This Month's Picks

Everything Will Be Alright In the End (CD)

Weezer

Weezer have had it up to here with Weezer. They make as much plain on “Back to the Shack,” the first single from Everything Will Be Alright in the End, singing a mea culpa: “Sorry guys I didn’t realize that I needed you so much/I thought I’d get a new audience, I forgot that disco sucks.” So Everything is their bid to make things right, packing all of the catchy melodies they’d been neglecting as of late into one album. Songs like “Ain’t Got Nobody” bring back the pizza party power-pop and rocketship riffs of their early work, with “Happy Days” melodies aplenty in songs like “Eulogy for a Rock Band.” And Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino shows up to co-write and trade off vocals on the catchy “Go Away,” which could’ve easily fit on a Best Coast album as well and shows just how much Weezer remain influential. Their reverence to the same ol’ influences and lyrical territory is summed up by the intro to “Lonely Girl,” which just repeats a few chords and the words “My lonely girl” four times, before following with “so baby come on.” But it comes off as charming here for the first time in a while, sounding legitimately like a band of high school friends still in love with classic rock ‘n’ roll. Things get a little corny now and then, as they often do on Weezer albums—there’s a silly little pop song called “The British Are Coming”—but they pair those kind of sentiments with strong melodies. By the time we get to the album’s metal-inspired trilogy ending, it’s like, who cares, it’s Weezer and they’re doing their thing. With the solid Everything Will Be Alright in the End, Weezer restore that kind of faith from their audience and probably will strike a chord with a few new young fans along the way, too.

More
Genre: Rock

AM (CD)

Arctic Monkeys

On their fifth album, seven years down the road from their initial and basically undeniable pop-punk razorblade "I Bet You Look Good On The Dance Floor," the boys from Sheffield are back with an album that screams, or rather moans, "maturity." Maybe maturity is the wrong word - there's still the ageless teenage greasiness which made the band initially so appealing, but it's been refined and I simply refuse to believe that this refinement arrived coincidentally. Josh Homme, adult purveyor of timeless musical grease, makes an appearance on the record, and press materials surrounding both artists' current-events make a point of mentioning cross pollination. So what does this mean for said Monkeys? An opening track that sounds like Black Keys stompy bombast coupled with something like Spacemen 3 atmospheric tectonics, filthy wobbles and shimmer, lots of space both local and astral. This track, "Do I Wanna Know," is about as purposeful and narrative-establishing as an opening track can get, especially for a band known for exploding out in short bursts. It's a slow burner that paves the way for a record Homme has described as a "really cool, sexy, after-midnight record." This means Queens-style spooky grooving, melodic, laconic, druggy guitar solos, tired-drunk-guy crooning with falsetto doubling, and a shuffling, mid-tempo disco snark turned sneer in a nicer jacket a la someone like Jarvis Cocker's work with Pulp. In the words of Fatboy Slim "You've Come A Long Way, Baby."

More
Genre: Rock

Silver & Gold (CD)

Sufjan Stevens

Some of us love Christmas music, and for some of us, the second November rolls around, shopping becomes a nightmare as we’re forced to endure Christina Aguilera singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” while shopping for dad’s tie or whatever. If only every mall in America were forced to buy Sufjan Stevens’ latest box set of Christmas material (that’s right, this is the second one, after Songs for Christmas Vol. 1 was released in 2006). The five-EP set includes contributions from members of The National and The Arcade Fire, among others.

More
Genre: Rock, Holiday

While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years Of Bloodshot Records (CD)

Various Artists

Bloodshot Records is a biggie in the indie music world. The Chicago based label has represented such various artists like Neko Case, Old 97s, The Sadies, the Gore Gore Girls, and Ryan Adams, that referring to them as "varied" might be a bit of an understatement. Now twenty years since their inceptions, respect is being paid by an even LARGER variety of artists like Shakey Graves, Andrew Bird, Chuck Ragan, The Minus 5, and Superchunk in a variety of tribute tracks representing the diversity and wide catalog of music that has been birthed out of Bloodshot Records. Not just a mere tribute, but a true letter of love to one of contemporary music's most eclectic and influential labels.

More
Genre: Rock

The Next Four Years (CD)

United Nations

It's fair to say that after years of war, constant drone attacks, economic problems and touchy social issues, people are getting fed up and angry at the world. And United Nations are ready to be your mouthpiece. The loudest, fiercest attack of bloody-fisted, violent vocal rock that's a cry of pain. Punk hasn't lost any of its ferocity or social criticisms. It's alive and well in United Nations' songs like "Music for Changing Peace" and "Meanwhile on Main Street," calling out Capitalistic hypocrisy and post-Occupy rage.

More
Genre: Rock

Modern Vintage (CD)

Sixx: A.M.

By all logic of rock and roll living, the stars of supergroup Sixx: A.M. should either be dead or stuck in the dark world of reality TV. But instead they've made the anthem rock, roundhouse kick of 2014. With guitar licks and vocals right out of the heyday of hair metal distorted through a MacBook, Sixx: A.M. manage to keep '80s radio rock filtered with the unique computer/synth sound of the techie era. So put some mascara on, coif your hair, shrink your jeans, and get ready to rock out.

More
Genre: Rock

Holiday For Swing! (CD)

Seth MacFarlane

Seth MacFarlane might be known more for being the king of crass animated shows like Family Guy and American Dad, but who knew the voice of Peter Griffin had the pipes to belt out holiday classics while simultaneously invoking the energy of Fred Astaire? Sprinkled with goofy humor and arrangements right out of Arthur Freed's MGM musicals, Seth MacFarlane plays it (mostly) straight with iconic vocalists like Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles joining in to add a bit more class to the mix. A couple of martinis and Holiday for Swing!, and December will feel like June in no time.

More

Wonder Where We Land (CD)

SBTRKT

SBTRKT is modern music's demagogue. Is he electro weirdness? R&B bedroom jams? Dancey club hits ready to get turned up at midnight? He's everything and it's why he has such an audience! Three years since his debut album, he returns to unleash a new series of jams that are ready to chew you up with cathartic lyrics and music sculpted by syrupy-thick bass lines, electronic ambiance and vocalists like A$AP Ferg who can keep up with the intense beats.

More

Don't Disconnect (CD)

Sarah Jaffe

As soon as the title track begins, the spare production of droning synthesizers, rattling bass and heart-gouging vocals, your bones are chilled and shaken. But your ears are yearning for more. Rejecting her previous low-fi, acoustic ballads, Sarah Jaffe steps into the studio at full creative powers and delves into the world of electronic pop. But this isn't candy coated electro pop: it's true expression by an artist using newly found studio tools to sculpt new pop sounds with heady, dense lyrics filled with the agony of modern twenty-somethings. This is 21st century pop.

More
Genre: Rock

Christmas In New York (CD)

Renée Fleming

Renee Fleming has long been an iconic figure among the American opera scene with her distinct voice and virtuosity. But since her iconic take on the national anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII earlier this year, those who've never listened to the music of Puccini, Strauss or Copland are suddenly clamoring for more. Now, the famous soprano wants you get cozy with a hot cup of cocoa, a warm sweater, and a fireplace with some of the most resplendent takes on classic Christmas songs. With classic torch-like performances and smooth as ice arrangements, Christmas in New York assures its place in contemporary Christmas collections among names like Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Burl Ives.

More
Genre: Classical, Holiday