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Magic Sign (LP)

Martin Courtney

Real Estate songwriter Martin Courtney’s second solo album Magic Sign is soothing yet bittersweet, evocative and fresh. This boldly original album features feels steeped in nostalgia for those aimless endless summer teenaged days, that youthful yearning for an as-yet-unwritten future turned back to look wistfully on the past. On “Corncob,” Courtney offers up a country twang-twinged ‘80s synth track with keening guitars, swirling soundscapes, AM gold harmonies, and gauzy textures. It’s unexpected, and once you hear it, absolutely essential. “Sailboat” has a more straightforward Reagan era vibe, with a deeply compelling melody that calls to mind classic jangle pop and college rock. An emotionally rewarding album that’ll have you looking for signs in your own life.

Growing Up (CD)

The Linda Lindas

When you burst onto the scene (any scene) with a viral video, the pressure’s on to prove your success wasn’t just a one-time hit. With the release of Growing Up , fans of The Linda Lindas can breathe easy knowing that these ultra cool teens and pre-teens truly deliver. That is, if you can breathe at all with all the head banging you’ll be doing to this killer album. “Racist, Sexist Boy,” the song that ignited the storm of attention the LA quartet would receive, is a let-‘em’-burn banger and worth the price of the album alone. But it’s not the only bravura performance on Growing Up . Each short-but-sweet track tears into your headphones with gleeful intensity, whether the band is flexing its pop muscles or creating riotous, no-holds-barred classic punk. Turn this one up loud—the Linda Lindas are the future of punk.

In The Country (CD)

Richie Furay

Buffalo Springfield and Poco founding member Richie Furay’s infuses his first studio album in seven years with his legendary passion for country-rock. In the Country  is a covers album steeped in the grand traditions of the genre, with Furay adding his voice to classics like Garth Brooks’ “The River,” Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Know Why,” and Buddy & Julie Miller’s “Chalk.” Recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio by GRAMMY-winning engineer/producer Val Garay (Linda Ronstadt, Kim Cares, Neil Diamond), Furay was backed by world-class session musicians and joined by John Berry, Vince Gill, Jason Scheff (Chicago), and Timothy B. Schmit (Poco/Eagles) on a series of duets. The album they made together is warm, authentic, and thoroughly delightful.

Otherness (CD)

Alexisonfire

It has been a long wait for Alexisonfire fans: thirteen years, in fact. Fortunately, Otherness is worth it. The album showcases the post-hardcore sound that made the band a cult fave, even as the band pushes their sound forward in new and exciting ways. Expect searing guitar solos, brutal drums, and vocals that switch effortlessly between intensely emotional anthemic style choruses and punishing, rage-fueled screams. Otherness is, at its heart, a solid rock ’n’ roll album powered by hardcore, motivated by the desire to push boundaries and inspired by the injection of genres outside their usual milieu.

Excess (CD)

Automatic

Automatic’s Excess feels like early Factory Records post-punk meets Ze Records mutant disco, all distilled through a contemporary lens. The LA trio treads the line between ‘70s motorik sound explorations and cynical ‘80s synth, taking on (unfortunately) timeless topics of consumerism, alienation, and nihilistic frivolity. And they do it with such icy cool, impeccable style! The tracks are hypnotic with a hint of danger, featuring stabbing synths, droning bass, and precision percussion. In Automatic’s sleek cosmopolitan nightmare, however, it’s not all doom and gloom. There’s room for the darkly danceable, and the album’s momentum builds enjoyably as the mood moves from tense and tightly-wound to…tense and trance-inducing.

RAW (That Little Ol' Band From Texas) [OST] (CD)

ZZ Top

ZZ Top’s RAW is a companion piece of sorts to their 2019 Netflix documentary, That Little Ol’ Band from Texas . Produced by Billy Gibbons, it’s a rollicking eleven-track collection recorded live at Gruene Hall, “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.” RAW feels timeless as perhaps Gruene Hall itself; these are songs with deep riffs and even deeper staying power. The tracks feel simultaneously (yes) raw and barebones, even as they’re imbued with the rough-and-tumble, pure rock energy that only ZZ Top can conjure up. Featuring the band’s original lineup of Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard, and the late great bass guitarist Dusty Hill, RAW is essential for any fan of the band.

