recordings feature drums that don’t quite hit the pocket and synch with the solid catchy bass lines, which are the only thing of note here.

1 out of 5 stars


Violent Reaction – Marching On

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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The UK’s Violent Reaction are certainly Marching On with their new release. Mostly with a bunch of tired cliches of punk, rock, blast beats, etc. For the most part it is a fairly standard punk rock affair with nearly all songs under the two minute mark. And while the opening track sucks, the rest of the album is enjoyable to listen to, they just aren’t bringing anything new the table.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Ludacris – Ludaversal

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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Recently introduced as “one of the most successful rappers of 2001” Ludacris is back with his ninth album Ludaversal. While it was meant as a joke, it does seem he’s a little unsure of what year it is. With that said, can we all just agree, unless you are recording a comedy album, skits before/between/after songs are sooooo 90’s and ruin the flow of an album. Seriously please stop. Ludaversal, is his first release in five years, and it’s a not-very-subtle attempt at testing his staying power. However, despite production from current-day heavy hitters, he still comes off like a relic from the past, the class clown who never quite grew up. When they don’t land, the jokes and double-entendres are egregious, landing with a virtually audible thud. The songs themselves aren’t truly bad, they just aren’t great, leading me to think at this point in his career he should stick to his acting, and put the occasional song on a soundtrack.

3 out of 5 stars


Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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Kintsugi may very well go down as one of the most depressing rock albums of all time because it actually captures the sound of a rock band giving up completely. Recent interviews brings to light what we’ve already known with Gibbard lightly dancing around the accepted fact that 2011’s Codes & Keys was a terrible album. Everyone hated it, fans and critics alike (apparently the band itself) and it significantly damaged their reputation. So here there are and rather than back with something to prove, Kintsugi is a flat, lifeless disc, bland in the worst possible way. Filled with detached generic sentiments that lack any real punch or consideration. The songs simply don’t have a pulse. The writing here is so poorly executed one has to wonder whether if Gibbard even cares anymore. Because from this perspective, this is the sound of Gibbard simply giving up.

2 out of 5 stars


The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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Never discount the effects of lowered expectations. The Prodigy’s sixth studio album The Day Is My Enemy may be their most visceral and incendiary record yet…certainly since Fat of the Land. Their releases may have become ever more sporadic as the years have progressed from their mid 90s peak, however, The Prodigy have always been direct and aggressive and these qualities are featured in abundance here. Rolling breakbeats, shouted vocals with little meaning, while not abundant with pop thrills here or moments of light, the album is in no way inaccessible. In many ways The Day Is My Enemy is the quintessential Prodigy album.

4 out of 5 stars


Death Grips – The Powers That B

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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Death Grips are not a band, although they’re often treated like one. By their own description “Death Grips was and always has been a conceptual art exhibition anchored by sound and vision above and beyond a ‘band’.”  The long anticipated double album by Death Grips The Powers That B is finally here.  the first disc (Niggas on the Moon) already released back in June of 2014, is not the finest thing Death Grips have ever put their name to, it had a few solid moments and remains to be unique among their peers. While the second Jenny Death is better. A lot better in fact. “I Break Mirrors With My Face In The United States” is the “band” at their best. With other solid entries in “Turned Off” and “Why A Bitch Gotta Lie”.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Prong – Songs From The Black Hole

Released Mar 31st, 2015

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Cover albums can often have tragic consequences, take for example: Queensryche’s odious Take Cover, or Rush’s ill advised Feedback for example. Tommy Victor refuses to fall into the abyss of abhorrent covers. Songs from the Black Hole justifies itself first and foremost by bypassing the obvious, picked over material in favor of deeper cuts by the artists being covered. Prong have done a remarkable job of adding a consistency to tracks that in most cases wouldn’t work together in an album format. As they near their thirty year mark as a band, this isn’t an album created by contractual obligations or a lack of ideas, it’s made out of reverence of the source material. They manage to add their distinctive stamp while keeping the heart of the originals, especially on tracks like the Butthole Surfers “Goofy’s Concern”. I for one would be thrilled to hear them throw their version into their live set. And, that’s saying something given the original has been a favorite of mine since it came out.

Track list:

01. Doomsday (Discharge cover)
02. Vision Thing (Sisters Of Mercy cover)
03. Goofy’s Concern (Butthole Surfers cover)
04. Kids Of The Black Hole (Adolecents cover)
05. Bars (Black Flag cover)
06. Seeing Red (Killing Joke cover)
07. Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Husker Du cover)
08. Give Me The Cure (Fugazi cover)
09. Banned in D.C. (Bad Brains cover)
10. Cortez The Killer (Neil Young cover)

4.5 out of 5 stars


Strung Out – Transmission.Alpha.Delta

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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Transmission.Alpha.Delta  is the 8th studio album from California punks Strung Out. While it may be easy for the casual listener to write off the band with the statement “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in regard to their consistency.  They are hardly resting on laurels or phoning it in, the band continue to find ways to deconstruct their sound and expand its parameters. The guitar work throughout Transmission.Alpha.Delta is sublime. Their breakneck melodic punk/thrash hybrid sound has stood the test of time for over 20 years, and the instrumentation is as intense and frenetic as ever.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Therapy? – Disquiet

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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Therapy? are in their 25th year of a remarkable career. With the release of Disquiet, the group from Northern Ireland have 14 studio albums since their inception back in 1990. While they may not be climbing the charts the way they were in the mid-nineties, they continue to please their fan base with solid albums and tours. Frontman and principal writer Andy Cairns spoke in the build up to it’s release that Therapy? were returning to writing songs with rock melodies and big choruses and saw this album as a sort of Troublegum (their second and most revered release) follow up 20 years down the line. A lofty goal that is mostly met. It’s certainly the most accessible and radio friendly album for a while that the band have churned out.

4 out of 5 stars


Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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Australian Courtney Barnett’s skill is in making the pedestrian sound poignant. Everyday observations and mundane afterthoughts become focal points: A young man adrift ditches work mid-commute, a swimmer passes out trying to impress the person in the next lane, a couple goes house-hunting and ends up peering into the life of a widow…ordinary moments thrust into the limelight on Barnett’s full-length debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. This is a debut like few others. In fact, it is easily and will continue to remain one of the years best albums. Sit is an exposition of her morose outlook and caustic wit. Barnett is a phenomenal musician, but she’s an even better storyteller.

5 out of 5 stars


Chastity Belt – Time To Go Home

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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Beneath the drunken mayhem, that leads to serious self-reflection and earnest inquiries about being a functioning human, the female foursome known as Chastity Belt’s second album Time to Go Home confronts the reality of living for the party and life after it’s done. Chastity Belt who present themselves as young, female fuck-ups; The women who get too drunk, date men who are bad for them, who don’t have their shit together and are unapologetic about it, who preached the joys of fucking boys on the dance floor and shouted “Pussy Weed Beer” on their last album No Regrets, explore themes of boredom, excess, promiscuity and anxiety with a certain melancholy that articulates the ambivalent attitudes of many post-adolescents on Time to Go Home. The album is a well composed record about confronting your fuck-ups, but it’s also a record about feeling numb to them.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Mini Mansions – The Great Pretenders

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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On their ’60s-pop influenced self-titled 2010 debut, Los Angeles trio Mini Mansions combined the druggy whimsy with meandering melodies and surreal lyrics, now in 2015 they are back with more of the same on their second album, The Great Pretenders. An apt title as they prove they are in fact great at pretending to be a 60s psychedelic pop band. The songwriting is really solid, it just sounds very dated. Which is exactly what they were going for, but for me personally makes it rather uninteresting. However, if this is your thing this is about as good as it gets.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Errors – Lease of Life

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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A lot of bands attempt the retro Eighties synth sound end up rendering the whole thing a boring pastiche. Errors is no different. On their fourth album Lease of Life they got lost in the Eighties and never find their way out. Caught somewhere between instrumental electronica, indie rock, techno and pop, the Glaswegian trio sound more dated than progressing.

3 out of 5 stars


Laura Marling – Short Movie

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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From the rambling opening track one immediately get s the impression that Short Movie is the sound of Laura Marling’s identity crisis. The songs are the most diverse collection she’s done yet, and while they don’t all succeed, there are some truly killer riffs mixed in among the cliche ridden ones. “False Hope” and a few of the more rocking numbers are stronger entries that show off her drawling voice in its best light. Short Movie is forever searching for something that can’t be articulated. Marling has always held her audience back at arms length. Short Movie is the product of a genuine artist losing faith in herself, hitting the reset button, and returning anyway. The pacing of the album suffers from inconsistency such that by the end of the album, but you get the feeling that she has no idea where she belongs. It isn’t unusual for a singer-songwriter to hit a mid-career slump. What is unusual is to hit the slump before you’re in your mid-20s.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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Earl Sweatshirt’s latest album, I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside will come as a letdown.  The album’s aesthetic is still based in the ambling beats, messy synth counterpoint and off-jazz chording. Melodies are oblique or hardly there, with keyboard leads diced up and strewn across tracks in fragments. The drumbeats are low and fuzzed out halfway into oblivion. It wheezes along like a broken man in an iron lung. Earl speaks as someone beaten down, disinterested, measured and dark, unhealthy and lost.

2 out of 5 stars


Eskimo Callboy – Crystals

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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On their first two offerings German sextet Eskimo Callboy clearly crossed the line into parody from the start. Their third album Crystals, sees the band get their priorities in order and see their convoluted mish-mash of components gel better while keeping the heart of their identity. From the very first track ‘Pitch Blease’, they lay the blueprints for the album; Over-driven guitars, and breakneck drums behind an assortment of screams and auto-tuned clean vocals. From there, it’s really a matter of lather, rinse and repeat, with slight variations from one song to the next.  The benefit is the formula is that Crystals is their most focused and consistent album to date. Eskimo Callboy remains cheesy as hell, grammatically incorrect at times and contains the usual themes of partying, girls and alcohol. Basically a parody of Linkin Park but with lyrics that show they don’t take life quite as seriously.

3 out of 5 stars


Taylor Davis – Taylor Davis

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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Davis best known for her violin covers of music from video games featured on her YouTube channel “ViolinTay”, where she also features performances of her own arrangements of music from films and musicals has released her full-length debut (though technically her seventh album) of her own original compositions. She has been slowly filtering out original compositions on her YouTube for the past two years. The album is arranged and produced by Adam Gubman who also co-wrote ten of the twelve songs for the album which was crowd funded on PledgeMusic (achieving its funding goal in about a week). The music itself is fairly standard “contemporary” classical. While it is pleasant to listen to, there is nothing particularly new or earth shattering happening here.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Smallpools – LOVETAP!

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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When it comes to music there is a shallow end of the pool, where formulaic pop music lives. Smallpools is clearly in the shallow end. The tracks are upbeat, and cliche ridden; a collection of well crafted, overly pretty, indie pop boy band songs. With Zayn leaving One Direction, maybe this album has a chance of catching the reeling tweens it’s aiming for. If this kind of mindless pop is your thing, this is about as good as it gets. For those of you that hate radio pop, or are looking for an ounce of originality move along…

3.5 out of 5 stars


Big Data – 2.0

Released Mar 20th, 2015

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After their first EP 1.0 yielded a chart topping single “Dangerous” featuring Joy wave (also featured on this album) Brooklyn based electronic music project helmed by producer Alan Wilkis, Big Data have released their debut full length album 2.0. The album features a guest artist on nearly every track mostly providing vocals. It’s a strong collection of electronic almost industrial synth music with a commercial pop flavor. Imagine Nine Inch Nails music with someone like Christina Aguilera singing.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Action Bronson – Mr. Wonderful

Released Mar 24th, 2015

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The Queens Action Bronson’s major label debut Mr. Wonderful is lengthy and random. In what appears to be an effort to broaden his appeal Bronson is singing more, rapping a little less, and allowing stretches of instrumental space. The result is perhaps alienating what fan base he already has. Bronson’s singing is labored and a little strained, and at odds with the ease with which he raps. Mr. Wonderful is a multi-producer eclectic affair that jumps around as a result. Notably Bronson’s eclecticism plays out at the expense of album continuity. There are some standout tracks like “Actin’ Crazy”, “Falconry”, and “A Light in the Addict” (because who doesn’t love a Shel Silverstein reference).

3.5 out of 5 stars


Wand – Golem

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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Los Angeles grunge psych-rock group Wand’s sophomore album, Golem, is a lackadaisical, meandering record that’s pointing all directions at once. For a band influenced by LARPing and Final Fantasy, fittingly Hanson says that if Wand had a musical philosophy, it would be to “make as much stuff as possible in whatever form.” I can’t say it is particularly successful and the grungy quality to the guitar is hard to wash off, but I’ve certainly been subjected to worse.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Sleeping with Sirens – Madness

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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Madness is the fourth full-length studio album by Sleeping with Sirens. According to a review by Radio.com, the album has “empowering lyrics and anthem-like sing-along choruses” and is “massive, emotional, and speaks directly to disaffected youth and others who’ve been told they’ll never amount to anything.”  While I’m not sure I agree, and terrible album cover aside, on this album Sleeping With Sirens have tried to appeal to every group that has ever taken an interest in their sound, creating a disorienting, cluttered set of songs that lacks any definitive direction. Over the years the band’s sound has shifted from straightforward post-hardcore to something more accessible to a pop audience, but Madness is a muddled attempt at fusing both sounds within a single album. The result is a collection of watered down pseudo-pop tracks, incorporating a number of monotonous drum samples, and electronic effects to draw attention to the production sheen that exists to make the songs more palatable to casual listeners.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Moonspell – Extinct

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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Extinct is the eleventh full-length album by the Portuguese goth metal band Moonspell. The album starts with a tight riff and doesn’t let up as it progresses. Their sound featuring hints of Type O Negative and early Queensryche (with a slightly more metal side). It’s a nice consistent album that any fan of the genre should warm to quickly.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Mark Knopfler – Tracker

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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Tracker is Mark Knopfler’s eighth studio (non-soundtrack) set since 1996, which is two more than his old band churned out in their 13 year run. The Dire Straits years that put him on the map get smaller in the rear view mirror with every solo release and on this one there are few traces left of the old days. Aside from the songs being a touch too long, it is more of what we have come to expect from his solo efforts.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Shit & Shine – 54 Synth-Brass 38 Metal Guitar 65 Cathedral

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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When it comes to this band the mantra is: “Always expect the unexpected from Shit & Shine”. Summarizing the clatter of Shit & Shine could take hours. And while I would like to go with the adage: If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. I will at least keep it brief. The new album 54 Synth-Brass 38 Metal Guitar 65 Cathedral has a handful of half-formed ideas around blurring genre lines. A lot of Shit and very little Shine.

