Aimee Mann churns out astonishingly hooky riffs in this start-to-finish gem. Between her droning, too-cool voice and her quietly brilliant lyrics, Mann's distinct voice is firmly planted in the driver's seat of this album. A talented lyricist as well as guitarist, Aimee Mann has accrued wide-ranging appeal with her cerebral lyrics and humorous tone. You'll sink into the melodies of I'm With Stupid like a comfortable couch, and her outstanding rhymes will compel you to check out more of her stuff. The opener, Long Shot, is impossible not to love, and it's a nice ride from there. Anyone who was an angsty teen in the 90s will remember track 4, You Could Make a Killing, from a particularly existential moment in the movie Cruel Intentions, but it's track 10, "That's Just What You Are" that rules the show. The song will speak to anyone who broke up with a narcissistic ex. Her backbeat-heavy jams are great for driving and studying. Put on your belly shirt and get those butterfly clips in your hair, and relive the 90s with this classic.
If you love jazz guitar but haven't heard of Julian Lage, do yourself the biggest favor ever and check him out! Technique, tone, taste, phrasing, etc etc etc, Lage has it in droves. I've played and taught guitar for almost 30 years and rarely has an album impressed me like Modern Lore has. