This Month's Picks

Utopia (CD)

Bjork’s latest, Utopia , is the logical follow-up to her previous work on Vulnicura , another collaboration with producer Arca. This ethereal, abstract, intriguing album was written to (not surprisingly) explore the concept of utopias, but also to process the current political, environmental, and personal challenges the singer was facing. There’s an airiness to the album’s heady, otherworldly tracks, an interesting effect conjured up by the incorporation of a 12-piece Icelandic flute section into the melodies. Utopia is Bjork at her best: boundary-pushing, challenging, and emotionally connected. More
Genre: Rock

Native Invader (CD)

Tori Amos
Tori Amos is in fine form on Native Invader , a cohesive, darkly dreamy vision of our current political and environmental turmoil. Passionate, lush, and alive, this collection of songs is both urgent and reassuring. Amos’ voice seems to whisper in the listener’s ear, “I know what you’re feeling. I understand.” The world may be a frightening place, Native Invader seems to say, but there’s beauty in the darkness, if you can find it, and hope, if you keep fighting. More
Genre: Rock

Who Built The Moon? (CD)

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Noel Gallagher probably generates more buzz with his weird quotes and rivalry with Oasis bandmate and brother, Liam Gallagher, than he does for his music. (He recently combined both of these things by referring to his brother as the "village idiot" in the press.) But his latest album, Who Built The Moon , is intriguing in that it's more of a post-modern take on The Beatles, rather than blatantly soaked in their influence like Oasis (don't tell him that). This one mines Phil Spector's lavish productions on albums like George Harrison's All Things Must Pass and John Lennon's Imagine , where pop songs and ballads are transformed into miniature symphonies with his famous "wall of sound." Instead of creating a barrage of sounds, however, Who Built The Moon relies on heavy drums and horns to make these songs really sound big. From the moment the hard psych groove of opening track "Fort Knox" starts to melt your brain, you'll be won over. It's a total trip, complete with banging drums, spinning voices, alarm clocks and some genuine craziness. The following track, "Holy Mountain," represents the rest of the album's direction - instantly catchy, with blaring sax and sardonic lyrics. It feels more seventies that sixties with its pure power-pop energy. This may easily be Noel Gallagher's best album since his time in Oasis, as he crafts a beautifully weird pop album that totally stands out in 2017. More
Genre: Rock

Unleash The Love (CD)

Mike Love
At 76 years old, Mike Love shows no signs of slowing down. Unleash the Love , surprisingly only his second ever solo release, just so happens to be a double LP, which means 12 reworked Beach Boys classics along with 13 brand new songs. Good vibrations abound on this sprawling collection, from the gospel-tinged title track to the George Harrison buddy film that is “Pisces Brothers.” Steely Dan gets environmentally conscious on Love’s “10,000 Years Ago,” while the '70s soft rock of “All the Love in Paris” might boast the best melodies of the whole album. Love’s nasally, boyish voice is scarily intact; if not for the modern production, these songs could date from practically any era of the Beach Boys timeline. Also featuring contributions from AJR, Mark McGrath, and the seventh most important Beach Boy on drums: John Stamos! A triumphant latter-day release from the former Beach Boy that boasts a whole lotta love, to be sure. More
Genre: Rock

Lovely Creatures: The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (1984-2014) (LP)

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Lovely Creatures does the seemingly impossible: distilling Nick Cave’s three-decades-long solo career into a representative, moving “best of” collection. Covering territory from the early ‘80s to 2013’s Push the Sky Away , the collection showcases Cave’s constant evolution as an artist and proves exactly why he is a legend. What’s great about Lovely Creatures is that it works for longtime die-hard fans as well as those who may be looking for an introduction to his oeuvre. Depending on which version you pick up, not only will you find the expected excellent songwriting, but also some very cool bonus material in the form of a hardcover book filled with essays and personal photos, plus a DVD with live performances, interviews, and rare footage. A fitting tribute to one of the most pioneering, distinctive artists of our time. More
Genre: Rock

Glasshouse (CD)

Jessie Ware
Jessie Ware’s Glasshouse is perfectly polished UK pop with a firm, beating heart beneath the glossy production and diva choruses. At one moment, Ware speaks in intimate tones. She’s vulnerable, lovelorn, exposed. At the next, she’s strong, unbreakable, bold. The melodies soar, her vocals punch with serious emotional impact. It’s a strong, cohesive entry on the singer’s road to pop stardom across the pond. More
Genre: Rock

Simply Christmas [Deluxe Edition] (CD)

Leslie Odom Jr.
Hot off the success of his performance in Hamilton , Leslie Odom Jr. brought his smooth and expressive vocal prowess to the world of Christmas standards with last year's Simply Christmas , which has received the deluxe edition treatment this season, adding four new songs to the track listing. With pure and simple arrangements, Odom Jr.'s voice takes front and center, creating a cozy and intimate atmosphere, which brings to mind, not so much the hustle, bustle, and chaos of the holiday season, but the cathartic aftermath, sitting by the fire with family and friends. Adding subtle jazz and showtune elements to such songs as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and "First Noel" breathes new life to these classics, while still maintaining a universal appeal. The standout new track, "Please Come Home For Christmas," goes full-bore soul, with complete with horn section and blues-y, gospel-y piano. More
Genre: Holiday

I Fall In Love Too Easily (CD)

Katharine McPhee
After her 2015 performance at "Sinatra 100: An All-Star Grammy Concert," perhaps it's only natural that Katharine McPhee has released a new album of romantic standards. The former American Idol contestant, chart-topping pop star, and actress has made a habit of covering Nina Simone‘s “Everything Must Change" at her concerts, and now fans can hear her lovely voice on other classics, such as "Night and Day" and "I'll Be Seeing You." More
Genre: Rock

Blue Moon Swamp (CD)

John Fogerty
John Fogerty launches his solo catalog reissue series with 1997's Grammy-winning Blue Moon Swamp . This 20th Anniversary reissue uses for its cover art the backdrop that Fogerty displayed on the original tour. His third solo album, Blue Moon Swamp showcases his rich voice, and includes guest turns from The Lonesome River Band, The Waters, and the Fairfield Four, among others. More
Genre: Rock

A Tribute To Dan Fogelberg (CD)

Various Artists
The late folk/rock songwriter Dan Fogelberg gets a loving tribute album with contributions from artists like The Eagles, Garth Brooks, Jimmy Buffett and Train. A project that was long in the making, A Tribute to Dan Fogelberg includes as highlights, "Longer," a duet by Vince Gill and Amy Grant, and "Nether Lands" by Donna Summer. The Zac Brown Band also excels with a live version of “Leader of the Band.” More
Genre: Rock