CDs + Vinyl:
The 69 Eyes – Universal Monsters CD (Nuclear Blast)
12th album from the Helsinki, Finland-based death/goth rock band.
Aborted – Retrogore CD/2xLP+CD (Century Media)
Fans should expect nothing less than one of the most relentless and fiercest albums from one of Belgium’s favorite extreme metal bands.
A$AP Ferg – Always Strive And Prosper CD (RCA)
New album from the member of the A$AP Mob (along with A$AP Rocky and A$AP Yams). Always Strive And Prosper is the follow-up to 2013’s Trap Lord, and features collaborations with $cHoolboy Q, Future, Big $ean, Chri$ Brown & Ty Dolla $ign, Rick Ro$$, Chuck D & Mama Ferg, Future, $krillex, and more.
Billy Bao – Lagos Sessions CD/LP+MP3 (Night School/Munster)
A furious mash-up of afrobeat, distorted drone and thrashing noise.
Nik Bärtsch’s Mobile – Continuum CD/2xLP (ECM)
After four ECM recordings with his other band Ronin, Bärtsch presents this new album featuring Mobile augmented on three pieces by a string quintet. Textures from jazz, funk, new music, minimal as well as ritual and sacred music are organically interwoven with Bärtsch and his partners aiming for an energetic total group sound rather than displays of soloistic virtuosity.
Bob Berg – New Birth [Reissue1978] CD (Elemental Music)
Digitally remastered edition of this 1978 album from the jazz saxophonist. The deluxe packaging includes a 16-page booklet with original liner notes and new essay by jazz journalist Bill Milkowski plus restored artwork, photos and session notes.
Alpha Blondy – Positive Energy CD (VP)
In his home country Côte d’Ivoire the retirement age is 60. The grand seigneur of Ivorian reggae is 62 years old now, but shows no desire to retire anytime soon. Positive Energy is Blondy’s 18th studio album.
Blue Man Group – 3 CD (Rhino)
Third studio album from the acclaimed performance artists, comprised of 14 new percussive, instrumental tracks.
Blue October – Home CD/LP (Up/Down)
Blue October is the San Marcos, TX-based band known for their shimmering melodies and heart-string pulling lyrics, and boasts one of the more emotionally charged and magnetic frontmen in music today in Justin Furstenfeld. “Justin Furstenfeld is a happy man these days, as chronicled on Blue October’s new album Home. And the singer, who’s gone through the wringer of well-chronicled drug addiction and personal issues (including a fierce child custody battle) over the years is well aware of how unusual a little bit of bonhomie seems. ‘It’s crazy how life happens that way,’ he tells Billboard. ‘Honestly, some people are like, ‘Hey man, what’s up? What are you taking that makes you so positive?’ Honestly I’m not taking anything. I continually am blown away by how good life can be when you just treat it like it’s special.’ Sonically, meanwhile, Home was inspired by drives Furstenfeld made through the desert from west Texas to California while making radio promotion visits for Sway. He refers to the sound as ‘desert rock’ — although not to be confused with something as heavy as, say, Kyuss. ‘The desert was very inspiring,’ Furstenfeld says. ‘I wanted to make the album more about the beat and the bass and the atmosphere and the hook of the vocal than a rock power chord album. It makes me feel like less was more as long as that central beauty was there, as long as the lyric and the meaning was there and the melody was memorable and timeless.’” – Billboard
Frank Butler – Stepper [Reissue/1977] CD (Elemental Music)
Digitally remastered edition of this 1977 album from the jazz drummer. Butler never became well known but was highly regarded by fellow musicians and performed with jazz notables like Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and Art Pepper in the 1950s and 1960s. In the mid-to-late 1950s, he was a member of the Curtis Counce Quintet. Sidelined for many years by an addiction to heroin, he did not record an album under his own name until the 1970s.
BWB [Rick Braun/Kirk Whalum/Norman Brown] – BWB CD (Artistry Music)
Trumpet, sax and guitar. Any way you call it; three men of deep talent, genre-busting chops, and musical influences deeper than the collective American pop and soul songbook.
