This Month's Picks

Gargoyle (CD)

Mark Lanegan Band
Mark Lanegan is one of those musicians who seems to have been involved with so many projects, but is always just a few inches away from the spotlight himself. He was in the under-appreciated Screaming Trees, collaborated with Kurt Cobain, performed in the Queens of the Stone Age, and recorded three solid albums with Isobel Campbell of Belle and Sebastian. That isn't even mentioning the unreleased material and solo albums. As he's aged, his voice has gotten more gravely and heavier and he sounds closer to an aged blues or folk singer of the past. On Gargoyle , he uses his voice like an instrument of pain in an album that's halfway between psychedelic and industrial. Incorporating synths in a way he never has before, along with some straight out shoegazey endless guitar reverb, Mark Lanegan's latest resembles '80s art rock more than anything. "Beehive" opens up with buzzing (no pun intended) that turns into a '60s guitar riff dipped in toxic waste. His coarse voice comes in and is surprisingly melodic, unlike the worn voices of Captain Beefheart or Tom Waits. For a voice that sounds like it could rip his throat any second, he has a surprising range and harmonic sense over a borderline pop track. "Nocturne" is probably closer to the direction he's been heading in. With a quick, repetitive guitar belting out mostly one note, the synths get stuck in short rhythms that are just as brooding as they are dancey. Mark Lanegan somehow makes an album that's stuck in the forms of the past as they are in modern ideas to create something that gives a dystopian view of '60s pop. It doesn't pay off with catchy melodies, but offers rich textures, careful lyrics, and the right amount of strange experimentation that rock needs. More
Genre: Rock

Visuals (CD)

Mew
It is 2017 and Mew are still reaching for the stratosphere. The prog-pop Danish stargazers have released their first album since trimming back down to a trio following their 2015 release, +- . However, despite the departure of guitarist Bo Madsen, Visuals does not find Mew's sound growing any smaller. In fact, this might be their most cinematic release yet, featuring a greater embrace of synths and strings than ever before. One listen to album closer “Carry Me To Safety” should assuage any worries of austerity, as it encapsulates all of Mew's eccentricities onto one track: behold lush orchestration, gentle falsetto, proggy Radiohead-esque guitars, big ass drums, and a general sense of pomp and grandiosity filtered through an undeniable pop sensibility. This is space age music that splits the difference between Styx and M83; a dreamy, sweet toothed collection of songs that for all their unabashed lighter-in-the-air glory remain tasteful and inventive. Someone get Laserium on board, they have a real winner on their hands. More
Genre: Rock

Odd Boat (CD)

Flatfoot 56
Flatfood 56 makes Celtic melodies into punk and it's no sloppy gimmick either. They use the bouncy rhythms and haunting melodies, and accelerate them to 100mph. Formed in 2000 by brothers Justin, Tobin, and Kyle, their brand of Irish punk has been shredding ears by combining fuzzed guitars and bagpipes like they were always meant to be together. Their seventh album, Odd Boat , has a ragtag, intense mood that leads them ahead as the most interesting and dynamic of the Celtic/punk subgenre. "Penny" gallops relentlessly with the occasional "AY!" to punctuate that mood. The precision sharp guitar playing clicks with gorgeous rhythms. The most unexpected diversion the song takes is the calm in the middle of the storm as it slows down into a beautiful harmony. Guest vocalist IL Neige comes out with a gorgeous reprieve that offers rest from the otherwise delirious track. Odd Boat is helluva banger. Blast this and get ready to jump up and down. More
Genre: Rock

2016 Atomized (CD)

The Raveonettes
The Raveonettes are simultaneously split between the past and the future. Though their music has the elements of electronic pop and experimentation that you commonly hear in indie rock and even on radio hits, there's something simultaneously nostalgic and vintage in the mix. Previously the band has embraced a '60s vibe, but their latest is shamelessly '80s. 2016 Atomized is labeled an "anti-album" as it's more of a compilation. Each month, the Danish duo would upload a unique track online, and 2016 Atomized collects them all together with no thematic connection other than the way they were released and a shared post-industrial dance mood. It's definitely a disorienting trip, one the band calls "potentially schizophrenic & disjointed, potentially cohesive and related." March's "EXCUSES" is a perfect example of what they were experimenting with. Initially starting off as a sorta Cure-ish shoegazey rocker, it suddenly slows down into '90s melodramatic R&B. The lyrics are deliciously relevant as the chorus chants "Time to let lose / wanna get bruised / fuck your excuse / hit me with nukes," somewhere between war time horror and post-breakup anger. "Junko Ozawa," which borrows its name from the composer of the classic video game themes to Pac-Man and Dig-Dug , is as video gamey as pop gets. The classic jealous, frustrated lyrics are comic over a melody that feels like it could have come out of an arcade machine replete with 8-bit bleeps and bloops. Despite not having the narrative cohesion of a full album, there's something beautiful about how each drastically different track leads to the other. They still all have one thing in common: they're fun! More
Genre: Rock

