Rock

Wild Life (CD)

The debut album from Paul McCartney's Wings, Wild Life was originally recorded in a week which gave the songs a famously fresh and raw feel. Now it's joining McCartney's Grammy-winning Archive Collection in remastered glory. This two-disc CD edition features newly remastered audio from Abbey Road Studios, plus unreleased tracks, singles, and b-sides.

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Red Rose Speedway (CD)

Red Rose Speedway, with its classic No. 1 hit “My Love,” makes its entry into Paul McCartney's Archive Collection with a splash: a two-disc CD edition. Features newly remastered audio from Abbey Road Studios, plus unreleased tracks, singles, and b-sides.

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Next Of Kin (CD)

LA trio Distant Cousins seem poised on the edge of something big, thanks to the release of their immensely enjoyable Next of Kin. Filled with infectious hooks and floor-stompin’ riffs, the album feels familiar, warm, and alive with excitement. It’s the sound of backroads and big dreams. It’s the sound of sing-a-long-ready choruses, the type of knees up indie-meets-country jamboree that keeps folks who love the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons coming back for more. Basically, it’s the sound of your new favorite band.

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Warm (CD)

Jeff Tweedy gets vulnerable on his first proper solo LP, Warm. The melodies are immediately likable, the tone of the album confiding, open, and direct. Tweedy eschews Wilco’s more rollicking moments for an introspective, familiar tone; the album title is fitting. He approaches epic thematic elements — death, love, pain — with grace and intelligence. It’s a richly moving work of art that’ll give even longtime fans a new light in which to see the indie legend.

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Guide Me Back Home (CD)

Dallas Green AKA City and Colour (and formerly of Alexisonfire) went on a stripped-down acoustic tour across Canada in 2017 and this double CD, Guide Me Back Home, is the recorded companion to those intimate shows. The album, which marks the debut of Green's new label Still Records, includes his interactions with the crowd between the emotional folk-rock songs and shows off his songwriting chops. Among the highlights are older numbers like “Comin' Home” and the soulful “If I Should Go Before You.”

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Hemispheres [40th Anniversary Edition] (CD)

Has a band of nerds ever been more successful than Rush? Rock ‘n roll heroes to some, a four letter word to others, Rush remain a remarkably contentious point of discussion for a band that has sold over 40 million albums. As a pillar of Rush’s patented prog rock sound, 1978’s Hemispheres is a key piece of their legacy and has been reissued in a deluxe edition CD (including live cuts from the era) to commemorate the album’s 40th anniversary.

 

Though the band’s true mainstream breakout would happen a few years later with Permanent Waves (which ingeniously melded new wave to their power-trio’d prog), Rush built up a rabid following in the mid to late ‘70s due to albums such as Hemispheres, despite being largely panned by critics and ignored by radio. By this point the band had perfected their concept-heavy formula: a handful of short, well-crafted rock tunes to complement one big epic to either open or close the record. Just like 2112, arguably the band’s most well-known release, Hemispheres puts the big ‘ol prog epic right in front. However, unlike the aforementioned 2112, there isn’t a moment of filler to be had here. Though it’s all of FOUR songs long, Hemispheres features two classic hard rockers from the band, “Circumstances” and “The Trees,” which might be the most enjoyable Neil Peart preach-along of their entire catalog. There’s also one of Rush’s best instrumentals, the Raymond Scott-quoting “La Villa Strangiato.” And then, of course, is the requisite 18 minute “Cygnus," the centerpiece of the album. Though it may not have quite the catchy peaks of other Rush sagas like “2112” or “Xanadu,” it is undoubtedly their least meandering, most musically taut prog creation up until this point, truly sounding like one complete song rather than a bunch of disparate parts glued together. All of Rush’s calling cards are present in its extended running time: dexterous lead bass, guitar playing that deftly switches from finesse to bombast, stop-on-a-dime tempo changes, and plenty of big ass drum fills.

 

It’s hard to describe any album with 4 songs that equal nearly 40 minutes as lean or stripped down, but Hemispheres is absolutely the best elements of '70s Rush condensed into one. Only the most self-consciously cool will deny the electricity in these grooves. Everyone else, feel free to geek out all over again.

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Upside Down Flowers (CD)

With a musical resume influenced by his time in uber-successful bands Something Corporate and Jack's Mannequin, Andrew McMahon has been creating solo magic since 2013. Upside Down Flowers is the latest from his Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness project and it’s an intimate, well-crafted collection of songs, filled with the bravado of youth (“Teenage Rockstars”) and the hopefulness of rock ’n’ roll dreamers (“Ohio”). The songs are eclectic and eminently listenable. The melodies are introspective but bordering on anthemic with lyrics that are smart and sensitive. A must-have for fans that’s sure to win over listeners who appreciate thoughtful indie pop.

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Christmas (Take A Ride) (CD)

Good Golly Miss Claus! Mitch Ryder may be without his Detroit Wheels, but at 73 years old the blue-eyed soul legend is still going strong. It’s not that we haven’t heard enough Christmas albums in our life, but being a living legend without one to his name, the man has earned it, dammit! These days his voice is a bit more subdued; more soulful rasp than wild shriek, but he knows how to play to his strengths: Christmas (Take A Ride) features covers of Christmas standards new and old all done in an energetic ‘60s R&B fashion, which means plenty of bright horns, brittle guitars, and a stomping backbeat. Hell, the lead single is a cover of raucous garage rock legends The Sonics’ very own “Santa Claus,” cavernous reverb and fuzz guitars intact. He even manages to make “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” somehow sound a little less stupid. In fact, his take on the most annoying of novelty songs is downright listenable, which is a feat unto itself. The only knock on Christmas (Take A Ride) is the lack of a song titled “Devil With A Red Dress,” which seems like an egregious missed opportunity, though Ryder has left the door open to the possibility of a Christmas sequel. Don’t leave us hanging, Mitch.

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9 (CD)

Throughout their 20+ year history, Saves The Day’s lone constant has been Chris Conley. As leader of one of the few turn-of-the-millennium bands to help transition the niche alt rock subgenre of emo into a mainstream phenomenon, Conley has written an album-long paean to those halcyon days. 9 is filled with catchy self-mythologizing, whether it’s the '90s tour diary of “Kerouac & Cassady,” the rags to rock ‘n roll riches tale of “Rendezvous” or the self-explanatory title of “Saves The Day.” It might not be the most humble concept album of all time, but 9 is captivating as an earnest thank you to everything and everyone that led to this current moment. The audial equivalent of flipping through an old photobook, nostalgic and invigorating. Suggested title: “To Saves The Day, cheers!”

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Merrie Land (CD)

Using Britain's referendum on exiting from the European Union as the reformative spark, supergroup The Good, The Bad & The Queen have returned over a decade later with their second release, Merrie Land. Damon Albarn, Clash bassist Paul Simonon, Verve guitarist Simon Tong, and Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen are back to muse on the state of being British in 2018, this time with legendary Tony Visconti in the producer's chair. Fans of Albarn's particular brand of electro-melancholia will find more to enjoy here.

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