Recommended New Releases: Jackson Browne, Stevie Nicks, Weezer

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Jackson Browne – Standing in the Breach
It is a testament to Browne’s raw talent and longevity — he turns 66 on Thursday — that he releases his 14th studio album, Standing in the Breach, Tuesday. It’s a record that bears witness to a songwriter’s confusion about the world we’re living in, and yet, he remains resolute and hopeful.
He laments the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United and takes a shot at the absence of gun control — “They’ll sell a Glock 19 to just about anyone” — and most of all, he mourns the fact that America and the larger world are defined increasingly by have-nots getting crushed by haves.
“So many live in poverty,” he writes, “while others live as kings.”
And yet, Standing in the Breach is not without humor and an optimism that we can all do better. Despite everything that surrounds us, “If I could be anywhere right now,” Browne writes, “ I would be here.” Read the full review on Dallas News

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Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault
Serving as the follow-up to 2011’s In Your Dreams, the album was co-produced by Dave Stewart and Waddy Wachtel and features new recordings of previously unreleased material from Nicks’ storied career. “Most of these songs were written between 1969 and 1987,” Nicks described in a press release. “One was written in 1994 and one in 1995. I included them because they seemed to belong to this special group.” Stream the new album on Consequence of Sound

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Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright
Could their ninth studio album accurately be called Bluerton, some flawless hybrid of the band’s first two works? Not exactly. Cuomo isn’t the brooding, isolated man he was when he wrote “Say It Ain’t So” and “Across the Sea”. Yet in revisiting those times, in trying to get back in touch with that man, he and the rest of Weezer have created something that’s completely unique to their catalog, a record that tries its damnedest to feel alienated by the conflicts of the past, but discovers that it’s actually at peace with them. Read the full review on Consequence of Sound

Recommended New Releases – Alt-J, Tweedy, Leonard Cohen

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Alt-J – This Is all Yours
The otherworldly layers of vocal chants on “Intro” don’t so much set a tone for the album as they make a statement of off-kilter intent, flowing into the more intimate but nonetheless interesting “Arrival in Nara.” “Every Other Freckle” sees the band at their most lyrically provocative, as Joe Newman croons, “Turn you inside out and lick you like a crisp packet” with disturbing honesty. Single “Left Hand Free” is a high point, with its rapid-fire vocals and drums, while the Miley Cyrus sampling “Hunger of the Pine” intrigues and beguiles in its slow build. Read the full review on Under The Radar

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Tweedy – Sukierae
On these 20 songs, the younger Tweedy emerges as the kind of musician who actively challenges his old man. His playing is rooted in jazz, rock, and avant-garde, which means he doesn’t simply keep time and add a lot of fills—but he still defines the grain and texture of these songs. Spencer gives “Diamond Light, Pt. 1” its jittery gallop, “Low Key” its low-key hustle, “World Away” its classic rock rumble. Favoring what might be described as a strum—rolling across toms and kick drum in a rhythm that rocks toward and away from the beat—Spencer ensures his father’s pop melodies never sound settled or merely decorous. Instead, he conveys a jumpy paranoia, as though he and his dad expect to hear the worst news possible. Read the full review on Pitchfork

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Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems
Popular Problems, his 13th studio album, has everything of which a latter-day Cohen album is popularly known to be composed: the amelodic, magical croak of Cohen’s own finely aged voice; the hyper-melodic shine of his singers, who have become as integral to Cohen’s project as he himself; a loose, blurring approach to genre and tone. The album seems to be of the same make as 2012’s Old Ideas; both are relaxed in their dedication to definite genre, and both humbly display the wisdom one would expect from an icon like Cohen. Even their titles comprise the interlocking halves of some private mantra or joke, some defining force behind Cohen’s recent inspirations: “Old Ideas, Popular Problems.” The Old Ideas, still Popular Problems, seem to be the things Cohen has always written about: sex, god, art, mystery, society. Read the full review on Tiny Mix Tapes

