CDs + Vinyl:
A Lot Like Birds – Divisi CD/LP (Equal Vision)
Divisi (“a directive in ensemble music that instructs one section of instruments to divide into two or more separate sections”) is the fourth full-length studio effort from Sacramento, CA experimental post-hardcore act A Lot Like Birds and first since 2013’s No Place. The album finds Cory Lockwood and new bassist Matt Coate handling vocal duties in the wake of the departure of singer Kurt Travis (Dance Gavin Dance) who worked on the band’s previous two albums. Emotional, chaotic, haunting and intense, the band has cited artists like Sigur Rós, Björk, Pedro The Lion, Mew, Daughter, Radiohead, My Morning Jacket and Death Cab For Cutie as influences on the diverse new record.
Afghan Whigs – In Spades CD/LP+MP3/Cassette (Sub Pop)
From its evocative cover art to the troubled spirits haunting its halls, In Spades casts a spell that challenges the listener to unpack its dark metaphors and spectral imagery. On the one hand, it is as quintessentially Afghan Whigs as anything the group has ever done – fulfilling its original mandate to explore the missing link between howling Midwestern punk like Die Kreuzen and Hüsker Dü, The Temptations’ psychedelic soul symphonies, and the expansive hard-rock tapestries of Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd. At the same time, this new record continues to push beyond anything in the Whigs’ previous repertoire – another trademark, along with the explosive group dynamic captured on the recording. “This is the first time since Black Love [the Whigs’ 1996 noir masterpiece] that we’ve done a full-blown band album,” Greg Dulli says. The joys, sorrows, and upheavals of innocence and experience echo throughout In Spades: it powerfully documents where The Afghan Whigs have been, and where they might go next.
Angel Snow – Magnetic CD (Nettwerk)
The music of Angel Snow is moving, ethereal and at times, chillingly honest. The Nashville based singer songwriter’s music is always evolving; combining her accomplished songwriting with haunting, engaging vocals and electronic textures. This new album combines her Americana roots with these more electronic textures, creating a fresh sonic landscape that is at once raw and beguiling.
At The Drive-In – in·ter a·li·a CD/LP+MP3 (Rise)
“Ever had that feeling when introducing a friend to a band you love – the envy that they get to discover them for the first time, to hear it with fresh ears? Well, At The Drive In are making a comeback almost two decades after Relationship Of Command with in•ter a•li•a. It feels like in•ter a•li•a quite literally picks up where At The Drive In left off, with familiar chord attacks from Omar Rodriguez Lopez and the yelping emotion of Cedric Bixler. ‘No Wolf Like The Present’ and leading single ‘Governed By Contagions’ could have come directly from the band’s 2000 release, with the exception of the slightly more solid production. It’s still got the post-‘90s prog obsession, but it’s been cleaned up a bit. in•ter a•li•a does avoid being overly nostalgic with tracks like ‘Pendulum In A Peasant Dress’ and ‘Incurably Innocent’ which seem in turn to swing At The Drive In’s new release from one side to the other of their sonic spectrum. ‘Pendulum…’ takes the stuttering skat-like vocal performance of Bixler to an extreme, while ‘…Innocent’ seems closer to ‘I Brought You My Bullets…’ era My Chemical Romance – and no that’s not a bad thing, get over it” – Skateism. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]
Big Walnuts Yonder – Big Walnuts Yonder CD/LP+MP3 (Sargent House)
Big Walnuts Yonder is bassist/vocalist Mike Watt (Minutemen, The Stooges), guitarist Nels Cline (Wilco, Nels Cline Singers), drummer Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and guitarist/vocalist Nick Reinhart (Tera Melos). It is not a supergroup. It’s worlds colliding, says Mike Watt. Four exceptional musicians whose work spans multiple genres and generations, Big Walnuts Yonder is a monumental endeavor that’s more than the sum of its parts. The results are a truly epic album defying categorization, where one might hear elements of proto-punk, free jazz, power pop, experimental music, psych-rock and your first teenage acid trip all in one.
Black Lips – Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art? CD (Vice)
Produced by Sean Lennon at his studio compound in upstate New York throughout 2016, Satan’s Graffiti Or God’s Art? stays true to Black Lips’ original blistering take on fuzzy, dirty rock n’ roll. The album features contributions by Saul Adamczewski of Fat White Family and guest vocals by Yoko Ono. [Vinyl edition due July 14.]
