CDs + Vinyl:
3MA – Anarouz CD (Six Degrees)
3MA is the meeting of three string-instrument virtuosi, emblematic of their countries in Africa, but also of generous artists who share a musical passion, a reciprocal dialogue and a beautiful friendship. The group is comprised of Ballaké Sissoko (kora), Driss El Maloumi (oud), and Rajery (valiha).
Alkaloid – Liquid Anatomy CD/2xLP (Season Of Mist)
With a pedigree including current and former members of Blotted Science, Obscura, Necrophagist and more, Alkaloid have spent decades advancing extreme, forward-thinking metal.
Amorphous – Queen Of Time CD/2xLP (Nuclear Blast)
13th album from the Finnish metal band. [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Joan Armatrading – Not Too Far Away CD (BMG Rights Management)
19th album from the British singer-songwriter and Ivor Novello award winner. For fans of Rickie Lee Jones, Janis Ian, Suzanne Vega and Joni Mitchell. [Vinyl edition due May 23.]
Armored Saint – Symbol Of Salvation [Reissue/1991] CD/LP (Metal Blade)
CD and Colored vinyl reissue – part of the Metal Blade Originals series. In July/August 2018, Armored Saint will embark on a North American tour, commemorating this 1991 classic. On this special run, the band will perform Symbol Of Salvation in its entirety, with select shows to be recorded for a live DVD.
Ash – Islands CD/LP (Liberator Music/Infectious Music)
Islands is Ash’s seventh studio album since their inception in 1992. The title of the album alludes to the unique environments in which its constituent songs were birthed. In the spring of 2016, following a whirlwind Japanese tour to close out the touring cycle for 2015’s Kablammo! album, Ash frontman Tim Wheeler undertook a visit to the picturesque island of Naoshima, renowned worldwide for its modern art installations, architecture and sculptures. Wheeler found the island’s tranquil, meditative atmosphere conducive to both reflection and creativity, and as he immersed himself in his craft, new song ideas began to ferment and flow. Islands is a cathartic collection for the singer, inspired, says Wheeler, ‘by me trying to get my head around a break up that didn’t make any sense to me.’ Self-produced, and recorded at the band’s own Atomic Heart Studio, where every Ash release since Twilight Of The Innocents has been committed to tape, the album cycles through the full Kübler-Ross grief model – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – with Wheeler laying bare his emotions in unflinching detail.” – Vinyl Radar
At The Gates – To Drink From The Night Itself CD/LP (Century Media)
The Swedish melodic death metal pioneers unleash their indomitable spirit, ceaseless ingenuity, and raw power on their sixth full-length effort. [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available.]
CDs + Vinyl:
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids – An Angel Fell CD/2xLP (Strut)
New album from cosmic jazz travelers The Pyramids, led by saxophonist Idris Ackamoor. Produced by Malcolm Catto of The Heliocentrics, An Angel Fell was recorded during an intense week at Quatermass studios in London and is one of the deepest, richest works yet from a band reaching their highest creative peak since the early ’70s.
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino CD/LP+MP3 (Domino)
Arctic Monkeys return with their sixth album, entitled Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. Produced by longtime collaborator James Ford and frontman Alex Turner, the highly anticipated 11-track effort was recorded in Los Angeles, Paris and London. “The first Arctic Monkeys album in five years is lush and claustrophobic at the same time – it calls to mind a guy going a little nutty in a small room in a nice house on a hill, constructing a fantasy world in his head and setting his visions to piano” (Rolling Stone). “The album’s title is a fitting one: this record feels a lot like gazing into the night sky. At first it’s completely overwhelming – you’ll be trying to connect the scattered dots on this initially impenetrable listen, and maybe even despairing when it doesn’t all come together. But when the constellations show through, you’ll realize that it’s a product of searingly intelligent design” (NME). [Limited colored vinyl pressing also available.]
Bad Wolves – Disobey CD (Eleven Seven Music)
From their massive cover of The Cranberries “Zombie”, driving anthems like “No Masters” to the syncopated Faith No More-worthy rocker “Better The Devil,” Bad Wolves’ new album Disobey showcases elements of rock, metal, hip-hop and progressive rock into a unique amalgam of music that is infectious. [Vinyl edition due May 25.]
