Rock

Ocean By Ocean (CD)

Fifteen years in, The Boxer Rebellion shows no signs of losing an ounce of creative energy. Their first album since adding guitarist Andrew Smith, Ocean By Ocean finds them at a crossroad somewhere between U2 at their most minimal and Coldplay's fusion of rock and electronic ambiance. With an in-yer-face '80s wink 'n' nod with their neon-colored style and new wave aesthetic, they're now at their most mellow, and their chilly synths lay a blanket of cold air over guitars that sound like surf by way of Robert Fripp. Each track combines the popularization of electronics in '80s music with a feeling of nature and the ocean to create a spiritual Philip K. Dick concept of an album that belongs as much in 1982 as it does in 2016. "Big Ideas" is moody and perfect radio pop that hits you like a breeze on a cold night with its tender lyrics and an atmospheric tapestry of glossy and shinny sounds. "Weapons" is punctuated by slamming electronics and spacious guitars — you could be convinced it was a deleted track off the Drive soundtrack. Ocean by Ocean finds The Boxer Rebellion at their most mature and perhaps at their best musically. With VR becoming increasingly real, this is the aural embodiment of a digital beach that you'll never want to leave.

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Ohana (CD)

Hawaii's native sons Pepper couldn't sound any more Hawaiian on Ohana if you threw spam, leis and poi on top of it. Recorded as a straight-to-tape studio album to give the feeling of a live-performance, Ohana is sunshine ska, with clicking rhythms and island attitude. Sculpted to be the soundtrack for summer, Ohana is like a warm hug, as lovely lyrics, reggae beats and sassy vocals embody the mood and atmosphere of what resting in the sun, swimming in the ocean and holding someone you love feels like. "Vacation" treads into pop-punk/ska mode as it goofily tells you to take it easy, enjoy yourself and get away for a while. "Start You Up" could've been a lost Sublime track, if they were less ironic and more emotional, as Pepper get spacier and more romantic with their song of conflicted love. But "Reckless" shows the band's edgier and more dangerous side, feeling intimidating and sexy. When rock music sometimes takes itself too seriously, Ohana is the just a load of fun that wants you to have a good time. Put on some shorts and flip flops and take it easy with Pepper.

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Nonagon Infinity (CD)

Melbourne’s King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard make records that leave all the other psych-rock pretenders in the dust, employing both chunky riffs and jazzy acoustic fair, like proto-metal and British folk had a tie-dyed baby. Their latest takes the idea of a record that loops in on itself and stretches that into nine acid-fueled jams that make for a non-stop psych party. Opener “Robot Stop” plays like a Japanese punk band covering Sabbath over a heavy motorik beat. It leads right into “Big Fat Wasp,” with nasty harmonic riffs reminiscent of Led Zeppelin on “Four Sticks.” “Gamma Knife’s” ascendant melodies and howls continue into the fast-paced “People-Vultures.” The black opens up a bit for the playful melody and vintage organs of “Mr. Beat,” but those give way to “Evil Death Roll,” which is true to its name. Meanwhile, the jazzy grooves of “Invisible Face” and “Wah Wah” bring to mind weirdos like Mothers of Invention and prog-rockers, but by “Road Train,” the evil beat is back, and the road ends right where it started. It’s a brilliant, psychedelic trip worth taking.

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The Ship (CD)

Brian Eno’s latest album combines the minimalist approach to his ambient work such as Music for Airports with the intrigue of his more pop-oriented work. On “The Ship,” individual tones, thick, thin, solid and wavering create a transfixing horizontal drone. Vocals enter after a few minutes, deeply intoning strange truisms behind some swan-diving notes and radio noise that sound like a TV left on in another room. “The time is still, the sky is young,” the voice says, and the music feels eternal while the found sound of advertisements feels ephemeral. The Ship is a little unsettling but ultimately gives a sense of peace, a contemplative reminder of our short time on a greater vessel that sets us free from our preoccupations.

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Love Me Crazy (CD)

There's no doubt we're in the golden age of rediscovered recorded music. We're constantly being confronted by rare sounds discovered by crate diggers, sweaty music geeks and aficionados who find something so spectacular, it needs to be given a second chance. Leon Nahat's solo-project, Ilian, offers that sparkling, timeless California sound for nostalgic ears. Recorded piecemeal by Leon Nahat in various studios, Love Me Crazy is a stoned, psychedelic album that sounds like it could've been dreamt up. Starting his first band as a teen in Detroit, Nahat traveled around to Phoenix and eventually Hermosa Beach, while backing up Chuck Berry and Dottie West along the way. After a couple of failed ventures of getting earlier tracks released, Love Me Crazy was released and pressed in a small number by the shady record company Album World. But Anthology Recordings is properly releasing the album, with Nahat's approval, reintroducing its California sound to a new world. The ultra smooth production feels like the optimistic and glimmering Canyon sound of the late '70s that was influenced by Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. "Hey Denisse," with its precision-sharp guitar jamming and punchy drums, is bright and joyful pop at is best. "See What You Can See" is psychedelia at its most Technicolor that just radiates with light. With bands still emulating the sounds of the '70s, Love Me Crazy sounds almost prophetic in 2016.

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Santana IV (CD)

Ever since 1999's triple-platinum single "Smooth" and multi-Grammy winning album Supernatural, Santana has explored the boundaries of Latin rock, classic AM radio rock, and top 40 radio by surrounding himself with an A+ team of studio musicians and younger, more contemporary talents like Pitbull and Rob Thomas. But 45 years later, Santana has teamed up with the same musicians who performed on stage at Woodstock with him and they bring you the Afro-Cuban sound of Santana's first three albums. As soon as Santana's spaced out, stoned guitar starts to dance around in an improvisational jam, Gregg Rolie's distinct voice pops in to croon over "Blues Magic." You hear how gracefully they've all aged and still click together like a classic jazz combo. Opener "Yambu" feels like a lost track from Santana III as it starts with pulsating African drums, funky organ, and chanting in a strange tongue. "Shake It" is as '70s at the album gets with a Led Zeppelin guitar riff blaring over heavy drums and a voice that's shouting more than singing. But the highlight is "Anywhere You Want To Go," a surprisingly sensuous Latin jazz track that feels like a spiritual sequel to the classic hit "Oye Como Va" with Tito Puente-like percussion and a guitar solo burning through the song, but still has the pop appeal of his biggest tracks. Santana has never sounded more like the Santana people love until this came along. The perfect rock album to listen to while enjoying a cold drink on these hot days.

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Hold/Still (CD)

Psychedelic band Suuns’s latest album, recorded with John Congleton, gels together loping riffs, Afropop-inspired grooves and caramel vocals. Each song is like a journey, inviting you to leave your body and hover straight to the horizon…take the trip.

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Singing Saw (CD)

Former Woods member Kevin Morby continues his fruitful solo career with a stunner of an album. Singing Saw kicks up Morby’s melancholic songwriting with psychdeleic bursts of orchestration, gleaming guitars, and straightforward rock beats to keep the whole thing anchored. Majestic.

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PersonA (CD)

The irresistible folk-rock collective known for their hit “Home” returns with a fourth album of uplifting anthems. For their fourth studio album, the band recorded almost entirely in one room together in New Orleans. Their approach is a far cry from their ramshackle, come-one-come-all philosophy audible on their previous albums. PersonA also marks the first time that the band has jointly collaborated on a majority of the songwriting.

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Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello (CD)

The legendary power-pop band sets a new course with Bang, Zoom, Crazy...Hello, their first release in over five years. Firmly cemented as one of the most important bands in music history, the quartet will continue their reign as the top progenitors of power-pop through 2016 and beyond.

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