This Month's Picks

I Forget Where We Were (CD)

Ben Howard

Ben Howard, alongside his fellow bandmates Chris Bond and India Bourne, release I Forget Where We Were, a follow up to 2011’s Every Kingdom. In his sophomore effort Howard pushes himself and those around him further musically while maintaining melodies as striking as his first outing. This makes for a less accessible but more moody atmospheric listen. I Forget Where We Were, while fueled with agile finger picking, hammering and other guitar antics, is both lyrically and musically haunting. The album's true hold on the listener is far more mesmerizing than virtuosity alone.

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Genre: Rock

Whiplash [OST] (CD)

J. Hurwitz, Tim Simonec

Whiplash is the story of a young drummer (Miles Teller) who fancies himself the next Buddy Rich. The only thing standing in his way is years of practice and one hard-ass professor (J. K. Simmons.) Though the soundtrack to Whiplash is not as drum workout heavy as the movie would lead you to believe. Instead there is more of a comprehensive big band jazz sound throughout. The 24 tracks that make up the soundtrack are sequenced in three distinct parts: Original jazz songs written for the film, original underscore written for the film, and classic jazz standards by Getz, Ellington, and more. With Original Score by Justin Hurwitz and most jazz songs created by Grammy nominated composer, Tim Simonec. There are also snippets of dialog included on the soundtrack that help to put the Jazz in context.

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Genre: Soundtracks

Anomaly (CD)

Lecrae

Anomaly is Lecrae’s 7th studio album. If you haven’t heard of him before now it is likely due to the fact that he is himself an anomaly. Lecrae is a pioneer in the genre of Christian Hip Hop and Anomaly is the record that pushes his message to a more secular audience. Coming off the heels of 2013’s critically acclaimed mixtape Church Clothes 2, the charismatic MC has struck a balance with his words that stays away from religious generalities and replaces them with a more compelling personal narrative. By invoking issues of social justice, individuality, and not buying into the hype of what much of current hip hop has become, Lecrae has proven the dialogue that he wants to have extends way beyond his Christian beliefs.

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Genre: Hip Hop

Sadnecessary (CD)

Milky Chance

The full-length debut album from Milky Chance hits all of the German duo's varied sounds with an ease that sounds like it never left the bedroom (in a good way). Singer/songwriter Clemens Rehbein and DJ Philipp Dausch started recording songs for their friends and uploading them on the internet several years ago. They describe their genre as “folktronica” infused with jazz, soul and reggae. What that means is Milky Chance combines the folky guitar and vocals of Clemens with the acoustic-sounding (but no less electronic) beats from Phillip. This is then combined with an almost Dadaist (refer to name) lyrical style and lack of convention and… Sadnecessary. No wonder they have captured the hearts and minds of kids and adults alike on the internet and off.

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Genre: Rock

Dreams Of Horror: The Best Of King Diamond (CD)

King Diamond

From the depths of hell... or maybe just Denmark comes a comprehensive compilation spanning the nearly 30 year career of King Diamond. Dreams Of Horror features a total of 23 songs which have been mastered by Andy LaRocque and King Diamond himself. The recordings are the closest to the original sound possible. The 2-CD collection includes material from King Diamond’s years on Roadrunner (Disc 1) and Metal Blade (Disc 2). An absolute must have for anyone who even thinks they know metal.

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Genre: Rock

Family (CD)

Thompson

“My father is one of the greats to ever step on a stage. My mother has the most beautiful voice in the world. And I am betwixt and between. Sean Lennon, you know what I mean. Born to the manor, never quite clamoring free. It's Family.” The self-titled opener sung by Teddy Thompson lays the foundation for this supergroup. The album itself contains each member of the Thompson family sharing their own musical styles and lyrical preferences. And like any family, each member finds a unique way to fit into the machine yet still maintain individuality. Teddy (the son) came up with the concept and laid down the simple folky opener “Family” as well as the witty countrified “Right.” Kami Thompson (the daughter) of the folk duo The Rails, bursts brightly from the album with the up tempo folk rocker “Careful.” It isn’t until the proud mother and father take the lead, that the albums concept truly shines. Linda’s beautiful song to her son “Bonny Boys,” is teaming with motherly advice and unconditional love. Then “That’s Enough,” a populist protest song led by Richard accented by his family assisting him in the chorus “We still keep falling for the same old lies. Time’s Are Tough, That’s Enough. Both songs give glimpses of an intimacy which can only be shared by the family who truly loves one another. Though the Thompson’s have had their share of trial and tribulations throughout the years, those bonds still find their way to form a solid folk record.

