Rock

Tell Me You Love Me (CD)

Demi Lovato is one of the strongest of the polished pop divas currently dominating the airwaves; case in point, Tell Me You Love Me. Each song has something to recommend it — there are party jams, “boy bye” jams, cruising down the freeway with the windows rolled down and the radio cranked jams — and Ms. Lovato takes them all on with equal aplomb. The tracks are unapologetic, bold, and adventurous. In short, it’s the perfect pop soundtrack to being a young woman today.

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Low In High School (CD)

A seemingly endless well of droll creativity and romantic melodies, Morrissey’s latest is another resounding success. Low in High School sees Moz experimenting with song structure and lyrical themes, but his velveteen voice and lively wit give the LP the sound of a future classic. Dreamy and sometimes melancholy, it’s albums like this that remind us why we keep coming back for more from this Salford lad. Each listen reveals another fascinating yarn, another relatable sentiment.

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Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family (CD)

Maybe Nick Lowe is not the name that comes to mind when you think of Christmas music. Understandably, you’d be forgiven. The former pub-rock/new-wave icon known for his wry lyrics and wit seems like an antithetical fit for the commercially safe and stale venture that is the Christmas album. Yet the irony is not lost on Lowe, who at 68 years old has been deep into his crooner phase for over a decade now, but whose sense of mischievousness is still intact as he imbues “Silent Night” full of rocksteady rhythm and rockabilly guitar licks. To his credit, Lowe plays the majority of the album straight, with faithful renditions of Xmas standards along with tender originals such as “I Was Born In Bethlehem.” However, it’s “Christmas at the Airport” that steals the show; another Lowe original and one that blends holiday melancholia, cheeky humor, and a Tin Pan Alley melodic sensibility all in one. Oh, and it’s really catchy too!

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Let's Play Two (CD)

Let's play two shows, that is. At famed Wrigley Field, no less. Let’s Play Two was recorded and filmed over the course of a double header at the Chicago ballpark back in August 2016, during the Cubs’ ascension to their first World Series title since 1908. The atmosphere is appropriately jubilant, with spirited versions of tracks that span the entire Pearl Jam catalogue, as well as choice non-album cuts including, of course, the Eddie Vedder love letter to his hometown team, "All The Way."

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Crack-Up (CD)

If you’d forgotten how masterful Fleet Foxes are at creating dreamy wall-of-sound Americana-infused indie rock in the six years since their last release, their latest, Crack-Up, will do a bang-up job of reminding you. The band sounds better than ever; their hazy, melancholy melodies envelop the listener, their haunting harmonies dig at the heart. The scope of Crack-Up, named after an F. Scott Fitzgerald essay, is grand and orchestral with sweeping soundscapes and incredible arrangements. When so much of what passes for indie folk today sounds like forgettable radio-friendly festival rock, it’s nice to hear Fleet Foxes staying true to their roots while expanding the boundaries of the genre.

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Day Of The Gusano [CD + DVD] (CD)

Slipknot has never been easy listening, especially in its present form as a nine-piece mammoth of a band. That frenetic bass, screechy vocals, and destructive drum sound could only come from one of the weirdest and craziest bands of that late-'90s trend where metal, punk, goth, and electro seemed to collide into a cacophony of pure freakishness and insanity. The current iteration of the band is now immortalized in this documentary and soundtrack of their first ever Mexico City show from late 2015. It's no surprise that in a screening of this film in a theater, a group of fans starting moshing in the aisles. Seeing them live and loud (and I mean LOUD) and destroying the audience at their very own Knotfest in Mexico City is a once-in-a-lifetime type of experience. We all know that part of the fun of a live show is the audience reaction, and Mexico City feels like they've been waiting their whole life to see Slipknot live. Be sure to play this loud and if you have a subwoofer, bring the bass all the way up. You're not feeling this unless the walls start to rumble.

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The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (CD)

Even though Iron Maiden has been shredding ears and ripping out faces for almost 40 years, they have never seemed to be in better form than they are today. These 15 globe-trotting tracks from their recent and ultra-successful The Book of Souls tour show no signs of Iron Maiden losing their edge. In the type of brazen, nutzo rock attitude of the '70s, Bruce Dickinson piloted his own jet from show to show and sang so dramatically and frenetically that it's almost impossible to believe that he was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. But as a rejection of aging, The Book of Souls: Live Chapter has the band killing it on a mix of classic tracks like "The Trooper" and "Number of the Beast" without showing an ounce of wear from this epic tour. From Tokyo, Japan to Sydney, Australia and even to their native UK, Iron Maiden live sounds better than any 40-year-old band has the right to sound like. This album is a tutorial on how to truly rock and how to give the greatest shows your ears have ever peeped.

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All The Light Above It Too (CD)

All The Light Above It Too, Jack Johnson's first full album in four years, is a characteristically smooth collection of love songs and political musings. On this one, the crack songwriter plays every instrument back at his Mango Tree Studio in Hawaii. The album offers a bit more seasoned brooding with his trademark laid-back melodies, for example, on album opener, "Subplots."

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Illuminate (CD)

Former Vine star Shawn Mendes delighted fans with his debut album, Handwritten. For his sophomore release, Illuminate, the young singer-songwriter gets more personal with his lyrics, while continuing to serve up well-crafted pop hooks and solid adult contemporary melodies. With his nimble vocals and nods to influences like John Mayer and Jason Mraz, the album mixes chill soul with lively numbers and romantic ballads.

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Standards (CD)
For his tenth studio album, Seals lends his lush voice to a strong set of jazz and swing standards, such as Frank Sinatra's “Luck Be A Lady" and Nina Simone's “I Put a Spell on You," recorded with some of the very musicians that worked with these classic artists. The Grammy-winning soul and R&B singer delivers accomplished versions of these timeless tunes. Read more