Herzog has quietly been building a devoted following with their relentless take on guitar-driven, power-pop. Comparisons to '90s luminaries such as Built to Spill, Sebadoh, and Dinosaur Jr., abound -- apt and warranted -- but similarities with present-day bands like Diarrhea Planet, Thee Oh Sees and FIDLAR are equally appropriate. Boys by far its most ambitious, cohesive, and sonically diverse album to date. Thematically, Boys examines the inherent contradictions and ironies of being a working/struggling musician, what exactly keeps one motivated while apparently on a treadmill. From the doubled-vocaled, driving attack of ''Full Stick,'' the Thin Lizzy-style syncopated guitar solos of ''Boys Themes,'' and the Spector Wall of Sound on ''Satan Is Real,'' Herzog pledges allegiance to guitar rock in all its forms. Nods to the past are present, but Herzog is by all means in the here and now.
Levi Weaver Your Ghost Keeps Finding Me Rock Ridge Music
Levi Weaver is not the kind of artist who likes to sit still for very long. Weaver’s perpetual on-the-move lifestyle helps fuel the churn of the core concepts explored on his latest and most affecting album, Your Ghost Keeps Finding Me. Your Ghost tells intimate tales about young love, marriage, marital separation, introspection, mature love, marital reconciliation, and death – y’know: lighter fare. His tastes extend from classic country to modern singer-songwriters like Josh Ritter, to sonic adventurers like Radiohead and Arcade Fire. The bold palette of Your Ghost Keeps Finding Me spans the grand and hauntingly atmospheric “Pieces,” the invigorating pop-punk flavored “Song in My Branches,” and the breathtaking and poetically folky “Paddleboats.” It also features gorgeous contributions from Rachael Yamagata (“The Widow’s Song / The Widower’s Song”) and singer/songwriter Carina Round (“Pieces”).
LP Forever For Now Warner Bros
Anyone who’s ever seen LP live, or watched the much-viewed viral videos of her effervescent performances on which she accompanies herself on rocking ukulele, knows that’s completely how she is, whether she’s performing at L.A. clubs filled with rabid fans or making a breakthrough, buzz-building appearance at the Austin City Limits Festival. LP’s distinctive talents, both as a writer and performer, are brought to the fore on her debut album Forever For Now, which was produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Dave Matthews Band). Enlisting her favorite collaborators, including Isa Summers (Florence and the Machine), PJ Bianco, Billy Steinberg and Josh Alexander, she has struck an inspirational tone. Songs like “Heavenly Light,” “Tokyo Sunrise,” and “Into the Wild” are brightly hopeful… And Forever For Now is the work of an artist always expanding, always digging deeper.
Cherub Year Of The Caprese Columbia
Cherub - Nashville's own risqué, electro-pop duo consisting of Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber – are back with Year Of The Caprese. The pair has been heating up radio with their infectious viral hit "Doses & Mimosas." Kelley explains the inspiration behind the track's memorable hook: "We were buying champagne in the Beachside Liquor Store in Gulf Shores, Alabama and there was this dude in his mid-40's behind the counter. I'll never forget what he said, ‘I remember the days of 'pagne and caine!'" But "Doses & Mimosas" isn’t the only hit you’ll be hearing: Year Of The Caprese proves to be Cherub's boldest alignment of their diverse musical interests ranging from brash rock to playful pop to seductive R&B, highlighting Kelley's clever songcraft and Huber’s incredible live production. Together, the two capture the outrageous impulses of their youth while their studio expertise results in grooves so alluring that even your parents can dance to them.
Fresh & Onlys House of Spirits Mexican Summer
With tunefulness equally indebted to pastoral psychedelia, punchy new wave and hyper-literate proponents of lofty 80s pop, The Fresh & Onlys have been making a slow but steady rise towards Indie Rock Valhalla. With surreal nightmares, glistening pop tempered by sinister undertones and even unsettling experimentalism, The Fresh & Onlys' fifth album, House of Spirits is the San Francisco quartet's most focused and most experimental yet. The material gestated during vocalist Tim Cohen's isolated stay on an Arizonan horse ranch where he documented dreams in a bedside notebook. The resultant songs are by turns pristine, feverish, and bizarre, as they returned to Lucky Cat Studios in San Francisco with Phil Manley to recast the textures, leaps of logic and evocative character of Cohen's dreams into songs. The results are stunningly surreal and will stick with you throughout your waking hours… And beyond.
