This Month's Picks

Black Pumas (CD)

Black Pumas
Austin, Texas soulsters Black Pumas serve up luscious, psychedelic soul on their intriguing self-titled debut album. The band features the enviable talents of Grammy-winning guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout) and songwriter Eric Burton, who met Quesada in Austin after starting out in LA and busking his way across the country. Together, the two serve up fresh, urgent, ultra vibrant tunes that have been described as “Ghostface Killah and Motown in equal measure.” It’s a pretty apt summation of where Black Pumas draw inspiration from but their sound is 100% all their own. Few records this year sound as vital and important as this one. Crank it. More
Genre: Rock

Rise [Deluxe Edition] (CD)

Hollywood Vampires
Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, and Johnny Depp serve up their second album as the Hollywood Vampires, this time with mostly original songs. Cooper is at the helm for the most part and tracks like the opening stomper, “I Want My Now,” bear his obvious stamp. Perry lends heartfelt lead vocals to the Johnny Thunders song, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory,” and Depp impresses as the frontman for Bowie's “Heroes” and Jim Carroll's “People Who Died.” The single, “Who's Laughing Now,” is a fun, dark rocker with a chanting chorus and freewheeling guitar solos in the bridge, while “We Gotta Rise” is a bawdy drinking song mocking political rhetoric. More
Genre: Rock

Help Us Stranger (CD)

The Raconteurs
Finally back after a decade long hiatus, The Raconteurs are ready to roll with their third studio release, Help Us Stranger . The band's heady mix of rock and blues continues to flourish, this time with a touch of psychedelia (à la the Beatles-esque bridge in single "Sunday Driver") and a fuzzy cover of Donovan b-side "Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)" that nicely displays drummer Patrick Keeler's chops. Jack White and Brendan Benson's singing and songwriting skills continue to bounce off each other nicely, and with a set of tunes this strong it's obvious why Stranger is one of the more anticipated releases of the year. Welcome back, fellas. More
Genre: Rock

Turn Off The News (Build A Garden) (CD)

Lukas Nelson, Promise Of The Real
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real have a message on their latest, Turn Off the News (Build a Garden) . The likable title track implores listeners to do just that. Give people something to believe in. Endow your way of life with hope. It’s a standout moment on an album filled with top-notch tracks, with high-profile collaborators like Kesha, Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, and Lukas’ father, Willie. The younger Nelson has created a strong showcase for his songwriting chops, with songs that effortlessly segue from country to folk to rock to soul. Impassioned and brilliant, there’s lots to love about this album. More
Genre: Rock

Servants Of The Sun (CD)

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Chris Robinson Brotherhood starts their latest album, Servants of the Sun , on an uptempo note. The good times are rolling, with a few heart-worn ballads sprinkled into the mix. “Some Earthly Delights” starts the journey off with a psychedelic groove and “The Chauffeur’s Daughter” features ultra catchy licks with lyrics that feel like a future classic. Album closer “A Smiling Epitaph” is a stunner all on its own but it’s made even more poignant by the fact that the band has announced they’ll be taking a hiatus for an undisclosed period of time and that founding member Adam MacDougall has moved on from the CRB. Fortunately, this excellent LP should be in heavy rotation long enough to scratch the CRB itch for quite some time — Servants of the Sun is all killer, no filler. More
Genre: Rock

Oklahoma (CD)

Keb' Mo'
Keb Mo' teamed up with Oklahoma native songwriter Dara Tucker for his new album that explores that state's themes. Evoking the area's musical history, natural disasters, Native American relations and more, these blues-rock songs benefit from guest artists like Robert Randolph on the title track, Rosanne Cash - who excels on vocals in the powerful “Put A Woman In Charge” - and previous collaborator Taj Mahal. The latter adds further depth to “The Way I,” an emotional song about depression, and “Don't Throw It Away,” a timely plea to acknowledge environmental issues. Another highly relevant number, the gentle ballad “This Is My Home,” features vocals from Latin singer Jaci Velasquez addressing the immigrant experience.More
Genre: Blues

Erotic Reruns (CD)

Yeasayer
Yeasayer take on smooth AM Gold style rock on their sunny and slightly woozy new album, Erotic Reruns . The band fuses influences ranging from the expected indie pop to more off-the-wall psychedelia to krautrock on this smart collection of love-lorn numbers. It comes as no surprise, perhaps, based on the album’s title, that there’s also a playful rock ’n’ roll sleaziness to some of the band’s more sensually-oriented tunes — Yeasayer seems to be luxuriating in all the over-the-top-ness of the traditional rockstar persona while giving a knowing indie rock wink to their audience. It’s pure indie pop listening pleasure and pure fun. More
Genre: Rock

Paradise (CD)

The Mattson 2
Psych-jazz duo The Mattson 2 steps away from their high concept collaborations and reimagined covers for a new album of mellow, retro sunglasses-tinted jazz/indie pop, perfect for the summer. But don't let the easy-going vibes distract you from the twin brothers' impeccable chops – these tracks might be airy and hushed, augmented by sleepy synths on songs like “Wavelength,” but they're built on a foundation of virtuosic bass lines and drum fills. “Essence” is a highlight with its intriguing melody, hypnotic groove, and liquid guitar solos. Guitar even substitutes for a lead vocal on “Naima's Dream,” every bit as expressive and melodic as a human voice. More
Genre: Rock

Barriers (CD)

Frank Iero & The Future Violents
Frank Iero's third solo outing, this time backed by his band The Future Violents, is a biting, hooky punch in the gut. He sheds some of the emo tropes and excessive studio layers associated with his original band, My Chemical Romance, for a more direct and stripped down approach. Lead single "Young and Doomed" sounds like it could have been a surprise, nasty B-side off of Weezer's Pinkerton . More
Genre: Rock

Omoiyari (CD)

Kishi Bashi
The eclectic, shimmering Americana stylings of Kaoru Ishibashi, better known as Kishi Bashi, find deep rooting in his latest, Omoiyari . Ruminating on the internment of Japanese Americans by the U.S. government during the second World War, Ishibashi paints portraits of humanity in the face of oppression and adversity that reverberate thematically with many current events in this country today. Some songs are directly in reference to the internment camps, as in the bittersweet love song "Summer of '42," and "F Delano," a critique of then president Franklin Delano Roosevelt's decision to enact the internment of over 100,000 American citizens of Japanese descent, while others paint a more universal sense of the human condition. Though a potentially heavy listen, Ishibashi's inherent sense of wonder and empathy keep the album sparkling in texture, and swelling with symphonic grandeur, especially when playing his trademark multi-tracked fiddle. "A Song For You" brings to mind Andrew Bird with its folk rock whistling, and "Angeline" is a straight up indie-folk hit. More
Genre: Rock