Rock

In The Same Room (CD)

Julia Holter’s latest, In the Same Room, is a live album named after a track from her 2012 release Ekstasis (although the song doesn’t appear on this new LP). Recorded over two days at London’s RAK Studios, the LP spans Holter’s career and breathes fresh life into some old favorites. “Horns Surrounding Me” sounds more lovely and compelling than ever. High drama rises and flourishes on “Silhouette.” “Feel You” is insistent and intriguing. These reimaginings of Holter’s oeuvre aren’t just by-the-numbers retreads; they’re alive and insistent, unfurling in new ways that fans will appreciate.

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Time's Up (CD)

Recorded in 1976 on a four track, this raw demo captures Buzzcocks in their youthful beginnings, rough edges and all. While their manic precision is not fully developed on these tracks, their energy and attitude are all there in full force. Previously only available as a bootleg, Time's Up features early versions of Buzzcock classics like "Orgasm Addict" and "Love Battery," as well as the fabulously messy "Don't Mess Me Around" and "I Love You, You Big Dummy." If you like your punk music dirty and hairy, this album's for you!

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Future Politics (CD)

Austra return with another glistening, transcendent electropop LP. On Future Politics, vocalist Katie Stelmanis delves into themes of alienation, utopia (the name of one of the songs, natch), social injustice and...hope. Just as on previous outings from the band, Austra manages to bring an otherworldliness and dark glamor to topics that would scare off a less daring band. The triumph of this record, in particular, is that Stelmanis and co. manage to bring such beauty and depth to their dazzling, crystalline soundscapes.

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Pure Comedy [Sunset Cover] (CD)

On Pure Comedy, we find the troubadour musing about his life, society, and pop culture over downbeat folk rock melodies. “Leaving LA” is a raw, meandering account of life spent too long up in the hills. The title track is insightful, intense, and hard-to-forget. “Total Entertainment Forever” sees Father John discussing Taylor Swift’s appeal — it’s a dissection of celebrity you didn’t know you needed in your life (or eardrums) until now. All in all, Father John Misty provides the perfectly melancholy, dryly funny, and surprisingly moving soundtrack to our times.

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Swear I'm Good At This (CD)

Listening to Diet Cig’s Swear I’m Good at This is pure pleasure. The New York duo makes bright, upbeat, pop-infused garage rock imbued with feminist sensibilities and a youthful vivacity. Drawing from the best of riot grrrl and classic punk, Diet Cig fit neatly in that tradition without ever sounding derivative. Is charming a weird word to apply to a punk record? Because that’s what Diet Cig have created here: a total charmer with street cred and irresistible melodies.

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The Far Field (CD)

With its uplifting rhythm and melancholic mood, Future Islands' latest album is a consistent follow-up to the excellent Singles, which launched them into the mainstream's attention in 2014. Although the album is called The Far Field, the band hasn't strayed too far from their familiar territory, even while using their live drummer for the first time in the studio and adding some string arrangements. The result, thankfully, is more emotionally resonant and catchy synth-pop anthems with minimal, effective post-punk bass, atmospheric synths, and Samuel Herring's uniquely affecting vocals, which belong somewhere between the walls of Factory Records and the mountains of Middle Earth.

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LA Divine (CD)

The Cold War Kids deliver the indie-dance-rock goods on their latest album, named in honor of their hometown of Los Angeles. The music is energetic and expressive, but the lyrics are introspective and often allude to the process of maturing in the context of living the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, as in the power ballad "Can We Hang On?" and the piano heavy "Restless." Be sure to put your dancing shoes on for the hand-clapping, foot-stomping "So Tied Up" and lead single "Love Is Mystical," which will almost certainly be playing many a night this summer.

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Sincerely, Future Pollution (CD)

From the first keys of "Velvet Gloves & Spit" it's a shock to think you're listening to Timber Timbre. Previously embracing an all organic neo-singer/songwriter vibe with acoustic guitars, light drumming, and string arrangements, the vintage synth sound of Sincerely, Future Pollution comes as a complete shock. Dancey beats weren't part of their sound, but with their sixth album they head into the cosmos with funky riffs, off-kilter synths, and stoney studio production. The only way to describe their latest would be "dark exotica." Each track is hauntingly chilly and combines the studio experimentation of Esquivel with the synth harmonies of Tangerine Dream.

 

In complete contrast, band-leader Taylor Kirk injects the album with lyrics that make you feel the dystopian future from sci-fi films is here today in our post-fascist society, where xenophobia and blind nationalism are major problems. It takes the influence of modern electronics and ties it to the past to create cyberpunk tunes that convince you that modular synth cables can grow out of the dirt. "Grifting" recalls David Bowie's funk masterpiece "Fame," with a marching beat against synths playing short jazz riffs. It feels like a good time, but Kirk's sing-talking style chants lyrics about exploitation and false identity that feels like it's almost criticizing the song itself. But the grimmest track comes from "Western Questions," an exhausting, nearly five-minute song that starts off with fierce industrial electronics before fizzing out into a riff right out of a Les Baxter lounge rarity. Perhaps influenced by the everyday reality of the European migrant crisis in France, the song is a scathing critique on those who refuse to help or support the influx of the dislocated in a world that's gone mad. Sincerely, Future Pollution is Timber Timbre's most mature album to date as it manages to balance the grim awfulness of reality with relaxing, calm melodies. It's disorienting and beautiful.

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An Odd Entrances (CD)

John Dwyer’s ever-evolving project Thee Oh Sees are in the process of another compelling revamp on their latest, An Odd Entrances. The unrelenting, feral psych garage the band is known for has been transmuted into trance-like psych rock that’s just as wild, if a bit sunnier. Dwyer and co. still rip through their tracks; this is a thirty-minute face melter that you’ll have to listen to again and again to really get a grasp on. This music was meant to be cranked up and blasted over your sound system with the same wild abandon that went into its creation.

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Worry. (CD)

With Worry., the former frontman of Bomb The Music Industry! and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches has released his third solo album and perhaps crowning achievement to date. Much like the title would presume, the lyrics deal in modern anxieties: impersonal technology, social alienation, rampant police brutality, the creeping specter of adulthood, and any other possible fears felt by those between the ages of 20 and 50. What is not a given is how positive everything feels, as these existentially nervous songs are delivered with a punk/power-pop veneer that is absolutely life-affirming. Particular highlight “To Be a Ghost” showcases the album's strengths, as an acoustic guitar lead screed against the powers that be starts off calm and somber before escalating into rock and roll heroics, complete with cranked amp fireworks and a shout-along refrain. Not a man tempered by ambition, Rosenstock fills side B of the record with an Abbey Road-esque melody of largely one minute punk blasts that effectively sum up the first 15 years of his career. Worry. reads like a laundry list of grievances, but it sounds like an exultation: a glorious, whooping breath of fresh air.

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