This Month's Picks

Lost (CD)

Trentemøller

Danish musician, producer, and DJ Anders Trentemoller’s knack for heart- wrenching melodic moments and trademark sound have gained fans across the globe, blurring the boundaries between cutting-edge, underground cred, and mass appreciation.

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Join The Dots (CD)

Toy

This great London psych-pop band further develops their heavenly skyward drone on an excellent sophomore album. Equal parts Church / Rain Parade melodicism and Loop-esque dark kraut churn, this will send you on a spiral trip to outer realms.

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Genre: Rock

The Colourist (LP)

The Colourist
Orange County’s The Colourist provide pop-fueled indie rock on their self-titled full-length debut.More
Genre: Rock

Gravity [Score] (CD)

Steven Price
English composer Steven Price’s award-winning score melds music and sound design for a thrilling and expansive ride. The score stands on its own beautifully.More
Genre: Soundtracks

Warpaint (CD)

Warpaint

Warpaint’s The Fool was a great slow burner of a record, one that grew on you with each successive listen such that it continues to sound great years on. Now, four years later, the ladies of Warpaint return with their long-awaited second record. As is their way, Warpaint unfolds at an unhurried pace, relishing in subtleties with songs whose meanings or melodies you might be able to place right away, but whose impressions lasts much longer than instant gratification-style pop songs. They’re sort of the spiritual successor to the band Slowdive, the shoegaze greats who encountered as much acclaim as derision during their time, due to their milky, washy music, but who have since been ensconced as one of the most beloved bands of the ’90s. The effect of Warpaint’s music is similar, washing over you in spurts and leaving streaks. With a band like this, it’s generally tough to name singles or easy entry points, but Warpaint has some moments that stick out, namely “Biggy,” a great, trip hoppy pop song along the lines of Radiohead’s Kid A/Amnesiac period, while “Disco // Very” sees Emily Kokal’s vocals getting distorted and nasty over, yes, a disco beat, recalling some of the disco-rock of the ’00’s, only with a dirtier, dubbier tone. In these songs, Warpaint sees the band stretching their wings a bit, while fans of the first album will find much to love in the album’s dark, atmospheric corners. It’s altogether a fantastic, well-considered second album that proves the rewards of patience.

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Genre: Rock

Present Tense (CD)

Wild Beasts

Wild Beasts began as an indie rock band exceedingly true to its name, with Hayden Thorpe’s wooly falsetto careening through cabaretesque arrangements. Since then, they’ve whittled away until the band has come closer to the post-rock stylings of Talk Talk, with propulsive grooves to keep things grounded. The latter half of that equation gets expanded on Present Tense, their most widely appealing album to date. They’ve never done anything quite as boldly pop as “Wanderlust,” which pivots on a four-note synth groove that they keep layering on until they’ve got an awesome tower of sound. Thorpe’s feminized vocals make “Mecca” sound like a lost Kate Bush song, floating on cloudy synths, crystalline guitars and rumbling momentum from Wild Beasts’ excellent drummer, Chris Talbot. “A Simple Beautiful Truth” works similar grounds, using catchy, ’80s tropes like new-wave beats and Asian-inspired synth melodies to explore tough-to-reach emotional territory. Through those poppier concessions, the band earns its way into songs like “Pregnant Pause,” a spare, almost mystical heartbreaker—“sometimes you seem like a lost cause,” Thorpe sings sadly, pleading “speak to me in our tongue.” Though likely still strange as ever to new ears, Wild Beasts have their best chance yet at worldwide recognition while maintaining their singular identity on Present Tense.

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Genre: Rock

Lord Steppington (CD)

Step Brothers

As the Step Brothers, Evidence and Alchemist present another stellar musical achievement, Lord Steppington, which delivers lyric-driven, punchline-heavy and intricate rhymes.

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Genre: Hip Hop

Lanterns (CD)

Son Lux

Meditative but heaving with energy, Son Lux's third full-length weaves disparate elements, including alt hip-hop and electro-pop, into songs both strange and welcoming for an unusual and totally engrossing record. Named NPR's "Best New Artist of the Year.”

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Genre: Rock

Atlas (CD)

Real Estate
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. More
Genre: Rock

Evil Friends (CD)

Portugal. The Man
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. More
Genre: Rock