Rock

Benjamin Booker (LP)

22 year-old New Orleans based guitarist and singer Benjamin Booker’s S/T debut is a bourbon spiked sonic cocktail that mixes swampy New Orleans blues with fuzzy garage rock hooks. The result sounds like a more polished version of the Gories paying homage to Hasil Adkins. Heavily influenced by the Gun Club, T-Rex, and Blind Willie Johnson, Booker sings with a vocal range and intensity beyond his years; enhanced only by his fevered guitar playing and the thunderously caveman drum styling of Max Norton. Together these two have created an electrifying take on blues-haunted punk that blows more seasoned acts out of the miry waters. 

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Get Hurt (CD)
Before the release of the Gaslight Anthem’s fifth full-length, Get Hurt, singer/guitarist Brian Fallon warned fans not to expect the same Springsteen influenced blue-collar punk that made them one of New Jersey’s most popular rock acts. Instead, Get Hurt is a darker and more restrained effort. With a new record label and new producer, this has a more nuanced feel than previous albums. While the anthemic choruses and overwrought rock sensibilities can be found in tracks like “1,000 Years” and “Rollin’ And Tumblin’,” this is very much a cathartic breakup record drenched in experimentation and emotional profundity. Read more
When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day (CD)

Finnish folk singer Mirel Wagner creates the kind of dark lullabies that would make Michael Gira of Swans feel right at ease. Using minimalistic guitar pickings and her haunting voice, Wagners’ music is stripped to the bone while lyrically embracing the macabre. Her sophomore release, When The Children See The Light Of Day, continues on the grim and haunting themes present in 2011’s self-titled album. Produced by Finnish electronic musician Vladislav Delay, there are a bit more layers here but Delay is also a master at knowing what to leave out. The result sounds completely timeless. The album’s opener “What’s Underneath The Floor” (spoiler alert: the devil’s tongue) sets the tone for a moody and sexy album that is the sonic equivalent of romantic horror stories being whispered in the moonlight.

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Angus & Julia Stone (CD)
It’s been over three years since folk darlings (and siblings) Angus and Julia Stone joined forces to put out a record. The two of them have been enjoying successful careers independent of one another and had no intention of working musically together again. That was until legendary producer Rick Rubin (Metallica, Adele, Red Hot Chili Peppers) contacted Julia out of the blue about wanting to work with the duo. The result is their most compelling release to date. Working collaboratively on songwriting for the first time, this new self–titled album is a departure from the siblings' folksy MOR pop of the past. It’s more dynamic and blues influenced. Leading track “Heart Beats Slow” sets the tone for the entire album with sweet harmonies and rich instrumentation while “Death Defying Acts” showcases the powerful fragility of Julia’s voice channeling Billy Holiday. Read more
Time Is Over One Day Old (CD)
Delicately balancing melancholy dreaminess with upbeat tempos, Brooklyn based post-rockers Bear In Heaven follow 2012’s I Love You, It’s Cool with the more scaled down Time Is Over One Day Old. Like previous efforts, all the drama of their synth heavy, spaced out sound collages is present here but there is also a certain urgency and exciting dark energy brought on by the galvanizing percussion of new drummer, Jason Nazary. Much like the title suggests, Bear In Heaven are playing with ideas of time and space, each track interweaving with the next one, creating a sort of brooding, timeless celestial soundscape before fading away. Read more
Sand + Silence (CD)

It has been over two years since the release of The Rosebuds' very personal and autobiographical break-up album, Loud Planes Fly Low. Since then, duo Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp have spent two years apart on opposite coasts working on other creative endeavors. They came together again last spring to work on their sixth full-length album, Sand + Silence. Produced by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon (who also plays guitar and synth) and featuring Matt McCauglan on drums and Nick Sangborn on bass, most of the tracks were recorded live in Vernon's April Base Studio. This newer approach gives the record a feeling of elasticity that is evident in numbers like "Blue Eyes" (a breezy sonic lollipop) and the darker and more melancholic, "In My Teeth." While each song exudes the same catchy intensity The Rosebuds are noted for, it also showcases the growth of Howard and Crisp's songwriting skills while celebrating that celebratory feeling of new beginnings with old friends.

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Lonerism (LP)

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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