1 out of 5 stars


Modest Mouse – Strangers to Ourselves

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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The band’s long-awaited sixth album appears after a gap of roughly eight years. Which means Modest Mouse have been working on their new album for longer than many bands have existed. Strangers to Ourselves plays like a lullaby; one that is boring and will definitely put you to sleep. The record feels labored and lacking in energy even when they try to pick up the pace. You’d think they would be well rested after so much time. Traces Modest Mouse of old occur, but they are remnants tried on for size to see if they still fit, and they don’t.

2 out of 5 stars


Milk & Bone – Little Mourning

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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It’s hard to see why Milk & Bone, the Montreal electro-pop duo, composed of Laurence Lafond-Beaulne and Camille Poliquin, is clicking with audiences outside their native Québec. Milk & Bone’s debut album, Little Mourning, is a collection of tracks that straddles acoustic simplicity and shimmering electronica. There are not any tracks that scream “standout” or “single material”. Not that it’s terrible, it’s just not that good.

3 out of 5 stars


Pyramids – A Northern Meadow

Released Mar 17th, 2015

pyramid-a-northern-meadow

Denton, Texas’ Pyramids jettison in and out of the fringes of metal,  through black metal and shoegaze reference points. Pyramids return with their sophomore album, A Northern Meadow. Like the songs themselves, the titles are too long. With entries like “The Earth Melts Into Red Gashes Like the Mouths of Whales” and “I Have Four Sons, All Named for Men We Lost to War”. Meadow has no personality as every track is nearly identical in sound formula and execution. They all fall flat with repetitive guitar riffs and the same sequenced drum track chopped into slightly differing progressions.

3 out of 5 stars


Ranger – Where Evil Dwells

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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Helsinki speed metal quartet Ranger take riffs and speed very seriously and little else. On their full-length debut, Where Evil Dwells, they reveal some of their most gripping riffs. “Phantom Soldier” is one of their strongest entries oozing hints of old school trash like Exodus, Overkill, and Slayer. A blitz of light-speed solos, breakneck rhythms, and gang vocals; the Finnish know and love their metal.

4 out of 5 stars


Glen Hansard – It Was Triumph We Once Proposed…Songs Of Jason Molina

Released Mar 17th, 2015

hansard-it-was-triumph-we-once-proposed-songs-of-jason-molina

When Jason Molina finally succumbed to alcoholism and passed away two years ago at the age of 39, it wasn’t necessarily a shock. It’s only fitting that a fan would step up to pay homage to the songwriter. A decade before Glen Hansard was so enamored with Molina’s work that he invited him to Dublin. He wrote Molina a fan letter and was floored when Molina actually wrote back. The two forged a friendship that would extend over their careers. They toured and even recorded together. On this tribute release Hansard displays just how deep his affinity for his friend’s music runs. Each of the five songs on the EP is drastically rearranged from its original version while keeping within the confines of Molina’s aesthetic. In short Hansard adds polish but keeps the heart. Part of this can be attributed to his backing band of musicians who played with Molina. In many ways, this is Hansard’s final fan letter which plays with an admirable sense of restraint and tact.

4 out of 5 stars


Native Lights – Native Lights

Released Mar 17th, 2015

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The shoegaze revival is truly in full swing. With the reformation of My Bloody Valentine a few years back, then Slowdive, Swervedriver and Ride added their presence to the abyss. It’s not reunions of the old guard, however, recently several bands like Spectres have taken  the blueprints laid down nearly 30 years ago and run with them. Native Lights is a venture that finds itself somewhere between the old guard and the new. Native Lights’ use of space and floating dynamics and pacing leads some of this debut to  become a bit too hypnotic. As a result some of the songs become limp and lifeless. Their influences occasionally overpowering themselves with elements of My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse and Loop drifting in and out of focus throughout.

3 out of 5 stars


Blind Mice – Sunday Songs

Released Mar 17th, 2015

blindmice-sunday-songs

The six-track EP Sunday Songs is the sophomore EP by Blind Mice who hail from New Bedford, Massachusetts. The band comprised of AJ Mills (Guitar), Jo-Jo Rose (Bass), Mike Ashley (Drums), and Ross Nunes (Vocals) puts forth a nicely polished effort that should appeal to most classic pop punk or alt-rock fans. While there isn’t really anything new to hear here it is a confident collection of catchy pop punk songs. And though probably not meant to be a reference of self-awareness to quote the chorus of their song “Fifteen” their music is “More of the same but you sing along anyway”. That being said, Blind Mice are at their best when they do venture out of the formula a bit, like the clean guitar riff on “Barbara’s Bar”, or the guitar riff on “Drifter”. This is a band that is surely on their way up, and you should be hearing more from.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Marina and the Diamonds – Froot

Released Mar 17th, 2015

Marina_and_the_Diamonds_-_Froot_(album)

Froot is the third studio album by the 29-year-old Welsh singer Marina Diamandis, professionally known as Marina and the Diamonds. The release date was originally scheduled for April 3 which was moved up due to content leaks. The untamed by genre, confused album gives the impression Marina herself isn’t entirely sure how to present the cacophony of ideas clashing in her mind. It’s not that it isn’t good in places, it’s just still hard to get a sense of who Marina really is, which leaves this Froot still a little unripe. This sentiment summed up in her lyrics “I’m never gonna give you anything you expect/ You think I’m like the others, well you need to get your eyes checked,” on one of the stronger tracks “Can’t Pin Me Down”. Other stand outs are “I’m A Ruin”, “Gold”, “Weeds”, and what I consider the best track on the album, “Better Than That”.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Harm’s Way – Rust

Released Mar 10th, 2015

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Dark, brooding, heavy, sludge like the bile spewed by the singer, Harm’s Way is a four-piece death/hardcore band out of Chicago. The outfit’s latest offering was recorded at Brick Top Recording by Andy Nelson, mixed at God City Studios by Kurt, and mastered by Brad Boatright at Audiosiege, resulting in a 10-track beatdown that is sure to leave listeners bludgeoned.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Evans The Death – Expect Delays

Released Mar 10th, 2015

evans-expect-delays

Evans The Death’s second album is a bleaker, more resigned and bitter affair. Katherine Whitaker’s vocals become less delicate and more angry as the album progresses. As she sings about never being enough, it’s hard to tell who she’s angrier at society or herself. It’s a wholly relatable album for anyone a bit miserable. If there’s a delay to be had, it’s probably the fact that it takes a few listens to warm to the album as a whole. Recorded over a three-year span during which the band members suffered through poverty and breakups, Expect Delays trades the fire of youth for the weary desperation that comes with growing older. This is calamity-packed pop music much like growing older gets better as it goes.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Cancer Bats – Searching For Zero

Released Mar 10th, 2015

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It’s been almost a decade since Toronto ‘s Cancer Bats first came snarling into the hardcore punk scene. On their fifth album Searching For Zero the band have worked hard to build upon their sound while exploring some new avenues. The resulting record is the sound of a band wrestling to re-engage with the reasons they started in the first place. At times they pull it off convincingly and others they seem to flounder a bit.

3.5 out of 5 stars


ANAMAI – Sallows

Released Mar 10th, 2015

animai-sallows

Anna Mayberry’s work in her minimalist folk project Anamai differs a great deal from what she does in HSY. Mayberry first introduced the project in late 2013 with a short demo cassette and now has released Sallows, Anamai’s first proper full-length album. The minimalist project features barely any percussion distant heavily reverberated choral vocals on top of over ringing droning synths and guitar. Where the album falls short is that it is nearly impossible to differentiate between the songs. They all sound essentially the same especially with the vocal melodies (though I hesitate to pluralize that as it feels like a single melody for much of the album). The music follows such a similar minimalist format, that when a tambourine does slip in it feels like an intrusion rather than add anything to the song.

3 out of 5 stars


Aero Flynn – Aero Flynn

Released Mar 10th, 2015

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Josh Scott, who performs as Aero Flynn released his self-titled debut this week. Scott began his career in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Scott is revered in the Wisconsin music scene that yielded Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, Field Report, and so many other bands. Overall the album feels a bit disjointed, and has a tendency to vamp on some phrases too long. But its eclectic mix of influences and experimentation are refreshing to hear. A little bit more refinement (or maybe just the right producer) and this is the type of music that could really breakout in the future.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Firefly Burning – Skeleton Hill

Released Mar 10th, 2015

skeleton-hill

Firefly Burning (earlier performances as just Firefly) new album Skeleton Hill is finally seeing the light of day, to some much deserved attention. It’s been three years since the band’s debut album Lightships and nearly two years after Skeleton Hill was actually recorded. Based in East London, Firefly Burning are a five piece ensemble with versatile musical backgrounds. Firefly Burning embrace sudden shifts in tempo, unusual time signatures, superb vocal harmonies, space and dynamics. They feature unorthodox arrangements drawing inspiration from everything from folk, gamelan, chamber music and jazz, while crafting it into their own world that is decidedly pop oriented.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born To Lose You

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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I Wasn’t Born to Lose You is the fifth studio album by British band Swervedriver. The shoegaze reunion wave continues. Swervedriver released four albums in their original run between 1989 and 1998. They went on hiatus for a decade before reuniting in 2008. They appeared on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” in 2012, and a year later, they shared their single “Deep Wound” included on the album. As far as comeback albums it hardly makes a whimper, the primary reason being they lack their own identity as a band. Not that it’s bad per se, it’s just not great, as they sound like a poor mans Foo Fighters on this disk.

3 out of 5 stars


Purity Ring – Another Eternity

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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The Edmonton duo Megan James and Corin Roddick staying the course on their sophomore album Another Eternity. Their often imitated (but never quite successfully) brand of electronic pop (branded: Future Pop) still rolls forward with interesting beats, ethereal vocals, trilling pianos and swelling synths. All built around a loose framework of hip hop, r&b, club, indie and pop influences.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Pile – You’re Better Than This

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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In certain parts of Boston, Pile are beheld with the kind of reverence traditionally reserved for local sporting heroes and/or minor deities. Their PR circuit is just about every other indie rock band coming out of the Boston area. Envied by their peers (they’re referenced in a Krill EP title, and Speedy Ortiz is always ready to rep them as the best the scene has to offer)…the lesser-knowns that the big-wigs are constantly trying to emulate and are idolized by a growing army of fans. Pile is a band’s band. The kind of band who’d take a pretty sounding instrumental and give it a name like “Fuck the Police.” Adorning the record’s cover are cardboard scraps painted to hold the visages of evil and/or depressed clowns as well as a scattered arrangement of plastic trashbags. Pile’s pile is indicative of their trashy sound. It’s a particularly uneasy listen. And despite their street creds and growing fan base based on this album, I’m of the opinion they should add Steamy to the front of their name.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Of Montreal – Aureate Gloom

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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Of Montreal’s 13th album Aureate Gloom Barnes wonders if perhaps the natural order of the world is imbalance. After years of struggling with an imbalance of brain chemicals, drugs, and love, he now deals with the separation of he and his wife on Aureate Gloom. Barnes tempers his feelings with melancholy, and instead of some catastrophic metaphor, we get: “You never did me wrong, we just been together too long, babe.” The chameleonic Of Montreal migrates as erratically as the tempo shifts and time changes on Aureate Gloom, so much that it’s hard to find their natural center. So, our attention spans drift away.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Moon Duo – Shadow Of The Sun

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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Psychedelia either elevates you into higher consciousness, or it lulls you to sleep. With Shadow of the Sun, their third full-length effort, Moon Duo often slip into the latter. Although Shadow of the Sun is rooted in psychedelia, there are elements of proto-punk all over it, darkening the songs and making them more human. None of the songs on Shadow of the Sun sound new, the familiar sounds create an atmosphere of safety that prevents it from being truly noteworthy.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – After

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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On Lady Lamb the Beekeeper’s debut, 2013’s Ripely Pine Aly Spaltro was still a teenager. On her second album, After, Spaltro older and wiser hits one of the unexpected truths of your twenties: that embracing your repressed childlike instincts is one of the more adult things you can do. Her folky indie rock and quirky lyrics have a maturity that belies her age. While the slower numbers are a nice ride, the more uptempo songs are when Spaltro is at her strongest. “Milk Duds” is among her strongest song to date.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Kaki King – The Neck Is A Bridge To The Body

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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The Neck is a Bridge to the Body is a soundtrack for a music/ borderline performance art piece described as a new kind of guitar exploration with live music and video projection.

“What sets this show apart is that for the first time the guitar itself is being used as a projection screen. The show opens as a creation story where the notes and sounds create the images. It then broadens into an exploration of the guitar where we learn that it is shape shifter, it has travelled all over the world, it has a background with friends and family, and it even has an internal skeleton and nervous system.

One of the things I’ve tried to do in my career as a guitarist is to push the limits of the guitar far beyond what is expected. I’m always employing new techniques, tunings, and approaches in order to coax out sounds that haven’t been heard before. This show is an extension and exploration of that philosophy. If the guitar can show any picture or wear any kind of skin then how will I relate to it as an instrument that I’m so comfortable with, and is it possible for an audience to see such a familiar object in an entirely new way?”

