This Month's Picks

In Your Own Sweet Time (CD)

The Fratellis
The Fratellis usually make tracks that are a healthy dose of (tasteful) burlesque with thudding, sexy rhythms and a touch of glam rock. But with In Your Own Sweet Tim e, they go-for-broke with banger after banger of powerhouse anthems. Instead of their previous interest in the sounds of the '70s, here we get full-blown post-disco '80s vibes that groups like Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran explored. You don't have a second to relax as each track grabs you by the head and throws you into a mix of flowery electronics, frantic drumming, and melodies that trot along with joy. Leader and songwriter Barry Fratteli admits that in his youth he used books and other songs to springboard ideas, but on this album he pulls from "pure imagination" and it shows. Each song has a spontaneous energy where nothing feels too thought out. "Stand up Tragedy" could almost be mistaken for a Sparks song with its sardonic, bizarre lyrics and inflection of blues in the dance rhythms. The guitars melt away with psychedelic waviness and the drums are so robotically perfect it's like a human being is attempting to emulate a drum machine. It's a dollop of pitch perfect pop designed to get stuck in your mind. "The Next Time We Wed" is probably the most modern track they've made to date. Ditching anything remotely nostalgic, the song is a free-flowing rock jam with lyrics that are a little silly, but match perfectly with the bass-heavy synth licks and processed drums. Try to listen to this track and not dance around! Alternatively, "Starcrossed Lovers" is a sweet, orchestrated ballad that is the perfect way to mellow out the album. It still has a major-key melody that's wistful, but when the strings come in, the song overflows with so much emotion that you'll find it impossible to not get sucked in. In Your Own Sweet Time abandons all the sentimentality of their older albums to make something that's increasingly rare in music today: fun. More
Genre: Rock

Record (CD)

Tracey Thorn
What a gem Tracey Thorn is! Her new LP Record is a disco-tinged intellectual dance floor album jam-packed, as she says, with “feminist bangers.” The lyrics are clever, the beats are tight, and Thorn’s velveteen voice is as gorgeous as ever. The album is a chronicle of the female experience from youth to maturity and it’s wonderful to hear Thorn’s take on these oft-eschewed milestones. A glittering pearl of perfect electro-pop. More
Genre: Rock

Rock2 (CD)

The Dean Ween Group
Ween’s music could get into some pretty out-there places during their '90s heyday, but guitarist and one half of the duo Mickey Melchiondo, Jr (aka Dean Ween) will readily cop to being a classic rock fan at heart, with influences squarely soaked up from The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Allman Brothers, Hendrix, and Motorhead. That '70s minded songwriting is on full display on his second solo release, Rock2 , albeit with Ween’s trademark warped sense of humor fully intact. With a virtuosic backing band assembled from Ween’s core touring lineup, as well as a few featured guests, including Michael Hampton of Parliament-Funkadelic, Rock2 comes across as a properly debauched and (more) chemically altered heir to National Lampoon’s old Lemmings revue. The album of 2018 most likely to out-party you. More
Genre: Rock

Steppenwolf At 50 (CD)

John Kay, Steppenwolf
Out of the myriad stalwarts of '60s hippie rock, few might have predicted Steppenwolf would make it to the half-century mark. They might have doubted the hard-working ethos of leader John Kay, who since the inception of the band has been Steppenwolf’s sole constant member. Steppenwolf at 50 documents their evolution from groovy, psychedelic blues lathered in heavy fuzz guitar to a more straightforward, blue-collar boogie rock band in the vein of Lynyrd Skynyrd and other biker bar favorites. No matter how it’s gussied up, John Kay has stayed true to his roots on his long-running rock ‘n roll odyssey. Don’t be too surprised if he goes another 50 more. More
Genre: Rock

Myths 003 (LP)

Dungen, Woods
Scandinavian psych-rockers Dungen paired up with Brooklyn indie folksters Woods for the third release in Captured Tracks’ Marfa Myths series. These seven new tracks were recorded at the now annual music festival in the tiny Texan art town of Marfa, where the artists soaked up the town’s fascinating vibe, working together to draw out a sound that features elements of each act’s well-known styles but is uniquely their own. Of course, there’s the urgent psych you’d expect from Dungen and the old weird Americana of Woods — now add elements of dream pop and ‘60s sunshine pop to the mix and get ready for some idyllic and unexpected twists and turns. More
Genre: Rock

A Productive Cough (CD)