Blondie – Pollinator CD/LP+MP3 (BMG)
Pollinator is Blondie’s 11th album. Alongside original band members Chris Stein, Debbie Harry and drummer Clem Burke, the album also features contributions from Johnny Marr, Sia, Dev Hynes, Charli XCX, Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio), Nick Valensi (The Strokes) and The Gregory Brothers. “Pollinator starts strong with four hook-driven tracks, each a unique pop offering accented by song-launching drumrolls, funk-inspired riffs, and plenty of synth for ears to swim in. Joan Jett duets with Debbie Harry on album opener ‘Doom Or Destiny,’ a fitting match that pairs the rough edge in Jett’s voice to Harry’s sweeter croon. She’s not the only guest, not by a long shot, and it’s the corollary talent that winds up making Pollinator such a success” – Consequence Of Sound. [Limited edition color vinyl pressing also available.]
Bonny ‘Prince’ Billy – Best Troubador CD/LP/Cassette (Drag City)
With Best Troubador, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy pays homage to a long-time and forever hero, the late Merle Haggard. A singer who, some 25 years previously, first performed in public by playing a Merle Haggard song, Bonny has often cited Merle’s work in performance, on records and in conversation with anyone who was around, even talking to Merle himself for Filter magazine in 2009. The songs sung on Best Troubador are pulled from all over — from Haggard’s third album in 1967 through to his 47th in 2011 — but this is no simple hits compilation. Capable only of occupying a shared space between himself and Merle Haggard, Bonny chose personal favorites, singing the songs he wanted to sing, to find Merle and himself together in the music. Only two of Hag’s thirty-eight (!) country number ones are included, and only two others that charted at all. Seven of the sixteen songs are from his later period, after his long run at the top of the country charts had ended, but before encroaching mortality could finally cease the singular and indefatigable creativity of Merle Haggard.
Brother Ali – All The Beauty In This Whole Life CD/2xLP+MP3 (Rhymesayers)
Over the past 17 years, Brother Ali has earned wide critical acclaim for his deeply personal, socially conscious, and inspiring brand of hip-hop. “This entire album is based on the reality that beauty is the splendor of truth,” says the Minneapolis MC. “Beauty in all of its forms is the outward manifestation of love and virtue. It soothes the soul and pulls it gently toward the truth it communicates. Every word and note of this album is intended to either reflect beauty, or expose the ugliness that blocks us from living lives of meaning.” [Limited clear vinyl pressing also available.]
CDs + Vinyl:
All That Remains – Madness CD (Razor & Tie)
Madness is the eighth studio album by All That Remains and it was produced by Grammy award winning Howard Benson (Halestorm, In Flames, Chris Cornell) and co-produced by Mike Plotnikoff. This album is full of undeniable hooks, incisive riffs, electronic samples and a variety of vocal styles. Integrating personal experiences, political rants and controversial commentary with music that s just as confrontational, Madness is an unapologetic showcase of honesty and ingenuity. All That Remains have created 50 minutes of attitude-laden music with a combination of rock, metal, ballads, and a cover of “Thunder Rolls” by Garth Brooks. “We really wanted this record to be different,” said vocalist Phil Labonte, explaining the inclusion of electronic samples and the dramatic juxtaposition between roaring chaos and accessible craftsmanship. “We wanted to really push ourselves and push the boundaries of what we’re allowed to do.” [Vinyl edition due May 12th.]
Aryeon – The Source CD/2xLP+MP3 (Music Theories/Mascot Label Group)
The Source explores the origins of the mythical Ayreon saga, while once again offering a stellar cast of singers and musicians, including: James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Tommy Rogers (Between The Buried And Me), Simone Simons (Epica), Nils K Rue (Pagan’s Mind), Tobias Sammet (Avantasia), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Michael Mills (Toehider), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Michael Eriksen (Circus Maximus), Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Zaher Zorgati (Myrath).
Between The Buried & Me – Coma Ecliptic Live CD+DVD+Blu-ray (Metal Blade)
Between The Buried & Me performed their 2015 Coma Ecliptic in its entirety live on October 4, 2016 at The Observatory North Park in San Diego, CA.
Birkin/Gainsbourg – Birkin Gainsbourg Le Symphonique 2xCD/2xLP (Warner Classics/Parlophone)
Jane Birkin’s symphonic tribute to Serge Gainsbourg.
