Rock

Evil Friends (CD)
Portland band Portugal. The Man teams with producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse for their seventh album, and in doing so they’ve brought their pop ambitions to stratospheric new heights. The hooks on songs like “Creep in a T-Shirt” launch out of the speakers with full-force, while they still retain the experimentation to cram four song’s worth of ideas into songs like “Plastic Soldiers,” which carries its everything-goes mentality into lyrics — “everything carries weight, everything is the same” John Gourley sings boldly. The band’s ability to truly wield several ideas within a song and make the whole thing memorable and catchy is what really sets them apart — the extended lo-fi pop intro of “Evil Friends,” which leads into a three-chord garage-rock rave-up, would sink most bands, but Portugal. The Man makes it into radio-friendly gold. Occasionally Portugal. The Man’s hook-heavy psych-pop gets samey, but they’re usually able to pull you back in with intriguing bits like the acoustic last half of “Atomic Man,” which nicely leads into “Sea of Air,” a Beatles-esque pop song that only uses the occasional handclaps and soft bass drum as its percussion, instead relying on pure songwriting to hold listener attention, and only breaking into full orchestral pop for a blissful couple of seconds halfway into the song. It says something about them, too, that they save two of their catchiest songs, the hard-hitting, shambolic pop of “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” and big-hearted power-ballad “Smile,” for the end of the album. By then, if you’re already not on board, Portugal. The Man ensure that there’s no way you can leave Evil Friends without their dizzying melodies spinning around your skull. Read more
Girls Like Us (CD)
Debut full-length from UK fog-machine-in-the-garage ladies. Sneering, tubthumping, art-blues in a very distinctively British style, replete with nihilist no-wave chantings and hoots. I have read press about this band situating them firmly in a post-Savages musical landscape. This is wrong-minded, plain and simple. Simply because both bands contain more X-chromosomes than most contemporary independent rock outfits and they both happen to be British, we, the Public, are expected to compare the two. I'd rather not bite, but I will, if only to explain to you how these two acts are different. While Savages might coil until bursting, dangerously angular and on fire before the snake even pops out of the novelty can of nuts, Pins don't remember being on fire. Pins are smoldering coals and are dragging sacks of more smoldering coals. Pins leave a wake, Pins are a knuckle-dragging nightmare from downtown. They don't care to shout from rooftops, they're planting bombs in the basement. Can't wait to see more. Read more
Voices (CD)
Phantogram have been making great indie-pop releases for some time now, but they’ve never made anything quite as appealing as Voices. They’re one of the few groups to successfully marry indie and hip-hop mentalities, as the Rihanna-esque ey-ey-eys that open “Black Out Days” attest. The beats of “Fall in Love” hit hard as its digitally cut up soul vocals and strings create a dizzying, ecstatic backdrop for Sarah Barthel’s heartfelt vocals, and her delivery verges on rap on the galloping “Howling at the Moon.” Though Voices is remarkably cohesive, the band still can pull some surprises, as bandmate Josh Carter takes the helm for the croony “Never Going Home,” and the awesomely titled “Bill Murray” is as swooning and romantic as the last scene of Lost in Translation. Voices hits that sweet spot where fans of most pop music, from Beyonce to The xx, are going to find themselves swept up in it. Read more
Rave Tapes (CD)
Every once in a while, Mogwai releases an album, and the world is reminded of how awesome they are. Rave Tapes, the post-rock band’s eighth album, has all the trademarks of classic Mogwai—scenic, intricate guitarwork; a dedicated, marching rhythm section; and grandiose, elemental crescendos. They tweak the formula here with a bit of analog electronics, on songs like the single “Remurdered,” whose sinsister synth line and muted guitars give it the feel of a vintage horror soundtrack. Just watch out when those drums kick in. That creepiness continues on “Repelish,” a track dense with atmosphere as a voice details the Satanic message allegedly embedded in Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Songs like “Simon Ferocious” and “Deesh” use synthesizers to great effect to bolster Mogwai’s sound, while their classic, more guitar-based sound is the focus of much of the album, as the band tears through songs like “Hexon Bogon.” Rave Tapes nicely sees Mogwai bringing something new to the table while still pleasing their fanbase with some of the most epic guitar music around. Read more
Tres Cabrones (CD)
Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover reunite with original drummer Mike Dillard for The Melvins’ chaotically fun 19th studio album. Read more
Lucinda Williams (CD)

Originally released in 1988, this has been out of print for 10 years. The package includes a remastered album with a bonus disk containing an unreleased 1989 concert in Eindhoven, Netherlands; never before seen photos; and two new sets of liner notes.

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The Allure Of Lynda Kay (CD)
Song stylist Lynda Kay—known for her bouffant hair, powerful voice, and elegant vintage style—has released a brilliant collection of classic songs inspired by early 1960s pop, R&B and lounge-noir, recorded at Capitol Studios with Grammy Award-Winning producer Brad Benedict (Capitol Ultra-Lounge & Big Bad Voodoo Daddy). Read more
If You Wait (CD)
London Grammar are so young and fresh-faced, it’s hard to believe they could make music this developed. Nocturnal rhythms, stately melodies and the husky, emotive vocals of Hannah Reid come together beautifully on If You Wait. Like their brethren The xx, London Grammar know the difference between casting a entrancing spell and wallowing. The rhythms in “Wasting My Young Years” pick up at just the right moment, lifting the mood of the song, and the album, just when it was in danger of losing steam. They’ve been labeled as trip-hop—you could see why, judging by “Stay Awake’s” sampled drum set—but London Grammar are firmly millennial, keeping things cool and tasteful. When Reid really goes for it though, as on the showstopping “Strong,” she breaks a hole through the black dome in which many of the album’s songs reside, then immediately brings it back down to earth with a spare, affecting cover of Kavinsky’s “Nightcall” that’s even more spine-tingling than the Drive-soundtracking original. You may feel like London Grammar are too young to be so elegantly bummed out, but they sure make it sound great. Read more
Bad Self Portraits (CD)
Bad Self Portraits is a microcosm of Lake Street Dive’s evolution from a weird alt-country jazz group to a pop-soul juggernaut, that includes '60s influences like Brill Building girl groups, British Invasion rock, horn-driven Stax R&B, Motown soul and even The Band-like gospel blues. Read more
Lunatic (CD)
These four brothers grew up in London and South Africa, and are now based in Phoenix, Arizona. The sound and feel of this album reflects their well-traveled background, giving them their own special brand of adventure rock. Read more