CDs + Vinyl:
Chris Abrahams – Fluid To The Influence CD/LP+MP3 (ROOM40)
Abrahams (The Necks) charts out a divergent course through lilting piano flows, distended organ passages, thunderous electronic eruptions, and focused concrète explorations, with each movement calling forward to the next in a flowing motion that demonstrates Abrahams’s commitment to and interest in the album as an artistic form.
Shola Adisa-Farrar & Florian Pellissier Quintet – Lost Myself CD/LP (Hot Casa)
American vocalist Shola Adisa-Farrar and French pianist and composer Florian Pellissier combine their talents for the jazz exploration of Lost Myself — a musical voyage that blends New York hard-bop aesthetics and reggae-inspired elements with the jazz of today for a fresh spin on jazz classics and original compositions.
Artillery – Penalty By Perception CD (Metal Blade)
New album from the veteran Danish power thrash metallers.
Babyfather – BBF – Hosted by DJ Escrow CD (Hyperdub)
New project from Dean Blunt with contributions from Arca and Micachu. “Essentially BBF – Hosted by DJ Escrow is a definitive UK hip-hop album of the decade so far; a shadow-play of paranoid & surreal atmospheres, ambiguous juxtapositions, upfront infidelity and playful/dreadful intentions that perhaps best reflect street-view observations of the knackered, profane, pagan and pointedly archaic in contrast to supposedly progressive national values and the schizoid political and artistic double-speak of the ‘elite.’ We haven’t a clue who DJ Escrow is — quite possibly Blunt’s Quasimoto-style sped-up alter-ego, maybe his boy from home — but he’s crucial to the album; like some pop-up avatar or liminal interpreter reporting back from the zones, culminating in a passionate monologue calling for unity that’s actually undermined by the fact his voice is accelerated to cartoonish levels — perhaps as many view the situation anyway” – Boomkat. Vinyl edition due April 29.
Del Barber & The No Regretzkys – The Puck Drops Here CD (True North)
With a rockin’ Americana sound, The Puck Drops Here features new versions of hockey fan favorites like “The Hockey Theme” broadcast for decades at the start of televised games in Canada with new versions of Stompin’ Tom Connors’ “The Hockey Song” and “Flame Of Victory” (the Coach’s Corner theme), arena anthems like “Rock And Roll Part 1 & 2” (the “Hey Song” by Gary Glitter) and perennial hockey hits by Tom Cochrane, The Hanson Brothers and The Pursuit Of Happiness.
Sam Beam/Jessica Hoop – Love Letter For Fire CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam spent much of 2015 working the studio with other artists. He and Band Of Horses’ Ben Bridwell linked up to release Sing Into My Mouth, an album in which they covered the likes of Talking Heads and Spiritualized. Beam also contributed to Glen Hansard’s second solo LP, Didn’t He Ramble. Now, the Iron & Wine troubadour continues his collaborative streak with Love Letter For Fire, a full-length of duets with California singer/songwriter Jesca Hoop. The 13-track effort counts Wilco’s Glenn Kotche and multi-instrumentalist Robert Burger as special guests. Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Modest Mouse) served as producer.
Bear Hands – You’ll Pay For This CD/LP+MP3 (Spensive Sounds)
You’ll Pay For This is the third album from Brooklyn indie rock outfit Bear Hands. It is a potent mix of sticky ‘70s songwriting, CBGB’s and Factory Records-era post-punk guitars, and the high drive of modern pop and hip-hop. The music is intense, relentless, and totally dreamy. However, the lyrics maintain a snarky playfulness that keeps things grounded. The first single “2AM” is a groove-heavy burner, written collectively over time. In the chorus, Dylan Rau laments “Nothing good happens past 2AM.” Sonically, it’s perfectly suited for one of those personal apocalypse climax scenes in an indie flick. Lyrically, it is indicative of the band’s evolving mentality. Then there is “Boss,” which starts out whimsically before launching into a torrent of angular riffs and the semi-snarled one-liner “I’m the bitch and you’re the boss.” Meanwhile, “Too Young” features a riff written in a car driving through Belgium, and imagines the future of a precarious relationship. “Purpose Filled Life” is a song that Rau penned while alone in his railroad apartment in Brooklyn.
