Underground Metal

Tuxedo III (CD)

Mayer Hawthorne (aka Aquarius) and Jake One (aka Taurus) turn up the heat on the dance floor on this soulful, silky third outing from their Tuxedo project, aptly named Tuxedo III. The ultra suave duo channels funky influences from the likes of Chic and Parliament; the result is a polished gem of throwback R&B/soul perfection. The pair enlists top caliber talent like MF DOOM, D?M-FunK, Leven Kali, Benny Sings, Gavin Turek, and a handful of others. There’s lots to love on this bouncy, brilliant LP, the first on Tuxedo’s new Funk on Sight imprint. Turn it up loud and soak up the summer vibes.

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The Quanta Series (CD)

Syrian-American producer/singer K Á R Y Y N’s compelling Quanta Series brings together several previously-released singles along with newer works. K Á R Y Y N works her way through a number of genres, including dance floor exciters, elegiac meditations and soaring, strange-layered compositions. You’ve got to hear this one to believe it. Experimental and electric, in short, it’s a masterpiece. Few releases you’ll hear this year sound as immediate, powerful and haunting as this gorgeous LP.

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Voyager (CD)

For 311's eclectic thirteenth album, the group merges the pop/reggae/rock they invented in the '90s – influencing newer acts like Twenty-One Pilots – with some updated pop soundscapes, aided by John Feldmann (Blink-182, Panic! At the Disco) who produced four of the tracks. “Good Feeling” is an infectious summer party jam, in the vein of The Black-Eyed Peas' “I Gotta Feeling.” “Don't You Worry” brings back the band's distinctive grungy ska guitar sound with some spaced-out soloing, while “What The?!” revels in some psychedelic funk. “Crossfire,” in turn, is a high-energy rock song with rapping vocals that ought to appeal to fans of Linkin Park.

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Amoeba Gig (CD)

Paul McCartney's incredible in-store performance at Amoeba Hollywood on June 27, 2007 was a magical moment shared by the seven hundred lucky people who made it in, along with a handful of celebrities including Ringo Starr himself. For those who missed it – and for those who want to revisit it and reminisce – the full concert is now available for the first time! The 21 song set includes energetic renditions of hits from across McCartney's legendary career, such as “Drive My Car” and “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” as well as a solo acoustic version of “Here Today.” It's an absolute must-have for Beatles fans everywhere.

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III (CD)

Jillian Banks continues her obfuscation of R&B with III, which is, all things considered, easily her most out-there production yet. That might be a striking description for an album that would release the crowd pleasing, tried-and-true gospel satisfaction of “Look What You’re Doing To Me” as a single. Sure, Banks’ work is not as uncanny valley pop as others who tread in similar territory (whether that be serpentwithfeet or Jessy Lanza), but nevertheless she prefers to coat sunny and unabashedly accessible songwriting in surreal sonic manipulations which leave plenty of lingering abstract angles to revisit. There’s her inscrutable voice, for one, frequently electronically treated and digitally distorted to a degree that would make Jai Paul proud. Those classic Daft Punk songs where you can’t tell whether it’s a guitar, synth, or some weird vocoder hitting that sweet spot? Shades of that are all over a bold production that isn’t afraid to play with timbre and texture mid-song.

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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
Work (CD)

New York synthpop duo Holy Ghost! have released Work, their first full-length album in six years and the first new record to be released by the legendary disco label West End Records in 30+ years! It’s a pairing that makes perfect sense: Work is a lushly-produced modern take on disco-funk filled with infectious melodies and easy NYC cool. Clocking in at forty-nine minutes, this long-awaited LP keeps the hits coming with song after song of joyous, intricately-constructed synthpop. Along for the ride are Juan Maclean, Nancy Whang, Sinkane, Rob Moose (Arcade Fire, Interpol, David Bowie), and Alex Epton (Neon Indian, David Byrne, Gang Gang Dance).

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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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III (CD)

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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