9 [Deluxe Metallic Silver Vinyl Edition] (LP)

Pond

Last year, Australian psych-rockers Pond released the excellent, eclectic 9 . Now they’re back with a souped-up deluxe version, featuring four new tracks. The album kicks off with bewitching female vocals and hypnotic melodies on “Song for Agnes,” before moving into the funked-out danceable grooves of “America’s Cup” and transitioning into soaring, symphonic mode on “Take Me Avalon I’m Young.” The album slips into and out of genres and moods with ease, taking listeners on an intriguing, serpentine journey to the new bonus tracks. This deluxe segment of the LP starts with the desperate and driven “Lights of Leeming,” a tribute to the chaotic desire to break the monotony of suburbia by any means necessary. If you’ve been sleeping on Pond, 9 should wake you right up.

Cave World (CD)

Viagra Boys

Viagra Boys’ Cave World fires up with an irresistible fury; it is the sound of 2022, of the undercurrent of rage and fear, the constant bad news assault we all have to grin and bear our way through. Throughout the album the Swedish post-punks turn their acerbic wit toward alt-right lunatics and losers, occasionally taking a break for tracks which serve as a sort of narration for a nature doc on the seeming retrogression of society. The band is dead serious in their takedown of these topics, but that doesn’t mean this is one of those dreaded, difficult Serious Listens. On the contrary, Cave World is addictive and enjoyable. The band skips gleefully between post-’77 genres, with songs marked by full-throttle, classic punk, mutant disco, menacing Big Black-style noise, and hypnotic post-punk. The effect is intense and exhilarating.

Live [2CD + Blu-ray] (CD)

Prince And The Revolution

Few artists could do it like Prince. Case in point: the new album version of Prince and the Revolution’s legendary Live , the companion piece to the Grammy-nominated concert film of his Syracuse Career Dome performance on the Purple Rain Tour. Remixed from the original multitrack master reels, all the power, energy, and passion of that night come pouring through your speakers. The album’s jam-packed with classic track after classic track, from opener “Let’s Go Crazy” to the grand finale, “Purple Rain.” An absolutely essential release from one of the most visionary artists of our time.

Entering Heaven Alive (CD)

Jack White

Entering Heaven Alive showcases the softer side of Jack White. These stripped down and beautifully-constructed songs are an intimate listening experience. Lyrically, you feel like you’re getting a glimpse into the singer’s psyche, even as he veers into occasionally tongue-in-cheek moments on the offensive (“Love Is Selfish”) before diving into themes of mortality and lasting love (“If I Die Tomorrow”). The production feels like White’s singing just to you, from the corner stage of a tiny, gritty venue. Album closer “Taking Me Back (Gently)” features a swoon-worthy fiddle and olde time orchestrations with White’s lilting vocals—it’s a beautiful bow on top of this rootsy, imaginative package of songs.

Jackpot Juicer (CD)

Dance Gavin Dance

Clocking in at just under one hour and three minutes. Jackpot Juicer is Dance Gavin Dance’s longest album. It’s fittingly epic. Digital meets hardcore with unforgettable, anthemic choruses and intense metalcore percussion. Strings appear throughout the album, adding yearning and keening beauty throughout the proceedings; they complement the slowed-down, emotional interludes that serve as the eye of each track’s storm. New this time around is the addition of Eidola guitarist Andrew Wells, who also performs vocal duties on a number of the songs. Jackpot Juicer is one of those bigger-than-life albums that demands to be heard…and turned up to ten.

MUNA (CD)

MUNA

MUNA is the Lilith Fair vibin’, queer and minority indie pop trio 2022 needs. With glossy, upbeat melodies anchored by lyrics filled with longing and unease, MUNA’s self-titled new album exemplifies the saying that joy is an act of resistance. Lead single “Silk Chiffon” is an undeniably catchy celebration of queer identity, romance, and living life to its fullest. Throughout the album, the band channels the great chart-toppin’, alterna-rock ladies of the ’90s while adding in dashes of bouncy electro pop and sassy, smart pop country. Out on Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, MUNA  is ready to be the soundtrack to your summer.

Essential Albums


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