This Month's Picks

Better Ash Than Dust [EP] (CD)

Stick To Your Guns
Orange Country hardcore/metalcore group Stick to Your Guns have released a powerful, brutal statement with the Better Ash Than Dust EP. The songs are relentless and aggressive, so it might come as a surprise to discover they’re also…ridiculously catchy. Combined, the hard-hitting guitar riffs, primal drums, and urgent, melodic vocals take metalcore to a whole ‘nother level. And that’s what makes Stick to Your Guns so great; even with your ears ringing and your teeth clenched from head banging, once the EP is over you’ll be jumping out of your seat to put it on again. More
Genre: Rock

Love And Other Crimes (CD)

Masked Intruder
Madison, WI four-piece Masked Intruder have created the perfect party record on their short but sweet Love and Other Crimes EP. The riffs are hard, the lyrics alternately heartfelt and hilarious (case in point “Everything is awesome when you’re running from the cops” from, yes, “Running from the Cops”). The songs are simple but dynamic: a real testament to the power of the mysterious masked band’s songwriting skills. If you’re a fan of snotty good-time pop punk, you’ll want to turn this one up loud. More
Genre: Rock

Citizen Of Glass (CD)

Agnes Obel
Berlin-based singer Agnes Obel’s Citizen of Glass is a quietly intense, devastatingly lovely album inspired by the German legal term gläserner berger, or glass citizen, a nod to our lack of privacy in the internet age. Obel, a classically-trained pianist, creates dark, crystalline chamber pop by incorporating the sounds of centuries past — the celeste, the spinet, a 1920s synth called a Trautonium — with lush string arrangements, voice modulation, and electronic effects. The LP is dark and enchanting, well-suited for the winter months ahead. It’s a forward-thinking album rooted in the sounds of the past; you’re unlikely to hear anything else like Obel’s singular vision this year. More
Genre: Rock

Three (CD)

Phantogram
On Three , Phantogram have perfected their unique combination of gritty electronica and earworm indie pop. The duo draws inspiration from hip-hop, soul, and electro to create truly dynamic songs like the seductive, defiant “Run Run Blood” and the infectious “You Don’t Get Me High Anymore.” The music may be buoyant, sometimes startling, and always catchy, but the lyrics often do an about-face into darker themes of failed romance, power dynamics, and addiction. If you’re looking for a little more danger on the dancefloor, Phantogram deliver. More
Genre: Rock

The Colour In Anything (CD)

James Blake
English songwriter/producer James Blake’s latest LP is contemplative, lush, and lovely. His melancholic, velvety voice rises and falls over textured, rich soundscapes inspired by gospel, R&B, garage, and Burial-style dubstep. Blake has always been the master of his own unique brand of intelligent, emotional electronica, but this time he’s brought a few interesting collaborators into the mix, namely Frank Ocean, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), Connan Mockasin, and Rick Rubin, who co-produced seven of the tracks. The overall effect is vivid, but it’s not necessarily easy listening; The Colour in Anything is a cathartic, sometimes achingly vulnerable statement on lost love, healing, and self-discovery. More

Lady Wood (CD)

Tove Lo
Tove Lo makes pop music of a different kind: smart, wild, and emotionally raw. On her latest, Lady Wood , the Swedish singer delves into similar lyrical territory, but adds a fine layer of gloss and studio sheen. Lead single “Cool Girl” delivers on its promise; it’s witty, self-deprecating, minimalist, and yes, icy cool. Wiz Khalifa makes an appearance on “Influence,” a downer party jam about club life, confidence (or lack thereof), and chemical use. Tove Lo once again stakes her claim as pop diva of disco darkness. More
Genre: Rock

Emotions & Math (CD)

Margaret Glaspy
Margaret Glaspy’s debut LP Emotions & Math will appeal to fans of bold yet barebones songwriting à la Courtney Barnett, Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, and Laura Veirs. It’s a surprising album not only for Glaspy’s take-no-prisoners lyrical approach to love, relationships, and breakups, but also because of the way she builds on her diverse influences from the worlds of grunge, country, and folk. Glaspy alternates between gritty blues rock and ‘90s snarl, which means her sudden turns towards the introspective pack even more of a punch. With confident, versatile vocals, down south guitar and minimal percussion, the New York-based artist manages to tick all the boxes required for an indie singer-songwriter, while creating her own unique take on the genre. More
Genre: Rock

Head Carrier (CD)

Pixies
On Head Carrier , the Pixies prove they're just as raw, smart, combative, and thoughtful as when they burst onto the scene with their 1988 full-length, Surfer Rosa . This is the band's first LP with new bassist/backing vocalist Paz Lenchantin, whose dulcet voice serves as an interesting contrast to some of Black Francis' more aggressive moments. At times the songs on the LP are bristling and confrontational, in other moments the music is lovely and nearly sweet, but with a barely hidden edge to it. Head Carrier covers a lot of ground, both emotionally and musically, and it's impressive to see a band who has been so consistently awesome throughout the course of their career knock another one out of the park. More
Genre: Rock

We Can Do Anything [Indie Exclusive] (CD)

Violent Femmes
The Violent Femmes are in rollicking, raucous form on their country-inspired recent LP, We Can Do Anything . Album opener "Memory" sets the tone with an upbeat, infectious, sing-along chorus before Gordon Gano and crew inject some fairytale silliness into the epic "I Could Be Anything." (Seriously -- references to battling dragons and winning the hearts of princesses abound.) The tracks here include many taken from old Violent Femmes demos, some co-penned by Gano with various songwriters, and one track ("What You Really Mean") is a cover of a song written by Gano's sister. Quirky, good-natured fun. More
Genre: Rock

Calico Review (CD)

Allah-Las
The Allah-Las’ Calico Review is like the soundtrack to a 1950s California beach movie: easygoing and breezily cool, with just the slightest hint of rock ’n’ roll danger. The guitars flirt with surf rock tendencies, the vocals drift into psych territory, and the songs have that relaxed, shambolic garage rock influence. The album was recorded on the same soundboard used by the Beach Boys for Pet Sounds , which makes sense as Calico Review shares many of those sunny harmonies, but with a contemporary edge and a darker undercurrent. On this latest LP, the beach meets the Los Angeles streets and the Allah-Las prove once again that they’re one of the finest purveyors of modern psych/garage. More
Genre: Rock