Devon Williams Gilding The Lily Slumberland Records
Devon Williams' shimmering pop combines his broad musical tastes with exceptional song-writing and arranging skill, and an unerring ear for melody - all of which are in ample evidence on Gilding The Lily. From album opener "Deep In The Back of Your Mind" through first single "Flowers" and the lushly romantic "Will You Let Go Of My Heart?" Williams has honed his trademark blend of power-pop, orchestrated soft-rock and layered, melodic jangle-pop to a perfect edge. The elegant "Games" is a great example of what Devon does best — complex emotions played against a driving pop tune that recalls The Church at their melancholic best. The aforementioned single "Flowers" is a masterpiece of orchestral texture, with rolling drums, chorused guitars and swelling synths backing a tune that hearkens back to the most delicate 60s soft-pop — while sounding totally of-the-minute.
Michael Sweet I'm Not Your Suicide Big3 Records
When you’ve fronted one of the most trailblazing groups of the MTV generation, filled arenas all the world over, said goodbye at the peak of it all, took stock in a thriving solo career, got the band back together for yet another record breaking run, then you undoubtedly have a story to share. But there’s still much more to Michael Sweet than selling over eight million albums in Stryper or singing and guitar slinging for Boston, including an equally riveting behind the scenes story packed to the brim with triumph, heartbreak and redemption that’s finally being told with unvarnished candor through not only the musical means of his new solo album, I’m Not Your Suicide, but also the immensely anticipated autobiography Honestly. Rock and Beatle-esque pop abound, and so do special guests like Dave Mustaine and WWE superstar Chris Jericho.
Big Smo Kuntry Livin' Warner Music Nashville
Big Smo, a.k.a. Hick Ross and Boss of the Stix, is back with his debut, Kuntry Livin’ – and it’s just the start of what's to come this year from this larger-than-life musician. Currently on the road playing shows and visiting radio stations across the country, the country ‘hick-hop’ artist is also starring in his own original A&E Network reality series that gives an exclusive look into his larger-than-life personality, his family, and the work it takes to become the world’s preeminent “Hick Hop” artist. Big Smo has developed a sound and genre all his own containing pulse-pounding beats, passionate vocals and electrifying guitars set to lyrical subject matter that’s pure back-country reality. Could a Duck Dynasty collabo be in the works? One can only hope… Until then, Kuntry Livin’ is your glimpse into a world you’ve only imagined. Alternate title suggestion: Big Hickin’.
Gold-Bears Dalliance Slumberland Records
Gold-Bears' second full-length, Dalliance, is a record about regret. It reminds you of that time you lied to your friend when you said you were too busy to hang out, but instead went to the bar alone. In the past two years since Gold-Bears released their debut album, ''Are You Falling In Love?'', main Bear Jeremy Underwood gathered a new crop of friends to carry out his fuzz-filled visions -- combining their noise-pop influences from forebears like Boyracer and The Wedding Present (who wrote the classic song that, no doubt, inspired the album’s title) with shades of the post-hardcore, emo and post-punk on which the band all cut their musical teeth. This not to say the Gold-Bears gave up impossibly catchy song-writing, just that their signature indie punk anthems are now even sharper, the guitars even more slashing, and the songs even more harrowing and heartfelt than ever.