The album as a soundtrack/souvenir of the performance it works well, Kaki coaxes sounds seldom if ever heard from a guitar, but a large part of the work here is also visuals of the performance which is lacking here. It is still a worthy listen, but I highly recommend the seeing the show live.

4 out of 5 stars


Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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For the uninitiated, Ghostpoet (Obaro Ejimiwe) is one of Britain’s best young hip hop artists, delivering a blend of socio-political street poetry. Ejimiwe describes Ghostpoet as “a chance for me to mumble over quirky sounds,” but in reality there’s a lot more to his music than that. Ejimiwe’s third album Shedding Skin is aptly titled. His previous two (2011’s Peanut Butter Blues and Melancholy Jam, and 2013’s Some Say I So I Say Light) rode an uneasy wave of sampled strings, beats and bleeps, this album sees him shrugging off these elements in favor of a full-band. The shift to a more conventional band interestingly makes the music less traditional sounding in the genre and works well here.

4 out of 5 stars


Gateway Drugs – Magick Spells

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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Gateway Drugs is a Los Angeles-based band comprised of three siblings (all children of The Knack’s Prescott Niles) and another non-family musician. Their debut full-length, Magick Spells, is a sleezy, punky, pop album that though different reminds me of the Thrill Kill Kult’s Hit and Run Holiday in its overall vibe. The band delivers dark, heavy rock that borders on noisy and psychedelic but always stops short of losing control. The album wanders through a few different parts of the band’s identity without feeling too scattered, and makes you wonder what they may touch on next.

4.5 out of 5 stars


EULA – Wool Sucking

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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The Brooklyn trio EULA’s sophomore album, Wool Sucking, is rough around the edges but in the good way. At its core it’s an album of love songs, or at least the relationship between desire and destruction. This is an interesting album that I truly enjoyed, yet have a difficult time trying to describe…So I will leave it at this, go listen to it.

4 out of 5 stars


Echo Lake – Era

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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The English band Echo Lake’s second album Era narrowly avoids the sophomore slump. Despite continuing the recent trend of albums starting our with a minute long intro of a single synth note. Once it gets going its ok, but that the best you can say. The really dense layered shoegaze music features breezy guitar riffs and airy vocals. The songs are all over long, but the voice of Linda Jarvis will keep you listening.

3 out of 5 stars


Dorthia Cottrell – Dorthia Cottrell

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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Apart from fans of Windhand, the Virginia-based doom-metal band she anchors as singer and lyricist, Dorthia Cottrell is an unknown. Her new debut solo album “Dorthia Cottrell” probably won’t do much to change that. It’s a collection of foreboding (gotta keep the doom theme afterall) folk-blues songs with little more than acoustic guitar and multi-tracked harmonies, and pedal steel conjuring some atmosphere, that plays out like a soundtrack to a spaghetti western. The slow rolling twangy songs may show a slightly softer side of Cottrell, but without much variation. The songs here are virtually interchangeable and feel lacking.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Cannibal Ox – Blade Of The Ronin

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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Vordul and Vast grew up about twenty blocks away from each other, Vast on 115th Street in Spanish Harlem and Vordul near Harlem Hospital around 135th. That sort of physical proximity caused the two to initially gravitate toward each other. In 2001, the duo dropped their debut album, The Cold Vein, which turned the MCs into underground phenoms. Cold Vein was — and still is — lauded as highly influential in New York’s hip-hop scene, a project that gives an intensely powerful account of life in New York and shows off Vordul and Vast’s lyrical prowess. Cannibal Ox then grew scarce with the two working on solo projects. Cannibal Ox hadn’t returned for a sophomore effort until now…14 years later. It’s safe to say hip-hop has changed in 14 years, and while the music tracks/beats beneath may feel and sound current, the vocals don’t. What starts out promising quickly devolves into the generic.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Brodinski – Br∂v∂

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

bradinski

Frenchman Louis Rogé under the moniker Brodiniski’s debut album Br∂v∂ (Brava) is a bit overcrowded. Nearly every song features a guest rapper/vocalist over his blend of trap, techno, robotic, noisy, electronica. The music itself is decent in its blending of styles and feel, but where it falls flat is how one-dimensional it is. Every song essentially sounds the same. The vocalists are interchangeable and forgettable, the music follows the same formula. With more variation the music could top notch, but sadly this falls short.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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For her fifth studio album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, Brandi Carlile left her major label deal with Sony for a new home on Dave Matthews’ ATO Records. The album mostly co-written with twin brothers Tim and Phil Hanseroth features a lot of vocal harmonies over their radio friendly folky, country-ish pop. Most of the songs are down tempo which overall hurts the albums appeal especially since her more upbeat songs are the better ones on the offering, especially the punky “Mainstream Kid”.

3 out of 5 stars


AJR – Living Room

Released Mar 3rd, 2015

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The indie-pop trio AJR debut album, Living Room is a 13-track album written, recorded and produced by the band in their living room in their New York City apartment. Composed of brothers Adam, Jack, and Ryan Met, their music style has been described as “eclectic”, combining elements of pop, doo-wop, electronic, and dubstep. While there are many bands that have pulled off large variations in style from one song to the next while still maintaining their own identity, what it amounts to here, however, is a really inconsistent pop album by a band still desperately searching for a voice/sound of their own. Each song here is a pale amalgam of the worst elements of pop. As such there is not much to like here unless you have really shitty taste in music.

1 out of 5 stars


Eternal Death – Eternal Death

Released Feb 24th, 2015

eternal-death

Over the course of a long career in pop music, Johan Angergård has tried his hand at many styles all of it mediocre. He’s done melancholic dream pop with Club 8, feedback noise pop with the Legends, and candy-sweet indie pop with Acid House Kings; now he’s trying out capital-“P” pop with Eternal Death working with vocalist Elin Berlin. We can only hope this album has an eternal death.

2 out of 5 stars


Lucern Raze – Stockholm 1

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Yeah its mediocre punk with a ton of reverb. Everything is distorted. There really isn’t much else to say…

3 out of 5 stars


Sumac – The Deal

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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In the five years since disbanding the Isis, Aaron Turner has broadened the scope of his work, offering a variety of sounds in numerous projects that range from the sludge punk weirdness of Old Man Gloom to the more pensive ambience of Mamiffer. The Deal the debut from his latest project, Sumac, offers Turner at his most sonically aggressive in years. The erratic journey of The Deal features inaudible vocals , that’s really just growling which becomes part of the music.

3 out of 5 stars


Kristin Diable – Create Your Own Mythology

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The sultry, soul drenched Southern drawl that was, and remains, the New Orleans’ based singer Kristin Diable’s calling card combines with a heavily reverbed, somewhat retro production here. Her style incorporates aspects of classic pop, swamp, jazzy rockabilly and smooth country that walks a line between Chris Isaak and Roy Orbison.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Fashawn – The Ecology

Released Feb 24th, 2015

fashawn-the-ecology
It’s been nearly six years since Fashawn dropped his debut LP, Boy Meets World, which heralded all types of potential. On his second full length album The Ecology, Fashawn builds on this foundation, expanding his oeuvre both sonically and lyrically. The bulk of The Ecology deals with the hardships and obstacles he’s surmounted to reach this point in his career. The middle of the album is the strongest with songs like, “Something To Believe In”, “To Be Young”, “Golden State of Mind”, and “Out the Trunk Out the Trunk”.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Ruby The Hatchet – Valley of the Snake

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Philadelphia’s psychedelic doombringers Ruby The Hatchet release their second full-length album, Valley of the Snake this week via Tee Pee Records. The band continues throwing their hat in the “female fronted retro doom rock” ring and attempt to distinguish themselves from the ever growing pack. Valley of the Snake comes with all the usual stylistic traits shared by similarly minded bands. Doomy groove guitar riffs, competent drumming, organ melodies and a competent if unremarkable vocalist, delivering lengthy songs on the upside of plodding. The ingredients are all there, but the finished product rarely rises above middle-of-the-road status.

3 out of 5 stars


Crypt Sermon – Out of the Garden

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Little heralded Crypt Sermon‘s debut Out of the Garden is a treasure trove of classic doom moments guaranteed to take the listener back to the “good old days” of the genre. The production isn’t the most dynamic out there, but it isn’t the kind of mix that pushes the listener away or causes ear fatigue.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Radical Dads – Universal Coolers

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Brooklyn three-piece Radical Dads  deliver loose poppy indie on their third full-length album, Universal Coolers.  This breezy release goes down pretty easy, but some listeners may be irked by the fact there is something left to be desired in terms of personality. The question, for Radical Dads more than anyone else: What makes this band distinct?

3.5 out of 5 stars


Diamond Rugs – Cosmetics

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Diamond Rugs’ M.O. for its second album was to stay the course. The indie supergroup—comprised of Deer Tick’s John McCauley and Robbie Crowell, The Black Lips’ former guitarist Ian St. Pé, Dead Confederate’s Hardy Morris, Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin and Six Finger Satellite’s Bryan Dufresne established itself as a snotty rock and roll group that hip indie fans called for a good time in 2012. Like its predecessor, Cosmetics has the sort of boozy, off-the-cuff swagger that quality musicians can give to this kind of part-time project. As with their debut, Cosmetics never takes itself too seriously and some of the tracks sound like fun garage bangers.

4 out of 5 stars


Big Dick – Disappointment

Released Feb 24th, 2015

bigdick-disappointment

Indie-punk duo Big Dick have returned with an all new album titled Disappointment. This is a follow up to the band’s 2013 self-titled debut and once again has been released through Dirt Cult Records. Before you question the band’s name and its meaning, just note it was taken from a NoMeansNo song title. So yeah, it’s meant to be taken that way. Cultivating their sound with just drums, bass, and dueling vocals, Big Dick really reaches back to 90s alternative rock styles while keeping a DIY punk and even garage rock edge. Disappointment is anything but that, its an enjoyable punk rock outing with self-effacing lyrics and all.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Astral Swans – All My Favorite Singers Are Willie Nelson

Released Feb 24th, 2015

all-my-favorite-singers-are-willie-nelson

There’s a simplicity underlying Matthew Swann’s debut album as Astral Swans. No stranger to excess, as demonstrated by his collaborative work with previous outfits such as Extra Happy Ghost!!! and Hot Little Rocket, Swann does well paring things down. Each song is a short romp. His voice is perhaps an acquired taste given the home recording sound to the album.

3 out of 5 stars


Colleen Green – I Want to Grow Up

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Green’s got a knack for songwriting. She knows you only need a few simple chords to make an endless number of pop songs, most bands that have followed that model to the letter don’t have the ear for hooks, structure, or wordplay that Green does. Her delivery is rather apathetic almost bored sounding but it works for her, particularly when you listen to what she is actually singing. Her punkish roots play well with her wry and often cynical view of the world.

4 out of 5 stars


The Pop Group – Citizen Zombie

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Often cited as pioneers of the late-’70s and early-’80s post-punk scene, The Pop Group emerged from the U.K. in 1977. More than 30 years after the group’s dissolution, it hasn’t lost a step, returning with Citizen Zombie. Citizen Zombie is the sound of The Pop Group both like you remember them and distorted almost beyond recognition. There are moments of real urgency and fierce aggression here as well as some genuine pop melodies.

3 out of 5 stars


Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line – Wake

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Struthers’ third record is brimming and bursting with life, with lessons learned and love discovered, from the thirty-year-old singer. Wake edges further from the bluegrass roots that Struthers has been cautiously discarding over the first few years of her solo career. With its blend of ’90s alt country, roadhouse blues, rootsy power pop, and straightforward honky-tonk, the album will appeal to radio friendly country pop lovers.

2 out of 5 stars


Planetary Assault Systems – The Eyes Themselves

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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On The Eyes Themselves, is hardly a set of instant classics. the thick-sounding techno that has become a familiar refrain for Luke Slater’s Planetary Assault Systems moniker prevails throughout. There is nothing interesting or good here. I’ve heard more interesting entries from high schoolers playing with Garageband.

0.5 out of 5 stars


Nadastrom – Nadastrom

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Back in 2009, when another D.C. area native brought mainstream attention to the region’s rap music, DJ Dave Nada created his own sound on a whim. The style—called Moombahton— quickly resonated beyond the nation’s capital. The style’s signature is a decelerated blend of Latin-infused techno that Nada conceived at a house party in Maryland. As the story goes, the kids there were playing reggaeton and bachata when he arrived, not at all aligned with the fast-paced EDM Nada planned to spin. So he slowed the Afrojack remix of Silvio Ecomo & Chuckie’s “Moombah” to 108 beats-per-minute “and that’s when shit popped the fuck off,” Nada said a year later. “I was losin’ it and told myself, I need to make some edits of this shit!” As one-half of Nadastrom with production partner Matt Nordstrom, Nada and Nordstrom’s full-length debut contort the same two-step rhythms before they feel redundant and monotonous. Nadastrom is mostly instrumental familiar tired tropes of club music. When the producers use vocals, they hide them behind dense, amorphous melodies to keep their soundtrack at the forefront.

2 out of 5 stars


Group Of The Altos – R U Person or Not

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The Milwaukee bands second album in a decade R U Person or Not fueled by overreaching ambition is a collection of inconsistent songs. It will certainly appeal to a specific crowd, and I imagine their live show would be an interesting head trip.

3 out of 5 stars


Spectres – Dying

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Starting with a full minute and half of white noise the first track “Drag” lives up to its name. That said subtlety is not Spectres’ strong suit. Their debut album is called Dying, the cover featuring the distorted face of a drowning man, and a quick glance at the song titles reveals songs like “This Purgatory” and “Blood In The Cups”. This is an album that deals with the darker side of life, and the Spectres suggests that they view life and death as a series of horrific events that can only be reflected by strangulated guitars and white noise. The wall of sound bursts from the speakers with barely audible vocals that blend (perhaps too much) into the background with grungy guitars and barely there drums.

