This Month's Picks

Music Complete (CD)

New Order
Against all odds, new-wave greats New Order have returned for a 10th studio album that lives up to the band’s formidable past. From the first notes of shimmering first single “Restless,” it’s clear we’re dealing with the classic New Order sound, as the band returns to the more electronic (and current, frankly) sound of their late-’80s and early-’90s work. The way “Singularity” builds from moody Joy Division-esque post-punk into danceable hi-NRG synths will have fans thanking the heavens for the return of original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert. “Plastic” introduces some retro house synths (but at this point, what is retro anyway, as this sound still gets floated around everywhere) and adds some gleefully silly lyrics (“It’s official, you’re fantastic” goes the refrain). “Tutti Frutti’s” glittering synths combine nicely with Bernard Sumner’s weary vocals in a style reminiscent of one of their greatest hits, “True Faith.” The track’s killer disco bassline more than proves Tom Chapman’s mettle (in the absence of original bassist Peter Hook), which continues into the housey “People on the High Line.” A few guest appearances add to the proceedings—Iggy Pop delivers a Tom Waits-ish spoken word over the coldwave beat of “Stray Dog,” and La Roux’s Elly Jackson adds vibrant backup vocals to several tracks. By focusing on consistency, the band doesn’t come off like it’s trying too hard on  Music Complete . Instead, the album exists perfectly within the band’s legendary catalog. More
Genre: Rock

B'lieve I'm Goin Down... (CD)

Kurt Vile
The crown prince of stonery folk-rock and onetime War on Drug returns after breakthrough album  Wakin On a Pretty Daze . Big-time production hasn’t dulled Vile’s touch one bit; it’s merely given his stellar songs their appropriate due, as he moves from chatty rockers like “Pretty Pimpin” to Western-tinged tunes like “I’m an Outlaw” and his bread and butter — cerebral, spacey folk songs like “That’s Life, tho (almost hate to say).” Vile’s willingness to switch it up a bit, on the ’70s art-pop-style “Wheelhouse,” for instance, makes for a more dynamic listen. And his surrealist wordplay comes throw more clearly than ever before, revealing evocative imagery within Vile’s Neil Young-ish ramblings — on “Pretty Pimin,” Vile doesn’t recognize his own reflection, singing, “I proceeded to brush some stranger’s teeth/But they were my teeth, and I was weightless/Just quivering like some leaf come in the window of a restroom.” Wherever Vile lands, we’re apt to follow. More
Genre: Rock

E.S.P. (CD)

Erick Sermon
Twenty-seven years in the game, the Green-Eyed Bandit hasn't let the punches come through. Nearly ten years since his last album,  E.S.P.  (short for Erick Sermon's Perception) is classic, pre-synthesized hip-hop straight from New York. Funky, brassy and borderline cheesy samples smoothly loop over old school flows that give this long-awaited album the smooth, vintage sheen that has been ignored since the days when Wu-Tang's Killa Beez ran the scene. To just give it that perfect veneer, the final touch is throwing in special guests like Redman, Method Man, Mary J. Blige and Too Short. If you're nostalgic for when New York was the prime scene of hip-hop,  E.S.P.  might convince you again that the east coast is the best coast. More
Genre: Hip Hop

Every Open Eye (CD)

Scottish trio Chvrches made electro-pop gems splattered with emotion on their beguiling debut. For album No. 2, they just get craftier, creating songs that sound like the soundtrack to your wildest dreams. “Never Ending Circles” opens the album on a note of big, open-armed camaraderie, the kind of drinking song or team anthem that’s nearly impossible to pull off. That sense of momentum carries through song after song. “Leave a Trace” finds frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s vocals at their strongest — hers is the kind of voice that makes it impossible to feel lonely or sad when you’re listening to it. “Keep You On My Side” is a hi-NRG-inspired jam that calls to mind the best of Erasure or early Depeche Mode with its fluttering synths, but its hard-hitting beat updates the sound for the EDM generation.  Every Open Eye  doesn’t quite have a song that lands with the same power as “The Mother We Share” or “Gun,” but  The Bones of What You Believe  was an album of peaks and valleys, whereas this one is a steadier ride, coasting on the band’s increased confidence., Chvrches’ life-embracing pop music on  Every Open Eye  is something to cherish. More
Genre: Rock

Dogs On Acid (CD)

Dogs On Acid
Philly’s Dogs on Acid are emo revivalists with brains and chops, tearing through snaking rockers like “The Prick” with blistering riffs and earnest (but never cloying) vocals. More
Genre: Rock

The Ecology (CD)

Despite having a reputation for not being the most desirable place in California to live in, Fresno has a history of bringing the world some great artists - with Fashawn being a prime example. Fashawn, an artist who transcends labels and seems to fit in with and be respected by all schools of current hip-hop/rap, has just unleashed his second official solo album,  The Ecology , which is the long-awaited follow up to 2009's Boy Meets World . He has been far from idle in the meantime, working closely with other artists such as The Alchemist and Murs, with whom he recorded the collaborative albums The Antidote and FASHionably Late  and This Generation on Duck Down respectively. LA super producer Exile, who produced Boy Meets World , returns behind the boards for most of the album with additional producers including Beewirks who produced the track "Guess Who's Back." The Ecology  is released via Nas’ new label Mass Appeal Records and Nas is among the guests, with others including BJ The Chicago Kid, Dom Kennedy, and Aloe Blacc, who also appeared on the first Fashawn album. More
Genre: Hip Hop

Evermotion (CD)

Guster’s most vibrant album yet bulldozes inhibitions, propelling the band to a harder-charging, more freewheeling. Packed with tight hooks, muscular guitar riffs, clanging percussion, and surprisingly dark lyrics. More
Genre: Rock

Little Neon Limelight (CD)

Houndmouth hail from New Albany, Indiana where just across the river lays Louisville, Kentucky and the bulk of the clubs where this Americana group cut their teeth. In 2012 the group played SXSW where they were immediately signed to Rough Trade. Since then they have played countless festivals and released the critically acclaimed full-length  From the Hills Below the City . Now after that blast of success Houndmouth have returned to prove that a  Little Neon Limelight  certainly ain’t gonna change them. The opener “Sedona” begins with a desert wind whistling, intimating that as a group they may be a long way from home. As the music builds and Matt Myers demands the listener hear his words the group sounds clearly comfortable in their new home. Out of the gate “Otis” has Katie Toupin delivering a classic country style tune, lending itself to the campfire sing-along. This style of storytelling pops up later in “Black Gold” where you can hear the oft-compared “The Band” influence. “My Cousin Greg,” however, is the shining star of this record. Each member of the band delivers a verse in this rollicking bluesy tune leading to the triumphant chorus “If you want to live the good life you’d better stay away from the limelight.” Clearly, this sentiment is something the band has thought about and something they have executed expertly in  Little Neon Limelight . Each of these tracks could play equally well on the festival circuit or in the neon beer light of a small Louisville dive bar. More
Genre: Rock

A Special Episode Of Open Mike Eagle: Split Pants At Sound Check! (LP)

Open Mike Eagle
Mike has been consistently putting out some of the most unique hip hop, gravitating towards the more eclectic beats which in turn provide the perfect bed for his playful, thought-provoking, and “juxtapozitioning” lyrics. Not only do I recommend this EP release, but everything he has touched. Never disappointed. More
Genre: Hip Hop

The Good Fight (CD)

The Good Fight  is an instant classic. This album is filled with phenomenal songs written and produced by Oddisee. Lyrically, the album is extraordinary. Rhymes about goals, struggles, and love are delivered in interesting ways and can serve as a self-help guide for any listener. More
Genre: Hip Hop