Weatherbox Flies In All Directions Triple Crown
It has been five years since the release of Weatherbox’s last full-length album -- a lifetime for a young band in today’s of-the-moment culture. For Brian Warren – the creative force behind San Diego based Weatherbox – the years that lead up to and have followed the band’s first two albums have been anything but ordinary. A sordid history comprised of strained friendships, setbacks, and drug induced psychosis surround the narrative of a simple band forever ignoring every warning sign the cosmos hurls in their direction. Throughout these setbacks and existential detours however, Warren did carry on. Many of his demons traverse the landscape on Weatherbox’s third album, Flies In All Directions -- an eclectic, poignant and emotional triumph. In spite of Weatherbox’s twisted path (or perhaps because of it), Flies In All Directions ultimately succeeds in showcasing Warren’s eclectic songwriting and poetic lyricism. Produced by Ben Moore (Hot Snakes, Finch and Rocket From The Crypt).
Birdy Fire Within Atlantic
At long last, Birdy is back with Fire Within, -- the follow-up to her critically-acclaimed debut. Fire Within finds Birdy becoming a powerful singer/songwriter in her own right, having written/co-written all of the album’s 11 tracks. Here Birdy collaborates with some of the biggest names in the business including Ryan Tedder (Beyoncé), Dan Wilson (co-wrote and produced "Someone Like You" for Adele), Rich Costey (Muse, Arctic Monkeys, Sigur Rós) and Ben Lovett from Mumford & Sons (with whom she’s collaborated with in the past). She’s also worked with some amazing musicians including Rage Against the Machine bass player Timmy C, as well as Paul Jackson Jr. and Omar Hakim who both played on Daft Punk's album Random Access Memories. Fire Within also sees Birdy expanding on her already amazing musical abilities by taking on the role of guitarist in both the recording sessions and live performances.
Judith Owen Ebb & Flow Twanky Records
That Judith Owen's new album Ebb and Flow evokes the spirit of the halcyon days of the great 1970s troubadours is not accidental. In a set of potent songs about love and loss, pain and joy, dreams and despair, the Welsh singer-songwriter fearlessly explores the duality of the human condition - and to do justice to the songs she turned to the legendary musicians who created the seventies troubadour sound -- drummer Russ Kunkel, bassist Leland Sklar and guitarist Waddy Wachtel played on many of the landmark albums from the era by the likes of Carole King, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Jackson Browne… And Ebb and Flowunites them for the first time in 15 years. The songs on Ebb and Flow touch on the deepest emotions of Owen's own storied life with an unswerving honesty. But although her songs are highly personal, the emotions are universal.
Toumani Diabaté and Sidiki Diabaté Toumani & Sidiki Nonesuch
Mali’s Toumani Diabaté is widely recognized as the greatest living kora player. The Observer has deemed him “one of the world’s pre-eminent musicians in any genre.” Since recording the first solo kora album, in 1988, he has brought the instrument -- a 21-string African harp -- to the world with albums, tours, Grammy Awards and collaborations with the likes of Ali Farka Touré, Herbie Hancock, Damon Albarn and Björk, among others. Now he teams up with his eldest son, Sidiki, for the father-and-son recording Toumani & Sidiki, which TheGuardian calls “the finest Toumani collaboration since his classic work with Ali Farka Touré.” The repertoire is based on a combination of obscure, almost forgotten kora pieces and a new look at some Mandé classics from Mali. “We’re not going backwards, trying to play just how my father and grandfather did these songs,” says Toumani. “We have to do it our way.”
Various Artists Waterloo: ABBA's Greatest Hits - In A Classical Style Deutsche Grammophon
This past April was the 40th anniversary of ABBA’s conquering the Eurovision Song Contest with “Waterloo” – their first No. 1 single and the start to an incredible career. So, as a way of saying “Thank You For The Music,” comes Waterloo: ABBA’s Greatest Hits in a Classical Style. If there ever was pop music that would lend itself to Classical arrangements, then it's the symphonic, highly melodic, emotionally overwhelming and meticulously constructed classics of ABBA! Among those lending their talents to this celebration are composer and violinist Andre Rieu, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sofie von Otter, Michael Ball, and many more.