3 out of 5 stars


Alcoholic Faith Mission – Orbitor

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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”Let me be clear/ We’re gonna take the money/ We’re gonna run far.” Many of the figures that dot the Danish outfit’s fifth full-length release are haunted, hounded things. Like the records that came before it, Orbitor is full of beautiful songs about ugly people. The nagging sense of failure that pervades Orbitor may be familiar territory for AFM, and they make no apologies for it. They bring their brand of spacey, indie/synth pop and now their fans will show up at the show. In general it’s a nice listen but the hooks don’t really stay with you.

3 out of 5 stars


Wind In Sails – Morning Light

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Wind In Sails is the moniker for Evan Pharmakis, best known as the former guitarist/vocalist for Massachusetts hardcore band Vanna. But WIS shares very little with Pharmakis’ former project; his stripped down debut solo album, Morning Light, has more in common with indie-folk troubadour Rocky Votolato and fellow hardcore-singer-turned-acoustic-artist Alcoa than anything causing a mosh pit inside a VFW hall. At it’s heart Morning Light is a collection of pretty acoustic folk pop songs.

4 out of 5 stars


Torche – Restarter

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Miami’s Torche have been eluding metal fans since their 2004 inception. Their latest release, and Relapse debut, titled Restarter, is no exception. This grunge 90s throwback sound will be easily overlooked. From its title, one might perhaps infer that Torche see Restarter as an opportunity to take their music in a different direction, or at least to provide fresh impetus to their approach. In the end, however, this is a record that fails to do either of those things. It’s the sound of a band stuck, understandably, between rock and a grunge phase.

3 out of 5 stars


THEESatisfaction – EarthEE

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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THEESatisfaction’s Sub Pop debut awE naturalE featured few hooks and choruses, focusing instead on instrumental grooves and the atmospheric flows of Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons. Their follow-up, EarthEE, once again eschews easy hooks, creating an atmosphere both otherworldly and familiar through its production and stream-of-consciousness verses. The album, at its best, feels like an alluring, intergalactic, slow meditation. But maybe a soft delivery is the best way to dole out hard truths and wisdom. If you can keep from spacing out during EarthEE, you’ll be rewarded with just that.

4 out of 5 stars


The Black Ryder – The Door Behind The Door

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The Black Ryder‘s second studio album The Door Behind The Door is out this week via their own label The Anti-Machine Machine. The Australian duo (Aimée Nash & Scott Von Ryper) relocated to Los Angeles following their 2009 debut LP ‘Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride’. It’s a subdued offering, that would likely be more popular with older listeners. Their are monotonous synths that give way to a spacey sort of psychedelic feel. The long songs plod along in a way reminiscent of Pink Floyd at times.

3 out of 5 stars


The Airborne Toxic Event – Dope Machines

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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TATE’s latest release, Dope Machines, takes the group in a direction that attempts to veer away from the looming fate of mediocrity.  TATE’s once-orchestral indie-rock sound has been replaced by a brigade of synths, dance beats and sing-along choruses. The album proudly steps into the world of synth-driven pop. There will be no guitar-based, indie rock, no heart-wrenching strings, no sentimental acoustic numbers.  TATE doesn’t bother changing from their festival ready electronica for better or worse. The lyrics often come off banal or contrived. While the whole album doesn’t fall victim to shoddy lyrics, the failure to portray sincere emotion throughout Dope Machines will likely hurt the longevity of its memory. Dope Machines may not be quite novel, at it’s core is generic pop, short on real hooks, but still enjoyable to listen to.

3 out of 5 stars


Screaming Females – Rose Mountain

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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After ten years and six albums with Screaming Females, Marissa Paternoster has found her voice. With bolder, less guarded lyrical choices (much of the record deals with Paternoster’s ongoing battle with chronic mono) and more space for the frontwoman’s guitar solos. Their most polished record to date Rose Mountain, the Screaming Females explore new terrain (for them) going cleaner, focusing on a simplified song structure and melodies. In moving towards more “accessible” rock they have actually added to their palette.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Scout Paré Phillips – Heed The Call

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Scout’s musical foray started while in college with the Baltimore based post-punk/country act, The Sterling Sisters. Heed The Call is her new solo effort from her home in Brooklyn. Scout’s operatically trained soprano voice combined with proficiency with the autoharp and baritone guitar create a hybrid of old time folk storytelling and modernity. Recently, Scout’s talents have been noticed by Jack White. She was asked to accompany him on Lazaretto and even star in White’s new video, Would You Fight For My Love?. Personally I can’t stand her voice, but that is entirely a matter of taste. I have no doubt thee are those out there who will love it. I am not one of them. All that aside, it is just a matter of time until Buzzfeed does a post on 10 ways Scout is actually Morticia Addams from her hair cut, to knitting three-legged baby clothes (Scout has a Bachelors degree in fiber arts/textiles), to the S&M, goth, fetish wear (showcased in her photography), and finally her voice.

1 out of 5 stars


Santiparro – True Prayer

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Santiparro (a.k.a Alan Scheurman) is in his words a song-transmitter/artist/healer/human living in Brooklyn, NY who has been making music and art his entire life. His new project True Prayer funded by a kickstarter campaign falls flat for me. It was fine until he opened his mouth. The lyrics are just awful, the music feels like a trip back to the original Woodstock concert complete with acid trip…but man is this a bad trip…

1 out of 5 stars


Sam Prekop – The Republic

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Sam Prekop is a rock/pop musician in the band The Sea and Cake who ventures out solo once again here. Prekop conceived the first half of The Republic—“The Republic” parts one through nine as a score for a visual artists’ work. He then threw on some random tracks for the second half to have enough material for an album. An album of middles; those throwaway filler tracks between the good ones. It is in its essence another release of modular synthesizer experiments.

2 out of 5 stars


Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The supergroup Revolution Saints consists of  Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Damn Yankees; Deen Castronovo of Journey, Ozzy Osbourne, and Bad English; and Doug Aldrich of Whitesnake and Dio. Revolution Saints is the realization of a long-held dream by the president of Italian label Frontiers Records, Serafino Perugino. Having worked with Castronovo, Aldrich and Blades on separate projects, Perugino always desired to form a classic rock group fronted by Castronovo. If you go into “Revolution Saints” expecting anything but pure 80s rock, you’re going to be disappointed. But, if you like old-school melodic rock this is definitely worth checking out.

4 out of 5 stars


Of Mice & Men – Restoring Force: Full Circle

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Restoring Force: Full Circle is the third full-length studio album by the metalcore band Of Mice & Men. Full Circle, is basically a reissue of last years Restoring Force with four extra tracks. It’s clear their touring spree with Linkin Park has greatly influenced OM&M’s recent writing style.

4 out of 5 stars


Oceans Ate Alaska – Lost Isles

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Lost Isles is the debut album by the British metalcore band from Birmingham, England, Oceans Ate Alaska. It’s intentionally and successfully disorienting. The intro to the album is a static laden radio warning for the 1958 mega tsunami in Alaska (which is also the inspiration behind the band’s name) before proceeding to an instrumental piece that sums up the band’s sound the best way that can be done within a minute.  Personally I think the vocals leave a bit to be desired falling into the “stereotypical for the genre range”, at times to much growling and at other times too clean and smoothly melodic but they have their moments when they work well. The music is top notch and truly what makes it worth the listen; a hurricane of sound assaulting your ears. For fans of Bring Me The Horizon and Architects, these are the guys you should be keeping an eye on.

4 out of 5 stars


MisterWives – Our Own House

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The band whose name is a twist on the Mormon term “sister-wives” bring a playful approach to its eccentric brand of pop-rock. “Our Own House” is the debut full-length from the New York City quintet MisterWives.  The band’s eclectic musical tastes and ear for catchy choruses stick in ears like glue. While the lyrics lack subtlety, MisterWives will almost surely be ruling the radio waves this year.

4 out of 5 stars


Dan Deacon – Gliss Riffer

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Baltimore singer/songwriter and electroacoustic composer Dan Deacon’s sixteenth release Gliss Riffer is hard to define. Gliss Riffer boasts few show-stopping choruses. He’s not reinventing any wheel, but hits on so many genres and layers the music so densely it is hard to describe other than busy and electronic. By Deacon’s own account, the phrase “gliss riffer” refers to his penchant for manipulating loops of layered glissando (rapid ascending and/or descending streams of sequential notes). The title functions as a self-effacing joke, but also evokes the album’s straightforwardness of purpose: “This is what I do, I know what I do, and I have fun doing it.”

3.5 out of 5 stars


Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The Killer Instinct is the second studio album by Black Star Riders. The band evolved from the touring version of Thin Lizzy, assembled by guitarist Scott Gorham after the death of Thin Lizzy’s leader Phil Lynott. When starting out they reportedly considered keeping the Thin Lizzy name. Which quite frankly they should have as it is unmistakably similar. They do explore some other minor influences/directions but at the end of the day it still sounds like Thin Lizzy. Though they aren’t the classic rock band. They are just a band of younger guys who happened to have been in a classic rock band that are now emulating it.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Alcoa – Parlour Tricks

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Defeater frontman Derek Archambault is back with a second album Parlour Tricks from his side-project Alcoa.  Most of the songs are about introspection and reflection. The morose country/folk-tinged pop rock is a little plodding at times, and a few missing hooks, but it is decent listen. It has moments reminiscent of the Goo Goo Dolls, that perhaps they could learn a bit from in terms of maximizing a riff/hook.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Red – Of Beauty and Rage

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Of Beauty and Rage is the fifth studio album by the alternative rock/Christian metal band Red. Rage is a necessary backpedal to earlier works; massive distorted guitars, longer song structures, and swelling string arrangements. Red’s songwriting and melodies still need work. Listeners will have listens in before any choruses begin to stick, but they are trying to please their fans this time. So, basically Red is back being Breaking Benjamin with strings, which is what the fans want them to be.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Kid Rock – First Kiss

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The one time rap rock now turned country rocker has delivered a mediocre album albeit full of radio hooks. The wannabe classic rock becomes less grating with repeat listens, despite its cliché-ridden lyrics. But there is no escaping the blatant reconstructed heartland rock sound borrowed from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, Hank Williams Jr. and Creedence. Rock uses the lyrics on his latest album to let everyone know exactly what he likes and dislikes making the album listen like a personal ad…Likes: Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Hank Williams, Marvin Gaye, whiskey, beer, NRA. Dislikes: Facebook, Twitter, Coachella, Coldplay, the NSA, and anyone who disagrees with what he likes.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Gang of Four – What Happens Next

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Losing frontman Jon King in recent years felt like a mighty blow, as a result Gang Of Four was destined to sound like a very different band. What Happens Next, the band’s first album with new vocalist John “Gaoler” Sterry, is a suitable step into a new era. If your expecting the old, you will be disappointed, but if you are willing to look at this effort as though a new band, you might just find you like it.

4 out of 5 stars


Future Brown – Future Brown

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The electronic/hip hop super group Future Brown is nothing short of eclectic. Each member of the quartet having made noticeable marks within their individual musical circles. Fatima Al Qadiri has been recognized for her work with motifs and melodies from Asian and Muslim cultures. Daniel Pineda and Asma Maroof of Nguzunguzu, and Jamie “J-Cush” Imanian-Friedman of Lit City Trax blend bass and other dance floor styles within their club-ready endeavors. On the collective’s self-titled debut, Future Brown take what could’ve been a truly innovative and interesting approach to the music and then completely kill it with an egregious overuse of autotune.

1 out of 5 stars


Falling In Reverse – Just Like You

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Just Like You is the third studio album by melodic emo pop rock outfit Falling In Reverse. Musically it’s basically Paramore with a dude singing. And don’t get me wrong, I like Paramore. But Falling In Reverse are just a rip-off stylistically, but with different lyrical content. Their singer Ronnie Radke (who is much maligned for more than his name which sounds like a comic book alter ego.) continues fashioning himself into another polarizing, charismatic douche frontman. Singing about his own life experiences with drug addiction and grief.

3 out of 5 stars


Emile Haynie – We Fall

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Best known as a producer, Emile Haynie, needed to get over a bad breakup. So he holed up for six months in Room 39 of the Chateau Marmont in L.A., set up a recording studio, and turned his pain and sulking into songs. The album’s story line is a tangled web of needy personalities, show business ambitions, betrayal and vindictiveness. We Fall is his debut album and fittingly entirely produced by him, and also features Emile’s vocals through out with a number of multi-generational guest vocalists.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Chris Brown & Tyga – Fan of a Fan: The Album

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Fan of a Fan: The Album  is the first collaborative studio album by Chris Brown and Tyga. Fan of a Fan is the two artists’ attempt to prove they’re racking up more studio time than controversial headlines. The Fan of a Fan album follows up Breezy and Tyga’s popular joint mix-tape of the same name from 2010. The album version has no lack of guest appearances. Which may account for the too many cooks in the kitchen feel to this album. Chris Brown and Tyga present themselves as friends, but on their first full album together, they seem more like enablers. A true pal would have responded to lines like “She’ll cook and clean, I got it made/Handcuffed like she a slave” with an intervention, not more studio time. But, then again Chris Brown isn’t exactly known for how well he treats women.

2 out of 5 stars


Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Big Sean’s anticipated third album, Dark Sky Paradise is full of modern clichés. The music is inconsistent with the middle tracks considerably weaker than the start and finish. Much of the album is devoted to Sean talking about women, his family, and the “Weed, money and liquor” he’s “drowning in” on “Win Some, Lose Some.” He name-drops a few celebrities, references sports several times, and drops several other tired tropes.

