Apr 2019

Berserker (CD)

Gods of Viking metal Amon Amarth roar back onto the battle ground with the mighty Berserker. Taking its name from the most formidable human warriors in Norse mythology, the album is jam-packed with fierce dragons, sun-eating wolves and fearsome scenes of war. Berserker finds Amon Amarth branching out from their usual riff-heavy, riotous sound; though, of course, there’s plenty of head banging to be had, there are also moments of calm, pseudo-classical acoustic sections and even a string ensemble. Fans should find plenty to enjoy as the band pushes the envelope into uncharted sonic territory.

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Happy To Be Here (CD)

Barrie’s debut LP Happy To Be Here is charming, upbeat and sweet as candy. It’s basically bubblegum dreampop, with infectious hooks and dreamy, breezy melodies. There’s something familiar and cozy about the LP that still sounds fresh—these are the sort of songs you feel you’ve been needing your whole life and now that they’re finally here, all is right in this pastel-hued world. Ideal for lazy summer afternoons, beach parties, and being young and carefree.

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Violet Street (CD)

After nearly ten years in the indie rock game, Local Natives sound fresher and more vital than ever on their new album, Violet Street. The band have mastered the art of layering vocal harmonies over smooth yet heart-rending melodies, creating gorgeous songs that are simultaneously funky and soul-stirring. Need a slightly melancholy toe-tapper? That’s “When Am I Gonna Lose You.” Looking for the perfect soundtrack for your desert road trip? There’s the sweeping, cinematic “Cafe Amarillo.” Violet Street is all killer, no filler; a perfectly polished pearl of an LP.

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So That You Might Hear Me (CD)

Bear’s Den are experts at creating crossover-friendly rootsy numbers that fit in nicely next to works from like-minded bands Mumford & Sons, The Avett Brothers or Bon Iver. But on their latest, So That You Might Hear Me, they’re stepping out, building on their backwoods sensibilities, incorporating electronic elements, bold horns, and rowdy guitar riffs. There’s a lot of heart here as well as a lot of boot-stompin’ hootenanny potential. On So That You Might Hear Me, the London trio has crafted an intimate, earnest collection of songs that finds the band experimenting and evolving their familiar indie folk sound to great success.

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I Need A New War (CD)

Twin Cities-based post-punks Lifter Puller never quite got the recognition they deserved, later morphing into The Hold Steady, who made up for the lack of adoration by quickly becoming critical darlings throughout the 2000s. At the heart of both bands has been motor-mouthed Craig Finn. Following the cooling down of Steady’s classic rock engine, which often sounded like amphetamine beat poet readings over E Street band jams, Finn has largely ditched monikers and supporting casts, beginning his solo career with 2012’s Clear Heart Full Eyes. The Hold Steady may hardly exist these days, but Finn’s pen hasn’t slowed down and I Need A New War continues his long-running Great American Novel. Over a tapestry of ragged rock ‘n roll heavy on harmonicas, wheezy organ, and Salvation Army brass band-horns, Finn narrates his weary Midwestern characters as only he can, with verse and voice that instantly transport the listener into those same dive bars and back alleys. There’s nothing commercial or cosmetic about this kind of Americana, but I Need A New War is beautifully unbeautiful.

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The Secret (CD)

For his new project The Secret, producer/artist Alan Parsons recruited such heavy hitters as Lou Gramm, Jason Mraz, Steve Hackett, and drummer Vincent Colaiuta. Parsons proves that his sense of melody remains strong in these emotional tracks that contain hints of the prog rock sound associated with The Alan Parsons Project. Mraz successfully lends his flexible voice to the '80s soft rock-flavored “Miracle” and Lou Gramm adds a bit of vocal grit to the dramatic, earnest ballad “Sometimes.”

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Stay Around (CD)

Curated by JJ Cale's widow Christine Lakeland Cale and manager Mike Kappus, Stay Around features 15 previously unreleased songs from the late, influential singer/songwriter. The title track rolls along at an agreeably sleepy pace, while the lightly chugging guitar of “Chasing You” is uplifting and sunny. Tracks like these embody that Tulsa Sound Cale helped to create and Lakeland Cale's attempts to stay true to his own mixes and notes for these recordings lend them an authenticity that will surely delight fans.

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Invitation (CD)

Heather Woods Broderick’s latest release, Invitation, is atmospheric, melancholy, and as familiar as a half-remembered dream. The singer-songwriter named the album as a nod to a quote from American author Thomas Moore about how “to be a person means to be faced every minute with the decision to live or die; to accept the invitations for yet more vitality or to decline them out of fear or lethargy.” It’s a pretty apt synopsis of the album’s lyrical concerns and pervasive mood — shadowy and strange yet ultimately uplifting. Fans of past tour mates Horse Feathers and Sharon Van Etten won’t want to sleep on the intriguing Ms. Woods Broderick’s Invitation.

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Bolden [OST] (CD)

Bolden, the new biopic about New Orleans jazz king Charles “Buddy” Bolden, was not only produced by current icon Wynton Marsalis, but he also performed the music that takes center stage in the film. The soundtrack is a feast of that pioneering Big Easy brass sound, reviving many ragtime numbers that Bolden made famous. Delivered here by Marsalis with a wellspring of talent that includes Catherine Russell, Brianna Thomas, Victor Goines, Wycliffe Gordon and more, the music vividly captures the sound of a turbulent era from which a brand new genre exploded – forever changing American popular music.

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Glass ([2019] (BLU)

M. Night Shyamalan brings together two of his standout original films—Unbreakable and Split— in this explosive comic book thriller. Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson), finds David Dunn (Bruce Willis) pursuing Kevin Wendell Crumb's superhuman figure, The Beast (James McAvoy), in a series of escalating encounters. Price, armed with secrets critical to both men, emerges as a shadowy orchestrator.

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