Rock

I Am Not A Dog On A Chain (CD)

Morrissey's 13th solo album is also his first album of original material since 2017's Low in High School. Despite his unpopular opinions and pain-in-the-assness, this album is a bold departure, going places he has yet to go musically. Namely, the world of synths and electronica.

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Patience (CD)

Philly indie punk band Mannequin Pussy’s the third full-length album, Patience, is fascinated with the physical experience of the body. The songs track the movements of mouths and hands and racing hearts, skin and spit and teeth and blood. Deeply attuned to the power of their own physicality, the band channels complex emotion in blistering riffs, thrashing rhythms, vocals that feel as immediate and untamed as a gut reaction.

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After You (CD)

Ten years after English singer/songwriter Jack Peñate released his critically-acclaimed breakout album, Everything Is New, he returns with his first full-length follow-up, After You. Known for his soulful take on indie-pop with global textures in mind, Peñate has stood out for his incredible songwriting. After You sees Peñate fully confident and mature in his reputation as he moves from style to style, even edging towards the experimental as he ties in World music influences.

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Bones UK (CD)

Vocalist Rosie Bones and virtuoso guitarist Carmen Vandenberg don’t waste a second of their self-titled debut album, confronting everything from the beauty industrial-complex to toxic masculinity and music-scene sexism. GRAMMY-nominated for Best Rock Performance, their song “Pretty Waste” and other tracks, such as “Beautiful Is Boring” and “Girls Can’t Play Guitar,” demonstrate a commitment to using their art to speak their minds, shedding light on the disconnect between the status quo and the far more glorious world inside their heads.

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Guardians (CD)

Metalcore veterans August Burns Red surpass their signature heavy sound on Guardians, delivering their most pummeling songs to date. Despite the punishing blaze of multi-dimensional riffs, this album presents a more mature and refined band, playing the heartfelt, collaborative songs that only a band of 17 years could write.

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Velvet: Side A (CD)

Adam Lambert’s fourth EP is a prequel to his full-length album, Velvet, and features six retro ‘70’s funk and rock-flavored nuggets, marking quite a departure for the season 8 American Idol star. Yet, the guitar-driven sound is accentuated by his distinct, incredible voice that his fans have come to love.

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Necroscape (CD)

Mike Patton, he of Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, and about a million other projects teams up with electronic artist Anthony Pateras to form tētēma, an experimental quartet rounded out by violinist Erkki Veltheim and Will Guthrie on drums. Necroscape is their second release and, while it's comprised of 13 separate tracks, functions less of a collection of traditional songs and more as an extended suite of nightmarish moods and atmospheres. Though there are undeniable rock elements throughout, the band pulls from all sorts of peculiar sounds and textures to create a disconcerting, overwhelming experience. Pateras himself frames a few of the influences as “Peter Gunn on methamphetamine with RD Burman as co-pilot, being pursued by Madlib through an early '80s London industrial estate.” And that’s just describing one song! A track like “Soliloquy” features what sounds like a malfunctioning synthesizer overlaid with hyperactive jazz drumming. “Haunted” approximates John Zorn conducting a hardcore band. During this sonic maelstrom, Patton unleashes hell with all manner of various howls, screams, grunts, bellows, and chants. It might not be a candidate for easy listening album of the year, but the chaos of Necroscape is a fitting companion to the frightening world outside.

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WOMB (CD)

Social distancing may be the M.O. of 2020 (and beyond?), but Purity Ring are as well-equipped as anyone to deal with it. After all, the electronic duo’s songwriting process evolved out of emailing files to each other over thousands of miles away, with Corin Roddick handling production duties and Megan James writing and recording the lyrics. For the group who once dubbed themselves as “future pop,” their third album arrives in the most dystopic of circumstances: a milieu that would seem fittingly sound tracked by Purity Ring’s otherworldly, clashing textures. Yet WOMB finds the duo bringing their sound back down to earth a bit. Songs such as “peacefall” and “stardew” are almost straightforward electro pop, the latter especially sounding like a dancefloor favorite that was specifically designed to mellow a whole crowd of revelers peaking on MDMA. If the sounds are unfamiliarly warm and welcoming, the lyrics still delve into the same eerie, often bloody imagery that James has made her calling card, delivered with the same cooing voice to lullaby effect. No matter how sweet and inviting these hooks may be, a sense of digital abstraction pervades the emotion behind WOMB. Pop music for a brave new world.

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Migration Stories (CD)

M. Ward’s Migration Stories is a narcotic and nocturnal exercise in songwriting, with a sound as gauzy as its album cover. Largely acoustic driven, Migration Stories features what seem to be rather straightforward folk songs cloaked in all manner of sonic treatments, creating a tremendous moodiness and blurring the lines between sentiments happy and sad. At times M. Ward’s voice barely cracks above the fray, sounding weary and weathered and occasionally consumed by the ghostly atmospherics. Thus explains songs like “Heaven’s Nail and Hammer,” which takes a Louis Armstrong melody to Lynchian surf guitars, managing to sound both ominous and uplifting. “Unreal City” resembles a classic Springsteen song turned inside out, coming on as a ‘50s rock ‘n roll stomper before gradually deconstructing itself into a synth-assisted anti-chorus; an unwinding from the thrill of its sing-a-long introduction.

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Palms (CD)

Orange County’s native sons Thrice made a career in the 00s by playing exactly the type of music their Warped Tour-worshipping constituents thrived on: emo/post-hardcore that blended the technical prowess of their forbearers with a newfound sense of catchiness in the form of radio-friendly earworms. Yet this is not the same band that sang countless yearning, angsty hooks over arpeggiated guitar riffs on The Artist in the Ambulance. Maybe it was the 5 year hiatus starting in 2011 that did it, but this version of Thrice is much different. For one, the band has gotten in touch with their new-wave side, undoubtedly finding common ground through hefty doses of Depeche Mode. The vocals are lower, gruffer; a natural progression of aging, sure, but the tones and textures that comprise Palms are darker as well. Cold synthesizers color nearly every track while the guitar assault of old is paired back, and though Thrice are still a “rock” band through and through, electronica and industrial aren’t too far behind. Yet, despite the sonic makeover, one need only listen to the chorus of “The Grey” to realize that those yearning, shout-along earworms are still there. A refreshing update of the post-hardcore sound that dominated the aughts.

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