3 out of 5 stars


All That Remains – The Order of Things

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The Order of Things is the seventh studio album by All That Remains. And, it’s remarkably inconsistent. What’s most notable about that fact given that they are seven albums into their career, is the band is not sure what band they want to be anymore; a radio friendly melodic metal band, or a screaming and growling hardcore band. Undoubtedly their recent success on the charts has played a role in their identity crisis. Should they feed their paychecks or stick with their original fan base. Ironically, the line from The Greatest Generation, “Remember what made us great?” may be the chorus that loses some of their long time fans pondering that very question.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Scorpions – Return to Forever

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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After announcing their retirement way back in 2010, German legends Scorpions had a change of heart and will keep touring and making new music as they approach their 50th anniversary in 2015. What started as a final “thank-you” to their fans they’d been planning to record some long-discarded tunes for a low-key final album. Then they ran into old Swedish producer friends Mikael Andersson and Martin Hansen, and the project took on new life, and became a collection of new songs. (it’s all chronicled in a new documentary, Forever and a Day.) Ironically starting out with the song “Going Out With A Bang” the album rolls through rockers and ballads that they’re known for. There are no standout heyday hits like “Rock You Like a Hurricane” but it is a solid group of songs in the signature Scorpions style that any fan of the band should enjoy.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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The second full-length album by Public Service Broadcasting (J. Willgoose, Esq.  and Wrigglesworth) draws from the audio recordings of the Russian/American space race. While it has some nice moments where the audio clips really match the tone and tempo of the music, but mostly the album falls flat and one dimensional. The album highlights a nagging feeling of repetition, and could put you to sleep in minutes. Their modus operandi in their name PSB create electronic-infused math-rock grooves, with all vocals sampled from old public information tapes. It’s not at all unique in approach, as much of industrial music began utilizing audio clips in lieu of true vocals back in the 80’s. But I’m sure PSB fans are far too young and fully unaware of other music genres histories enough to know it.

2 out of 5 stars


BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul

Released Feb 24th, 2015

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Sour Soul  is a collaborative album between Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah and the Toronto jazz-trio BadBadNotGood. The key word here is collaboration. Those of you expecting a standard Ghostface album will probably be disappointed, as will those fans of BBNG (But arguably less so).  But if you take the time (about 33 minutes worth) to listen to what is actually here. It is quite good.

4.5 out of 5 stars


36 Crazyfists – Time and Trauma

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Alaskan metalcore band 36 Crazyfists’ seventh studio album Time And Trauma sees the band reenergized. By churning out a new album every two years between 2002 and 2010, the band did the most important thing you can do when you’re reminded that your loved ones are finite, they took a break. This turned out to be not only an incredibly necessary move for singer Brock Lindow as a human being, but for the future of 36 Crazyfists too. Their previous release Collisions and Castaways was 36CF on autopilot. The five year break allowed the band members to grieve, to reflect on life, and to become regular citizens again, but most importantly it reignited the spark.

4 out of 5 stars


Leviathan – Scar Sighted

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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“If you don’t subscribe to the controversies engendered by heavy metal magazine covers in 2015, here’s a recap of the drama with Decibel No. 125: Four years ago, Chicago police charged and tried Jef Whitehead for allegedly choking, beating, stabbing, and raping his then-girlfriend and leaving her overnight outside of the tattoo shop where he’d been working. As reported, the incident seemed disturbing enough, but even more so because it actualized a decade-plus of Whitehead’s lyrical and musical malevolence.

Since the late ’90s, working under the name Wrest in one-man, aggression-and-obsession outlets Lurker of Challice and Leviathan, Whitehead had emerged as a pillar of black metal in the United States. He coupled severe misanthropy with idiosyncratic execution to create mesmerizing, barbed records that sounded like little else. Epitomized by song titles like “The History of Rape” and lines like “I will ruin your life… I will fuck you in the sun,” Whitehead made his name documenting evil ideas. But with 34 charges leveled against him, it seemed that he had moved beyond simply detailing darkness and into enacting it. And that’s the guy that Decibel decided to put on its March 2015 cover, his seven-month-old daughter Grail cradled in his arms and his new album, Scar Sighted, in promotional tow.”

The album oscillates between songs like “All Tongues Towards” which features muddy crappy recording/mastering, and a wall of sound that you can just barely hear the sound of retching/singing above the music (which is way too muddy to make out any actual riffs)…all noise, a blast beat, and a few drum fills, to songs like “Within Thrall” which has decent recording techniques, where you can actually make out riffs, but still with barely audible vocals.

3 out of 5 stars


The Wave Pictures – Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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The Wave Pictures’ eighth official full-length is a collaborative effort with author, painter, poet, singer, Billy Childish. For the writing and recording process, the band used nothing but Childish’s own 1960s musical equipment, and this level of back-to-basics production has an overbearing impact on the sound of ‘Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon’.  But at the end of the day, it still mediocre pop, with decent riffs, and asinine lyrics, but that’s the point.

3 out of 5 stars


Death Karma – The History of Death & Burial Rituals part I.

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Prague’s Death Karma are a duo whose two members — frontman/mastermind/multi-instrumentalist Infernal Vlad and drummer Tom Coroner — also play in the trio Cult Of Fire. This black metal entry is droning, over long, and muddy at times. Nothing to write home about here.

3 out of 5 stars


The Juliana Hatfield Three – Whatever, My Love

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Juliana Hatfield claims to be lazy. The Boston-based singer/songwriter/guitarist doesn’t think she writes or records enough. Despite the fact that she has released five albums in five years (and nearly one a year since 1992). This is technically the second release by The Three, of which Hatfield said: “We haven’t totally reinvented the wheel or anything.” which in this case is a good thing. “Getting back with Todd and Dean re­minded me it feels really good to plug in, be loud and rock,” she added. “I’ve missed that.” The Three is largely indistinguishable from Hatfield solo, especially considering Dean Fisher (bass) and Todd Philips (drums) continued to work with Hatfield (but not at the same time) after the band officially disbanded. But, if Hatfield wants to surround herself with friends and call it a band, so be it. Either way, it’s a joy to listen too…nothing earth shattering, but quite good.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Polymath – Reptiles

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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After the release of successful singles and touring across UK, the Brighton based Polymath have returned with an EP titled Reptiles. The math rock band is not revolutionary but it is competent.

3 out of 5 stars


Mastery – Valis

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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To quote another review: “VALIS is the sound of black metal collapsing in on itself from the weight of indulgence. Mastery play chaotically, with some songs featuring up to 100 riffs, all meshed together in an improvised free jazz hell.” It isn’t clear what the California one man project is going for…other than a very poorly recorded, screaming thrash/trash mess. With the overly arrogant name, he shows no mastery of anything but sounding like he’s puking on the microphone for much of the vocals, and the music is too muddy and poorly recorded to care. This is so bad that many have come to believe this is a tongue-in-cheek farce, poking fun at a genre. Let’s hope that is the case. But even if that is true, it misses the mark.

1 out of 5 stars


The Amazing – Picture You

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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The Amazing don’t really live up to their name but they do make decent, if not, pretty music. The album is comprised of mellow soft rock, that (at least for me) brings The Moody Blues to mind. Picture You was as much improvised as it was written; frontman Cristoffer Gunrup brought the songs to the studio and the band came up with parts as they recorded. This lends the album both a sense of structure and discovery. Gunrup doesn’t commit his lyrics to the credits, and he even admits on the band’s website: “I have no idea how to describe the songs. If you theorize about the songs, it ruins the tension and passion. Just shut the fuck up and play, but play good.” In other words, even he has no idea about what these songs are actually about…if anything.

3 out of 5 stars


The Mavericks – Mono

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Although once considered country, The Mavericks have been too eclectic and creatively restless to be neatly pigeonholed into any single genre. They have now stripped most strains of what many would consider traditional C&W from their music. The Latin, R&B, rockabilly, blues, swing, Jamaican ska, reggae, Tex-Mex and Cuban influences always present are now the major elements on Mono. As the album title suggests, Mono was recorded and mixed in single-channel audio, which gives the album a saturated sound that suits the retro sounds.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Primitive Man – Home Is Where The Hatred Is

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Denver, CO blackened/doom/noise rock/industrial/death metal outfit Primitive Man have returned with their latest offering, Home Is Where The Hatred Is. Follow up to their 2013 full-length, Scorn, and several splits last year, this new four-track EP comprises a half-hour of mediocre music, with cookie monster style vocals. The over-long dissonant songs all start with guitar feed back (we get it you’re loud, now how about considering writing songs with structure) and they never really progress into anything worth investing time into.

3 out of 5 stars


Le Couleur – Dolce Désir

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Dolce Désir  is the new 5 song EP by Le Couleur. It consists of French language dance music of the most uninspired variety. Most notably about these songs is the fact they all sound like they were written by Abba some 40 years ago. There is nothing new, nor interesting going on here.

3 out of 5 stars


Kate Pierson – Guitars and Microphones

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Guitars and Microphones is the first full solo effort by Kate Pierson the lyricist, and one of the lead singers and founding members of The B-52’s. While it doesn’t quite have the magic of the B-52s, it’s still quite strong and about what you’d expect from a B-52s alum: a patchwork of influences, occasionally kitschy, with new wave blasts. Perhaps the most notable thing is how the vocals really make the album what it is, and her voice sounds incredibly youthful at the age of 66. The songs are co-written with current pop sensation Sia who also produced the album, and guitarist Nick Valensi of The Strokes plays on much of the album. The terrible graphic design on the album cover aside, this collection is worth a listen.

4 out of 5 stars


Whitehorse – Leave No Bridge Unburned

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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If you’re looking for a solid sense of Americana, sometimes you need to leave the country and go north. The married Canadian duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland has played in each others’ groups for years before finally partnering in 2010 as Whitehorse. On their third full-length album Leave No Bridge Unburned they have a strong collection of songs, that showcase their solid songwriting abilities.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Grooms – Comb The Feelings Through Your Hair

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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On their fourth album, Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair, Brooklyn guitar pop act Grooms are still building on their foundation of moody ’90s guitar-noise influences, but expanding their palate with daring arrangements and their best songwriting so far. Grooms have learned to craft tasteful and stylish indie rock. Blending melodies with walls of effects Comb the Feelings Through Your Hair comes off as a dream for ’90s indie aficionados. With nice odd timed rhythms and riffs, this is an album that can grow on you for certain.

4 out of 5 stars


Sonny & The Sunsets – Talent Night at the Ashram

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Bay Area songwriter Sonny Smith formed his ramshackle collective Sonny & the Sunsets around his endless stream of songs. With fifth album Talent Night at the Ashram, he bends styles and almost completely different approaches, or instrumentation on almost every song. Which strangely results in a very dated sounding release that’s weird for weirdness’ sake. The album was supposed to be a short film but after shooting pieces with actors, Sonny Smith realized the project was clearly becoming an album and ditched the plan altogether to construct the record.

3 out of 5 stars


Ibeyi – Ibeyi

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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The self titled debut of Ibeyi (pronounced “ee-bey-ee”, the literal term for twins in Yoruba, a culture based in Nigeria and Benin that migrated to Cuba during the 1700s) is a vocally driven album with minimal melancholy musical compositions to support the strong singing. The band consists of fraternal twins Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Díaz who can really belt out melodies. Even in their minimal compositions they manage to incorporate several influences including Yoruba-inspired rhythms, jazz, soul, ragga, dancehall, electronic music and hip-hop. The multilingual lyrics lend themselves to harmonies truly twinned, telling tales that manage to be both intimate and timeless.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Adventures – Supersonic Home

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Supersonic Home, is the debut album from Pittsburgh’s rock quintet Adventures. The ten songs blend the best parts of 90’s alt-rock and emo and infuse them with punk energy. Strong with vocal harmonies, hooks and clean guitar riffs Adventures lacks anything particularly new and refreshing that would distinguish them from other groups but they’ve put together a nice effort here.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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With a voice cracking more than Peter Brady, on “When It’s Time To Change” Boston rockers Krill give us their third album, A Distant Fist Unclenching. The trio, with a cult following of fans, explore self-love, self-hate, and the ambiguous meaning of self-worth through a lens of rejection. In the press release for A Distant Fist Unclenching, singer/bassist Jonah Furman discloses his attempts to “somehow rise above the questions of ‘Am I good or bad? Do I deserve love or hatred?’ and think about what underlies those questions.” When the vocals are yelling it’s decent with Nirvana like urgency, but when the cracking starts…well the music is still good. There are a few moments when the voice cracking starts to have a Billy Corgan appeal but not enough of them to really call it successful. If they honed it down and reigned it in a bit perhaps it would work.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Marika Hackman – We Slept At Last

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Marika Hackman is an English vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who is often regarded as “Nu-Folk” or “English Folk”. We Slept At Last is her first full length album. With her debut, Hackman has established herself confidently. She doesn’t present easily digestible, or fashionable folk but dark, isolated, twisted fairytales; subtle but with drama and poetry. It reminds me of the first two Portishead albums in their brooding melancholy way. If you’re looking for an album to mellow out this is strong choice.

4 out of 5 stars


Concubine – Concubine

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Enough with the 3 minute long one note droning synth intros…this is about the fifteenth album starting that way in the past three weeks. Bands please note: Nobody enjoys this. Anyway, not to be confused with the metal band “The Concubine” from NJ, or the death metal band, Concubine, from Sweden. This Concubine brings together Australia’s Deepchild (aka Rick Bull) and Canada’s Noah Pred. Drawing on the most cliché nuances of techno, house and acid, they manage (barely listenable) standard club fodder. It’s not particularly interesting and each song averages about 9 minutes. This is for the rave kids to drop acid, shoot meth, and pretend it’s actually listenable with out realizing that there is a ton of great music in the genre they just don’t about yet.

