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   From Prince to Bob Dylan to Ray Charles, Mavis Staples has made music with a diverse array of great songwriters over the course of her 53-year career. She continues this tradition on One True Vine, her second collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. The record is mix of covers and new songs, all performed with minimal instrumentation. A few tracks (including a striking rendition of Parliament Funkadelic’s “Can You Get to That”) ... Read More
  The title of Queens of the Stone Age’s new album will certainly provoke giggles given that this is their first new release since 2007, but it’s as if Josh Homme and company never left. …Like Clockwork is a welcome continuation of QOTSA’s syrupy groove, but the band also does all sorts of little things to establish a new chapter on this record. While the core of the group remains the same, Homme has widened his influence—there ... Read More
Going to an Akron/Family show is like attending a hipster tent revival, so it’s fitting that the band’s sixth album is full of psychedelic hymns for its flannel-clad brethren. Mixing folk-y melodies with strange rhythms and switching time signatures and tempos constantly, the band has fully realized its signature genre on Sub Verses: prog folk. Expansive opener “No Room” is a primal waltz with a grinding, repetitive drumbeat and soaring, ... Read More
Electronic dance music—otherwise known as EDM—sometimes gets a bad rap, but Miss Kittin’s new album Calling from the Stars is a nonstop dance party. The French femme fatale sounds as sharp as ever. Songs like “Night of Light” and “Tamarin Bay” find Miss Kittin experimenting with various pitches and tempos, all while using her voice as a flexible instrument. “Ballad of the 23rd Century” sounds more like a psychotropic call to action ... Read More
It’s been four long years, but avant-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs has returned with a trippier-than-ever LP to feed your inner art-school weirdo. The psychedelia-infused album pays homage to the band’s punk roots while weaving in the raw intensity of Show Your Bones andIt’s Blitz!-like electronica/dance beats. Mosquito boasts 11 dreamy tracks fueled by Karen O’s fiery yelps, Nick Zinner’s striking guitarwork, and Brian Chase’s complex ... Read More
Sean Tillmann, aka Har Mar Superstar, is a veteran musician who should be more famous than he is, given that he’s a stellar singer/songwriter with a sublime set of pipes. On Bye Bye 17, his fifth album under the Har Mar moniker, Tillmann takes a detour from 2009’s disco-infused Dark Touches and delves into full-on classic R&B, Sam Cooke-style soul, and early ’70s-era Al Green-inspired tunes. On the opener, “Lady, You Shot Me,” bombastic horns ... Read More
Actual pyramids are bottom-heavy, just like Brightest Darkest Day, the debut from a duo made up of vocalist Drea Smith and OK Go’s Tim Nordwind. The two concoct a range of sonic textures which sometimes captivate and other times get lost in the fray. Album closer “Nothing I Can Say” staggers under a feedback loop as dreary as a rainy day in Manchester. About half the album is bogged down in these kinds of post-punk genuflections—a pity, ... Read More
     On their fourth album Indigo Meadow, the Black Angels have kept all of the echo, fuzz, and organ-wailing they’re known for, but added a tighter sound and clearer vocals. It’s obvious the band’s heroes are ahead-of-their-time legends like the 13th Floor Elevators, the Velvet Underground, and the Stooges, but the Angels don’t sound dated while renovating the psych-garage punk genre. Every song on Indigo Meadow flat out ... Read More
On their sophomore album, Portland-based Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside cull the best bits from music’s past eras, creating a mercurial hybrid of rockabilly, blues, country, and garage rock. Ford’s vocals have just enough of a worn edge to sound appropriately world-weary and jaded, but she’s smooth enough in her delivery to pull off sweeter, poppier tracks. Catchy “They Told Me” brings to mind the tight hooks of fellow retro rockers the Black Keys, ... Read More
Though she sounds melancholy on her beautifully solemn debut Ripely Pine, Aly Spaltro has something to celebrate. As Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, she offers up a winning new brand of Southern discomfort (though she’s from the North), with tastes of pop, folk, and Americana. The album begins with a guitar slowly strumming sorrow, as if Spaltro is quietly waiting for the pain to go away while offering up lyrics like, “Love is selfish/Love goes tick tock ... Read More
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