Jul 2022

Jackpot Juicer (CD)

Clocking in at just under one hour and three minutes. Jackpot Juicer is Dance Gavin Dance’s longest album. It’s fittingly epic. Digital meets hardcore with unforgettable, anthemic choruses and intense metalcore percussion. Strings appear throughout the album, adding yearning and keening beauty throughout the proceedings; they complement the slowed-down, emotional interludes that serve as the eye of each track’s storm. New this time around is the addition of Eidola guitarist Andrew Wells, who also performs vocal duties on a number of the songs. Jackpot Juicer is one of those bigger-than-life albums that demands to be heard…and turned up to ten.

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Entering Heaven Alive (CD)

Entering Heaven Alive showcases the softer side of Jack White. These stripped down and beautifully-constructed songs are an intimate listening experience. Lyrically, you feel like you’re getting a glimpse into the singer’s psyche, even as he veers into occasionally tongue-in-cheek moments on the offensive (“Love Is Selfish”) before diving into themes of mortality and lasting love (“If I Die Tomorrow”). The production feels like White’s singing just to you, from the corner stage of a tiny, gritty venue. Album closer “Taking Me Back (Gently)” features a swoon-worthy fiddle and olde time orchestrations with White’s lilting vocals—it’s a beautiful bow on top of this rootsy, imaginative package of songs.

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The Northman [Score] (CD)

Robin Carolan & Sebastian Gainsborough’s score for Robert Eggers’ early Norse saga The Northman is evocative and epic. Out via Sacred Bones, the album traverses deep psychological territory and sweeping terrain, calling to mind mind majestic northern landscapes, harrowing human acts of violence, and swirling supernatural occurrences. The tracks seamlessly slip from bristling, percussion-driven tense atmospherics into a sort of medieval psychedelia and into an icy, anticipation-heavy avant-garde. Keening strings and awe-inspiring choral vocals add emotional and sonic layers to the folk meets ambient soundscapes; it’s a stirring listen, as crystalline in its beauty and brutal in its nature as the North itself.

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RAW (That Little Ol' Band From Texas) [OST] (CD)

ZZ Top’s RAW is a companion piece of sorts to their 2019 Netflix documentary, That Little Ol’ Band from Texas. Produced by Billy Gibbons, it’s a rollicking eleven-track collection recorded live at Gruene Hall, “the oldest continually run dance hall in Texas.” RAW feels timeless as perhaps Gruene Hall itself; these are songs with deep riffs and even deeper staying power. The tracks feel simultaneously (yes) raw and barebones, even as they’re imbued with the rough-and-tumble, pure rock energy that only ZZ Top can conjure up. Featuring the band’s original lineup of Gibbons, drummer Frank Beard, and the late great bass guitarist Dusty Hill, RAW is essential for any fan of the band.

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XI: Bleed Here Now (CD)

Longtime ATX art punks And You Will Know Us by The Trail of Dead return with another brilliantly bruising collection of songs, XI: BLEED HERE NOW. For their eleventh album, the band recorded in quadraphonic sound, creating an immersive surround sound experience that feels dynamic and urgent. The tracks are blissfully shambolic, veering from brutal sonic assaults to good-natured, riff-heavy rockers. If you loved Trail of Dead before, this album will, if possible, make you love them even more. And if somehow this is your first introduction to the band, get ready to have your socks knocked off.

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Growing Up (CD)

When you burst onto the scene (any scene) with a viral video, the pressure’s on to prove your success wasn’t just a one-time hit. With the release of Growing Up, fans of The Linda Lindas can breathe easy knowing that these ultra cool teens and pre-teens truly deliver. That is, if you can breathe at all with all the head banging you’ll be doing to this killer album. “Racist, Sexist Boy,” the song that ignited the storm of attention the LA quartet would receive, is a let-‘em’-burn banger and worth the price of the album alone. But it’s not the only bravura performance on Growing Up. Each short-but-sweet track tears into your headphones with gleeful intensity, whether the band is flexing its pop muscles or creating riotous, no-holds-barred classic punk. Turn this one up loud—the Linda Lindas are the future of punk.

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Cave World (CD)

Viagra Boys’ Cave World fires up with an irresistible fury; it is the sound of 2022, of the undercurrent of rage and fear, the constant bad news assault we all have to grin and bear our way through. Throughout the album the Swedish post-punks turn their acerbic wit toward alt-right lunatics and losers, occasionally taking a break for tracks which serve as a sort of narration for a nature doc on the seeming retrogression of society. The band is dead serious in their takedown of these topics, but that doesn’t mean this is one of those dreaded, difficult Serious Listens. On the contrary, Cave World is addictive and enjoyable. The band skips gleefully between post-’77 genres, with songs marked by full-throttle, classic punk, mutant disco, menacing Big Black-style noise, and hypnotic post-punk. The effect is intense and exhilarating.

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9 [Deluxe Metallic Silver Vinyl Edition] (LP)

Last year, Australian psych-rockers Pond released the excellent, eclectic 9. Now they’re back with a souped-up deluxe version, featuring four new tracks. The album kicks off with bewitching female vocals and hypnotic melodies on “Song for Agnes,” before moving into the funked-out danceable grooves of “America’s Cup” and transitioning into soaring, symphonic mode on “Take Me Avalon I’m Young.” The album slips into and out of genres and moods with ease, taking listeners on an intriguing, serpentine journey to the new bonus tracks. This deluxe segment of the LP starts with the desperate and driven “Lights of Leeming,” a tribute to the chaotic desire to break the monotony of suburbia by any means necessary. If you’ve been sleeping on Pond, 9 should wake you right up.

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In The Country (CD)

Buffalo Springfield and Poco founding member Richie Furay’s infuses his first studio album in seven years with his legendary passion for country-rock. In the Country is a covers album steeped in the grand traditions of the genre, with Furay adding his voice to classics like Garth Brooks’ “The River,” Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry and Don’t Know Why,” and Buddy & Julie Miller’s “Chalk.” Recorded at Nashville’s Blackbird Studio by GRAMMY-winning engineer/producer Val Garay (Linda Ronstadt, Kim Cares, Neil Diamond), Furay was backed by world-class session musicians and joined by John Berry, Vince Gill, Jason Scheff (Chicago), and Timothy B. Schmit (Poco/Eagles) on a series of duets. The album they made together is warm, authentic, and thoroughly delightful.

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