This Month's Picks

Emanuel (DVD)

National headlines blazed the story: Churchgoers Gunned Down During Prayer Service in Charleston, South Carolina. After a 21-year-old white supremacist opened fire in Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, nine African Americans lay dead, leaving their families and the nation to grapple with this senseless act of terror. Featuring intimate interviews with survivors and family members, Emanuel —from executive producers Stephen Curry and Viola Davis, co-producer Mariska Hargitay, and director Brian Ivie ( The Drop Box )—is a poignant story of justice and faith, love and hate, examining the healing power of forgiveness. More

Katharsis (CD)

Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz's new album is the first since the fallout of the original lineup, allowing frontman Archie Cruz to take the reins and new guitarist Pav Cruz to shine. “Changing The Seasons” is a dark and fiery track with metalcore elements, while “Tell Me Why” embraces '80s pop metal with a stadium-ready chorus. It's precisely this combination that has drawn both camps to this quickly rising Finnish band and one that they seem to be digging into even deeper with this new release.More
Genre: Rock

Screamer (CD)

Third Eye Blind
For their sixth studio album, Third Eye Blind branched out by pulling in Billy Corgan as musical advisor and securing guest turns from electronic/synth artists like Sleigh Bells' Alison Krauss and Ryan Olson of Marijuana Deathsquads and Poliça. The title track is uplifting, polished-but-fuzzy pop-rock that really benefits from the Sleigh Bells stomp and angelic Krauss vocals. “Walk Like Kings” is a more subdued pop song with tongue-in-cheek slang delivered in Stephan Jenkins' familiar lispy vocals. The album follows up their 2018 EP, Thanks For Everything , with a suitable bang. More
Genre: Rock

The Art Of Self-Defense (BLU)

A man who is attacked at random on the street and enlists in a local dojo, led by a charismatic and mysterious Sensei, in an effort to learn how to defend himself.More

Metal Galaxy (CD)

Babymetal
The formula behind Babymetal’s sound is a genre mashup that reads like an internet fever dream; which, in 2019, is more often than not a progenitor of sounds to come. A combination of J-pop singing and aesthetic with technically proficient death metal-esque accompaniment, Babymetal are credited with pioneering “kawaii metal,” captivating fans and confounding skeptics everywhere since their debut. Metal Galaxy is their third album overall, and while the bizarre nature of their sound might still play like an elaborate joke to some, the craftsmanship and commitment of Babymetal is undeniable. While earlier releases were a fairly straightforward (if you could call it that) combination of J-pop and metal, Metal Galaxy incorporates more disparate musical elements into the mix. Nowhere is this more apparent than on “Shanti Shanti Shanti,” a single unabashedly built on a Bollywood melody and instrumentation. With lead singer Suzuka incorporating some uncanny vocal trills into her childlike delivery, as well as a sitar and distorted guitar doubling the main riff, “Shanti” is the unlikely yet catchy combination of symphonic metal and Indian pop. These eccentricities are not limited to one song by any means: “PA PA YA!!,” not to be outdone, features a huge, EDM-worthy synth line alternating with its screamed eponymous refrain, over an up-tempo dance beat and almost pop-punk guitar riffage. If it all sounds too wild to be true, you owe it to yourself to experience Metal Galaxy firsthand. Babymetal, man. What a time to be alive. More
Genre: Rock

Stranger Things 3 [Score] (CD)

Kyle Dixon, Michael Stein
Lightning strikes thrice for Strangers Things composers Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein. On their third original score, the duo experiments with and expands their signature ‘80s-inspired sound; not content to sit on their laurels, they’ve crafted an engrossing sonic journey that will be as impactful to fans of synth-driven soundscapes as to dedicated fans of the show. “The First I Love You” is dreamy and moving, with sweeping melodies and soundscapes. “Rats” is techno-influenced and hypnotic, an ominous banger descending into the darkness. “Tammy” is delicate and yearning, a moment of quiet before the threatening beats of “Mirkwood” kick in. On this one, it’s all killer, no filler. The album clocks in at a lengthy 82 minutes — yet once the final song fades out, you’ll be more than likely to go right back and cue the whole shebang up from track 1. More
Genre: Soundtracks

Immunity (CD)

Clairo
Singer/songwriter Clairo found viral fame in 2017 with her song "Pretty Girl" and its accompanying low-key bedroom video. On her debut full-length album, Immunity ,   which was co-produced by Rostam Batmanglij, she stretches into new, more mature territory with interesting arrangements. “Sofia,” for instance, has more dynamics than your standard lo-fi pop and offers a substantial melody contrasted with busy percussion and interludes of staticky guitar. “Bags” and “Alewife” have more indie rock flair, with the keys in the chorus of “Bags” sounding almost like a child's organ. Perhaps the real trick is that none of the songs are swallowed up by heavy production - even the autotune on “Closer To You” feels like a natural touch for the dreaminess of the track. These are heartfelt songs with lyrics that cut to the core. More
Genre: Rock

Easter Is Cancelled (CD)

The Darkness
As the spartan time of Lent unfolds, and society looks set to implode, it’s time to put away your chocolate eggs, say goodbye to the festive bunny, and prepare for the sonic apocalypse... for Darkness spreads across the land! In their inimitable style, as joyous warriors here to prick the pompous and kick the butts of those who seek to destroy us, the four maestros embark upon their most ambitious quest to date. They are men in tight costumes, ready to fight the power-drunk clowns who cast a shadow of despair across the land. More
Genre: Rock

Angel's Pulse (CD)

Blood Orange
Dev Hynes of Blood Orange has another hit on his hands with the short-but-oh-so-sweet Angel’s Pulse . Similar in vibe to a mixtape, Angel’s Pulse is a collection of odds and ends from previous recording sessions, often featuring star turns from some big name collaborators. The atmosphere changes and evolves seamlessly over the course of the album's runtime; Gangsta Boo and Project Pat go hard on “Gold Teeth” and Toro y Moi gets seductive and smooth on “Dark & Handsome.” There’s a Blood Orange song for every mood on this excellent, eclectic release. More
Genre: Rock

All Mirrors (CD)

Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen tries her hand at baroque pop on the stirring All Mirrors . Lush with cinematic strings and buoyed by overarching emotion, it’s a powerful evolution for Olsen, who sounds very comfortable experimenting here in the dark. Longtime fans will appreciate the album’s eclecticism; in addition to Olsen’s more gothic-tinged numbers, there are still plenty of stripped down, raw ballads. All Mirrors seems likely to slot high on many a year-end best-of list. More
Genre: Rock