Jun 2019

Echo In The Canyon [OST] (CD)
The new documentary on the 1960s Laurel Canyon music scene is accompanied by a soundtrack of classic songs covered by Neil Young, Josh Homme, Beck, Fiona Apple and more—each of them assisted by Jakob Dylan. Dylan's vocals mesh especially well with Apple and Norah Jones, on The Beach Boys' “In My Room” and The Association's “Never My Love,” respectively. Jade Castrinos from Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros lends her soaring voice successfully to The Mamas And The Papas' “Go Where You Wanna Go” and Josh Homme sounds strong on The Monkees' catchy “She.” These are enjoyable new versions all around. Read more
A Bath Full Of Ecstasy (CD)

Hot Chip’s A Bath Full of Ecstasy is a warm, danceable slice of electropop with a heartfelt undercurrent of "togetherness and solidarity.” (That’s according to co-founder Joe Goddard and yes, that much-needed positivity is the thread that draws this wonderfully hands-in-the-air album together.) The new LP marks the first time the band has worked with outside producers; they recruited the talents of Rodaidh McDonald (The xx, Sampha) and Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Beastie Boys, Cassius) who bring new insight and life to Hot Chip’s addictive blend of euphoria-lite. As always, there’s a bit of melancholy just beneath the surface of Hot Chip’s tunes — in a way, A Bath Full of Ecstasy serves as the perfect mirror for our troubled yet hopeful times.

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Injury Reserve (CD)

Arizona indie rap trio Injury Reserve pushes the boundaries of hip-hop on their innovative, excellent self-titled full-length. Starting off in Phoenix, a city without much of a rap scene, the band got their start playing basement punk shows and there’s definitely a correlation in terms of ethos and aesthetic. Throw some jazz-funk melodies in the mix, get weird on some experimental moments, and slip in a few fleeting moments of Top 40 production and you’ve got the recipe for Injury Reserve. Ambitious and exciting, this fantastic album promises big things for the trio.

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It has been awhile since we heard from the ever-surprising Bad Books. Seven years, in fact, but woo boy is III worth the wait. While recording these lightly psychedelic lo-fi ballads the band focused on their in-studio mantra of “Simon and Garfunkel in space,” which is a pretty good touchpoint — just multiply the trippy, lo-fi factor several times what said description would call to mind and you’ll have a decent concept of what this album sounds like. Top-notch songwriting and storytelling combine with cosmic vibes and minimalist melodies to create a truly compelling album that’s worth a careful listen.

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Black Pumas (CD)

Austin, Texas soulsters Black Pumas serve up luscious, psychedelic soul on their intriguing self-titled debut album. The band features the enviable talents of Grammy-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout) and songwriter Eric Burton, who met Quesada in Austin after starting out in LA and busking his way across the country. Together, the two serve up fresh, urgent, ultra vibrant tunes that have been described as “Ghostface Killah and Motown in equal measure.” It’s a pretty apt summation of where Black Pumas draw inspiration from but their sound is 100% all their own. Few records this year sound as vital and important as this one. Crank it.

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Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) (CD)

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have a message on their latest, Turn Off the News (Build a Garden). The likable title track implores listeners to do just that. Give people something to believe in. Endow your way of life with hope. It’s a standout moment on an album filled with top-notch tracks, with high-profile collaborators like Kesha, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and Lukas’ father, Willie. The younger Nelson has created a strong showcase for his songwriting chops, with songs that effortlessly segue from country to folk to rock to soul. Impassioned and brilliant, there’s lots to love about this album.

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Oklahoma (CD)
Keb Mo' teamed up with Oklahoma native songwriter Dara Tucker for his new album that explores that state's themes. Evoking the area's musical history, natural disasters, Native American relations and more, these blues-rock songs benefit from guest artists like Robert Randolph on the title track, Rosanne Cash - who excels on vocals in the powerful “Put A Woman In Charge” - and previous collaborator Taj Mahal. The latter adds further depth to “The Way I,” an emotional song about depression, and “Don't Throw It Away,” a timely plea to acknowledge environmental issues. Another highly relevant number, the gentle ballad “This Is My Home,” features vocals from Latin singer Jaci Velasquez addressing the immigrant experience. Read more