Recommended New Releases – Allah Las, Shellac, Lia Ices

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Allah Las – Worship the Sun
Allah-Las are a bunch of quintessential surfer dudes from Los Angeles that met whilst working at the world famous Ameoba Records, bonding over a passion for classic vinyl and bands such as Love and The Zombies. Their first record was a trip; a breezy soundtrack for the back end of the Summer of 2012, and a very good debut and introduction to an interesting and captivating rock’n’roll band. Allah-Las has been played many times in my residence; I love their Beach Boys harmonies, their chilled out grooves, their clangy, duelling guitars that complement each other so well. And so the news of their follow up excited me. Read the full review

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Shellac – Dude Incredible
What to make of it all? Well, here’s the truth, writ plain and simple: Dude Incredible, the first Shellac outing in nearly a decade, is hitting stores and streets Sept. 16, and, on first and second and third blush, it is one of the trio’s finest outings to date, right up there with the brilliant moments on gems like At Action Park and 1,000 Hurts. Buy the fucking thing already and, trust me, you’ll want to hear this thing on vinyl, Skip. Read the full review on Pop Dose

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Lia Ices – Ices
It’s the third “sound” in three albums for Ices, a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who deserves to be more widely heard. A graduate of both NYU’s Tisch School for Experimental Theatre and Rada, her adventurous debut, Necima, recalled Regina Spektor, while the strange, sparse folk of Grown Unknown (2011) drew comparisons with St Vincent and Cat Power.
Holed up in her glass box on and off for two years with her “psychic twin brother Eliot” and their midi keyboards, guitars and computer, she has emerged with a style that carries faint echoes of La Roux and Tom Tom Club. Read the full review on The Telegraph

Recommended New Releases: Ryan Adams, Justin Townes Earle, Delta Spirit

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Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
Opener and recent single “Gimme Something Good” is a pretty good indicator of the spirit of Ryan Adams’ Class of 2014. With the Heartbreakers’ Benmont Tench onboard to navigate “Organ and piano weirdness”, it simmers, shimmies and shakes with Adams smashing his guitar like flint, frantically firing sparks out of the dark. It has all the bad ass, “Come get it” bubblegum attitude ofDamn the Torpedoes-era Petty with a determined, fist punching, “This ain’t over” firework chorus. It’s Adams rolling away the stone, climbin’ out of the cave, jonesin’ for salvation, “All my life been shakin’ / Wanting something.” Read the full review on Pop Matters

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Justin Townes Earle – Single Mothers
Single Mothers is Earle’s first record for Vagrant Records, his first as a sober man and a married man. Single Mothers is not an overtly happy record, though, as indicated by the title. Rather, it illustrates a shift in perspective in how Earle reconciles with his past—from his famous father’s abandonment to his own parallel substance abuse. He addresses his own upbringing on the title track with such poignancy as, “Absent father, oh, never offers, even a dollar / He doesn’t seem to be bothered / By the fact that he’s forfeited his right to his own, now / Absent father, is long gone now.” But Earle also digs back to his youth of listening to Billie Holiday, telling her story in his own heartbroken way on lead single “White Gardenias.” Read the full review on Paste Magazine

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Delta Spirit – Into the Wide
Into the Wide, the fourth LP from San Diego soulful folkers sounds nothing like Bon Iver. But like Justin Vernon’s opus, on this latest record, you hear a band that has struggled against the chains of genre and has managed to break utterly free. With their roots in classic Americana folk & soul, Delta Spirit have managed to craft a record that incorporates arena ready rock anthems, psychedelic textures, noise rock interludes, and the melancholic drama of classic country. They do all this without once becoming disjointed, and by the end, Into the Wide is handily one of the freshest and most exciting folk rock records of the 2010s. Read the full review on Baeble Music

Recommended New Releases – New Pornographers, Opeth, Ty Segall

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New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers

A.C. Newman has been quite forthcoming about his desire to write something immediate and upbeat after working past some difficult events in his life. And he did. Those neon tubes on the front cover don’t lie. Like the iridescent lettering, The New Pornographers are plugged in and lit up on their latest, filling in any spaces between their music with pep and speed. It’s not just a matter of the songs being faster, either (although they certainly are). It’s the arrangements that are fascinating, the studio tricks and ensemble mindset the band utilized to once more capture lightning in a bottle. Read the full review on Consequence of Sound

