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Hotel Kalifornia (CD)

Hollywood Undead

Rap-rock, industrial hip-hop, nu nu metal—whatever you consider Hollywood Undead, you’ll definitely consider Hotel Kalifornia the band’s most incisive, hardcore release yet. Producers Erik Ron (Panic! At The Disco, Godsmack), Andrew Migliore (Papa Roach, Zero 9:36) and Drew Fulk (Lil Wayne, Motionless in White) add intensity to the raucous proceedings. The vocals switch from brutal metal to RATM-style rap to darkly melodic, as each member of the crew serves up their thoughts on the current state of the world. (Spoiler alert: things are not going great.) Bristling with energy and tempered by rage, Hotel Kalifornia was made to be cranked up loud.

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.

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.

Cheat Codes (CD)

Black Thought

Can it really be seventeen years since DangerDOOM , the last hip-hop album from Danger Mouse? That collaboration with the late MF DOOM became a legend…and it looks like this new pairing with Black Thought is on the same stratosphere-reaching track. With a duo this talented, you know a galaxy of stars is gonna want to come out to play and the guests are truly high-caliber: Raekwon, Kid Sister, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Dylan Cartlidge, Michael Kiwanuka, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, and Conway the Machine are all along for the ride. MF DOOM even plays a part in the track “Belize.” It should come as no surprise that Cheat Codes is one of the most buzzed-about albums of 2022—and for good reason. It’s one of the year’s best.

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.

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.

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.

Cheat Codes (CD)

Danger Mouse

Can it really be seventeen years since DangerDOOM , the last hip-hop album from Danger Mouse? That collaboration with the late MF DOOM became a legend…and it looks like this new pairing with Black Thought is on the same stratosphere-reaching track. With a duo this talented, you know a galaxy of stars is gonna want to come out to play and the guests are truly high-caliber: Raekwon, Kid Sister, Joey Bada$$, Russ, Dylan Cartlidge, Michael Kiwanuka, A$AP Rocky, Run the Jewels, and Conway the Machine are all along for the ride. MF DOOM even plays a part in the track “Belize.” It should come as no surprise that Cheat Codes is one of the most buzzed-about albums of 2022—and for good reason. It’s one of the year’s best.

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.

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.

In The Wild (CD)

The Interrupters

The Interrupters continue their reign as the ruling torch-bearers of old school ska-punk on their excellent new album, In The Wild . This is a band that knows their musical history—they wouldn’t sound out of place next to classic ’70s/early ‘80s acts like The English Beat—and understands how to inject a contemporary vibe into the mix that keeps the proceedings feeling fresh and exciting. Produced by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong (who also splits guest vocals with Rhoda Dakar on the second track), the album also features appearances from The Skints, Alex Desert, and Greg Lee. Spirited, upbeat, and rich in the original socially-conscious spirit of the genre, In the Wild is guaranteed to energize your day.

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.

Essential Albums


Starting a record collection? Here is where you must begin.

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