This Month's Picks

The Damned: Don't You Wish That We Were Dead (BLU)

The first career-spanning documentary on the legendary band that released the first English punk LP as well as influencing goth and psychobilly. Interpersonal conflicts, financial chicanery, and the dreaded artistic differences abound, but so do the timeless songs and energy. A nice mix of the salty and the sweet from one of the defining ’77 punk godfathers. More

Head Carrier (CD)

On Head Carrier , the Pixies prove they're just as raw, smart, combative, and thoughtful as when they burst onto the scene with their 1988 full-length, Surfer Rosa . This is the band's first LP with new bassist/backing vocalist Paz Lenchantin, whose dulcet voice serves as an interesting contrast to some of Black Francis' more aggressive moments. At times the songs on the LP are bristling and confrontational, in other moments the music is lovely and nearly sweet, but with a barely hidden edge to it. Head Carrier covers a lot of ground, both emotionally and musically, and it's impressive to see a band who has been so consistently awesome throughout the course of their career knock another one out of the park. More
Genre: Rock

Woman (CD)

French electronic duo Justice are back with another ‘80s funk, house, and disco-inspired album guaranteed to put a smile on your face and your feet on the dance floor. Woman is vibrant, alive, and glittering; it’s a tribute to the power of dance music to improve our lives. “Safe and Sound” is shimmering with an uplifting disco diva chorus. “Alakazam!” is propulsive and hypnotic, and “Randy” is a throwback to the French Touch scene of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. This is life-affirming, hands-in-the-air electronic music. Do something good for yourself and turn it up loud. More

Masterpiece (CD)

Big Thief
Brooklyn indie-band Big Thief's first album is a steady rockin' gem. Take title track, "Masterpiece," for example: this somber anthem fills every corner of your wintertime apartment with a sentimental warmth and cool comfort. "Real Love" starts with guitars reminiscent of Kid A / Amnesiac -era Radiohead and ends with a thick-as-mashed-potatoes freak out, while "Paul" should be a favorite last call number on the jukebox. More
Genre: Rock

Body Wash (CD)

Los Angeles producer Mndsgn creates beats that are so perfectly low-fi, fuzzy, stoned, and drippy it makes you wish hip hop was always this chill. It's the perfect blend of Zapp & Roger boogie beats and the chill, neo-funk vocals of Toro y Moi. Finally stepping away from the realm of pure instrumentals, Body Wash introduces Mndsgn's spacey vocals that are so smooth and relaxed, it can easily slip you into a trance. It's simultaneously nostalgic and modern, with digitized vocals, ancient drum samples, and bubbling synths. But it's also a total rejection of the computerized, ultra clear productions of today's hip hop. It's experimental, crazy, and beautiful and it will get you moving. From the opening bop of "Cosmic Productions" the sci-fi, anime weirdness pops up with music that gives images of neon colors, large glass windows covered in reflections, and old Toyota Celicas. "Use Ya Mnd (Twentyfourseven)" almost sounds like a deep soundtrack cut from the '80s or even a song from an ancient interactive CD-ROM. The smooth synths don't belong in this era and sound so jarring and refreshing, especially as they embrace all their electronic crunch. "Ya Own Way" plays like a track from a '90s Sega arcade racing game. The funky bass rhythms over the new agey, soft rhythms are simultaneously haunting, but feel perfect against imaginary imagery of low-polygon cars driving in the night. Light up a joint and sit in a soft chair: this album is a trip like no other. More
Genre: Hip Hop

Are You Real? (CD)

Beware Of Darkness
Fuzzy and full of attitude, Beware of Darkness' follow-up to their debut album, Orthodox , will have you chanting along to their catchy choruses and struttin' to their cocky rhythm. "Muthafucka" features Jack White-esque guitar riffs, while "Dope" has a disco-punk feel akin to early Franz Ferdinand. The title track, "Are You Real?," mixes indie pop with a Nine Inch Nails-like '90s alt/industrial sound. More
Genre: Rock

Yes Lawd! (CD)

On Yes Lawd! , Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge’s debut LP as NxWorries, the duo have crafted a sublime modern soul/funk record. With soaring strings, gritty vocals, and ultra cool cinematic flourishes that sound like the soundtrack to a forgotten Blaxploitation flick, the album manages to sound both super contemporary and like a bona fide classic. Despite its October release date, this is a definite summer record, essential for backyard BBQs, driving with the windows down, and sitting around the pool. .Paak himself has called the collaboration “my best work” and it’s definitely something special; let’s hope these two continue to make beautiful music together. More
Genre: Soul, Hip Hop

Skiptracing (CD)

The Mild High Club
Mild High Club’s Skiptracing sounds like ‘70s light rock radio on acid, complete with smooth jazz solos, psych flourishes, jangly guitar, and sunny harmonies. Thanks to the band’s eclectic influences, however, the songs never sound derivative, but instead feel like a breath of fresh air winding its way through Laurel Canyon. It’s a woozy, euphoric record that calls to mind a more mellowed out Ariel Pink or a psyched out Mac DeMarco — which makes sense because Mild High Club has toured with them both. Throw this record on if you still wish it was the Summer of Love, or if you just don’t want summer to end. More
Genre: Rock

Femejism (CD)

Deap Vally
"Yes, I am a feminist, but that isn't why I started doing this," sings Deap Vally's guitarist Lindsey Troy on the track "Smile More," which is a good way to describe the duo's latest album, Femejism . There's certainly a message, and plenty of social commentary that is not to be taken lightly, but Femejism is also just a damn good rock album, with guitar riffs and vocal hooks up the wazoo. Sometimes sludgy, sometimes surfy, always rockin', producer Nick Zinner (of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs) gets the most out of the seemingly minimal set up of the band. "Little Baby Beauty Queen" features a sinister "Helter Skelter"-like guitar hook, while the vocals invoke glam rock at its nastiest. "Gonnawanna" seems to sum up the band's attitude with the lyric, "I'm gonna do what I wanna, I'm gonna do it 'cause I wanna." More
Genre: Rock

Live At The Greek Theatre (CD)

Joe Bonamassa
On Live at the Greek Theatre , Joe Bonamassa celebrates his musical heroes Freddie, Albert, and B.B. King in style. Bonamassa gives the Kings' classic work his own contemporary spin, without losing the heart, vitality, and power of the originals. The band, who also backed Bonamassa for his Muddy Wolf tribute shows, is excellent as expected, with an ebullient horn section, soulful backing vocalists, and powerful percussion. The recording itself is crisp, clean, and lively; it does an excellent job of conveying the excitement and intensity of the blues rocker's stage shows. These uplifting, dynamic cover versions are a fitting nod to the lasting legacy of the blues. More
Genre: Rock, Blues