This Month's Picks

New Age Norms 3 [Neon Green Vinyl] (LP)

Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids deliver another epic release in their New Age Norms series, this time tackling the small triumphs and daunting challenges of the pandemic-era “new normal.” The songs are sweeping in scope and in style, delving into our shared societal concerns while bringing them down to a personal level. Case in point: frontman Nathan Willett’s lyrics on “Underground,” a track concerned with the desire to escape from all one’s problems distilled down to a refusal to watch depressing movies and listen to sad tales. Who can’t relate to that? Sure, the band’s thematic concerns may be dark, the music certainly isn’t. Instead, New Age Norms 3 is packed with soulful, life-affirming, percussive tracks, ready made for those days when you’re feeling low and need something to get you going again. When those times come, just hit play. More
Genre: Rock

Subject To Change (CD)

Katelyn Tarver
Singer/songwriter Katelyn Tarver follows up a series of EPs and collaborations with her first full-length album since 2005, Subject To Change . The album finds her mulling over break-ups and other misfortunes, but the lightness of her voice and arrangements keep it from becoming overwhelmingly sad. These are well-written, subtle pop songs that address relatable personable issues; for example, “Nicer” is a shrewd take on losing yourself in being a people-pleaser. “Shit Happens” offers the refreshing message that bad things don't have to happen for a reason, and “All Our Friends Are Splitting Up” is a heartbreaking examination of whether a relationship is quietly on the rocks.  Subject To Change is a highly accessible set that rises above the standard pop formula. More
Genre: Rock

Relief: A Benefit For The Jazz Foundation Of America's Musicians' Emergency Fund (CD)

Various Artists
Relief is a new benefit album brimming with jazz greats, the proceeds from which go to the Jazz Foundation of America’s Emergency Fund, created in 2020 to aid musicians affected by the pandemic. Cécile McLorin Salvant’s vocals glide wonderfully through “Easy Come Easy Go” and saxophonist Kenny Garrett is light and smooth on “Joe Hen’s Waltz.” Jon Batiste’s “Sweet Lorraine” is a lovely gem, plus Christian McBride, Hiromi Uehara and more also lend their considerable talents to this worthy project. But perhaps the highlight is the live recording from the JFA’s “A Great Night in Harlem” 2014 benefit concert which features Herbie Hancock, Wallace Roney (RIP), Buster Williams, Albert “Tootie” Heath, and Jimmy Heath (RIP). More
Genre: Jazz

DISCO: Guest List Edition (CD)

Kylie Minogue
When Kylie Minogue goes disco, she delivers. This reissue of her 2020 album DISCO comes to us as the Guest List Edition , which basically means you get all the dance floor fillers from the earlier release, along with new tracks featuring Jessie Ware, Years & Years, Due Lipa, and Gloria Gaynor. In classic Kylie fashion, the album is packed with hit after glossy hit and the high-energy vibe never slows down. Guaranteed to get your booty-shaking and your mood lifted, whether you’re ready to get your sequins on right now or if you need a little Guest List spot to get you inspired. More
Genre: Rock

Crawler (CD)

IDLES
IDLES are back with a visceral new album, Crawler . This relentless album takes all the down-and-dirty elements of IDLES that brought the British post-punk act acclaim and refines their raucous approach into knife-sharp lyrics and gritty noise. The melodies on their fourth album are as intense and abrasive as ever, yet they’re tempered by introspection and the urge to evolve. Urgent and inventive, Crawler shows the band reassessing and reworking what makes them tick. More
Genre: Rock

2X1=4 (CD)

F.S. Blumm, Nils Frahm
Nils Frahm & F.S. Blumm reunite for a new ambient dub album called 2X1=4 . The talented duo excels at creating delicate, intricate compositions, and this time the tracks pulse with dub percussion and electronic whirring. “Puddle Drop” could be the score for ants going about their business, antennas twitching. “Presidential Tub” is lightly psychedelic and groovy with a hypnotic beat, while the tightly rolling “Buddy Hop” feels like the soundtrack to a tense moment in an artsy film. These are fascinating little worlds conjured from the minds of two accomplished artists. More

Dark Side Of Everything (CD)

The Neverly Boys
TV On The Radio’s Dave Sitek and Swedish singer/songwriter Daniel Ledinsky are cleverly named duo The Neverly Boys. Their debut album, Dark Side of Everything , benefits from Sitek’s distinctive shimmering, buzzy production as well as the duo's indie rock songcraft. “Burn Hollywood,” first released as a single back in 2017, is a hazy lament about disillusionment in Tinsel Town. The mood here is largely somber - appropriately, for the album title - but “Red Flag” stands out as a solid dance-pop tune with an infectious beat and the closing track, “Your Life is Blooming,” has a gentle sunniness to it that offers hope. More
Genre: Rock

The Blues Album (CD)

Joanne Shaw Taylor
Joanne Shaw Taylor shows off her expressive, husky vocals in addition to her impressive guitar chops on her latest, The Blues Album . Taylor delivers passionate versions of songs by Otis Rush, Peter Green, Albert King, Little Milton, Don Covay, James Ray and more, with a crack team of players including Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, who produced the album. Tracks like “Stop Messin’ Round” (Green) and “Can’t You See What You’re Doing To Me” (King) are fiery blues numbers, while soulful highlights include “Let Me Down Easy” and “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody” (Aretha Franklin). More
Genre: Blues

The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows (CD)

Damon Albarn
Damon Albarn moves in an exciting, evocative new direction on this latest, The Nearer The Fountain, More Pure The Stream Flows . Inspired by his new home in Iceland as well as by a book of poetry by John Clare he received from his mother, the album feels intimate and romantic, sourcing artistic vibes from inner as well as outer vistas. The orchestration is both epic and extraordinarily human, with lush strings, delicate bells, heady brass, and richly-voiced organ. There's a sense of coming in from the cold, of looking back on something lost, made all the more beautiful because of its temporality. An excellent album that reveals more and more of itself with each listen. More
Genre: Rock

Day/Night (CD)

Parcels
Dance-pop group Parcels’ second studio album Day/Night is a double album that expands their Bee Gees-influenced sound with catchy melodies and unabashedly retro arrangements. “Theworstthing” is a ballad with gently funky bass while “Somethinggreater” is light and melodic with a MGMT vibe, but it swells into something more anthemic in the repeated final chorus. “Free” is an instant earworm thanks to the strong vocals and catchy piano. These are well-written songs for fans of danceable indie pop with a strong ‘70s flair. More
Genre: Rock