Mary J. Blige – Strength Of A Woman CD (Capitol)
The 13th album from the R&B singer/songwriter includes guest appearances by Kanye West, Quavo, DJ Khaled, Missy Elliot, Prince Charlez, and Kaytranada.
BNQT – Volume 1 CD/LP (Dualtone)
“BNQT is billed as the new supergroup, although that seems a little grandiose a term for a project fashioned out of the remnants of moderately successful indie bands you probably remember from your teens. This effort sees Midlake’s Eric Pulido (supported by McKenzie Smith, Joey McClellan and Jesse Chandler) merge with Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell, Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos, Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle, and Travis’ Fran Healy. Volume 1 sounds very much like you would imagine music made by a mash-up of late ’90s-early-2000s indie groups might sound: meandering and nostalgic with a clean, crisp production that really showcases the instrumentals. I love the upbeat opener ‘Restart’, and the surreal love song ‘Hey Banana’, in which you can’t quite work out, by the end of the song, whether Banana is someone he wants to fuck or kill. Or maybe actually Banana is the small child who does a cameo midway through. Whatever. I liked it.” – Loud & Quiet
British Sea Power – Let The Dancers Inherit The Party CD/LP (Caroline International)
British Sea Power presents their sixth full-length studio effort and first since 2013. Melodic, direct and brimming with emotional urgency, it’s an album where rock muscularity joins inseparably with pop immediacy, where a crate of the finest sparkling wine explodes inside a Marshall stack. Subject matter on Let The Dancers Inherit The Party ranges from the stars in the night sky to the methodology of media manipulation. The album emerges alongside a world full of chaos and disorder, but seeks to answer this world with optimism and hope.
CDs + Vinyl:
Derrick Anderson – A World Of My Own CD (Omnivore)
Before touring with Dave Davies (The Kinks) and becoming bassist for The Bangles in 2008, Derrick Anderson (as part of The Andersons!) romped throughout Los Angeles from 1995-2004 flashing an energized, cheeky brand of pop/rock. A World Of My Own, his first solo album, draws inspiration from the Cavern Club, Brill Building and Laurel Canyon. The album opens with the upbeat “Send Me Down A Sign” and heavy-hitting “Waiting For You,” which features backing by The Smithereens (Pat Dinizio, Jim Babjak, Dennis Diken and Severo Jornacion). “Happiness” features stinging guitar lines by Matthew Sweet, while “A Mother’s Love” showcases incomparably lush vocals by Bob, John, and Susan Cowsill. “When I Was Your Man” showcases Bangles’ guitarist Vicki Peterson and drummer Debbi Peterson, along with Kim Shattuck (The Muffs, The Pandoras) on guitar and vocals. The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs joins the Peterson sisters for backing vocals on two other songs: “Something New” and “Spring” – the latter also reunites him with The Andersons! guitarists Robbie Rist-Anderson and Wil O’Brien-Anderson, and drummer Marc Joseph-Anderson.
Arca – Arca CD (XL)
Arca is the first to feature the Venezuela-born, London-based producer’s untreated singing voice. He sings in Spanish – the language of his childhood home, Venezuela. It stands as a defiant, delicate statement of intent, and cements his position as one of this turbulent decade’s defining musicians. Previous work has incorporated snatches of song and Arca’s rapping, but on Arca, his voice is front-and-center on eight of the album’s 13 tracks. [Vinyl edition due May 5.]
Joey Bada$$ – All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ CD/LP+MP3 (Cinematic Music Group)
The sophomore album from the Brooklyn emcee features guest appearances by ScHoolboy Q, J. Cole, Styles P, Meechy Darko Flatbush Zombies and members the Pro Era crew. A mix of indie and street, rapper Joey Bada$$ rose to fame by releasing mixtapes and joining the hip-hop collective Pro Era with fellow MC Capital Steez. Born in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn, Joey began performing under the name JayOhVee, but changed it to Joey Bada$$ before the Pro Era crew signed to the Cinematic Music label in 2012. “With his sophomore album, a new sound and a clearer outlook on the problems of the world around him, Joey Bada$$ is ready for the next level. All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$ addresses social conflict with an astuteness that recalls J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, two rappers who also broke through half a decade ago. Songs like the ironically-titled lead single ‘Land Of The Free,’ defiantly hopeful “For My People’ and the call to arms of album-closer ‘AmeriKKKan Idol’ straddle the line between justified anger and practical resistance, laying out a world view that is more balanced than reactionary.” – Billboard
Joan Baez – The Complete Gold Castle Masters 3xCD (Concord)
The Complete Gold Castle Masters collects Joan Baez’s discography on the Gold Castle label for the first time in a comprehensive three-CD set. The collection includes two studio albums, Recently and Speaking Of Dreams, as well as Diamonds & Rust In The Bull Ring, a 1988 live album recorded in Bilbao, Spain. This new reissue features extensive liner notes, newly remastered audio, and three bonus tracks.