 

 

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Opeth – Pale Communion
Besides the juddering, growling riffs of ‘Cusp Of Eternity’ there is very little in the way of prototypically “metallic” or “heavy” riffs, which will undoubtedly irk some hopeful fans. The guitars do take a more restrained role throughout Pale Communion, cascading on ‘Eternal Rains Will Come’ and adding dramatic weight to the cinematic closer ‘Faith In Others’; a string-embellished epic which sounds as though it would have fit nicely on the debut of the Åkerfeldt/Wilson project Storm Corrosion. Instead, heaviness is found within the rhythms of drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot whose dexterous playing style is essential to the album’s grounding. Read the full review on The Quietus

 

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Ty Segall – Manipulator
Visconti, who produced David Bowie’s great 70s records, as well as T Rex, Iggy Pop and others, is a good reference point. Not only because of the glam stomp that appears on tracks such as The Faker, or because of the twin guitar lines, reminiscent of Thin Lizzy– another Visconti client – that occur throughout the record, but also because of the cleanliness of the production: Manipulator sounds like a 70s record in that every element is always audible; there’s no mastering everything louder than everything else. Every instrument has its place, and every instrument does its job: there’s nothing sloppy about Manipulator; it’s precise. Best of all, the songs are almost uniformly fantastic, and extraordinarily well sequenced. Read the full review on The Guardian

Recommended New Releases: Imogen Heap, Electric Wurms, FKA Twigs

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FKA Twigs – LP 1
Building on her co-produced debut EP with Tic and her Arca-produced EP2, the sound throughout is a crystalline jumble of splinters and shards, of stuttering drum machines cutting against arrhythmic clatter—metronomes winding down, car alarms bleating dully into the night. Her voice, the most awe-inspiring instrument on the album, flits between Auto-Tuned artifice and raw carnality. As an acrobat, she’s a natural, but she’s not afraid to lean on a little digital enhancement. One minute it’s a flash-frozen sigh; the next, it’s a melon-balled dollop of flesh. As futuristic as her music is, no single technology dominates. Elastic digital effects brush up against 808s, and icy synth stabs share space with acoustic bass. Read the full review on Pitchfork

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Imogen Heap – Sparks
In Sparks, Imogen Heap returns with her fourth solo album, three years in the making and possibly her most adventurous offering yet. With her track record for innovation in music, and especially for marrying human emotion with leading-edge technology beyond gimmickry, Heap sets her own bar high. On successive listens, it’s difficult not to be impressed with the results; there is such silkiness to Heap’s music that it can initially drape itself over you with its sheer conviviality. It’s a challenge to listen intently, to absorb the myriad strands she weaves together, so repeat exposure is both necessary and ultimately rewarding. Read the full review on Concequence of Sound

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Electric Wurms – Musik Die
It all began in the 70s when someone invented the right kind of acid that could make you fly! It seemed that everything was, at last, possible. And the overly optimistic freaks of the day began flying into outer space. They flew in spaceships that were, at first, made of futuristic super metal but before too long they didn’t even NEED ships. They BECAME the ships and they called themselves Electric Würms. I think because they became just bolts of electrified electricity that could penetrate wormholes in the far reaches of the unknown heaven.

And before they died they sent back to earth beings a sonic bible of discoveries and failures. It was, until now, a strange unsolvable mystery of frequencies and rhythms. Two groups of determined musicians and weirdo thinkers set forth to decipher its message. Two members of The Flaming Lips (Steven and Wayne) and four members of Linear Downfall (Charlee, Chance, Doom and Will) were the chosen ones. Read the full review on Bella Union.

