Staff Detail


Fighter (CD)

David Nail's latest should prove to be the soundtrack to many a summer evening across the county. Lead single, "Night's On Fire," evokes the feelings and imagery of an August sunset, with its sense of calm at the end of a day, paired with the excitement and anticipation of the night to come. Title track "Fighter" is a sturdy and sweet ode to his wife. With a laid back groove and earnest vocal performance, Nail praises her strength and perseverance through troubled times.

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Scour (CD)

Scour is furious destruction pushed to new extremes. You don't just listen to it. It rips your ear opens and slams right into your brain. This black metal super group is led by Philip Anselmo of Pantera and features John Jarvis (Pig Destroyer), Chase Fraser (Animosity), Derek Engemann (Cattle Decapitation), and Jesse Schobel (Strong Intention). The intense vocal atomic blast that comes straight from Anselmo's gut gives you chills against the polyrhythmic, otherworldly drums, and violent guitar riffs that can shred the air like a hot knife. With six tracks that never go beyond a few minutes each, it's a short EP, but as dense and heavy as it gets. It makes most new metal albums look like a puny, anemic joke. It's real musicians showing you how metal is done. Their single "Dispatch" is just a taste of the insanity. Inhuman drums furiously bang like you are entering battle with static-laced guitars swirling all around. Anselmo grabs your face and gives a performance that matches up with the best of Pantera's albums. This is far from easy-listening: this is pure sonic power. Spin this on your turntable and feel the raw energy and barbarity of Scour. Their first EP is a great sign of things to come.

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Dirty Heads (CD)

Huntington Beach, CA's Dirty Heads capture the mood of hot Orange County days on their self-titled fifth album. It feels like it takes less risks and strange directions, choosing instead to go for a much cooler, relaxed atmosphere covered in a haze of LA smog, the smell of the salt in the water, and good weed. Recorded in Los Angeles, a thirty minute drive north from their home, the easy-going feel fuses the verbal prowess of hip-hop with the stoned in flip-flops feel of ska like a perfect cocktail. Smooth organ riffs bounce against tinny snares, dub bass and snappy guitar lines offset the aggressively catchy rap rhymes that distance themselves from the harsh vibes of life and goes for pop fun. The nostalgic first single, "That's All I Need," is a love-letter to SoCal twenty years ago. Spitting a laundry list of memories, people, and even the musical feel of California beaches, nothing captures the spirit of Los Angeles' summers quite the same way. "Too Cruel" has the minimal rock spaciness of early Coldplay that suddenly gets real trippy when the track turns off and the bass gets real sensual with raunchy, tongue in cheek humor that's close to a teenage sunburnt fantasy. "Oxygen" is dub spun through techno synths and scratchy vinyl samples. The dramatic lyrics and groove of "Oxygen" culminates in a catchy crescendo of synthesized that horns that can easily get stuck in your ear. For fans of OC '90s ska, Dirty Heads doesn't recapture that sound. It keeps the spirit alive. Pour a lemonade, mix it with some booze, and chill to this.

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens [OST] [Holographic Vinyl] (LP)

Awaken the Force in your personal collection with this new hologram vinyl version of the original motion picture soundtrack for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which includes the score by composer John Williams, liner notes by the film’s director J.J. Abrams, and a 16-page booklet. The double LP on 180-gram vinyl is hand etched by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science (the same guy who did Jack White’s Lazaretto), offering a 3D hologram experience with the Millennium Falcon on Disc 1/Side B and a TIE Fighter on Disc 2/Side B. The score, composed and conducted by five-time Academy Award-winning composer Williams, exceeds the packaging in terms of excitement, projecting epic scenes of action more magical than those Tristan Duke etchings. Building off the musical universe he has been building with Lucas since 1977, Williams introduces five new themes to the cannon, including very memorable leitmotifs for newbie characters Rey and Kilo Ren.