2 out of 5 stars


Snow Ghosts – A Wrecking

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Follow-up to A Small MurmurationA Wrecking is the second album from Snow Ghosts. The band consisting of Ross Tones & Hannah Cartwright are now joined by multi-instrumentalist Oliver Knowles, who expands Snow Ghosts’ musical palette and adds a new dynamic to the band. Playing like a soundtrack, arguably a concept album, with droning sounds, ebbs and flows, builds and releases, the album has a melancholy maturity. Hannah’s vocals add more foreboding than comfort to the turbulence provided by the music.

4 out of 5 stars


Brothers of the Sonic Cloth – Brothers of the Sonic Cloth

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Those of us old enough to remember, may recall the Seattle grunge band Tad. They toured with Nirvana and released six album between 1989 and 1995. After all these years Tad Doyle has returned with a new band, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, equally grunge in its’ music but the vocals decidedly more in line with death metal growling. Four of the seven songs feature opus lengths in the 7-11 minute range. But, unfortunately for them, the song structures don’t hold enough interest for those lengths of time.

3 out of 5 stars


Mourn – Mourn

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Mourn’s self-titled debut is rough, straight forward, punk inspired rock album. The vocals are bold, snarling and muscular, sometimes letting that voice drift into an airy wail but just as happy to bellow right through everything around her. As a lyricist they are rather direct, it is in its essence an album about how a lot of the people in frontwoman Bueno’s life are total pieces of shit. And, she uses the harshest, most concrete terms possible, as evidenced by songs like “Boys Are Cunts.” Mourn keep their teenager garage roots, because, they are teenagers fresh out of the garage. Three of the band’s members are 18; the other is 15. They play with the buzzing urgency of kids who can’t wait to tell everyone around them to fuck off. The band recorded all 10 songs straight to tape, all playing in the same room, and they knocked the whole thing out in a couple of days. But not at the expense of quality. Mourn are not reinventing anything here, and despite simple song structures, and their ages, they show a certain maturity. It is very solid debut, and speaks well of their future potential.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Six Organs of Admittance – Hexadic

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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“The new record by Six Organs of Admittance, Hexadic, offers a likable, but pretty familiar take on the guitar based, ‘60s nostalgic psychedelia that has been visited, revisited, and then revisited again by too many musicians to mention here. While Six Organs of Admittance do an admirable job of crafting big walls of feedback and drones over which to jam, the tracks on Hexadic tend to meander and stumble around without really going anywhere.

Like a good deal of experimental, psychedelic, noise, and improvisational music, Six Organs of Admittance might very well be a very different beast live. One can easily imagine a crowded, marijuana smoke filled club, lit only by the gentle glow of lava lamps and the bowls of burning bongs, swaying and nodding their collective heads to Six Organs of Admittance.”

3 out of 5 stars


Raheem DeVaughn – Love Sex Passion

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Love Sex Passion is the fifth studio album by the three-time Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Raheem DeVaughn. The 18-track album finds the self-proclaimed “Love King” returning to his trademark ballads, sensual slow jams and soulful melodies surrounding the three essential elements that encompass relationships. The music is well crafted R&B, the melodies are strong but where he occasionally stumbles is the lyrics. While the songs themes are clearly stated in the album title, the not-so-subtle-at-all, “Miss Your Sex”, and “Strip” are to overt to get anyone in a romantic mindset. The lyrics to “Black Ice Cream” are undeniably stupid. And even some of the better song have slip ups, like “Terms of Endearment” with a line about “phone boning”. He can sing well, the music is good, but he’s as his best when he’s subtle, which he stand to be a bit more often.

3.5 out of 5 stars


A Place to Bury Strangers – Transfixiation

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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Guilt, anger, regret, raucous guitar lines, occasionally bent out of tune, driving bass, spacey vocals, lots of effects, and bizarre tempo changes are all at play on A Place To Bury Strangers’ fourth album. Transfixiation is strident noise rock album that hints to early Butthole Surfers.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Imagine Dragons – Smoke and Mirrors

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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This is exactly what you’d expect from this band. There is nothing amazing here, nothing overtly bad. It’s a relatively solid, yet tepid, pop album. There are no noticeable stand out hits other than the already overplayed “I Bet My Life”. Personally, I found this album painfully boring. With the possible exception of “Friction”, which is almost a parody of quality music, a solid attempt at it at least…but still not quite there.

2 out of 5 stars


Estelle – True Romance

Released Feb 17th, 2015

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On her fourth album Grammy Award-winning singer Estelle traces the stages of a relationship; the album is split into four themes of “passion, courage, true romance and the bullshit”. This is not her most consistent record. The eclecticism of the influences (more of a Pop and House than previous releases) don’t always blend well, and it’s blemished by a few stagnant ballads.

3 out of 5 stars


Elle King – Love Stuff

Released Feb 13th, 2015

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Elle King’s musical style encompasses country, soul, rock, and blues. Her updated backwoods musical sound and soulful, gritty, powerful vocals create a truly enjoyable experience. The daughter of actor Rob Schneider, King grew up in Ohio after her parents divorced. With a voice most often compared to that of Janis Joplin, some bad tattoos (her words) and ample experience in both the brokenhearted and heartbreaking departments, Elle King has made one great album here. From start to finish the album blends Americana and attitude then closes with a mellow number titled “See You Again”. And, based on this album, we will definitely see her again…hopefully fairly soon.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Blacklisted- When People Grow, People Go

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Returning after a six-year dry spell, When People Grow, People Go is the forth studio album by the American hardcore band Blacklisted. The album is an eleven song amalgamation of Blacklisted’s experimental leanings and their hardcore heart. All of it musically electric, pushed to the point of explosion by melancholic introspection. Sonically this album is a step above previous material releases resulting in a quick and satisfying album.

4.5 out of 5 stars


War On Women- War On Women

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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War On Women is a co-ed, feminist hardcore punk band that write hard-hitting songs with powerful messages. Their full-length debut emotionally covers a range of topics centering around feminism, sexism, and politics. War On Women’s songs attack the sexist attitudes and institutionalized patriarchy women everywhere still face in the 21st century with humor, intelligence, righteous anger and monster riffs. It doesn’t matter whether you do or do not agree with the messages because the music is undeniably strong.

4.5 out of 5 stars


The Vespers – Sisters and Brothers

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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The Vespers are a family band, just not one family. It consists of a pair of sisters (Phoebe and Callie Cryar) and a pair of brothers (Bruno and Taylor Jones). After two far from commercially successful releases in the roots bluegrass mode, the Vespers decided it was time for a change and venture more into country pop here. Geared for a larger audience, The Vespers have only expanded on their rustic music, not abandoned it. The result is a fresh take on the genre. The songs have catchy choruses that mask their subtle Christian lyrical leanings.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Gretchen Peters – Blackbirds

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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The eighth studio release from the newly-inducted Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters explores the themes of mortality and aging. With a number of special guests joining the project including Jerry Douglas, Jason Isbell, Jimmy LaFave, Will Kimbrough, Kim Richey and Suzy Bogguss the album hearkens back to the Seventies-era Neil Young and Joni Mitchell-esque bluesy folk-rock style. Blackbirds is dark, thoughtful, at times unsettling, poetic and melancholy.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Friendly Chemist – Touch of Jupiter

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Friendly Chemist (Jean Brazeau) the Vancouver DJ/producer’s first outing for 1080p, Touch Of Jupiter, is a collection of well-worn sounds. Opening with a lot of hiss, and slow build synths it never gets better than mediocre rave fodder. The celestial vibe grows tiresome. Once “March Of The Bog Lily (Celestial Mix)” comes on at track five, the beatless, nearly eight-minute piece feels somewhat laborious. Touch of Jupiter at its best sounds like someone learning to use their new Electribe, but mostly just sounds like a cheesy preloaded demo song on a Wal-mart starter synth from the toy aisle. It’s short on soul and energy, ending up closer to the clinical sound the medicinal artist name implies.

1 out of 5 stars


Egyptrixx- Transfer of Energy [Feelings of Power]

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Continuing the trend of overlong droning intros to an album is Toronto producer David Psutka’s Egyptrixx…one note for two full minutes of a four minute song. Once it gets going it’s interesting, atmospheric, industrial. At times soft, at others cacophonic, Transfer of Energy [Feelings of Power] is no easy listen, filled with foreboding terror and ominous effects reminiscent of Skinny Puppy and The Residents. The drums are a bit more sparse here, but no less compelling sonically. The only thing missing is Ohgr singing over the tracks. Made all the more obvious by the mid-album track “Body II Body,” the only track featuring vocals (provided by Modern Superstition’s Nyssa Rosaleen) which is a real standout.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Zex – Fight for Yourself

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Ottawa’s Zex full-length debut Fight for Yourself, was originally self-released last fall, but Magic Bullet picked it up for release this year. It’s a collection of classic punk where the youth and energy of the band members proudly wear their influences on their sleeves but still have energy left for an all-night kegger. Heavily indebted to the forefathers of punk, Zex also remember that The Ramones may have played loud, fast, and loose, but there was still some bubblegum in them. Additionally, Zex highlights a very important aspect of any punk’s existence, or any angsty music fan’s existence, really: You’ll do almost anything to get away from your shitty hometown, but where you came from will always be a part of you.

4 out of 5 stars


The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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The Districts (of whom all four members are under 21 years old) play bar-friendly rock with the irreverence and impatience of kids who still have to get drunk in the parking lot. From the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania they sound like the first half of the past decade in rock bands wadded up together. Most of which probably just hit their area. The subject matter is mostly what one might expect from a band of teens in a small town, drinking, girls, and getting the fuck out of that town. The Districts haven’t yet found a way to channel their energy and ambition into truly memorable hooks, and they certainly have some growing up to do, particularly lyrically, but they show a lot of promise.

4 out of 5 stars


Hawk Eyes – Everything Is Fine

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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On Everything Is Fine, Hawk Eyes exude unbridled fury, mayhem and a seemingly innate ability to kick up a din plundering the outer territories of punk, progressive rock, metal, and hardcore. But, to this fearsome amalgam of noise they have now introduced far greater melody, refinement and even a certain sensitivity. The results are never anything less than impressive. The album contains everything that hard rock should have propulsive rhythms, barely decipherable, ear-shredding vocals, and thunderous guitar riffs that will stay rattling around inside your brain for days afterwards.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Quarterbacks – Quarterbacks

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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There are 19 songs on Quarterbacks’ debut and every single one of them in some way is about a girl. Specific ones that occupy their thoughts, couch, bedroom, or more esoteric ones that haunt their daydreams. The music itself is punk in its purest and shortest form. The most complicated songwriting tricks are doubling a guitar riff. The entirety of Quarterbacks is slightly less than 22 minutes, meaning the average song lasts about 69 seconds. While even in their brevity and simplicity the music works, but the vocals? Not so much. The singer is flat in many instances, and rather atonal to begin with. Not a combination most would go for. Falling out of key without purpose is rather inexcusable these days (assuming he lacks the talent to sing the right notes and not just lazy) pitch correction software/pedals, etc. are cheap now…The singer admitted in a recent interview that, “20 years ago, this band would have released a 7-inch and then disappeared,” implying he’d be perfectly fine if that/this was the ceiling… My advice to him, watch your head…

2 out of 5 stars


Crushed Beaks – Scatter

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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London trio Crushed Beaks are a band emblematic of a simpler age. Big reverb, distinctly underground, lo-fi retro punkish pop rock with awful vocals…which makes the Crushed Beaks debut album Scatter instantly forgettable. The U2 like airy guitar riffs with big reverb and delay are nice but the whole package just doesn’t gel.  The songs build to a crescendo that never quite explodes. A collection of songs that never really take flight, leaving Crushed Beaks flightless birds.

3 out of 5 stars


The Unthanks – Mount the Air

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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The Unthanks’ groundbreaking Northumbrian sisters and their band journey away from the traditional north-east folk of their earlier albums towards a style that’s more uniquely their own. The songs are still grounded in the sounds and spirit of their native region yet compositionally on a different plane than those knocked out by most of their contemporaries.

4 out of 5 stars


The Subways – The Subways

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Ten years on from the release of their debut album Young For Eternity, The Subways are still going strong despite having always remained on the fringes of commercial success. The band is brimming with energy balanced nicely with self reflective lyrics. The most effective example of which is laid bare in “Taking All The Blame”, when frontman Billy Lunn sings about the split between he and bassist and former fiance, Charlotte Cooper.

‘Taking All The Blame’ – “I’d been playing around with the chorus riff for a while, but I just couldn’t find the right lyrics to match,” said frontman Billy Lunn of the track. “I then somehow started writing an apology to Charlotte for how I’d behaved when we were breaking up. I was young; we were both really young. At the time of writing I felt like I’d been a bit of an arsehole to everyone. Eventually I came up with an idea: Charlotte and I could talk about our relationship and our eventual breakup from dual perspectives.

He added: “I recorded my verse and sent it over to Charlotte, without telling her what it was about, but I think she knew…she sent me back her verse lyrics and we recorded them for real the next day. I’m really pleased and proud of what we both came up with, and how honest we can be with each other.”

4.5 out of 5 stars


Retox – Beneath California

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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First off, if this album were better mixed and mastered it would be much stronger. It’s a rather muddy recording (and not in a good way), with blown out mic distortion which does nothing for the effect, except maybe keep their garage band creds. Otherwise, the album is a frenetic wall of sound, thrash punk. Most songs clock in around a minute in length, which among other things showcases their Minor Threat influence. “Lets Not Keep In Touch” is a strong track that is reminiscent of Quicksand.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Tonik Ensemble – Snapshots

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Impenetrable dissonant synths, impressionistic atmospheric junk, and mediocre vocals. This shows anyone who can afford Protools can make a record. Be sure to call it “art” as it’s probably much better on acid. In photography a snapshot was originally a talentless throw away, the term coined to differentiate your shutterbug mom’s family pictures from higher art created by educated practitioners. With that said they could not have chosen a more apt album title.