Blaenavon – That’s Your Lot CD/2xLP (Transgressive/Atlantic)
“A bit like the mining town from which they took their name, Hampshire trio Blaenavon (that’s singer and guitarist Ben Gregory, bassist Frank Wright and drummer Harris McMillan) have an unassuming reputation. Beneath their carefree exterior, though, lies a story of evocative beauty just like the wonders of South Wales’ industrial heartland. Just without the dragons. That’s Your Lot is an album that reels you in and lulls you into a false sense of security. Side 1 is packed full of bangers and the sort of literate, smart indie pop that makes them a cut above their peers. Singles – like the positively buoyant in-the-face-of-despair ‘Let’s Pray’ and the doleful, sensual groove of ‘Orthodox Man’ – provide the sweet bait before the second half veers off into all sorts of compelling tangents. It takes a whole lot of ambition to put three six-minute-plus songs on your debut record, but ambition is something Blaenavon have pouring out of every orifice. While the music on That’s Your Lot displays depth and vitality the songs themselves are rich in imagery and a storytelling quality that place Blaenavon in the lineage of great British songwriters. At times these tales of desire, longing, and life’s cruel twists of fate are reminiscent of Jarvis Cocker and Morrissey.” – Dork
Terence Blanchard – The Comedian [OST] CD (Blue Note)
Multiple Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard has composed a sublime jazz score for the new Taylor Hackford film starring Robert De Niro and Leslie Mann.
Blood Youth – Beyond Repair CD/LP (Rude)
Beyond Repair is an unrelenting assault of punch-to-the-gut riffing and Kaya Tarsus’ impassioned vocals that both tear and soar. Brutally heavy, yet deftly accessible.
Michelle Branch – Hopeless Romantic CD (Verve)
Produced by Patrick Carney (The Black Keys) and Gus Seyffert (Beck, Norah Jones, SIA), Hopeless Romantic weaves a tale of love-lost and found. [Vinyl edition due May 5.]
JC Brooks – Neon Jungle CD (Rock Ridge Music)
“What does post-punk soul look like? Six and a half feet of raw emotion and sweat, one leather boot planted in gutsy R&B, the other in indie rock. Snarling at the crowd beneath an afro pompadour, while indulging in a sly wink, singing to you directly, and here to make you dance.”
CDs + Vinyl:
50 Cent – Best Of CD (Aftermath)
18 of 50’s biggest songs. [Vinyl edition due April 7.]
Trace Adkins – Something’s Going On CD (Wheelhouse)
It’s been four years since Adkins’ last studio album Love Will… released in 2013, which debuted in the top ten on Billboard’s Top Country Albums chart, and fans have eagerly awaited this follow-up ever since. Some of Nashville’s favorite and most respected songwriters contributed to the range and inspiration of Something’s Going On, boasting credits such as Tyler Farr, Craig Campbell and Shane McAnally to name a few.
Arch Enemy – As The Stages Burn CD+DVD/2xLP+DVD (Century Media)
New live set of Swedish melodic death metal band recorded last summer at the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. [Silver color vinyl pressing also available.]
The Artificials – Heart CD (Tragic Hero)
With a unique use of polyrhythms and odd time signatures, The Artificials will take you on somewhat of a mathematical journey of controlled chaos.
Basement – Promise Everything [Deluxe Edition] CD (Fueled By Ramen)
This deluxe reissue of Basement’s critically adored album includes remixed/remastered versions of the original release’s ten songs and four bonus tracks: a cover of The Cardigan’s “My Favourite Game,” acoustic versions of “Aquasun,” “Blinded Bye,” and the acoustic track “Cloud,” which originally appeared on a limited run 7”. Hailing from Ipswich, Britain’s Basement make muscular, lyrical noise-rock influenced by a handful of ’90s American guitar bands from Dinosaur Jr. to Braid. Promise Everything builds upon previous album Colourmeinkindness’ (2012) guitar-heavy emotionality with tracks that trade hardcore punk edginess for soaring melodicism, and white noise for nuanced slabs of harmonic fuzz. Tracks like the lead-off “Brother’s Keeper” and “Lose Your Grip” bring to mind a mix of bands like Sebadoh and Mudhoney. Part of what makes Basement’s sound so appealing is lead vocalist Andrew Fisher, who surfs the top of his bandmates guitar tsunami with an impassioned croon. It’s just that perfect combination of sludgy, distorted noise and Fisher’s glassy vocal warmth that helps make cuts like “Aquasun” and “For You The Moon” immediately infectious, lovelorn anthems. [Vinyl edition due May 12.]