Isis Panopticon Ipecac
On Isis' third full-length, 2004’s Panopticon, the unblinking eye of counter-insurgency is exposed with mesmerizing stereophonic clarity. Ultra dynamic sound-design takes on the heightened dimensions of institutionally-induced anxiety, and the carefully constructed artifice of an omniscient predatory apparatus becomes the paradigm of surveillance culture. Meanwhile, panoptic cognizance, while ostensibly the outmost of all Orwellian implications, lends itself to far more insidious applications: Just as hidden crosshairs hold sway over every prison yard, to see everything is to know all. It’s heavy stuff – sonically and philosophically… Which is why Panopticon is often regarded as Isis’ finest album. Now, a decade later, Panopticon has been freshly remastered, given new artwork, a 12-page booklet, and the weight that comes with being a classic album – one whose examination of our burgeoning surveillance state still resonates loud, heavy, and clear.
Foxing The Albatross Triple Crown
If you’ve ever looked at an old document and noticed brown spots on it, what you are seeing are signs of aging. It’s not exactly clear what specifically causes them, but one day, the page will completely brown over and be no more. This is called foxing. A group of St. Louis musicians took this idea and turned it into a band. The Albatross has an epically beautiful, almost cinematic quality to it – something that the band members, some of whom were film students, are acutely aware of. Listening to their song “Rory” is not only an emotionally jarring experience but one that highlights the fact that Foxing have a bigger picture in mind than simply making music. It’s not just a sound, it’s a deeper, fuller concept fueled by a palpable sense of raw honesty and soul- bearing. It’s not just a band – it’s the most vulnerable parts of their lives, reflected back at them.
Gabriel Kahane The Ambassador Masterworks
Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane brings his diverse and extraordinary musical vision to his new album The Ambassador. From "Die Hard" to the architecture of Richard Neutra, from "Blade Runner" to the fiction of James M. Cain, from fires, riots and earthquakes to so many who look to Southern California as a panacea, The Ambassador draws its inspiration from a multitude of sources to tell stories against the backdrop of Los Angeles. On the title track, Kahane sings from the perspective of a doorman at the now-demolished Ambassador Hotel. In "Veda" he takes on the persona of James M. Cain's iconic protagonist, Mildred Pierce. Album centerpiece, "Empire Liquor Mart," Kahane sings from the perspective of Latasha Harlins, a fifteen-year-old African-American girl shot to death one year before the L.A. Riots in 1992. You might call The Ambassadora retrospective on the complexities of the City Of Angels.
The Shoe I'm Okay Community Music
Jena Malone (who you might know from The Hunger Gamesfilms) and Lem Jay Ignacio first met at a Christmas carol party at the Mandrake in Los Angeles, California in 2008. They ended up playing that night and meeting for the first time on stage. They performed “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” but Jena sang completely in scat-style gibberish and Lem Jay musically did not miss a beat. A unique musical friendship was born. Jena had built an instrument she called “The Shoe”, which was simply an old steamer trunk she dollied around with a plethora of electronic instruments inside. She brought it over to Lem Jay’s (himself a producer and musician) garage to jam soon after they met. Together, as The Shoe, they make music that’s loose, kinda effed up, and, like on their latest album, I’m Okay, heartbreaking and beautiful. A gloriously ramshackle treat.
Sylvan Esso was not meant to be a band. Rather, Amelia Meath had written a song called “Play It Right” and sung it with her trio Mountain Man. She’d met Nick Sanborn, an electronic producer working under the name Made of Oak, in passing on a shared bill in a small club somewhere. She asked him to scramble it, to render her work his way. He did the obligatory remix, but he sensed that there was something more important here than a one-time handoff: Of all the songs Sanborn had ever recast, this was the first time he felt he’d added to the raw material without subtracting from it, as though, across the unseen wires of online file exchange, he’d found his new collaborator without even looking. Sylvan Esso became a band. A year later, their self-titled debut—a collection of vivid addictions concerning suffering and love, darkness and deliverance—arrives as a necessary pop balm: An album stuffed with obliterating dubstep stutters and crisp electropop pulses, hazy electrostatic breezes and epinephrine dancefloor turnarounds all anchored by contagious melodies. Motion comes with melody. Words come with ideas. And above all, pop comes back with candor.
Sylvan Esso - Sylvan Esso Partisan
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