Sep 2017

Relatives In Descent (CD)

With Relatives In Descent, Detroit post-punks Protomartyr have made an angular, intense, and ominous record — in sum, it’s perfect for our times. The band takes an unflinching look at modern civilization, serving up their observations with intelligence, admonishment, and more than a little darkness. Which isn’t to say the LP is preachy; no, Protomartyr are much too smart for that. Their lyrical daggers dig deeper. Danger churns beneath the driving guitars and steely melodies, danger that’s sorely lacking in the recycled tropes of most modern post-punk bands. Protomartyr are the real deal.

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This Sweet Old World (CD)

Originally released in 1992, this year’s take on Williams’ alt-country classic This Sweet Old World is more than just a reissue; the Grammy-winner has completely rerecorded the LP for its 25th anniversary. As a bonus, Williams throws in four immensely enjoyable extra tracks from her early career. Williams’ gravelly, evocative voice brings a new sense of atmosphere to these familiar songs. Listening to the LP is a transportive experience, not just back to the early ‘90s, but back to old loves, dusty roads, and lost chances. Fans will dig this special release.

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Sky Trails (CD)

The Croz is back! Kicking off his solo career with the legendary 1971 album If I Could Only Remember My Name, a beautiful tapestry of psychedelic folk that sounds almost baroque, his solo output slowed down to about an album a decade. But the elusive hippie has gotten incredibly prolific in the last few years since teaming up with his formerly estranged son, James Raymond, who also produced this album. In a complete change from his expected folkie sound that goes as far back as The Byrds, David Crosby channels his inner R&B artist for a smooth jammer that feels more like Bobby Caldwell than the mustachioed Crosby. The Croz drops the small rock ensemble for a larger group of jazz trained musicians who spice up his music with an unexpected dose of fusion and experimentation. The absolute banger title track sounds like no Crosby song you've ever heard before. Opening with a funky organ riff, his beautiful voice sounds strangely ethereal with a band like this. Its catchy beat and riff owes more to '70s soul than it does to the '60s, and it works in a strange, mysterious way as the sound has a spacey vibe to it. "Curved Air" opens up with a beautiful bossa nova-ish riff that shows off Crosby's talent as an acoustic guitarist, but then the early '90s synth bass riff is almost a shock when it comes in. The jazz harmonies of the accompanying piano also add a dimension and depth to the song that makes it feel truly mind melting, despite the peaceful lyrics and harmonies chiming out of Crosby's voice. Sky Trails is proof that the great artists of the '60s don't need to be stuck in the past to create interesting music. David Crosby manages to make an album that sounds equally archaic and futuristic in a zen hodge-podge that's perfect for late night listens.

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NOW (CD)

It's incredible to think that Shania Twain has been away for fifteen years. She was a mega celebrity in the '90s and was one of the major country stars (along with Garth Brooks) that successfully crossed over onto the pop charts with her seemingly inescapable hits. But the last decade-and-a-half hasn't been the kindest to her professionally or personally. Aside from some drastic life changes, including a divorce from her former writing partner, Robert John "Mutt" Lange, she also was suffering from dysphonia and Lyme disease, which nearly took away her famous voice. But after some soul searching and physical recovery, she's back to conquer the charts again with her new album, NOW. Though her voice has changed a little bit since her early days, it's still recognizably Shania Twain and she uses her powerful country twang with songs that now play around with modern pop production. Listening to "Life's About To Get Good," you wouldn't know there had been anything wrong this last decade-and-a-half. It's an absolutely joyous pop ballad that is a perfect celebration of life. The layers of happy sounds and bright-eyed optimism in her lyrics create a song that feels like the musical embodiment of happiness. It's hard not to listen to her life-affirming lyrics and smile to the melody. Shania Twain is back without fumbling for one second. NOW is a musical ray of sunshine for your cloudy day and captures how great life can really be.

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Belong (CD)

Brooklyn-based seven-piece San Fermin’s third studio album, Belong, unfolds in warm, intoxicating textures that both contrast and intensify a sense of unrest. The album’s hypnotic sound is embodied in “No Promises,” a shimmering pop opus about the fear of disappointing those who’ve placed their trust in you.

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The Mummy [2017] (BLU)
Tom Cruise is back in full movie star mode but with a twist, as he gets possessed by the mummy’s ghost and has a lot of fun going back and forth between good and evil. A criminally underseen blast of popcorn-movie fun! Read more
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Megan Leavey (BLU)

The rare “based on real life events” war story that gets it right, Megan Leavey tells the true story of a U.S. Marine and her bomb-sniffing military dog who both are injured in battle. A tearjerker for sure, but also a great film.

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The Fate of the Furious (BLU)

Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, and Charlize Theron — it’s action-movie heaven watching these guys and gals go at it with one of the best installments yet of the vehicular action series. Rev up!

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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (4K Ultra HD)

They don't make kids movies like this anymore -- you have to own the original story about a friendly extra terrestrial that makes being an outsider feel normal. Fans of Stranger Things, it's time to revisit the classics that inspired it. 

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Mister Mellow [CD/DVD] (CD)

Mister Mellow is Washed Out’s first album for Stones Throw. The LP finds the artist experimenting with his signature lush and hazy sound, throwing in the occasional hip-hop beat and free jazz meander. The result is a consistently strong, characteristically dreamy album that takes on themes of boredom, apathy and privilege. Mister Mellow is the perfect summer afternoon daydream: shimmering, lovely, and slightly wistful.

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