Split (BLU)

M. Night Shyamalan’s original thriller delves into the mysterious recesses of one man's fractured mind. Though Kevin (James McAvoy) has revealed 23 personalities to his psychiatrist, one still remains submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct teenage girls, Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him. More

A7PHA (CD)

A7PHA
A7PHA consists of Doseone and Mestizo, who both have extensive catalogs in the alt-rap genre. Their new self-titled Anticon release is more on the dark and experimental side, and fuses hip hop with gothic vibes and abstract rhythms. It is far different from the rhythm and flow of their previous solo releases, but its unique sound gives them the opportunity to appeal to a whole new audience. More
Genre: Hip Hop

Once & Future Band (CD)

Once & Future Band
The very mid-'70s vibe of this accomplished cabal of prog wizards surpasses pastiche, and crests that lovely anachronistic conceptual peak: a fully realized and meticulously arranged psych record, meant to be listened to from top to bottom, with the lights down low and in a comfy chair perhaps, or while gazing out the window of your life pod.More
Genre: Rock

No Resolution [Autographed Booklet] (CD)

Tim Kasher
Tim Kasher has little left to prove, having fronted emo stalwarts Cursive and The Good Life for two decades and releasing several solo albums on his own. But, perhaps in a bid to reclaim his indie-rock crown, Kasher has written a concept album of sorts that also functions as a soundtrack to an upcoming film he wrote and directed about a failing engagement. Kasher still wields his everyman voice and vitriolic pen like a weapon, creating evocative imagery that illustrates the pressures we feel to couple up, start a family, and become something familiar. “Son become a father, a professor, time to settle down, settle down, settle down,” Kasher intones on “Runts,” voicing an unsaid social-pressure mantra that lurks in the back of our minds. Musically, Kasher dots his indie-rock guitar-based songs with cello, vibraphone, and other orchestral touches, like a more symphonic version of Cursive, while mixing tonalities on songs like “Break Me Open” or giving “No Secret” catchy, fast-twitch melodies and a ticking beat to keep things interesting. Brimming with intensity and detail, No Resolution just might be Kasher's magnum opus. More
Genre: Rock

Make Some Noise (CD)

The Dead Daisies
They don’t make arena rock like they used to. Or so we thought. The latest from Australian-American businessman-turned-professional-musician David Lowy and co. brings back the fist-pumping rock of yore with gleeful abandon on tracks like the blistering, AC/DC-ish “Long Way to Go.” Tunes like “Song and a Prayer” could easily pass for long-lost ’80s glam-rock gems — you could easily sneak this song between Bon Jovi and Van Halen on classic rock radio and no one would bat an eye. If flashes of Thin Lizzy, Motley Crue, and Whitesnake come to you while listening to self-styled anthems like “Make Some Noise,” it’s with good reason — guys from all three of those bands play with Lowy in The Dead Daisies. While they don’t update the sound that ruled rock radio in ’86, they don’t really have to. There’s enough attitude and tunefulness on Make Some Noise to carry Lowy and co. to headlining arenas around the world. More
Genre: Rock

I Kinda Like It When A Lotta People Die (CD)

George Carlin
The world lost one of the true comedy greats when George Carlin died in 2008. This first posthumous release of unreleased material by Carlin showcases just that. Far from a cash grab of inessential material, it comprises home recordings and recordings of live shows that were shelved for various reasons (the 9/11 attacks, for one). The material presented here is thoughtfully culled from those recordings, beginning with a startlingly prescient treatise on police and governmental inefficacy, recorded in 1957 but as unfortunately relevant today as it was then. The material ping pongs a bit across decades and subject matter, from bathroom humor to social commentary, but Carlin’s delivery remains as pointed as ever whether he’s skewering surveillance culture or wondering aloud about who invented the first enema. The album includes liner notes by comedian Lewis Black, former manager Jerry Hamza, and comedy special producer Rocco Urbisci, as well as bonus-track interviews with Hamza and Urbisci. More
Genre: Comedy