Beach House – 7 CD/LP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
Beach House released B-sides And Rarities in 2017, which served as a proverbial “cleaning out the closet” to pave way for a new creative process. Their approach in the creation of 7 was rebirth and rejuvenation. “Looking back, there is quite a bit of chaos happening in these songs, and a pervasive dark field that we had little control over. The discussions surrounding women’s issues were a constant source of inspiration and questioning. The energy, lyrics and moods of much of this record grew from ruminations on the roles, pressures and conditions that our society places on women, past and present. The twisted double edge of glamour, with its perils and perfect moments, was an endless source (see ‘L’Inconnue,’ ‘Drunk In L.A.,’ ‘Woo,’ ‘Girl Of The Year,’ ‘Last Ride’). In a more general sense, we are interested by the human mind’s (and nature’s) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present. Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that arises in dealing with darkness; the empathy and love that grows from collective trauma; the place one reaches when they accept rather than deny (see ‘Dark Spring,’ ‘Pay No Mind,’ ‘Lemon Glow,’ ‘Dive,’ ‘Black Car,’ ‘Lose Your Smile’).” – Beach House
Jean-Michel Blais – Dans ma main CD (Arts & Crafts)
The sophomore release by pianist and composer Jean-Michel Blais is an expansive album of post-classical piano with strands of electronic detail. Blending his conservatory skill and precise pop sensibility with synthetic accompaniment, Blais creates unique environments where the piano’s intimacy can be subtly disrupted at any time. Dans ma main weaves together expressive piano with austere synths in a double-helix of acoustic and electronic arpeggiation, tethering techno, industrial, ambient, and new age music to Blais’ solo piano essence. The album explores an everyday life awash in spirituality, stemming from Blais’ interplay with music as therapy. Compelled by the cathartic air that audiences exude in his pin-drop performances, Blais considers how music has served as a tool of wellness in his own life. From his prior career in special education, to the role classical and ambient music played soothing the Tourettic symptoms he experienced as a child, Jean-Michel’s new compositions subconsciously call upon these periods of his life, reimagining a serenity he had only experienced seated at the piano. [Vinyl edition due June 8.]
CDs + Vinyl:
Joey Alexander – Eclipse CD (Motema Music)
Fourteen-year-old pianist Joey Alexander has already recorded two Grammy-nominated studio albums – 2015’s My Favorite Things and 2016’s Countdown. Recorded over a three-day period, his third album, Eclipse, features the pianist with a stellar rhythm section of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland, and guest appearances by saxophonist Joshua Redman on three tracks.
Bad Stream – Bad Stream CD (Antime)
Having grown up with and on the internet, Martin Steer (1986) has transformed its pull into a concept album that is just as immediate and intangible as the digital world. Bad Stream is guitars and machines vanishing in the spaces between Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails only to reemerge amidst ambient, noise, and drone.
Matthew Barber – Phase Of The Moon CD/LP (Outside Music)
New stirring and soulful offering from the Toronto singer-songwriter.
Gary Barlow – Open Road [Reissue/1997] CD/LP (Sony)
Had Gary Barlow’s run of hits dried up when Take That originally split he would still be regarded now as one of the U.K.’s most successful songwriters of all time. But instead he went on to hit a series of new highs with the launch of his own solo/songwriting career, the magnificent rebirth of his ’90s boy band and a successful musical on Broadway. After Take That split in 1996 the inevitable solo career beckoned and this started with a pair of U.K. No. 1 singles (“Forever Love” and “Love Won’t Wait”) and U.K. No. 1 album (1997’s Open Road).
Kenny Barron Quintet – Concentric Circles CD (Blue Note)
Blue Note debut from the esteemed pianist, composer, bandleader and educator. The sublime set features new originals plus interpretations of songs by Caetano Veloso, Thelonious Monk, and Lenny White, and finds the 11-time Grammy nominee introducing a new edition of the Kenny Barron Quintet with saxophonist Dayna Stephens, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, bassist Kiyoshi Kitagawa, and drummer Johnathan Blake.
Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin – Awase CD/2xLP (ECM)
Awase, a term from martial arts, means “moving together” in the sense of matching energies, a fitting metaphor for the dynamic precision, tessellated grooves and balletic minimalism of Nik Bärtsch’s Ronin. Six years have passed since the last release from the Swiss group. In the interim, trimmed from quintet to quartet size and with new bassist Thomy Jordi fully integrated, Ronin has become a subtly different band. Bärtsch speaks of a new-found freedom and flexibility in the approach to the material, with “greater transparency, more interaction, more joy in every performance.”
CDs + Vinyl:
Lee Aaron – Diamond Baby CD (Big Sister)
An extraordinary blend of hard-blues, rock ‘n’ roll and hard-rock that pays homage to the giants of the late ‘60s and ‘70s.
Aera – The Sound Path CD/2xLP+MP3 (Permanent Vacation)
Born in the high north of Germany and now a Berlin resident, Ralf Schmidt, aka Aera, first appeared on the electronic music map when he established his own Aleph Music label back in 2010. With only a handful of releases, Aera was able to lay out his very own musically topography on the cutting edges between house, psychedelia, and breakbeats.
Anne-Marie – Speak Your Mind CD (WB)
On her debut offering, Anne-Marie’s playfully infectious pop spirit entwines with her celebrated humor, charisma and idiosyncratic storytelling – attributes that have set her apart from her peers and seen her become one of the UK’s most-loved female breakthrough stars of recent years.
Answer Code Request – Gens CD (Ostgut Ton)
In a sense, Gens (Latin for “tribe” or “lineage”) reverses the notion of the hardcore continuum as proposed by music journalist Simon Reynolds; embedded in a tradition of US and continental European techno, Patrick Gräser seeks its disruption through hardcore outgrowths, from ambient jungle to later variations of British bass music and IDM.
Antarte – Isole CD (Megaphone UK)
Isole is the second album by Sicilian band Antarte.Italian post-rock — half sung in Italian, half instrumental — reminiscent of Slowdive, The Durutti Column, or A Silver Mt. Zion.
Atlas – Breeze [Reissue/1987] CD (Studio Mule)
CD reissue of one of the best and most complex Japanese jazz fusion albums.