Rock

Turn Blue (CD)

Blues-rock revivalists and general global music superstars/impresarios/tastemakers return with album eight of greasy, slinky, blues oriented boogie rock. On Turn Blue, guitarist and vocalist Dan Auerbach has made a shift into darker and more melancholy material, tying the band's trademark boogie to a lonesome and soulful shuffle, fomented by the singer's recent divorce. The album is co-produced by jack-of-all-sounds Danger Mouse, who imbues the record with a sheen caught somewhere between dancefloor and honky-tonk, a site the Keys reside upon comfortably and elegantly. Turn Blue is a decidedly mature record from one of the most ambitious acts in rock music today, it has the potential to please old fans with its refinement-without-compromising-pummel vibes, and the ability to invite new fans to join the fold, offering a unique take on blue-eyes soul-boogie that many contemporary rock fans are still having trouble finding.

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Diploid Love (CD)

The queen of punk is back! Still angry, but with a little more gloss. Diploid Love is a journey into the artist’s new life: motherhood, sobriety, and her lack of concern with the world. Some tracks will have you back in the pit, but this album’s shine is dripping with pop and good ol’ rock ’n’ roll anthems.

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Deep Fantasy (CD)

Singer Mish Way is a captivating presence and the songwriting has killer guitar hooks. Definitely delivered without compromising, making killer anthemic punk that exists outside narrow genre styles.

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Atlas (CD)

It should be no surprise that Real Estate’s third album is another impeccably crafted piece of beautiful guitar music. The New Jersey band has only made the necessary updates to their sound over the past few years, like polishing a statue into perfection. The album’s first few tracks offer everything we’ve come to love about this band, with sunny jangle-pop songs (opener “Had to Hear” and single “Talking Backwards”) butting next to nostalgic, minor-key songs about suburban splendor and decay—like being depressed about seeing a high school friend that never moved on, Matt Mondanile sings “I walk past these houses where we once stood/I see past lives, but somehow you’re still here,” with perfect precision on “Past Lives.” Real Estate’s lyrics have often taken a back seat to their shimmering guitarwork, but here they’re a bit more prominent, shining a light on Mondanile’s minimalist approach—despite how lovely the music is, songs like “Crime” are pretty depressing when you get down to it, with lyrics like “I wanna die/lonely and uptight.” Musically things have expanded a bit, as the band throws in more overt nudges toward easy listening and ’70s singer-songwriters in “The Bend” and country tinges in the gauzy, pretty “How I Might Live.” Instrumentally, these guys are just top notch, as they make instrumental “April’s Song” an album highlight, even without Mondanile’s soothing vocals, allowing his tremoloed, romantic guitar lines to do the singing for him. Atlas is simply a stunningly beautiful piece of guitar pop.

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Aviation (CD)

Lady Gaga affiliates and nu-glam prophets acquire a slick contempo-pop sheen with the aid of all star hitmaking producer Tricky Stewart, whose resume basically looks like a snapshot of a Billboard chart (Beyonce, Rihanna, Britney, etc.). The guitars are still present, with wailing complex solos that make good use of the band's multiple Berklee music school grads, but so are skittering digital hihats and trappy drops outs. The sass and angst are back in full effect, the mood of the music hasn't changed, but the sonic shift is fairly dramatic. While this sort of thing could potentially appear a crass commercial move, I fully believe SPW are a better band for sounding like this, it fits their attitude and their message more accurately, more glamorously. While they did a convincing proto-punk/hair metal/glam boogie, the new record does not need to convince, it just is, and it is forcefully and elegantly.

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AM (CD)

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."

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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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