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Genre: Rock

Hypnotized (CD)

Dream Police

Founding members of Brooklyn’s Indie Punk outfit The Men, Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi have found yet another outlet for their creative genre reinventing style. Dream Police is a kraut influenced, drum machine led, drone combo. The sound is repetitive, the noise is restrained, and it still f*cking rocks! At first glance Hypnotized seems like it should be a standard side project record. Members of a group that have gotten an itch to try a new sound that doesn’t fit under the moniker of their already successful band. However, Dream Police is not a side project. Therefore, any sonic discoveries that Mark and Nick (along with Kyle Keays-Hagerman) make in Hypnotized have nothing to do with pushing The Men out of their comfort zone. A serious plus because it allows for the drone of their new sound to maintain a familiar tone in the guitar work that just sounds like bitchin’ classic rock. With that touchstone in place, the record meanders through several genres. “Hypnotized” appropriately opens with a sparse Spacemen 3 guitar inspired drone with sweet guitar licks over the noise. When the drum machine kicks in about a minute into the record the noise seems to revitalize and take on a new shape. Track 3, “Iris,” lacks the pounding repetition of electronic drums. While it sort of feels like you have skipped on to a new record, the folk thrum of the lonely guitar strings keeps pace in an equally hypnotizing manner. Some highlight tracks: “Pouring Rain” and “All We Are” wrangle you in through shoe gazey post-punk that leave you ruminating. Whereas “Let It Be” moves at a smoother pace and illuminates the whole Kraut element with a heavy nod to Neu. And then there is “John” which is just a low down dirty blues jaunt. The record ends with “Sandy,” a beautifully mystifying duet with Holly Overton. Throughout Hypnotized the gears switch suddenly, the creativity is abundant and the sounds seem richer and more resonant than anything Perro and Chiericozzi have done before. Perhaps, due to the empty space left on the recordings? Whatever the reason, I want more.

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Genre: Rock

Sargent Place (CD)

Spain

If you have ever endeavored a late night meander in Echo Park, chances are likely you came upon a serpentine path uphill and down, inevitably leading to some unforeseen, undirected, and unexpected location. That location may very well be Sargent Place. Named after one of the aforementioned streets in the Los Angeles artist enclave, it is also where Josh Haden recorded his last album. After 2012's Soul Of Spain, it felt very much like the artist had returned to what moved him in the first place. Sargent Place is a similar meditation on love, sex, the spirit, and death. The opener, “Love At First Sight,” strikes with a moody bass line that flows throughout until met with intense stumbling guitar work and block building vocals that outline the path in store. “The Fighter,” a tad more melancholic wander, features vocals and violin work of sister Petra. Another notable familial guest spot on Sargent Place is father Charlie Haden on the hopeful “You and I.” The poppier “It Could Be Heaven” leads the darkened path softly with its surf like guitar and warm organ sounds. Its rock ego driven counterpart, “Sunday Morning,” starts to indicate paranoid daylight. Quickly the road turns to a more soulful somber direction with “Let Your Angel.” This tone leads all the way to three beautiful tracks at the end of the record: “To Be A Man,” “In My Soul,” and “You and I.” These hope filled songs seem to indicate the rediscovery of the spirit and the following of a new path. This discovery culminates with “Waking Song,” a light-hearted closer from the moody journey reminding us of the comforts of Sargent Place.

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Genre: Rock

Lonerism (LP)

Tame Impala

If Jeff Magnum (Neutral Milk Hotel) had been born 10 years later and became obsessed with tape loops, this is sort of what it would sound like. Stellar effort, even better than their first LP. Get on it, people.  

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Genre: Rock