Recommended New Releases: Jenny Lewis, Tom Petty, Shabazz Palaces

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Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
The vibe is unabashedly ’70s California — the confessional songs and country-tinged melodies of the Laurel Canyon era merged with Fleetwood Mac’s gleaming but tortured pop-rock. Lewis’ pristine, at times deceptively childlike voice channels a series of life-shaking events. “Head Underwater” chronicles a breakdown in a bouncy tune supported by wordless backing vocals. There’s a hint of hope as the song winds down, but at a steep price. “She’s Not Me” is equally transparent about a breakup: “Remember the night I destroyed it all/ When I told you I cheated/ And you punched through the drywall.” Read the full review at Chicago Tribune

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Tom Petty – Hypnotic Eye
A modern throwback, Hypnotic Eye recalls the band’s early Shelter Records releases. After the heavy-handed blues of Mojo, Hypnotic Eye is unabashed rock ‘n’ roll. The charging “Forgotten Man” is classic Petty. Even with its sense of purpose made clear, there is no urgency on the part of the Heartbreakers. Unhurried playing on the organic jam “Faultlines” and the Spanish-inflected meditation “Sins of My Youth” highlight the cohesiveness of the band. Read the full review on Pop Matters

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Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majesty
Rather than mining Black Up’s fertile retrofuturist boom-bap further, Ish and Tendai have since decamped to parts unknown. The duo’s latest album Lese Majesty boasts 18 songs grouped into seven suites, with a subtle science fiction theme. If that sounds a bit Close to the Edge, get used to it. Lese Majesty aims to free the group’s songwriting apparatus from its trademark purposefulness, to chart a course that zags where earlier work zoomed. While the opening suite “The Phasing Shift” leads with three straight cuts in the spirit and form of Black Up, the record doesn’t stay in one place for long. From the moment “They Come in Gold” fades into the undulating drone of “Solemn Swears”, it’s clear that, for the duo, space is the place. Read the full review on Pitchfork

Recommended New Releases: Trampled By Turtles, Morrissey, Reigning Sound

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Trampled By Turtles – Wild Animals
The bluegrass-based Minnesota folk-rock band Trampled By Turtles knows how to play at extreme speeds, to the point where its careening compositions can seem downright unhinged. But its last two records, 2012’s Stars and Satellites and the new Wild Animals, mostly move at a deliberate, even graceful pace. In tracks like “Hollow,” Wild Animals even works up a hint of The Low Anthem’s echo-chamber spookiness — a far cry from the fiery freneticism of Trampled by Turtles’ live performances. Listen to the whole album at NPR

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Morrissey – World Peace is none of your business
Gusts of electronic noise blow through the songs, a didgeridoo groans mournfully, the drumming is sometimes coated with a layer of fuzz and often collapses into lugubrious stamping, and the guitars seem to spend as much time clanking, humming and shrieking with feedback as they do being played; when they are, they’re often distorted to the point at which they sound decayed. Grumbling noise and a cacophony of screams, feedback and atonal honking sax bookend even the most melodically beautiful track, the showtune-like I’m Not a Man, on which the singer explains at length that he doesn’t conform to standard macho stereotypes. Clearly this is all going to come as a massive shock to anyone who was expecting Morrissey to turn up at the next Tough Mudder race dressed as the Incredible Hulk. Read the full review on The Guardian

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Reigning Sound – Shattered
There aren’t many new elements to Shattered as compared to earlier Reigning Sound releases, but it marks a decided shift in how those elements are employed. Recorded in Daptone’s studio in Brooklyn rather than on Cartwright’s home turf of Memphis, and with a relatively new roster, the album is loose, flowing, and at times downright funky. Ironically, it sounds more like a vintage, Stax-era production than anything Reigning Sound ever did back home. “Baby, It’s Too Late” smothers itself in earthy organ, ventilated by stinging, Steve Cropper-esque licks. “North Cackalacky Girl” is a mod-R&B rave-up with only a tinge of punk ruggedness. For a band that titled its 2004 album Too Much Guitar, there’s a noticeable subjugation of that instrument; Cartwright’s riffs are cleaner, sharper, and more sparingly applied, and they punch harder thanks to that tasteful dynamic. Read the full review on Pitchfork

Recommended New Releases – Wolves In The Throne Room, Sia, Judas Priest

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Wolves In The Throne Room – Celestite
Its filmic, grandiose textures recall Eno and Glass in equal measure and, to be fair to the Weavers, what they lack in originality here they make up for in commitment. A huge amount of work has clearly gone into making this track alone a detailed, in-depth work of artistic expression from the pair. When it would have been easy for them to just turn in a half-baked set of Seventies electronica tributes, Wolves in the Throne Room have just about managed to give these five tracks enough of their own character, mainly through sheer attention to detail. Read the full review on Drowned In Sound

