Rock

9 [Deluxe Metallic Silver Vinyl Edition] (LP)

Last year, Australian psych-rockers Pond released the excellent, eclectic 9. Now they’re back with a souped-up deluxe version, featuring four new tracks. The album kicks off with bewitching female vocals and hypnotic melodies on “Song for Agnes,” before moving into the funked-out danceable grooves of “America’s Cup” and transitioning into soaring, symphonic mode on “Take Me Avalon I’m Young.” The album slips into and out of genres and moods with ease, taking listeners on an intriguing, serpentine journey to the new bonus tracks. This deluxe segment of the LP starts with the desperate and driven “Lights of Leeming,” a tribute to the chaotic desire to break the monotony of suburbia by any means necessary. If you’ve been sleeping on Pond, 9 should wake you right up.

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Pursuit Of Ends (CD)

Genre-bending post-rockers High Pulp’s new album, Pursuit of Ends, is an enlivening, dynamic listen. The Seattle group paints in bold brushstrokes, with vivifying colors—there’s no snoozing your way through this album, no putting it on in the background as light party music. Drawing sonic inspiration from Miles Davis’ Second Quintet and creative concepts from ideas about magic, the will, and the individual, Pursuit of Ends’ joyous spirit and colorful palette demands to be heard. Close your eyes and let your imagination run free to the lush soundscapes provided by this inspired collection of songs.

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Songs From The Elkhorn Trail (CD)

Jim Lindberg trades black leather for dirty denim on his new acoustic album, Songs from the Elkhorn Trail. The Pennywise singer has always been a nimble, thoughtful songwriter, and it's very cool to see how he applies those skills to a more rootsy folk-punk sound. These songs could hold their own among the story-driven workingman's rootsy rock of Lucero or Drive By Truckers--although Lindberg's vibe is a bit more upbeat, his choruses sometimes more anthemic. Gritty, authentic, and approachable, Songs from the Elkhorn Trail feels like an old friend.

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The Gods We Can Touch (CD)

Some singers just seem touched by the gods; that’s the case with Norway’s left-of-center pop singer Aurora. Fittingly for this daring songwriter, her latest album reaches back out into the cosmos, with the title The Gods We Can Touch. The songs are theatrical electro-pop with avant-garde sensibilities in the vein of Florence + the Machine, Austra, and perhaps a glossier Jenny Hval. The vibe is sweeping and cinematic, with seeing strings, captivating vocals, and disco-tinged rhythms. On this album, Aurora crafts a fairy tale world all of her own imagining—it’s a welcome, vivid, brilliant dream.

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Peacock Pools (CD)

After an eight-year hiatus, Stephen McBean (Black Mountain) is back with new music from his project Pink Mountaintops. The songs that would become Peacock Pools materialized in the early days of the pandemic, fomented from McBean’s eclectic interests (Camille Paglia essays, David Cronenberg flicks, early Pink Floyd) and brought to life by a star-studded stable of indie world musicians who also sought sonic collaboration. With contributions from artists who’ve worked with Destroyer, Death Valley Girls, Ty Segall, and more, the album has a varied, interesting vibe—everyone here is powered by passion and ready to experiment. The album opens with a cover of Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” before heading into a tribute to the Swell Maps’ Nikki Sudden. Along the way, Steven McDonald of Redd Kross and Dale Crover of Melvins show up to participate in the cosmic proceedings. Trippy and tremendously fun.

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Zeit (CD)

Like many bands, Rammstein have their pandemic album. Of course, being Rammstein, Zeit goes much harder, much heavier. After the band’s busy touring schedule was grounded by COVID-19, they hit the studio, finding artistic inspiration in the grave circumstances surrounding the recording sessions. It’s a typically intense listening experience, with punishing riffs, foreboding vocals, and lyrics that upend your expectations at every turn—here you’ll find the band delighting in crassness, while just around the corner they’re delving into even more delicate topics, namely despair, death, and emotion. Rammstein has always been a band that takes pleasure in provocation and with these sometimes nuanced lyrical excursions, they’re certainly headed off in uncharted directions. And it works. Forceful, fiery, and perfect for the times we’re living in.

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Emotional Eternal (CD)

Melody's Echo Chamber takes their time crafting each element and that care and inspiration are felt on their latest, Emotional Eternal. Having moved from cosmopolitan Paris to the majestic Alps, Melody Prochet builds on her band’s ethereal, throwback sound by incorporating elements of haunting psychedelia, English folk, and swirling guitar. Although there are many standout tracks, this is an album with a capital “A,” meant to be listened to in its entirety, all the better so it can cast its heady spell. Hazy and vaguely melancholic, Emotional Eternal feels like a pastoral daydream.

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Two Ribbons (CD)

As you may have guessed from their distinctive name, Let’s Eat Grandma isn’t afraid to take chances. On their album Two Ribbons, longtime best friends Jenny Hollingworth and Rosa Walton push indie pop into experimental, exciting, affecting new dimensions. The duo creates dreamy washes of synth-powered sound with danceable beats and moments of intensity and intimacy. The vocals are astounding; paired together, Hollingworth and Walton’s voices intermingle effectively, and when on their own possess a piercing, unforgettable quality. This should be the year of Let’s Eat Grandma—don’t sleep on this one!

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Everything Was Beautiful (CD)

Everything Was Beautiful is an appropriate name for the latest LP from Spiritualized. It's an exquisite album that nods to the past while celebrating the ephemeral beauty of today. The songs are both grounded and otherworldly; their sweeping structures seem to touch on the sacred while staying firmly tethered to earth, in all its disasters and delights. Opener "Always Together with You" is a prime example. Released in an earlier iteration as "Always Forgetting with You (The Bridge Song)" back in 2014, the track finds new life, meaning, and loveliness in this updated version. Everything Was Beautiful is at once epic and intimate, bittersweet and joyous.

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Skinty Fia (CD)

The Fontaines D.C. look poised to take over the world with their top-notch latest, Skinty Fia. The Irish post-punks have created a cohesive, eclectic collection of songs that blends irresistible melodies with acerbic, effective lyrics. The band keeps thing interesting by constantly experimenting with genre conventions, from the bittersweet, percussive "Jackie Down the Line," to the dub-driven title track, to the desperate, haunting "I Love You." Addictive and intriguing, Skinty Fia possesses a powerful, beating dark heart with melodies so catchy you'll be thrilled to dive deeper into the gloom.

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