Bixio/Frizzi/Tempera – Magnetic Systems CD/LP (Finders Keepers)
From the same vibrant cinematic landscape of ’70s studio supergroups as Goblin, The Pawnshop, The Feedback, and The Braen’s Machine comes the Magnetic System, the Italian incognito dream-team composed of Milano prog keyboardist Vince Tempera, Cinevox sibling Franco Bixio, and video nasty maestro Fabio Frizzi (whose career it launched). Masterminded in the mid- ’70s at the apex of Italian film music’s most exciting transitional period, the Magnetic System was created to encapsulate the combined efforts of three of the country’s most prolific and adventurous soundtrack composers and retarget their lauded behind-the-scenes personas toward the Italian commercial instrumental pop market. This compilation gathers a wider selection of the trio’s compositions that fall within the stylistic parameters of the Magnetic System’s creative blueprint; culling drum-heavy synthesized psychedelic soundtracks with sympathetic leanings to the white funk/cosmic disco murmurings of the era.
Blaqk Audio – Material CD/LP (Blaqknoise)
Material is the new album from Davey Havok and Jade Pugets electronic alter ego, Blaqk Audio. Though best known for their work with multi-platinum rock band AFI, Havok and Pugets shared love of electronic music runs deep. Havok, who counts Devo’s Freedom Of Choice and Duran Duran’s self-titled debut among the first albums he owned, saw his tastes evolve over the years from the synth pop of Erasure and Pet Shop Boys to Depeche Mode and ultimately to the heavier, darker Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Front 242 and Lords Of Acid. Later, Havok immersed himself in the future-pop genre, which combined dark dance-y electronica with melodic vocals. From roughly 1999 to 2003, his contemporary musical diet consisted almost exclusively of artists falling under the industrial/EDM/futurepop/bigbeat/trance umbrella.
Megan Bonnell – Magnolia CD (Fontana North)
Megan Bonnell is an alternative folk singer/songwriter based in Toronto, Canada. Born and raised in Caledon, Ontario, she became proficient on the piano and guitar, and crafts music that carries a quiet but intense disposition led by the singer’s breathy vocal delivery.
Boosie Badazz/C-Murder – Penitentiary Chances CD (RBC)
New collaboration between rappers C-Murder and Boosie Badazz with guest contributions by Snoop Dogg, TRU-Bossalinie Records artist Vs and Calliope Bub.
Nimrod Borenstein – Suspended Opus 69 CD (Solaire)
Nimrod Borenstein’s hauntingly beautiful original score for Gandini Juggling’s 2015 4×4 Ephemeral Architectures performance. Complex rhythmical layers run on top of each other in one moment, only to give way to a thrilling tango, waltz, or Charleston in the next; in some of the most arresting moments, the pulse seems to be dying down completely, resulting in a form of glacial acoustic ambient.
Brass Bed – In The Yellow Leaf CD/LP+MP3 (Modern Outsider)
Yellow Leaf finds Brass Bed in much the same headspace as their 2013 album The Secret Will Keep You: angsty vortices of sound draped over pop idioms constructed with a grad student’s eye for abstraction and musical grammar. With the help of guitarist Ben Jones (Generationals, Youth Lagoon) and engineer Chris Woodhouse (Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees), the band rediscovered the exuberance of guitar rock and forced it to grow up.
Big Bill Broonzy – Live In Amsterdam 1953 CD (Rockbeat)
Legendary blues guitarist and singer recorded live in Amsterdam in 1953. Bill was one of the first American blues artists to play Europe, and this fine recording shows why his playing influenced a generation of players including Eric Clapton, John Lennon and Ray Davies.
Peter Brötzmann & ICI Ensemble – Beautiful Lies CD (Neos Music)
Reedist Peter Brötzmann, a grand old master of European free jazz, has created a body of music that is considered among the most influential and pioneering of the 20th and early 21st centuries. Brötzmann’s recording presented here, a 72-minute document made in collaboration with the Munich ICI Ensemble, consciously alternates between the intimacy of contemporary chamber music and virtuosic brilliance — brought together within a large-scale form designed as if agreed upon in advance, yet somehow created purely out of the present moment.
