This Month's Picks

In Bardo (CD)

White Arrows

White Arrows do an admirable job of balancing their pop ambitions with their innate record-store-geek weirdness on their sophomore album, In Bardo. We get tracks like “We Can’t Ever Die,” a blast of arena-ready anthemic rock, and “Can’t Stop Now,” which features U2-style shivery guitars and big fat chorus. But their first single “Nobody Cares” is also proudly strange, with Nintendo noises, pitch-shifted vocals and all sorts of other crazy noise, moving from being pleasant and enjoyable to unique and hard to shake. And “Get By” balances its hip-shaking rhythms with sonic saturation and wailing guitars. They lose a bit of the globe-trotting vibe from first album Dry Land is Not a Myth, but the focus here is on quality songs, as In Bardo has them in spades.

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Genre: Rock

Cosmic Logic (CD)

Peaking Lights

Psych pop duo Peaking Lights get somehow both more personal and further out there on their latest release. “Telephone Call” sees singer Indra Dunis leading an alien dance party, singing “telephone call from space, calling all the human race” over a fat, dubby groove, while “Hypnotic Hustle” seems to create a new, interdimensional dance. But, like Lucifer’s stunning “Beautiful Son,” about Dunis and bandmate/husband Aaron Coynes’ newborn, some of Cosmic Logic’s best tracks aim for the terrestrial. “Everyone and Us” hides quiet reflection in its funky synth bassline, and the irresistible “New Grrrls” tells of the struggles of being a working mom, from the perspective of an indie rock star (“Can’t stop to be just a mom/The choice to stay at home is gone/Worker, lover, mother, wife/Gotta do it all in this life”). Dunis’ untrained voice will be a barrier for some, but her plainspoken lack of affectation also helps ground these songs and keep them from drifting off into the ether. Listen to Cosmic Logic and enter an interstellar dance party with Peaking Lights.

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Genre: Rock

Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1 [OST] (CD)

Various Artists

A good, old-fashioned mix tape from your best friend…Marvel! Rock out with The Runaways, groove with The Five Stairsteps, get nostalgic with David Bowie, and bask in fond memories of one of the most entertaining film of 2014.

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Genre: Soundtracks

Tuxedo (CD)

Tuxedo

The prolific and diverse hip-hop producer Jake One has teamed up with blue-eyed soul singer Mayer Hawthorne for a new collaboration entitled Tuxedo. Their alter egos - Aquarius (Mayer Hawthorne) and Taurus (Jake One) - are dressed up in tuxedos and presented by Stones Throw founder Peanut Butter Wolf (a man known to dress up himself) as descendants of the one-word moniker family of funk, where you will find groups such as Chic, Shalamar, Plush, and Zapp. It's a retro disco funk record that will have you busting out your own tuxedo and dusting off those dancing shoes.

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Genre: Soul

Aquilones (CD)

Trio Mediaeval

Great music for three female singers. Ducking and weaving in ancient style, harmonies vibrating against our hearts. Absolutely sumptuous timbre in these three together, luxurious material in this collection of cardinal cool. ECM supreme sound! 

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Genre: Classical

Mount The Air (CD)

The Unthanks

The Unthanks’ first album in four years shows them more musically ambitious than ever, taking on traditions from Spain, India, Blue Note and Trip-Hop. Mount The Air is the work of an act who still believes in the value of the album as an art form.

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Genre: Folk

Deeper (CD)

The Soft Moon

Deeper finds Oakland’s Luis Vasquez doing what he does best, creating thrillingly nihilistic darkwave tracks like “Black” but also expanding his sound a bit with more melody (“Wasting”), IDM-fueled electro-pop (“Wrong”) and even balladry (“Without” calls to mind vintage Depeche Mode songs like “A Question of Lust”). While Vasquez has always been adept at creating bleak soundscapes, his songs feel more fully formed than ever on Deeper. The best Soft Moon album yet.

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Genre: Rock

Mended With Gold (CD)

The Rural Alberta Advantage

With heartfelt lyrics, fetching melodies, and explosive percussion, Mended With Gold makes it clear that The RAA have reached the next level and composed the most fully-realized work of their career.

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Genre: Rock

Pe'ahi (CD)

The Raveonettes

Danish noise pop darlings the Raveonettes have lightened things up a bit with their latest release, Pe’ahi. Appropriately titled after a town on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii, you can see that Wagner and Foo have been using surf culture as their latest muse, both sonically and lyrically. Combining surf-pop, warm fuzz, and tropicana with the bright melodies and girl group harmonies they are best known for; this is their most dynamic and baroque work since 2008’s Lust Lust Lust. Tracks like “Endless Sleeper” and “Sisters” drown you in warm fuzz while dreamy songs like “Killer In The Streets” let you float through glorious waves of melancholy. The mood of the album is breezier and more upbeat than previous efforts and is set to be the definitive summer soundtrack.

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Genre: Rock

A Tribute To Michael Been (CD)

The Call

After 20 years, Santa Cruz rockers The Call reunited at The Troubador in Los Angeles to put on an incredible show while paying tribute to front-man, Michael Been, who died of a heart attack in 2010. Been’s son Robert Levon Been (bassist and singer of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) led this emotional performance by stepping into his father’s role and playing along with surviving members Tom Ferrier, Jim Goodwin and Scott Musick. With fourteen songs and an unforgettable performance by Robert and the band, highlights include “Let The Day Begin,” “The Walls Came Down” and “I Still Believe.”

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Genre: Rock