1 out of 5 stars


Kodaline – Coming Up For Air

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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It’s impossible to listen to Dublin quartet Kodaline without recalling Chris Martin and his Coldplay friends…and hints of every other pop rock band on the radio charts right now. (i.e. Maroon 5, Mumford and Sons, Imagine Dragons, etc.)  As expected this is fairly standard pop rock with a lot of hooks; arena ready songs that offer nothing new but get under your skin. Its a sold album if this is your thing.

4 out of 5 stars


Ex-Cult – Cigarette Machine

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Cigarette Machine is a punctual cacophony, its sludgy garage sound (It literally sounds like it was recorded in a garage) parting momentarily to make space for a spitting lyrical stream.  Memphis-based Ex-Cult make aggressive rock tracks in the vein of Jesus Lizard and The Stooges. Ex-Cult blends punk, rock, and hardcore influences with half-barked vocals, gunshot drums and tonally abrasive guitars, and adds a sense of garage atmosphere. The elements are all here but a better recorded product would go a long way.

3 out of 5 stars


Black Rivers – Black Rivers

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Black Rivers is the debut of former Doves members Jez and Andy Williams’ new band. It’s no surprise that Black Rivers shares some of the DNA with Doves, but the album has a denser, low-key, more retro sound, with trips into the realms of psychedelia. It reminds me of The Beatles if they had Bob Dylan or Matthew Bellamy singing with hints of the 70s synth styles and melodies like Styx, David Bowie and the like.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Jefre Cantu-Ledesma – A Year With 13 Moons

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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A Year With 13 Moons is the latest release by the prolific Jefre Cantu-Ledesma. Of course it is easy to be prolific when you have no consideration for quality. The atmospheric droning (the opening track is nearly nine minutes of the same mediocre riff) could possibly work as a B level sci-fi soundtrack. Most notable is the large amount of hiss and low-fi recording quality. Which is partially forgivable as it was recorded on a sparse setup during a three-month residency at Marin County’s Headlands Center for the Arts. Using just guitar, effects pedals, laptop, and multiple tape machines, all run through a PA system in a huge, “barn-like studio” (read: barn) on the former military base.

1 out of 5 stars


Stick To Your Guns – Disobedient

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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From the opening track you can picture the singer on his soapbox pulpit yelling at the crowd he deems inferior. The irony here being his inferiority. Musically the album is decent, but generally the vocals leave a bit to be desired as do the stereotypical lyrics. The song “Nobody” has a nice bass riff and is one of the better entries. But, the album really gets going on “RMA” featuring guest vocalist Toby Morse of H2O which is easily the best tune on the disk and sadly one of the shortest at a minute twenty-nine. Other notable entries are “Nothing You Can Do To Me” featuring guest vocalist Walter Delgado of Rotting Out and “I Choose No One” featuring guest vocalist Scott Vogel of Terror. Are you sensing a theme here? This album clearly shows when left to their own devices Stick To Your Guns come up lacking as the three best tracks all have guest vocal appearances…perhaps it’s time to audition some new pipes…but I’m sure they will “stick to their guns” and continue to wallow in mediocrity.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Michelle Chamuel – Face the Fire

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Face the Fire is the debut studio album by the season 4 runner-up of “The Voice.” She hoped to make a “well-crafted pop album” with “memorable” and “honest” songs. Unfortunately, her first album following her performances on “The Voice” falls flat. The songs are not that memorable. The recording sounds cheaply made. There is no depth to the instruments (sounds like she is using secondhand 90’s era synths) or the voice, and as a result it all sounds weak. The songs are based around the two themes of “universal love” and “authenticity”. Which is interesting as there is no noticeable authenticity here. In a recent interview she said, “I’ve been actively studying pop since I was in seventh grade”. Her claims to have been studying pop music for years shines through given that this album comes across as an academic study. So undoubtedly this will hit the charts. But, the fact remains if she didn’t have “The Voice” fame this album would go nowhere.

2 out of 5 stars


Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Despite having been a part of several other releases, I Love You, Honeybear is the second studio album released under the pseudonym Father John Misty (aka John Tillman). The songs here are passionate and disillusioned, tender and angry, cynical and openhearted. For all his poetic undercurrents the album is laden with so much cynicism that many of the tongue-in-cheek lyrics go by without notice. Even the more adventurous songs sound musically dated (Bob Dylan with a hint of Motown). The folky radio singles shine with contemporary lyrics, which are the real fun in the album.

4.25 out of 5 stars


Peace – Happy People

Released Feb 10th, 2015

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Peace in a recent interview presents themselves as the saviors of ‘guitar’ music. Big words as Peace make pop rock in the blandest sense possible. A dose of poorly recorded/mixed/produced junk is all you’ll get here. Elementary musicianship wrapped tight in rigidly conventional song structures with the occasional ‘indie’ trope that almost resembles a hook is all there is on this album. In between what amount to parodies of better bands hailing from 1995, there is a wearying feel of vanilla pop rock designed by committee, with barely an original idea between its tracks. The trite lyrics do little to help. The lameness of the words would be forgivable if they were paired with music that provided any kind of pleasant distraction.

1 out of 5 stars


Chip Z’Nuff – Strange Time

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Once you get past the first ten seconds which highlights the worlds most annoying note, this album takes you on a fun mellow stoner rock trip. This is the first solo album by the Enuff Z’Nuff bassist and founder known for their melting pot of pop, rock, hippie, metal, and glam. Strange Time has a line-up full of special guests including Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, Slash, Steven Adler, and Dale Bozzio. And it even includes a track co-written with Trent Reznor.
In a press release Z’nuff said, “It’s a stoner rock record…What I have with Enuff Z’nuff is special, but this is a labor of love. I started these songs while going through every type of hard time – family, finances, relationships – and found moments of clarity while writing.”

4 out of 5 stars


Michna – Thousand Thursday

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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The Brooklyn based Adrian Michna has become a staple in the NYC club scene. That and other interests have led to a long delay between albums. Nearly seven years following the NYC DJ/producer’s debut album for Ghostly, Magic Monday, he’s finished the official follow up to that record. “Solid Gold” is the best track, but there really isn’t much to like here. Personally, I find this entry very boring, and rather than filling a club, I envision it clearing the dance floor.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Breakfast In Fur – Flyaway Garden

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Flyaway Garden is the New Paltz, New York dream-pop quintet Breakfast in Fur’s full-length debut. With its long drawn out breathy vocals, throwback nostalgic feeling, and large room reverb atmosphere that seems to be in lately, it leaves the listener wanting. Like a million indie rock bands before them these tedious songs sounds like the work of an indecisive, impulsive band still searching for a sound.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Anakin – Celestial Frequency Shifter

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Celestial Frequency Shifter is a kickstarter funded debut full length album by the California band Anakin. The heavy grunge guitars, melodic vocals and hints of synth in the background reminds one of the best of the 90’s. Collective Soul like vocals, Smashing Pumpkins guitars, and driving punkish basslines.

4 out of 5 stars


All We Are – All We Are

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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When asked to describe their music the Liverpool based trio All We Are responded, “the Bee Gees on diazepam”. Which is a fairly accurate description. The band formed at the Institute For Performing Arts, Lipa. The album lacks energy but it does have catchy drowsy melodies, that come forth from a large atmospheric world.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Title Fight – Hyperview

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Hyperview is the third album by Title Fight. It’s a roomy, jangly mess of an album. There are no discernible hooks, or decent riffs to hold the songs together. It sounds as if it was recorded in a reverb/echo chamber. Clocking in at a mere 31 minutes it’s still too long. One saving grace is the bassline to “Hypernight”, (though it gets lost as soon as the guitar and vocals enter the fray). “Your Pain is Mine Now” is perhaps the strongest track in it’s more minimal approach.

2 out of 5 stars


Murder By Death – Big Dark Love

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Big Dark Love is the seventh studio album by the indie/country rock outfit. The album leaves one wanting with its hollow sound, and droning songs. There is not a lot to grab you here.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Kid Ink – Full Speed

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Full Speed is the third major label (fourth overall) release by Kid Ink. Most of the songs are on the shorter side, but for the most part they don’t feel short. “Faster” is a solid entry, while most of the others are rather conventional, lacking any real originality. However, the catchy hooks, and thumping beats will clearly have an audience particularly in the club scene.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Fifth Harmony – Reflection

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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The debut album by Fifth Harmony is a collection of everything else that’s been happening in vocal pop in the recent few years. A few songs copy the sound and structure of Charli XCX, one with a touch of Iggy Azalea, some with a hint of Beyonce and Katy Perry here and there. The disappointing thing is it lacks the panache and quality of those performers. This listens like what it is someone trying to emulate those artists. In other words, it’s generic vocal pop with all songs radio friendly at the 3-4 minute mark. On the upside tween girls will love it.

3 out of 5 stars


Diana Krall – Wallflower

Released Feb 3rd, 2015

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Wallflower is the 12th studio album by the Canadian jazz pianist and vocalist, who has recorded music from rather diverse places. This collection of covers of ’70s pop songs Krall favored growing up fits her eclectic nature. The songs are slow and brooding renditions that is some cases feel rather lackluster. It’s nice for background music but it certainly doesn’t jump out and grab you.

3 out of 5 stars


Funeral for a Friend – Chapter and Verse

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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Chapter and Verse is the seventh full length album released by British post-hardcore band Funeral for a Friend. It has what you’ve come to expect form this outfit: generally awful vocals, and decent music. “You Should Be Ashamed of Yourself” stands out as the best track.

3 out of 5 stars


Venom – From The Very Depths

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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The English metal band are back with their muddy guitar sound, satanic lyrics, and shredding solos for their fourteenth release. It’s not original in any way. There is no new directions or influences, but it’s still a good metal romp.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Lord Dying – Poisoned Altars

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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Poisoned Altars by the Portland, Oregon three piece is some standard sludge metal. The grunge guitar tone, screaming vocals with very little tone leave a lot to be desired. The song are completely indistinguishable from one another vocally. The music is decent enough. But this album presents them as a dime-a-dozen band that I can hear live at my local bar every Saturday night. The kind of bands that are interchangeable…same basic music played under different band names and players…Hopefully in the future they present something that sets them out from the pack because this album doesn’t hit that mark.

3 out of 5 stars


Young Ejecta – The Planet

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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The Planet is the second release from the Brooklyn based electronic duo Young Ejecta (formerly just Ejecta). Leanne Macomber and Joel Ford provide an interesting sci-fi, melancholy, minimalist approach to electronic pop. The strange soundscape created here feels really fresh and is a great listen.

4.5 out of 5 stars


The Dodos – Individ

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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Individ is the indie-rock duo’s sixth album. With their hallmarks of interesting, shifting rhythms, and large sound for just two people (though some of that is layered overdub tracks) The Dodos deliver what they’re known for here…boring vocals, and interesting energetic music. Stand out tracks are “Bubble”, “Retriever”, and “Pattern/Shadow”.

3 out of 5 stars


Gov’t Mule – Sco-Mule

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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Sco-Mule was recorded live at two 1999 shows in Atlanta, Georgia, where the original trio of Warren Haynes, Allen Woody, and Matt Abts perfomed with jazz guitarist John Scofield. The performances, which also featured keyboardist Dr. Dan Matrazzo, have been widely traded, discussed, and revered by Mule fans for some 15 years.

4 out of 5 stars


Wray – Wray

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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Big reverb, standard spacey rock, sloppy guitar riffs, and droning monotone vocals are the hallmarks of this entry. This album definitely has an audience, but its not me. The album feels a bit like a 90’s throwback. “Swells” stands out as the best song, and “Relative” has a nice guitar riff.

3 out of 5 stars


Desperate Journalist – Desperate Journalist

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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The self titled debut album from the UK four piece Desperate Journalist is really enjoyable. The pop rock songs project influences like The Breeders, Juliana Hatfield, The Cranberries and hints of The Cure. The songs have interesting riffs and timing, and big reverb, but still sound like they are playing in your room. After this debut we look forward to seeing where they go from here.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Pond – Man It Feels Like Space Again

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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The sixth album from Australia’s five piece psychedelic rock band lives up to their reputation. The songs are spacey, with psychedelic synths, driving drum beats, and a touch of funk, a touch of blues rock, and a touch of class. This 60’s/70’s influenced romp is a fun chill out album that is definitely worth a listen.

4 out of 5 stars


Periphery – Juggernaut: Alpha/ Juggernaut: Omega

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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Here’s a band who along with their fans claim to be prog rock but everything presented here has been done ad nauseam. Aside from some interesting guitar riffs here and there, and a few slips into other styles really just turn in some standard nu-metal. And, it’s not particular interesting. Faith No More, Slipknot, and a dozen other bands from the mid 90s that they’ve stolen their sounds from have done this all before and better. This two album effort of mediocrity is too much for anyone but a fan boy. This bloated effort should have been one album minus the chaff.

3 out of 5 stars


Papa Roach – F.E.A.R. (Face Everything and Rise)

Released Jan 27th, 2015

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The eight album from Papa Roach is a typical nu-metal entry. The lyrics are typical angsty, “I will persevere”, not at all memorable nonsense. With a standout line about farting in bed, which is about how well this album goes over. The songs are rather interchangeable, basically the same riffs, same vocal effects. standard rock radio fodder. It’s alright as background noise and the song “Love Me ’til It Hurts” will probably do well with metal chicks. While their boy friends question how he can keep a straight face singing this nonsense. Interestingly the album gets worse as it goes. “Gravity” is a painful rap rock song that made me wonder if I traveled back in time to 1994. Maria Brink from “In This Moment” for some inexplicable reason decided to slum it and put a guest vocal on the track. She is better served sticking with her own band.  And, seriously are they kidding with the intro to “Warriors”?

