Nov 2018

Warm (CD)

Jeff Tweedy gets vulnerable on his first proper solo LP, Warm. The melodies are immediately likable, the tone of the album confiding, open, and direct. Tweedy eschews Wilco’s more rollicking moments for an introspective, familiar tone; the album title is fitting. He approaches epic thematic elements — death, love, pain — with grace and intelligence. It’s a richly moving work of art that’ll give even longtime fans a new light in which to see the indie legend.

Read more
Whole New Life (CD)

Don’t let that title fool you, this is the same ‘ol psychobilly freakout that you know and love. Whole New Life is the Reverend Horton Heat’s 12th studio album, and yet after all these years the good Reverend only knows one speed: frantic. He’s just as dependable as ever, to boot, as here’s 11 more tracks of double bass slappin’, Gretch guitar shreddin’, drenched-in-reverb rockabilly glory.

Read more
Guide Me Back Home (CD)

Dallas Green AKA City and Colour (and formerly of Alexisonfire) went on a stripped-down acoustic tour across Canada in 2017 and this double CD, Guide Me Back Home, is the recorded companion to those intimate shows. The album, which marks the debut of Green's new label Still Records, includes his interactions with the crowd between the emotional folk-rock songs and shows off his songwriting chops. Among the highlights are older numbers like “Comin' Home” and the soulful “If I Should Go Before You.”

Read more
Caution (CD)

Pop divas don’t get much larger-than-life than Mariah Carey. That’s a rarified stratum in pop culture that is accessed only through a combination of world class talent, coupled with peak MTV-era overexposure (as well as the resulting hangover), and having your very own immortal Christmas standard to boot. Caution is her fifteenth album overall, which is certainly indicative of a workaholic career, yet more importantly it’s only her second collection of all original material released this decade. No longer beholden to the insatiable pace of a meat grinder industry, Mariah Carey has time to create and release the albums she wants to make. As a result, there is an unmistakable quality to her recent works that had been missing in her mid-to-late '00s marathon. Caution is no different, however, unlike the statement-making length of The Elusive Chanteuse, it runs a brisk 38 minutes and is largely composed of Mariah embracing her role as the R&B slow jam queen. Songs such as “GTFO” and “With You” sound like a sultry, smoky update on her many '90s ballads, with only the production hinting that it's 2018. But when she does liven up the pace it just goes to show the depths of her pop acumen: Mariah can still crank out bangers with the best of ‘em. On what is undoubtedly the album’s highlight, “The Distance” manages to deftly combine a deep, deep groove with diva-sized vocal acrobatics. Skrillex, who produced the track, does his best impression of retro-futurist funk lords Benedek, Sasac, and Dam Funk, mixing '90s R&B synth flourishes with a comically fat bassline. It’s as groovy a production as you’ll hear all year, hell; it would even sound great as an instrumental. Add Mariah Carey (along with a well-timed Ty Dolla $ign verse) to the mix? You’re gonna need to cool off after this one.

Read more
Rick & Morty [OST] (CD)

For Rick & Morty fans, the music in the show is an important part of the whole experience. With improvised and ridiculous lyrics, over the top score moments, the soundtrack on its own serves as a comedy album that parodies genres right and left. One such highlight is the Bowie-esque “Goodbye Moonmen” performed by Jemaine Clement from Flight of The Concords. Also included are the actual songs used in now web-famous moments of the show, such as Blonde Redhead's “For The Damaged Coda” from the episode, “Close Rick-counters of the Rick Kind.”

Read more
Chris Cornell (CD)

With the music world still processing the untimely loss of former Soundgarden/Audioslave leader Chris Cornell, the beloved rocker is given his first official career retrospective. Put together by Cornell's widow Vicky "for his fans," the set covers all periods of his career and includes previously unreleased tracks taken from the archives. Available as a single CD, two LP, four CD deluxe and CD/LP/DVD super deluxe box sets, Chris Cornell serves as a fitting tribute to a performer whose "voice was his vision, and his words were his peace."

Read more
Million Dollars To Kill Me (CD)

A seriously breezy vibe has overcome the usually peppy emo/pop-punks Joyce Manor on their fifth studio record, the cheerily named Million Dollars To Kill Me. Nowhere is this more apparent than on single “Silly Games,” which turns down the distortion a bit to make room for some strum-along acoustic guitar as well as a catchy, twee-inspired glockenspiel accompaniment. Or consider the title track, which instead of thrashing around in pop-punk glory, delivers its woebegone sentiments with the stately demeanor usually befitting a band like Teenage Fanclub. Shades of Weezer (Blue and Green albums) are all over this one, not to mention hefty doses of Jawbreaker and Tony Molina, as Joyce Manor out-mellow the competition in releasing the most masterfully crafted bummer of the summer.

Read more
All Melody (CD)

Nils Frahm's All Melody is a masterpiece. Frahm’s piano skills continue to innovate, summoning deep emotions and yielding sublime harmonies. For this latest LP, he has deployed a veritable personal orchestra, with compositions also featuring synths, pipe organ, strings, brass, tympani, gongs, and bass marimba. All Melody is a rich tapestry that can be felt on every level: physically, intellectually, and emotionally it is pure pleasure.

Read more
Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino (CD)

Arctic Monkeys haven’t had a release with this much anticipation since 2007 when Favourite Worst Nightmare was tasked with following up their record-shattering debut. Originally fashioned as a jittery garage rock 'n roll group in the Strokes mold with a predilection for mouthfuls of sharp, hyper-literate lyrics, Arctic Monkeys had a second wind almost a decade later with 2013’s AM. Ostensibly a reinvention at heart, AM featured a moodier, bluesy set of tunes that was also unabashedly pop friendly: “Do I Wanna Know?” is the band’s most successful single yet on this side of the pond. Almost 5 years since that sonic makeover, the band is once again faced with creating the second act to a career defining album.

 

Leave it to Arctic Monkeys to surprise. With no advance singles to speak of, Tranquility feels like a throwback to the '70s in style and substance. The spirit of glam looms heavily over this album: every song seems to inhabit the same hedonistic, dimly lit lounges that haunt the era, inheriting that louche confidence as well as drunken stumble along the way. “Star Treatment” positions itself as this decade’s “Rock ‘n Roll with Me.” “American Sports” resembles Pulp if sung by the libidinous targets of Jarvis Cocker’s fascination, Ender’s Shadow style. The title track is a baroque funk romp that could have also been titled “Ballad of Maxwell Demon,” packaged on the Velvet Goldmine soundtrack, and would’ve hit the mark much more squarely and convincingly than the Britpop-lite of Shudder To Think. Nowhere on the album do these ‘Monkeys sound at all like they are trying to replicate the ‘Monkeys of AM. The opening couplet of this album goes, “I just wanted to be one of The Strokes.” Don’t be fooled, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino proves, once again, they can be whoever they want to be.

Read more
Weather Or Not (CD)

Member of underground hip-hop mainstays Dilated People releases his fifth solo album, Weather Or Not. Featuring a litany of savvy producers, including the Alchemist and Jonwayne, among others, this is an impeccably-made boom bap record for the diehards. There are no frills or pop features to be found; just dirty, old school hip-hop at its best.

Read more