Us Blu-Ray Out Now

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Music We Like

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A Bath Full Of Ecstasy (CD)

Hot Chip

Hot Chip’s A Bath Full of Ecstasy is a warm, danceable slice of electropop with a heartfelt undercurrent of "togetherness and solidarity.” (That’s according to co-founder Joe Goddard and yes, that much-needed positivity is the thread that draws this wonderfully hands-in-the-air album together.) The new LP marks the first time the band has worked with outside producers; they recruited the talents of Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Sampha) and Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Beastie Boys, Cassius) who bring new insight and life to Hot Chip’s addictive blend of euphoria-lite. As always, there’s a bit of melancholy just beneath the surface of Hot Chip’s tunes — in a way, A Bath Full of Ecstasy serves as the perfect mirror for our troubled yet hopeful times.

Injury Reserve (CD)

Injury Reserve

Arizona indie rap trio Injury Reserve pushes the boundaries of hip-hop on their innovative, excellent self-titled full-length. Starting off in Phoenix, a city without much of a rap scene, the band got their start playing basement punk shows and there’s definitely a correlation in terms of ethos and aesthetic. Throw some jazz-funk melodies in the mix, get weird on some experimental moments, and slip in a few fleeting moments of Top 40 production and you’ve got the recipe for Injury Reserve . Ambitious and exciting, this fantastic album promises big things for the trio.

III (CD)

Bad Books

It has been awhile since we heard from the ever-surprising Bad Books. Seven years, in fact, but woo boy is III worth the wait. While recording these lightly psychedelic lo-fi ballads the band focused on their in-studio mantra of “Simon and Garfunkel in space,” which is a pretty good touchpoint — just multiply the trippy, lo-fi factor several times what said description would call to mind and you’ll have a decent concept of what this album sounds like. Top-notch songwriting and storytelling combine with cosmic vibes and minimalist melodies to create a truly compelling album that’s worth a careful listen.

Black Pumas (CD)

Black Pumas

Austin, Texas soulsters Black Pumas serve up luscious, psychedelic soul on their intriguing self-titled debut album. The band features the enviable talents of Grammy-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout) and songwriter Eric Burton, who met Quesada in Austin after starting out in LA and busking his way across the country. Together, the two serve up fresh, urgent, ultra vibrant tunes that have been described as “Ghostface Killah and Motown in equal measure.” It’s a pretty apt summation of where Black Pumas draw inspiration from but their sound is 100% all their own. Few records this year sound as vital and important as this one. Crank it.

Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) (CD)

Lukas Nelson

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have a message on their latest, Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) . The likable title track implores listeners to do just that. Give people something to believe in. Endow your way of life with hope. It’s a standout moment on an album filled with top-notch tracks, with high-profile collaborators like Kesha, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and Lukas’ father, Willie. The younger Nelson has created a strong showcase for his songwriting chops, with songs that effortlessly segue from country to folk to rock to soul. Impassioned and brilliant, there’s lots to love about this album.

Servants Of The Sun (CD)

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood

Chris Robinson Brotherhood starts their latest album, Servants of the Sun , on an uptempo note. The good times are rolling, with a few heart-worn ballads sprinkled into the mix. “Some Earthly Delights” starts the journey off with a psychedelic groove and “The Chauffeur’s Daughter” features ultra catchy licks with lyrics that feel like a future classic. Album closer “A Smiling Epitaph” is a stunner all on its own but it’s made even more poignant by the fact that the band has announced they’ll be taking a hiatus for an undisclosed period of time and that founding member Adam MacDougall has moved on from the CRB. Fortunately, this excellent LP should be in heavy rotation long enough to scratch the CRB itch for quite some time — Servants of the Sun is all killer, no filler.

Help Us Stranger (CD)

The Raconteurs

Finally back after a decade long hiatus, The Raconteurs are ready to roll with their third studio release, Help Us Stranger . The band's heady mix of rock and blues continues to flourish, this time with a touch of psychedelia (à la the Beatles-esque bridge in single "Sunday Driver") and a fuzzy cover of Donovan b-side "Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)" that nicely displays drummer Patrick Keeler's chops. Jack White and Brendan Benson's singing and songwriting skills continue to bounce off each other nicely, and with a set of tunes this strong it's obvious why Stranger is one of the more anticipated releases of the year. Welcome back, fellas.

Erotic Reruns (CD)

Yeasayer

Yeasayer take on smooth AM Gold style rock on their sunny and slightly woozy new album, Erotic Reruns . The band fuses influences ranging from the expected indie pop to more off-the-wall psychedelia to krautrock on this smart collection of love-lorn numbers. It comes as no surprise, perhaps, based on the album’s title, that there’s also a playful rock ’n’ roll sleaziness to some of the band’s more sensually-oriented tunes — Yeasayer seems to be luxuriating in all the over-the-top-ness of the traditional rockstar persona while giving a knowing indie rock wink to their audience. It’s pure indie pop listening pleasure and pure fun.

Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) (CD)

Promise Of The Real

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have a message on their latest, Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) . The likable title track implores listeners to do just that. Give people something to believe in. Endow your way of life with hope. It’s a standout moment on an album filled with top-notch tracks, with high-profile collaborators like Kesha, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and Lukas’ father, Willie. The younger Nelson has created a strong showcase for his songwriting chops, with songs that effortlessly segue from country to folk to rock to soul. Impassioned and brilliant, there’s lots to love about this album.

Oklahoma (CD)

Keb' Mo'

Keb Mo' teamed up with Oklahoma native songwriter Dara Tucker for his new album that explores that state's themes. Evoking the area's musical history, natural disasters, Native American relations and more, these blues-rock songs benefit from guest artists like Robert Randolph on the title track, Rosanne Cash - who excels on vocals in the powerful “Put A Woman In Charge” - and previous collaborator Taj Mahal. The latter adds further depth to “The Way I,” an emotional song about depression, and “Don't Throw It Away,” a timely plea to acknowledge environmental issues. Another highly relevant number, the gentle ballad “This Is My Home,” features vocals from Latin singer Jaci Velasquez addressing the immigrant experience.

Paradise (CD)

The Mattson 2

Psych-jazz duo The Mattson 2 steps away from their high concept collaborations and reimagined covers for a new album of mellow, retro sunglasses-tinted jazz/indie pop, perfect for the summer. But don't let the easy-going vibes distract you from the twin brothers' impeccable chops – these tracks might be airy and hushed, augmented by sleepy synths on songs like “Wavelength,” but they're built on a foundation of virtuosic bass lines and drum fills. “Essence” is a highlight with its intriguing melody, hypnotic groove, and liquid guitar solos. Guitar even substitutes for a lead vocal on “Naima's Dream,” every bit as expressive and melodic as a human voice.

Flamagra (CD)

Flying Lotus

Nobody does it like Flying Lotus. After a five year pause between albums, the gifted producer and musician returns with Flamagra and he’s brought quite the star-studded cast of collaborators along. Woven through Lotus’ forward-thinking fusion of free jazz, hip-hop, and electronica come contributions from the likes of Anderson .Paak, George Clinton, David Lynch, Little Dragon, Solange, Tierra Whack, Denzel Curry, Shabazz Palaces, Thundercat, and Toro y Moi. An exhilarating sonic evolution plays out over the course of this epic 27-track LP — fans will enjoy the ride on this cosmic journey.

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Join us at the fifth anniversary Flower Piano celebration at the San Francisco Botanical Garden in Golden Gate Park July 11-22.