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Cheetah EP [Foil Stamp Sticker] (CD)

Cheetah, the latest EP from Aphex Twin, amps up slowly. Named after a discontinued and apparently unloved early ‘90s synth (synth fans online seem to consider it at best mystifying and at worse, unusable), Richard D. James’ latest release is icy, industrial, pulsating, and evocative. The first tracks are minimalistic, more focused on rhythm than sound palettes, with washes of color and moody atmospherics gradually seeping into the mix. As the EP progresses, it takes on acid vibes and ’80s soundtrack style, with wistful flutes and dark, longing synth tones lending to its sense of ephemerality. Once Cheetah has reached its bouncy final track, things have gotten as close to a dance floor jam as anything you’ll find on an Aphex Twin release.

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You Will Never Be One Of Us (CD)

The relentless power-violence trio from Oxnard, California are back with their longest album yet: 22 minutes. What this album may lack in length is made up for tenfold in the sheer manic power of each track. The double bass pedal, thrash metal riffs, and searing vocals never let up, yet somehow this cacophony is also catchy. The guitar harmonies on "Savage Intolerance" sound like Thin Lizzy going off the rails, while tracks like "Life Is a Death Sentence" and the titular "You Will Never Be One of Us" will have you screaming along.

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Rockisdead (CD)

When single "Raise Hell" popped up online last year, it was hard to not get excited about DOROTHY. Headed by vocalist Dorothy Martin, DOROTHY is a fusion of divergent flavors that works perfectly: gritty, soulful vocals against screechy, vintage blues rock riffs and drums that channel modern hip-hop. They bring back the kind of loud, aggressive rock that would upset your parents. The fact "Raise Hell" ended up in so many commercials and programs is just evidence of what an addictive soundworm of a single it was. And it's refreshing to hear that their debut, ROCKISDEAD, is contrary evidence to its title: it's plain and simple rock that feels right placed next to your Led Zeppelin and Eric Clapton LPs. "Dark Knights" almost dips into noise rock with a stripped down production that has all the impact of dropping a pile of bricks on your head. The song feels like it's almost bleeding out of the mic as its pulsating rhythm doesn't give you a second to breathe and Dorothy screams at you about what kind of man is a real man and what she needs. "Wicked Ones" has foot-stomping rhythm that almost feels like an old country number filtered through a fuzz peddle. It's hard to not move or sing along when the song's beat knocks you hard against your skull. This is what rock should embody. It's good to know DOROTHY moved up from a local act to a major label atomic blast that is hopefully a sign of rock to come.

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The Mountain Will Fall (CD)

On The Mountain Will Fall, DJ Shadow’s first album in five years, the groundbreaking hip-hop/electronica producer proves he’s still one of the most forward-thinking artists in the game. The atmospheric, instrumental title track opens the album with dreamy, futuristic vibes before launching into the funk-inflected “Nobody Speak,” which features Run the Jewels. German ambient/modern classical composer and producer Nils Frahm makes an appearance on “Bergschrund,” where spaced out washes of sound meet hyperactive textures and beats. The LP finds Shadow pushing the limits even further on his own original compositions, but of course half the fun is guest appearances from the previously mentioned artists, as well as avant grade electro dude Bleep Bloop, bass-heavy experimentalist G. Jones, and bright young UK jazz trumpeter Matthew Halsall.

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True Sadness (CD)

The Avett Brothers took inspiration from such disparate influences as Queen, Nine Inch Nails, Tom Petty, and Gillian Welch on their Rick Rubin-produced ninth studio LP, True Sadness. Indeed, the record is eclectic, with polished Mumford & Sons style folk-pop melodies embellished by bluegrass strings and punk rock ebullience. In spite of its title, and the lyrical contents of songs like “Divorce Separation Blues” and “Satan Pulls the Strings,” the melodies are almost rebelliously upbeat. Because of this patchwork of styles, the album works as a crossover between alt. rock, indie pop, and country/folk, giving it a wide appeal. These are the sort of summer songs that seems destined to be blasted out of rolled down car windows, and shout-sung along to by enthusiastic fans on tour.

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Hot Hot Heat (CD)

Hot Hot Heat's self-proclaimed final album finds the band back in the territory that made them a hot, hot hit in 2002. Having gone more into an electronic realm on their previous album, Hot Hot Heat delivers the indie-dance-punk goods with their new self-titled record. If you miss the early 2000's garage band invasion this album will scratch that itch with songs like "Kid Who Stays In The Picture," "Mayor Of The City," and "Comeback Of The Century."

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