This Month's Picks

The Road Part I (CD)

UNKLE
On their first album in seven years, UNKLE pick up a very talented cast of collaborators who give The Road Part 1 an eclectic, au courant feel. James Lavelle brings on board members of Primal Scream, The Duke Spirit, and Queens of the Stone Age, plus Mark Lanegan and a whole host of up-and-comers. Sometimes beautifully melancholic, occasionally jarring, and always intriguing, the songs here are a good reminder of what UNKLE can do at their best. If you didn’t know you’d been missing Lavelle & co. these past several years, The Road Part 1 will make it perfectly clear. More

Good Nature (CD)

Turnover
Turnover’s Good Nature veers far from the band’s earlier emo/punk tinged efforts. Their latest is hazy, wistful dream pop in the vein of Wild Nothing, Real Estate, or DIIV. Lush and poetic, Good Nature is the sound of rainy day afternoons and late summer cloud-watching. These dreamy new tracks possess a welcome optimism and point towards Turnover as a band to keep an eye on. More
Genre: Rock

Stage Four (CD)

Touché Amoré
Burbank, CA-based post-hardcore band Touché Amoré pull no punches on their fourth album. Having recently lost his mother to cancer, lead singer Jeremy Bolm's lyrics and screaming vocals pierce even sharper than before. "Displacement" seems to deal with the tragedy directly, with lyrics like "You died at 69, with a body full of cancer, I asked your God, 'how could you?', but never heard an answer." "Palm Dreams" is particularly urgent in its tenacious delivery, while the melodic "Skyscraper" is a haunting mid-tempo album closer, starting off more subdued, but ending with a powerful and emotional final chorus. More
Genre: Rock

Elwan (CD)

Tinariwen
Tinariwen's home country of Mali has changed substantially in the last twenty years. The Tuareg rebellion in 2012 led to a far more conservative Islamic ruling party that went as far as banning the public performance of music. As a result, Tinariwen no longer records in their native country, but instead recorded their newest album between the suburbs of Paris, southern Morocco, and Joshua Tree (a terrain probably closer to their homeland). But listening to their newest album, Elwan , it's hard to believe that they've suffered any political turmoil. The delicate micro-guitar riffs that spin into hypnotic melodies is still there with gorgeous, droning vocals and infectious drum riffs. And like their last few albums, there's a hint of western influence with guest appearances from Kurt Vile, Mark Lanegan, Alain Johannes, and Matt Sweeney. "Sastannaqam" might be the closest they get to traditional rock. Though all their call-and-response is there, the track opens up with a startling funky bass line that's never been heard on any of their other albums. The lead guitar is also noisier and more distorted that it's ever been. It's someone channeling the screeching of Neil Young's electric guitar through Saharan winds. But among the joyous tracks like that come serious ballads that seem to fit into any political landscape. "Ittus," written and sung by Hassan Ag Toumani, one of Tinariwen's founding members, tragically repeats (in Arabic) "I ask you, what is our goal? / It is the unity of our nation / And to carry our standard high." Elwan continues a string of albums that makes Tinariwen seem incapable of producing a bad album. Even two decades in, no one sounds quite the way they do. More
Genre: World

Sleep Well Beast (CD)

The National
The National turn up their guitar amps on their newest record, sounding all sorts of revitalized and harkening back to the vigor of their Alligator -era material. Yes, this is still the The National we’re talking about, and all the trademark elements you've come to expect are solidly in place: U2-sized melodies delivered with Matt Berninger’s sad dad croon, tom-heavy drums that convey BIG emotion, and melancholy piano work providing a sturdy foundation for the brooding soul of these songs. However, Sleep Well Beast incorporates fresh sounds into the band’s winning formula, including electronic textures and distorted guitar leads. For a band that has perfected their signature style, Sleep Well Beast is at its best when The National pushes outside of their comfort zone. More
Genre: Rock

Abysmal Thoughts (CD)

The Drums
After a three year absence The Drums are back with the shimmery, shadowy dance-pop of Abysmal Thoughts . Wearing his romantic melancholia on his sleeve, sole remaining member Jonny Pierce, draws from the late '70s, UK post punk sound to create a New York, dance-punk hybrid. With plucky, surfy guitar hooks, melodic, driving bass, and infectious, wistful vocals Abysmal Thoughts is actually quite a pleasant experience. The release of lead single, "Blood Under My Belt," has been perfectly timed for summer, and is poised to be the number one contender for its soundtrack. "Heart Basel" evokes early Cure, both tone-wise and attitude-wise, and features a most satisfyingly longing chorus, while "Mirror" and "Head Of The Horse," with their more electronic and sampled sounds find their footing a bit more in the 21st century. More
Genre: Rock

Straight Outta East L.A. (CD)

The Brat
No, not Da Brat of “Funkdafied” fame, this is the first “The Brat,” a Chicano punk band from, well, can you guess where? In contrast to the aggressive hardcore scene that '80s punk is better known for, The Brat featured the sweet vocals of Teresa Covarrubias, who on more than one occasion channels the Los Angeles equivalent of Debbie Harry, and they could really swing, man! Listen to the amphetamine reggae stomp of “Swift Moves,” before it abruptly shifts gears into a propulsive chorus of such pure sugar, it would make The Go-Go’s green with envy. While the Hollywood and Orange County scene OD’d on angry white masculinity, The Brat brought pop sensibility and post-punk nuance to the DIY spaces and backyard parties of East L.A. and Long Beach. Criminally overlooked in their career, Straight Outta East L.A. collects all of The Brat’s known recordings onto one essential compilation. More
Genre: Rock

Woodstock (CD)

Portugal. The Man
With breakout track "Feel It Still," Portugal. The Man steps further into the mainstream with their catchiest album yet, Woodstock . Spicing up their laidback psych-pop with contemporary pop and hiphop/dance music production, the band also turns its attention lyrically towards the protest politics of the album's titular festival. Singer John Gourley's light vocals suit the band's musical evolution nicely. More
Genre: Rock

Talk Tight EP [Bonus Tracks] (CD)

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever
Talk Tight , originally released in their home country of Australia in March of 2016, garnered Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever much critical acclaim for its snappy riffs, spritely drumming, and quick-witted wordplay. Available for the first time in the U.S. thanks to Sub Pop! More
Genre: Rock

Wide Open (CD)

Michael McDonald
For his first album in twenty years, Doobie Brothers leader Michael McDonald dives into classic R&B, country, and soft rock. McDonald's smooth voice lingers over heartbreak and regret, buoyed by complex arrangements and stellar guest musicians, including his wife Amy Holland. More
Genre: Rock