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Sia – 1000 Forms of Fear
1000 Forms of Fear seems pitched like a comeback, channeling the darkness Sia has found in fame, addiction, and personal loss in recent years into a batch of crescendoing power anthems that find her both wallowing in and overcoming a variety of setbacks. Lead single “Chandelier” epitomizes the album’s gray area between total despair and something that sounds like hope. Opening with the line “Party girls don’t get hurt” sung over a finger-snap beat and a hollow-sounding marimba line, the song builds to a hook that juxtaposes a triumphant melody with an ominous lyric capturing the wild abandon of an alcoholic about to hit rock bottom. Read the full review on Slant Magazine

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Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
Redeemer of Souls quells all fears. This is Judas Priest as they haven’t been heard in nearly 25 years; not since Painkiller has the band had this much power, this much energy, or this many hooks.

“Dragonaut” opens the album with a catchy, sing-along style, more reminiscent of their mid-‘80s pop charting era than anything they’ve done since Rob Halford’s return to vocal duties in 2003. This is far from the only song on Redeemer of Souls to draw on styles and themes from their extensive back catalog. In many ways, the album serves as a reclamation of those things that were always at the heart of Judas Priest’s music, even when buried under the heavy progressive fog on Nostradamus or the sequenced sheen of Turbo. This is a band where melodies, hooks and sing-along choruses are key. Read the full review on Pop Matters

Recommended New Releases: A sunny Day in Glasgow, Phish, Mastodon

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A Sunny Day in Glasgow – Sea When Absent
This is an album that strikes a careful balance between pop and free-wheeling experimentation, but manages to make itself seem unwieldy just the same. But unlike the voluminous unwieldiness of their double album Ashes Grammar, the chaos here is an illusion. The record is a wonder of meticulous technical mastery, never overtly coming on to the listener even as it’s slamming two tons of soaring dream-pop dope into their veins. The wordless hypnagogic chorus of “Boys Turn Into Girls,” with its M83’ed guitar-ringing, plays as exultant as it does a woven-in, slap-happy little portrait of exultation. It’s one of the many moments here that frame that time-honored tradition of existential release (I always picture Björk on her mountaintop in the “Joga” video) with a playful sort of distance. Not to say the emotions are remote, but they seem to be expertly cognizant of their potential banality, as the swarming textures around them refuse to linger for more than several seconds (even the savory quickfix of “Double Dutch” trails off to the sound of vocalist Jen Goma laughing hysterically at the pitched-down sound of herself coughing). The most significant emotional heft that emerges from this antsyness is less of longing or love and more of a celebratory sort of defiance. Read the full review on Tiny Mix Tapes

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Phish – Fuego
On Fuego, Phish’s first studio release since 2009, fans should prepare to hear a slightly different band than the one they’re used to.It’s the sound of Phish filtered through the mind of producer Bob Ezrin—a guy who spent the 1970s refining Alice Cooper’s classic cuts, as both his songwriting partner and producer. Ezrin also shares production credit on records by Kiss, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd. All of those bands—and even albums — may have taken their turn influencing Phish, but Ezrin’s commercial production style has hardly been present, at this level, on anything the Vermont foursome have previously authorized. On Fuego, such production is impossible to escape.Which is to say that it’s Ezrin’s album as much as it is Phish’s. Read the full review on Relix

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Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun
Full of ghosts and scars, Once More ’Round The Sun couldn’t be further from Mastodon’s last full-length, 2011’s The Hunter. Instead of a grab-bag of tracks, the new album is a return to the conceptual template the group once exclusively used. Here, the thematic arc doesn’t overshadow the material or even draw attention to itself. Songs like “High Road” and “Feast Your Eyes” combine the liquid riffs and needling hooks of guitarists Bill Kelliher and Brent Hinds into sleek, anthemic weaponry, all while effortlessly navigating sky-high melodies and complex rhythms. Read the full review on AVClub