2 out of 5 stars


The Cold And Lovely – What Will I Become

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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What Will I Become is the third release from The Cold And Lovely. The album is full of richly textured songs, driving basslines, arena-sized reverb, and ethereal vocals. The backing synths/electronica are a little more prominent than earlier releases which works very well in their soundscape. I can envision these songs translating very well both live and placed in a soundtrack setting. This album is compelling and cohesive, and is easy to keep on repeat. “Hold On To Me” compels you to sing-along. “Lost All Control”, “Just A Thought” and “Runaway” (with its killer bassline) are personal favorites, though they’re all strong. In fact, my only complaint is that I wish the album was longer. Though we are only a month into the year this is easily among the best releases so far. The Cold And Lovely (Meghan Toohey and Nicole Fiorentino) keep getting better with age.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Enter Shikari – The Mindsweep

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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This is the fourth studio album from this four-piece rock outfit from England. Their music is generally labeled electronicore for combining elements of electronica with hardcore. So basically that means they are the English version of Linkin Park which is what they sound like. The album is decent. They have some nice hooks and melodies mixed throughout frenetic hardcore sections and screaming. The album is good, but not great.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Sick Feeling – Suburban Myth

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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This is a fairly standard hardcore entry. The vocals are a bit weak and whiny. The music is good, very good actually. Which makes the vocals all the more disappointing. With a different singer, one with more presence, they could be something interesting. But his lack of power just ruins the package. Which is a shame because the music is top notch hardcore. “I’m Chafing” works the best as it is more spoken word rather than his caterwaul through most of it. He almost pulls off the screaming vocals on “The Americans”…almost.

2.5 out of 5 stars


The Sidekicks – Runners in the Nerved World

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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Non descript pop punk(ish) scenester heaven…yawn. This album nearly put me to sleep. Vocalist and guitarist Steve Ciolek  says of it “At its core, Runners in the Nerved World is about getting past the excitement of growing up and finding new ways to simulate that movement…The point the record is supposed to make is that it’s often pretty arbitrary how that movement is simulated. Regardless of the situation, inevitably the characters in these songs just get stuck in those cycles. The record tries to deconstruct that inertia–that constant motivation to run.” Say what? I imagine these songs would enjoyable live, but the recording is flat. Very flat. Bland, but pretty, user-friendly, snooze-fest. I can see a crowd of 16-20 somethings bopping along to it at an all ages show, but it’s really uninspired. “Summer Brings You Closer to Satan” is the best track both musically and it’s title is fun. It’s a consistent record I’ll give it that, but if this entry is any indication they will keep being sidekicks and not a headliner anytime soon.

2 out of 5 stars


Viet Cong – Viet Cong

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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This album seems short at 7 songs and only 37 minutes. The bands atmospheric noise is generally labeled post punk, but I would call it more noise rock. This Canadian quartet delivers a very compelling set of interesting riffs, and timing. This is garage rock at its finest. “Bunker Buster” and “Silhouettes” stand out. As does the song “Death” which is impressive as it clocks in at 11 minutes and change.

4 out of 5 stars


Lupe Fiasco – Tetsuo & Youth

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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The fifth album by Lupe Fiasco is very textured musically.  It’s a long album, with a number of long songs. Some work better than others. Generally the music is very interesting, with a lot of diversity of influences, particularly around his vocals. But often when he opens his mouth, it goes away. The music becomes one dimensional vamping on a single phrase for him to rap over. The most obvious of which is “Mural” which is 8 minutes of indistinguishable droning. On the other side of the spectrum, “Blur My Hands”, “Prisoner 1&2” featuring Ayesha Jaco, and “Little Death” featuring Nikki Jean are among the best entries on the album.

3 out of 5 stars


Until the Ribbon Breaks – A Lesson Unlearnt

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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Here is a band trying new things while maintaining a commercial sensibility. The songs have interesting compositions and orchestrations.  The vocals are a bit breathy for my personal tastes, but the singing works well with music, and I appreciate the attempt at originality here.

4.25 out of 5 stars


Night Terrors of 1927 – Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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Night Terrors of 1927  delivers some rather standard pop music that sounds like background music for a car commercial. There is nothing earth shattering or original here, but it is enjoyable. I honestly have nothing much to say about this music. It’s modern day Tears for Fears. It is really good,  but it’s not great. If you want entry-level, user-friendly pop music, here you go. The Tegan and Sara guest spot (When You Were Mine) is most memorable track. There are no bad songs here, just no standouts either. I can envision (and expect) all of these songs in soundtracks for television and commercials, though.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Mikky Ekko – Time

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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Mikky Ekko  delivers moody pop music full of heavy synths and catchy choruses. The songs are not breaking any new ground, but are very enjoyable. Picking up the torch from the has-been bands like Coldplay, this album will make moms everywhere tune into their soft rock/easy listening stations for months to come. Every track has radio potential in both quality and format, with all entries clocking in at the 3-4:30 minute mark. This is a very solid album for pop music fans. I’d be surprised if this isn’t  in regular rotation on the radio for some time.

4 out of 5 stars


Fall Out Boy – American Beauty/American Psycho

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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The sixth album from Fall Out Boy is standard pop rock fluff. The band had stated during recording that their goal was to make a more stylistically cohesive album. That much they achieved. Musically the album is decent. The lyrics are a bit forced in some songs, particularly the title track. There is no ground breaking here in terms of originality, but the album is a solid entry into the sing-along radio rock pantheon. I imagine it will translate well live.

3.75 out of 5 stars


The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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The seventh album by The Decemberists opens with a whimper. The opening track is overly repetitive, not particularly interesting and too long. But fortunately the second track Calvary Captain picks up the pace, and the remainder of the album is far more interesting. “Make You Better”, the albums first single is one of the stand out tracks. Honestly, the album would probably rank higher if first track wasn’t on the disk at all. It’s a shame to set that as the first impression as the rest of the album is really quite good.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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Sleater-Kinney’s eighth album is a tour-de-force. Their first release in ten years delivers a wise, raw, front-to-back accessible album with punk urgency. The frenetic, catchy riffs, and quality layered vocals prove they have no rust to shake off.  Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss present a blazingly well crafted album with no filler.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Marilyn Manson – The Pale Emperor

Released Jan 20th, 2015

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The Pale Emperor is Marilyn Manson’s ninth studio album. The title according to Manson came from a book he was given by Johnny Depp in the year 2000. This is right up a Manson fan’s alley from the opening tracks jangly blues riff over fuzzed sludgy bass and onward. Generally most are slower tracks but all are well with in his lexicon. Though he has faded from the spotlight somewhat in recent years, he continues putting out consistent solid music.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Jazmine Sullivan – Reality Show

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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Vocals with too much reverb seems to be in right now.  This album is not very compelling. The lyrics are insipid…seriously she even self-references being shallow. The music is run of the mill R&B with hints of hip hop, not terrible, just not unique. She has a decent vocal range and a nice vocal sound for R&B but she completely wastes it here singing drivel.

1 out of 5 stars


Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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Experimental electronica is a whole lot of noise with vocals that do nothing but fill space, apparently, no hooks, no song structure, repetitive beats, mellow, and tuneless. There are a few passages here and there that sounds like something worth building on, but overall its just vocals in an echo chamber and white noise. I appreciate the experimentation but feel the songs are completely one dimensional. One he hits a mark, he never strays from it for a solid five minutes or so. If the songs had a bit more variation within themselves, and actually built off the interesting passages, it would be more compelling.

2 out of 5 stars


Battle Beast – Unholy Savior

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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Unholy Savior is the third studio album from Finnish female-fronted “metal” band. Their songs are 80’s influenced arena rock/metal with hints of Prog Rock. Think Ozzy, Judas Priest, and Dio in their glammed out over-the-top primes. Noora Louhimo provides catchy melodies and has a nice metal scream.  This band excels in wailing harmonized guitar solos, atmospheric keyboards, gang shout choruses, all the cheesy kind of things that make you wonder if they take themselves seriously…I mean, what’s not to like? Musically it’s not very unique, in a so-bad-it’s-good sense, but it is very well executed. I hope they tour the U.S. soon because I’ll be in the front row.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Kat Dahlia – My Garden

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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There are nice riffs running throughout big beats throughout this album. Kat deftly sings/raps over the soundscapes created. This is a solid album, not particularly unique but well crafted nonetheless. It definitely merits a listen.

3.75 out of 5 stars


Justin Townes Earle – Absent Fathers

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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There are some nicely bluesy guitar riffs mixed into some standard folky singer/songwriter pop. Absent Fathers, is a companion album recorded at the same time as last year’s Single Mothers (released four months prior). I’ve always felt this type of music is best seen live, drinking a beer, and letting the singer/storyteller take you on a journey. The album works as a suitable substitute, but I’ve no doubt this would be more poignant in an intimate live setting.

3 out of 5 stars


Guster – Evermotion

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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I’ve never listened to Guster before now (at least that I am aware of), but I am told this is album is a departure from their usual sound. Taking that into consideration this album doesn’t make me want to go back and see what else they may have done in the past. I was under-whelmed by the droning tracks. With the exception of “Simple Machine” which is fairly enjoyable, this album is a run of the mill soft pop rock album that feels very dated. I’m sure it will mix in nicely with the other bland easy listening played in the background that I endure during dental visits.  Their are hints of The Cure in many of the early tracks but they don’t pull off the melancholy that makes The Cure so enjoyable.

2 out of 5 stars


Mark Ronson – Uptown Special

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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Ronson was previously known as a producer most notably for producing much of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. Here he steps out from the shadows and collaborates with a number of other artists. The songs are enjoyable revivals of 70s/80s funk themes. The first single “Uptown Funk” features Bruno Mars which immediately reminds you of a James Brown anthem of the caliber of “Living in America”. It is a very enjoyable listen from start to finish.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Meghan Trainor – Title

Released Jan 13th, 2015

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Not to be confused with the EP by the same title, this is the girl that’s “All About That Bass” full length debut. It features the four songs on the EP plus an additional 11 tracks. This album should have tween/teenage girls all-a-twitter, and talking on twitter. It’s a fairly solid, if tame, pop album. There is no true originality here, but the songs are well written and full of hooks that will keep people coming back for more.

3.5 out of 5 stars


Sidsel Endresen & Stian Westerhus – Bonita Rune

Released Jan 6th, 2015

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These jazz fusion artists from Norway sound like a couple of high school kids making noise together with their new Wal-mart quality gear and their dad’s vintage four track recorder. Needless to say part of me really enjoys it. However, the down side is that I’ve actually heard better things come out of high schoolers. I give them props for experimentation. If they put some of the weirder sections in more of a context they could make something really enjoyable. There are hints of Les Claypool and Butthole Surfers (in their weirder moments) in here, but lacking any song structure that those other artists give and that’s taking into account this is freeform jazz. A little too freeform for my tastes. There are actually several passages I like here, too bad they don’t hold onto them, or revisit and maximize them.

2.25 out of 5 stars


The Gray Havens – Fire and Stone

Released Jan 6th, 2015

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The Gray Havens are a husband and wife duo (Dave and Licia Radford) from the chicago area. They are a pop/folk group with songs comprised of paired down/traditional instrumentation, mostly acoustic guitar, piano, etc. The album was funded through Kickstarter and displays hints of Cold Play, Glen Hansard/Swell Season in their sound and influence. The stand out tracks are: Songs in the Night, Music They Call Me, and Stole My Fame,

4 out of 5 stars


Rae Sremmurd – StremmLife

Released Jan 6th, 2015

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This is the first full release by hip hop duo Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy after two previous successful singles (No Flex Zone and No Type) both of which appear on this album. The music has hints of Coolio and Flavor Flav in the feel and delivery. Most of the songs have nice slow grooves that feel nice and heavy. Overall, this is a really solid outing.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Infected Mushroom – Friends on Mushrooms (Deluxe Edition)

Released Jan 6th, 2015

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In a word this album is infectious. This is the 9th release from the Israeli psytrance/electronica/psychedelic/indie/dubstep/makeupanothergenrehere duo Erez Eisen and Amit Duvdevani. It’s no wonder why they are one of the best-selling groups in Israeli music history. The album is compelling and one can easily listen to it on repeat. It strength compared to most electronic music is its constant evolution in song structure rather than repeating the same passages over and over.

4.5 out of 5 stars


Ghost Culture – Ghost Culture

Released Jan 5th, 2015

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The debut album by London native James Greenwood (aka Ghost Culture) is full of slow building layers and textures. I mean too slow. The song Mouth takes nearly two full minutes to get interesting. One section with its electronic beeps, bleeps and creeps prompted my wife to ask if my phone just died not realizing they were part of the song, and therefore must have been from an external source. The songs are techno nuanced synth-pop reminiscent of Depeche Mode with momentary hints of Trent Reznor, but completely lacking the hooks. There is nothing truly memorable about any of these songs, and I love electronic music and synth-pop. It’s fine as background music and perhaps would work fine in a soundtrack setting, or to put people to sleep.

2.5 out of 5 stars


Låpsley – Understudy EP

Released Jan 5th, 2015

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This four song EP shows promise but none of the songs really jump out. I personally don’t care for the guy doing the backing vocals. While she has a clean pop music voice that has star power, his voice has clearly been pitch corrected and filtered and sounds like he’s having trouble swallowing. His vocals are not entirely needed on any of the songs, and are entirely unnecessary in 8896, and Dancing. I think with the right production team she could really turn into something in the future.

3 out of 5 stars


Death Grips – Fashion Week

Released Jan 4, 2015

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I really like their other releases, and I would be curious to hear vocals over this new one, but alas no such luck. The songs are titled Runway with a letter designation that in order spells “Jenny Death When” which is a reference to an upcoming release of the second disc of  “The Powers that B”. There are a plethora of great sections and hooks, but the songs quickly get repetitive, and as a result disappointingly, kind of boring. It would be alright for background music while cleaning the house, but beyond that it wouldn’t make it into my regular rotation…perhaps if it had vocals to pull it together more it would be more successful. Hopefully, the upcoming “The Powers that B” will have the best elements of this and some quality vocals.

3 out of 5 stars