Titus Andronicus
The last time we heard from Patrick Stickles and his ongoing punk rock odyssey Titus Andronicus, it was on 2015’s The Most Lamentable Tragedy , a 5-part rock opera stretched over 3 LPs and 90 minutes of music. Even for a band with the sheer ambition of TA (and they truly have few contemporaries in that regard in this day and age), their follow up was bound to be a bit more pared back. However, that does little to prepare the casual observer for A Productive Cough , which is largely comprised of extended ballads draped in Americana and folky arrangements that strip away much of the “rock” from the equation. Hence a lead single such as “Number One (In New York),” whose endlessly repeating piano motif and seesawing gait resembles a sing-along drinking shanty, albeit one with lyrics that veer from the incendiary to the surreal. For over eight minutes it builds in intensity and excitement, yet refrains from exploding into the Springsteen-esque arena rock climax to which the band has previously been so partial. Instead, it drifts and drones off into the distance; more “Street Hassle” than the E Street Band. Other highlights include the unabashed Exile on Main St. glory of “Above the Bodega (Local Business),” or a lengthy, unorthodox reinterpretation of Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Titus Andronicus’ left turn into rootsy folk-styled songwriting and eschewing of noisy punk fury on A Productive Cough proves once again that they are one of the most original, if not unpredictable, bands in all of indiedom. Yet it’s also the level of quality that they maintain from release to release that makes them one of the best. A Productive Cough is no different. More
Genre: Rock

Francis Trouble (CD)

Albert Hammond Jr.
Long ago, back when The Strokes first became the next big thing, the band made a point of honoring their indie rock heroes of much-less cultural cache, Guided By Voices, by paying frequent lip service and even featuring them in their video for “Someday.” This is mostly due to guitarist Albert Hammond Jr., who discovered GBV in his teen years before later introducing them to his fellow Strokes. While those other members have pursued different sonic avenues in various side projects (as well as in subsequent reunion Strokes albums), it is AHJ’s work that most reflects GBV’s spirit of impeccably written music: catchy and concise tunes that bridge the gaps between the classic rock ‘n roll eras of the British Invasion up through Punk and Post-Punk. Yet, that’s not to suggest GBV is the reason that AHJ’s music has remained so remarkably consistent in sound and quality. Rather, his brand of songwriting is instantly pleasing and familiar because AHJ is the man responsible for what makes the Strokes sound so…well, Strokes-y.   Francis Trouble sticks to the script. That’s no knock, because the script is perfect. Strummed, propulsive guitars alternate with contrapuntal bass lines and vice versa; effective in a way that’s downright baroque in its little intricacies, as if Bach was wrote chamber music pieces for garage rock. “Set To Attack” picks up where the Strokes’ last left off their drunken midnight melancholy somewhere in 2004. “Far Away Truths” features a power pop hook so sharp it could have had a featured appearance on The O.C. soundtrack back in the day. “Muted Beatings” is all staccato guitars and whining synths over jittery desperation. There’s a clear formula to what makes these songs work, yet tweaked enough that it never grows stale. Advice for AHJ? Never change. More
Genre: Rock

Tearing At The Seams (CD)

Nathaniel Rateliff
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats are here to turn everything you’ve thought about Americana and good old-fashioned soul upside down. Namely, by pairing these seemingly disparate genres together to create a thoroughly down south, incredibly lively LP called Tearing At The Seams . Raucous and raw, vulnerable and yearning, it’s a true feast for music fans who like their listening a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll and with a whole lot of soul. The band have got the Stax seal of approval so you know this one’s got heart. More
Genre: Rock

Violence (CD)

Editors’ sound has always evolved from album to album. Understandably so, as a 16-year career demands innovation or else risks stagnating into a formula outgrown by its audience. From the early Interpol worship of The Back Room  to the chilly synth pop of Depeche Mode on In This Light And On This Evening  and up through the U2-meets-Pearl-Jam-by-way-of-Echo-&-The-Bunnymen stadium ambitions of The Weight Of Your Love , Editors have never been shy of embracing a malleable approach to their moody post punk. This doesn’t change a bit on their newest release, as Violence keeps the band looking forward. In fact, this might be their most commercially ambitious album yet, unafraid to soak up influences from contemporary rock heavyweights such as Coldplay and Muse, among others. Yet before you accuse the band of selling out, realize that this pop-minded approach is only half of the equation. Editors take undeniable hooks and hits and slather them all over in a noisy, industrial sheen, and the whole album is imbued with a maximalist streak. Songs seem to quadruple in volume as the chorus hits, overdriving every instrument imaginable in the pursuit of the most massive sound possible while still catchy enough for FM radio waves. It’s not subtle, nor is it supposed to be. For those who like pleasure with pain, it's pop ecstasy. More
Genre: Rock

Blood (CD)

Sultry Sade devotees Rhye don’t disappoint on their latest, Blood . Velvet-voiced frontman Mike Milosh is on his own for this deeply intimate LP and the songwriting here is a testament to his evolution as an artist. The songs are, as expected, languid and lush, with just a hint of a groove (and more than a hint of eroticism). A deeply romantic LP listeners will want to get lost in. More
Genre: Rock