Clairy Browne – Pool CD (Vanguard)
Australian singer/songwriter Clairy Browne’s new solo album is about letting go, detaching, empowering and exploring her love for R&B music and pop music of all styles and eras. On Pool she channels a lineage of fierce women, inspired by the likes of Grace Jones, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé, over 11 tracks that are stuffed with unique pop culture references, pop rhythms and big soulful ballads.
Arjun Bruggeman – Arjun Bruggeman CD (Mantralogy)
Arjun Bruggeman, world percussionist and session recording artist, is highly acclaimed for his unique hybrid of East-meets-West rhythms.
CDs + Vinyl:
Daniel Ash – Stripped CD (Main Man)
Released on vinyl for RSD 2015 — now available on CD. For over 35 years, he has been one of the seminal figures in alternative music; whether for his wildly experimental guitar playing or for his sardonic vocal stylings, or perhaps even for throwing in a bit of saxophone, Daniel Ash has been one of modern music’s most engaging figures. Having defied categorization by fusing elements of electronica with punk, goth, and glam rock, Ash has earned the status of a living legend. In 2014, he embarked on a new solo outing with the help of his fans, launching a successful PledgeMusic campaign that would result in an album of revisited classics from throughout his repertoire.
Jon Balke – Warp CD (ECM)
Warp situates the solo piano of Norway’s Jon Balke within a subtle architecture of composed soundscapes, in fluctuating dimensions of space.
Tony Banks – A Curious Feeling [Reissue/1979] CD+DVD-A/LP (Cherry Red)
Tony Banks – The Fugitive [Reissue/1983] CD+DVD-A/LP (Cherry Red)
Reissues of the first two proper solo studio albums by the Genesis founding member and keyboard player. CD versions add 5.1 surround sound DVD-Audio discs, while the vinyl editions are single-disc, HQ-180gm. [Deluxe hardbook CD+DVD-A edition of The Fugitive is also available.]
Boxcars – Familiar With The Ground CD (Mountain Home)
New album from the two-time Bluegrass Instrumental Band of the Year.
Hayes Carll – Lovers And Leavers CD/LP+MP3 (Hwy 87)
Hayes Carll is at the forefront of a generation of American singer/songwriters. A Texas native, his style of roots-oriented songwriting has been noted for its plain-spoken poetry and sarcastic humor. He was nominated for a 2016 Grammy award for Best Country Song, and American Songwriter awarded him with Song of the Year for “Another Like You” in 2011, the same year he was nominated for Artist of the Year at the Americana Awards. Now Hayes returns with a powerful and raw set of songs produced by Joe Henry entitled Lovers And Leavers. The record marks a new chapter for Hayes — he has gone through much personal change in the five years since his last release, and he mines the depths of these experiences on this record. Sonically, he has stripped away some of the country sounds that marked his previous records, thus highlighting his well-worn voice and placing his straightforward and heartfelt lyrics at the center.
Tony Conrad with Faust – Outside The Dream Syndicate [Reissue/1973] CD/LP (Superior Viaduct)
Outside The Dream Syndicate, originally released in Europe only in 1973, is Conrad’s stunning debut. Two side-long tracks—“The Side Of Man And Womankind” and “The Side Of The Machine”—show just how far Conrad had moved beyond his minimalist peers. Werner Diermaier’s repetitive drum beat and Jean-Hervé Peron’s stripped-down bassline conjure a tense, ascetic groove, while Conrad’s seamless violin, initially so controlled, reveals a surprising adaptability. The music shifts almost on a subliminal level, pushing and pulling to the drone’s internal pulse.
Cult Of Luna – Mariner CD/2xLP (Indie Recordings North America)
“Since its formation in 1998, Cult Of Luna has released seven albums, been awarded the top rock/ metal award at the Swedish national radio awards and cemented their status as one of the true progressors of the metal genre, respected by most metal aficionados. For their eight effort, the post-metal pioneers join forces with the talented Julie Christmas (Battle Of Mice, Made Out Of Babies) from Brooklyn, whom bring an even larger depth to Cult Of Luna’s sound — powerfully displayed on Mariner.” – Blabbermouth