Sep 2019

Radiant Dawn (CD)

The new album from Montreal’s Operators meld raw analog hardware with Dan Boeckner’s (Wolf Parade) distinct voice to create an immersive cinematic sound. Interspersed between the tracks are instrumental intertitles that amplify the album’s 1970s sci-fi dystopian feel.

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Beneath The Eyrie (CD)

The 21st century incarnation of Pixies comes rip-roarin’ back with the mighty Beneath the Eyrie. Fuzzed out, wild, and unpredictable, on their latest, the band shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. The energy churned up by the band is totally bonkers; they seem determined to leave a sonic impact, rocking harder than they have in years and casually tossing off intriguing song scenarios with titles like “In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain” and “On Graveyard Hill.” The ferocious and fascinating Beneath the Eyrie is a shot of pure adrenaline in CD format.

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III (CD)

Darker than their usual output, The Lumineers’ III is an impressive showcase of the band’s songwriting abilities. The album opens with the tender, sweetly sad “Donna,” an immediate attention-getter that ranks as one of the best and most intriguing folk pop songs of the year. By the time “Gloria” rolls around the band has returned somewhat to their rollicking, boot stomper melodies, although there’s still a definite undercurrent of sadness to this tale of love and addiction. “Salt and the Sea” will linger in the mind, thanks to its devastating melody and plaintive piano harmonies. An impressive step forward for the band, III is definitely one of The Lumineers’ best albums.

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Titanic Rising (CD)

Weyes Blood’s latest, Titanic Rising, is gorgeous, vulnerable, and deeply affecting. There has always been a melancholy and a gravitas to her music, but this latest album kicks those traits into high gear. After all, the songs were written in response to climate change, the hubris of man, and the quest for hope in spite of so much darkness. Yet, despite all these shadows, there’s a lightness and loveliness to it, enervated by Weyes Blood’s sparkling voice and Laurel Canyon-style-throwback melodies. Co-produced by Jonathan Rado of Foxygen, Titanic Rising is a lush, fragile dream of an album.

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Widow's Weeds (CD)

Nearly two decades after their formation, Silversun Pickups and their propulsive backbeat are well intact. From “Lazy Eye” to “It Doesn’t Matter Why,” many elements of the band’s sound have evolved, but that endlessly churning rhythm remains constant. Widow’s Weeds is less saturated in guitar fuzz and much more so in electronic production elements (drum machine claps!), yet these songs don’t deviate from Silversun Pickups’ meditative approach to songwriting, developing piece by piece; slowly unspooling into gauzy catchiness. With '90s production wiz Butch Vig behind the boards, Widow’s Weeds is veteran alt-rock all the way. The tricks may not be new, but it sure sounds good to hear them executed so masterfully.

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Everything Hits At Once: The Best Of Spoon (CD)

There's a special place for Spoon in the early 2000s' vibrant indie rock scene. They arrived with a seemingly much wider range of influences, brandishing art-punk rhythms along with Thin Lizzy-style melodies and a distinctive, off-the-cuff flair. This new collection, curated by the band, is an excellent way for newer fans to dive in to their sound. It highlights twelve acclaimed singles such as the well-known “I Turn My Camera On” and “Don't You Evah”?—but leaves out a few other heavy hitters?—and includes one new track, the dark but characteristically angular “No Bullets Spent.”

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Anima (CD)

Anima represents an impressive evolution for Thom Yorke. Yes, this is still the immediately recognizable voice and talented songwriter of Radiohead but on this new record, Yorke the solo artist really spreads his wings. The sound of Anima is anxious and beautiful, soaring and ghostly. It’s more electronic-based than usual, with massive washes of sound, futuristic bleep bloops, and cinematic synths. It’s an epic response to 21st century turmoil and disruption and another strong argument for Yorke as one our most brilliant contemporary artists. Surprising, cathartic, and shockingly beautiful.

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I Am Easy To Find (CD)

The National have done something unexpected on the masterful, moving I Am Easy To Find. The album was written and recorded in conjunction with the Mike Mills short film of the same name; both the film and the LP are magnificent. The National have collaborated with several female vocalists, including Gail Ann Dorsey, Lisa Hannigan, and Sharon Van Etten, as well as The Brooklyn Youth Choir and the resulting slow burn buildup over the course of I Am Easy To Find is transcendent, punctuated with swells of emotion and powerful moments of quiet. At times intimate and at others expansive, this latest album is a celebration of life in all its most painful and most glorious moments. It’s a stunning achievement.

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Pony (CD)

The mysterious, masked Orville Peck presents an album of pseudo-cowboy country with notes of shoegaze and indie Americana over which he croons in a lush baritone. Songs like “Turn To Hate” offer a subdued catchiness and shimmering twangy guitar; “Dead of Night” is a moodier ballad lifted up by the soaring vocal in the chorus. The deliberate kitschiness is balanced out by strong songwriting and arrangements, combined with undeniable vocal chops.

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Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? (CD)

Deerhunter’s eighth studio LP, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?, is a near-perfect encapsulation of its historical moment and its physical environment. Often bleak and always devastatingly beautiful, the album was recorded in the artsy desert destination of Marfa, TX, with longtime co-producer Ben H. Allen III behind the boards. The LP features the considerable talents of Cate Le Bon and Ben Etter, who add mood and magic to the proceedings. Quietly baroque and casually dismal, lyrical inspiration comes from climate change, the murder of British MP Jo Cox, the final days of James Dean, and the 1917 Russian Revolution. The melodies sound soft, sensitive, and sincere, and they’re made all the more powerful by this heady brew of ideas.

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