Bereft – Lands CD/LP (Prosthetic)
The Madison, WI atmospheric doom metal outfit makes their Prosthetic Records debut.
Manford Best – Come Go With Me [Reissue/1978] CD/LP (PMG)
Reissue of the chirpy, calypso-influenced debut solo album from Manford Best (of Super Wings).
The Beta Yama Group – Free Love [Reissue/1980] CD/LP (PMG)
Nigerian musicians Nash Dodoo, Charlie Cuul and Jonas Caulley put out Free Love after releasing an album of face-melting gospel boogie as the BML Chapels in 1980. The album is, as Peter Moore puts is, “a belated love letter to San Francisco’s Summer of Love,” and, “a small slice of Haight-Ashbury transported to the Polygram Studios in Lagos.”
Eric Bibb – Migration Blues CD (Stony Plain Music)
Mainly composed of new tunes, Migration Blues includes covers of Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” and Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land.” An arrangement of the traditional “Mornin’ Train,” closes the opus.
Steve Black – Happy Birthday To ‘U’ [Reissue/1983] CD/LP (PMG)
An irresistible blend of highlife, Afro beat, and Afro funk.
Body Count – Bloodlust CD/LP (Century Media)
New album from the metal band fronted by hip-hop legend, actor and director Ice-T.
Brother Firetribe – Sunbound CD/LP (Spinefarm)
An AOR band from Finland, Brother Firetribe is influenced by the glory days of such stadium rock giants as Journey and Van Halen coupled with the glam of such acts as Skid Row. “Infectious, contagious, feel good hook laden melodic rock.”
Bill Brovold & Jamie Saft – Serenity Knolls CD/2xLP (RareNoise)
An intimate duo project with guitarist Bill Brovold, a former member of such New York no-wave bands as the Rhys Chatham Ensemble, the East Village Orchestra and the Zen Vikings, Serenity Knolls features Saft alternating between playing dobro and lap steel on a set of 12 ambient type tunes with a distinctive heartland undercurrent to them. An accomplished keyboardist-composer who has been widely acknowledged for his work with various John Zorn projects, including The Dreamers, Electric Masada and Moonchild, the Queens native and current resident of Kingston in upstate New York has nonetheless has maintained a longstanding relationship with the guitar.
Richard Buckner – Impasse [Reissue/2002] CD/LP+MP3 (Merge)
The words are entrancingly cryptic, as if their simplicity conceals unfathomable depths. The music is sparse, almost whispered at times, like a secret. The title gives everything away, though. During the gestation of his 2002 album Impasse, Richard Buckner was stuck. But, with perseverance, what began as one of his most troubled recording attempts ended as one of his best and most pivotal—a capstone for his wayfaring early period before he planted roots with Merge.
Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 – Star Stuff CD/LP+MP3 (Company)
World-renowned composer/producer extraordinaire Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi, Les Sins) has teamed up with the psychedelic-jazz grooves of The Mattson 2 for an album that unifies a trio’s creativity into a refreshing project of unhinged sonic originality. Grounding Star Stuff are break-beats, synthesizers, acoustic strums, and guitar fuzz reminiscent of David Axelrod and Arthur Verocai. With cosmic structures, timeless influences, rich harmonies, and melodic interplays, the trio brings an intergalactic edge to an album worthy of repeated visits. [Limited color vinyl pressing also available.]
The Buttertones – Gravedigging CD/LP+MP3 (Innovative Leisure)
The Buttertones’ Gravedigging is more a movie waiting to happen than an album—or a soundtrack just waiting to inspire a movie, with scene after scene of action, tension and release set to a sound that takes everything good and true about American music before the Beatles prettied it up (surf, sweet soul, the boss saxophone-overdrive garage of the Northwest wailers like the Sonics) and matches it to punk energy, post-punk precision and the kind of personality that blows the circuit-breakers at a backyard party.