This Month's Picks

Christmas In Valhalla (CD)

Thor
Muscle-metal hero THOR dropped a Christmas album this year, featuring all original songs with titles like (the hilarious) “Slay Rider” and “Not So Little Drummer Boy.” Recorded with the same band from Beyond the Pain Barrier , these upbeat, straightforward rockers will lighten up many a home this holiday season, whether or not they're familiar with Mr. Jon Mikl Thor. Highlights include the catchy “Gonna Have a Rockin' Christmas” and the pseudo ballad “It's Christmas Time Again.” More
Genre: Rock, Holiday

10 Years / 1000 Shows: Live At The Regent Theater (CD)

Touché Amoré
L.A. band Touche Amore celebrated their 10th anniversary by playing their 1000th show at The Regent Theater in their hometown and this is the aptly titled recording. The follow-up to 2016's acclaimed Stage Four , the album delivers 29 tracks of the group's earnest blend of punk and emo, with the crowd frequently joining in on vocals. The video for “Flowers and You” attests to the audience's enthusiasm and frontman Jeremy Bolm's stage presence. More
Genre: Rock

The Beatles (White Album) [Deluxe Edition] (CD)

The Beatles
Where would popular music be without the White Album ? The Beatles’ monumental work is getting the posh treatment it so richly deserves in the form of this latest iteration, The Anniversary Editions . Available in several formats, the new 3CD deluxe edition of this classic work features a 2018 stereo mix, plus the Esher Demos, the lost basement tapes recorded at George Harrison’s home that would go on to become the White Album . Lots to discover here — The Anniversary Editions are an exquisite little treasure trove of historical gems. More
Genre: Rock

Chapter II - EP I (CD)

Vintage Trouble
Los Angeles rockers Vintage Trouble are moving on to the next stage in their evolution as a band, as the title of their latest EP makes very clear. After earning their fanbase with a sound heavy on the blues, the quartet are expanding their sonic palate to include more influences and pop textures, readily provided by producer Jeeve (Bruno Mars). Chapter II  is out to move your mind, heart, and body, leaving you ready for the next part of the Vintage Trouble story. More
Genre: Rock

Palms (CD)

Thrice
Orange County’s native sons Thrice made a career in the 00s by playing exactly the type of music their Warped Tour-worshipping constituents thrived on: emo/post-hardcore that blended the technical prowess of their forbearers with a newfound sense of catchiness in the form of radio-friendly earworms. Yet this is not the same band that sang countless yearning, angsty hooks over arpeggiated guitar riffs on The Artist in the Ambulance . Maybe it was the 5 year hiatus starting in 2011 that did it, but this version of Thrice is much different. For one, the band has gotten in touch with their new-wave side, undoubtedly finding common ground through hefty doses of Depeche Mode. The vocals are lower, gruffer; a natural progression of aging, sure, but the tones and textures that comprise Palms are darker as well. Cold synthesizers color nearly every track while the guitar assault of old is paired back, and though Thrice are still a “rock” band through and through, electronica and industrial aren’t too far behind. Yet, despite the sonic makeover, one need only listen to the chorus of “The Grey” to realize that those yearning, shout-along earworms are still there. A refreshing update of the post-hardcore sound that dominated the aughts. More
Genre: Rock

All The Things That I Did & All The Things That I Didn't Do (CD)

The Milk Carton Kids
The Milk Carton Kids' fourth album is a departure from the duo's sparse Americana of acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies. Joined this time by artists like Pat Sansone of Wilco, the arrangements include strings, drums, and piano, painting a richer background for the crooning vocals. The songs revisit themes from previous albums: “You Break My Heart” is a lovely but sad ballad with a delicate twang; “One More For The Road” is the slow-burning single with a nod toward painful endings. “Nothing Is Real” is a playful rant against technology that croons regardless, “But I don't mind, I don't mind.” More
Genre: Rock

Cigarettes After Sex (CD)

Cigarettes After Sex
Cigarettes After Sex's self-titled debut stands apart from the rest of the dream-pop crowd, mostly thanks to Greg Gonzalez's up-front, feminine vocals. Another strength is the band's songwriting, which emerges from the standard, subdued and echoing sound, and will draw in fans of other genres. More
Genre: Rock

Shatner Claus: The Christmas Album (CD)

William Shatner
Stardate: the night before Christmas. That's right Shatner fans, at last the Captain of the Starship has landed in the North Pole, with an impressive crew of guest stars, taking the Christmas album where no Christmas album has gone before. Take, for instance, Shatner's duet of "Jingle Bells" with Henry Rollins, sounding like a tightly wound but enthusiastic caroler, and featuring boozy, new lyrics that may take a couple of listens to fully understand. Or take Shatner's oddly syncopated, quasi-scatted "Little Drummer Boy," which finds the veteran Star Trek actor in one of his most committed roles. ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons gives Shat's "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" some Texas-blues swagger, while Brad Paisley adds some country-twang to the Elvis classic "Blue Christmas," which features spoken word interludes that further illustrate in more literal terms just why and how they're having such a bad Christmas. One of the more surprisingly fitting pairings is on "Silent Night," featuring none other than Iggy Pop. Perhaps in retrospect it makes sense, but who would have thought that the beat-poem-on-quaaludes style of Shatner's rantings would fit so nicely with Iggy's Berlin-era-style crooning? And of course, what Christmas album would be complete without an aggressively inspirational rendition of "Feliz Navidad?" Certainly not this one. More

Safe In The Hands Of Love (CD)

Yves Tumor
Yves Tumor’s first LP for Warp Records is monumental. Safe in the Hands of Love expands on his earlier inclinations; it’s bigger, bolder, lusher, and lovelier. Yves Tumor is never one to shy away from his most experimental urges and although there’s more of a “traditional” song structure here than previously, the artist’s roots in noise and ambient make for some surprising twists and turns in what’s definitely one of the weirder entries into the realm of slowed down, spaced out sad R&B. Some of the underground’s finest experimental/noise artists make contributions here: Puce Mary and Oxhy show up on the bristling “Hope in Suffering (Escaping Oblivion & Overcoming Powerlessness)” and Croation Amor adds an unsettling beauty to “Economy of Freedom.” More

Songs Of Resistance 1942-2018 (CD)

Marc Ribot
Featuring guest appearances by Tom Waits, Steve Earle, Sam Amidon, and more, New York guitarist Marc Ribot has compiled of a collection of tracks, ranging from World War II-era resistance songs to newly penned commentaries on Donald Trump, as an eclectic document of protest in the face of oppression. More
Genre: Jazz