Underground Metal

Random Desire (CD)

Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers mastermind Greg Dulli, after years recording as the latter project, puts out his first true solo album under his own name. Random Desire is a direct window into the songwriter’s psyche, with the lion’s share of the instrumentation provided from Dulli himself, achieving a stripped-down take on the unique blend of indie rock, R&B, and dark pop elements that he’s perfected over the years. “A Ghost” sounds like a modern update of what could be a Dusty Springfield or Lee Hazlewood song, while “Pantomima” would sound right at home slotted between alt-rock heroes such as Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age.

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Always Tomorrow (CD)

The excellent Always Tomorrow serves up Best Coast's usual winning formula of sunny surf pop meets garage rock grit, but this time, something's just a little different. In the five years since the California duo's last album, frontwoman Bethany Consentino has focused on personal growth, kicking the morning weed habit, quitting the booze, and splitting songwriting duties with bandmate Bobb Bruno during a period when inspiration refused to come a-knockin'. As a result, the aptly-named Always Tomorrow is infused with a self-aware optimism. Even when Cosentino's lyrics gives a nod to her foibles, there's a knowing air that hints she's not gonna stay down in the dumps too long. Fans will find much to love on this upbeat rocker of an album.

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Expectations (CD)

Katie Pruitt's Expectations is a remarkably assured, heartfelt debut. The young Nashville-based singer-songwriter writes back-to-basics Americana-infused ballads that reverberate with courage and vulnerability. One moment Pruitt's stripping down the sound to its barest roots, the next she's layering swelling strings and haunting keyboard melodies. Lyrically, she takes on the concept of "normal" sexuality, delves into mental illness, and weighs the danger of heartbreak with the triumph of love. In a world that feels increasingly fraught, Expectations proves there's strength to be found in stillness, a boldness in simply being yourself.

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And It's Still Alright (CD)

Having conquered rock radio with his band The Night Sweats, Rateliff switches gears (as well as musical personas) and returns to his more folk-y roots for his latest solo outing, And It's Still Alright. This latest collection of songs stem from a few years of personal turbulence for Rateliff, including the death of producer/friend Richard Swift in 2018, and learning to process all of it while retaining a sense of hope. Familiar and comforting influences abound to color the proceedings, from the Harry Nilsson-esque delivery of "All Or Nothing" to the Leonard Cohen-tinged "Tonight #2." Older fans will welcome the sonic reminder of Rateliff's earlier career output, while the newer fans of the Night Sweats will find another side of the soulful frontman to connect with.

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The Music Of Wayne Shorter (CD)
Living legend saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center for three nights in 2015, a concert series that featured some of his lesser known works and highlighted his multicultural compositions, not to mention selections from Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the Miles Davis Quintet, and his solo Blue Note albums. That makes it a 2-disc delight chock full of sweeping, thrilling numbers, each arranged by a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. The sauntering, satisfying “Hammerhead” is a key track as well as the funky “Endangered Species” with its intricate rhythms. Read more
Grandpa Metal (CD)

Sick of the self-serious wrath, destruction, and pillaging of contemporary metal? Then Brian Posehn has the comedy/metal album for you! Meet Grandpa Metal, the comic’s light-hearted, hard-rocking new metal album that spends equal time skewering and celebrating metal genres and tropes such as Viking metal, ‘80s party metal, black metal, the dark lord Satan, and totally-over-it, crusty elder scenesters. (Hence the album’s title.) Obviously, the whole thing’s in good fun…but it’s also just straight up good. And how could it not be with the all-star collaborators Posehn recruited for the thing? Expect raucous, ultra raw contributions from members of Steel Panther, Amon Amarth, Slayer, Soundgarden, Fall Out Boy, Slipknot, Exodus, Testament, Huntress, Anthrax, and Dethklok. Also along for the ride: the inimitable Weird Al. Prepare for loads of wild originals, plus covers of A-Ha’s “Take on Me” and Ylvis’ “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say).”

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New Empire One (CD)

Hollywood Undead’s latest, New Empire One also serves as a new beginning for the rap rockers. Written to revamp and build on their existing sound, the new album finds the guys crafting anthemic, fist-in-the-air bangers. It’s loud, it’s rowdy, and it’s catchy as hell. Along for the ride this time are fellow travelers Benji Madden of Good Charlotte and Kellin Quinn of Sleeping with Sirens. Hollywood Undead display some surprising pop sensibilities on this one, effortlessly creating ear worms with a rough and rowdy edge. Meant to be played loud.

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Father Of All... (CD)

Father of All… finds Green Day moving from the mosh pit to the dancefloor. The album contains all the attitude, high-energy drive, and addictive qualities of their earlier work but instead of in-your-face punk rock confrontation, Billy Joe Armstrong and the boys are serving up catchy-as-hell dance punk. Drawing inspiration from T. Rex, Martha and the Vandellas, Little Richard, and Mott the Hoople, the band wrote the album as a response to our current social and political climate. In this case, however, instead of a middle finger to the guy in the White House, we’ve got a more primal response — the basic human need to move your body, throw yourself around, and work it out on the dancefloor. Thirteen albums in and Green Day still has the power to surprise. Father of All… is a riotous good time.

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Brothers Of A Feather: Live At The Roxy (CD)

Originally released in 2007, Chris & Rich Robinson’s Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy sounds as poignant and stirring as ever. This stellar reissue features sound so crisp you’d swear the guys were in the same room as you — well, actually, considering this is a compilation of 2006 era live shows at LA’s The Roxy, it probably actually sounds even clearer. It’s a minimalist affair, focused on the warm vibrato of guitar strings, the homespun interplay of the Robinsons’ voices, and the soulful delivery of backing vocalists Mona Lisa Young and Charity White. Featuring classic Black Crowes tracks as well as moving covers of Gene Clark, Little Feat, and Bob Dylan covers, if you weren’t one already, Brothers of a Feather will certainly make you a believer.

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Live At The Royal Albert Hall 1974 (CD)

Bryan Ferry’s Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1974 captures the elegance and excitement of the legendary artist’s first ever solo tour. Available for the first time, the recording is infused with effortless cool, suave soul, and all the unforgettable hits from both These Foolish Things and Another Time, Another Place (Ferry’s output up until that time). His jazz age influences are readily apparent in the jubilant, glamorous orchestration; the vibrancy and atmosphere of the evening practically float through the stereo speakers, bringing listeners back to one very special performance in London all those years ago.

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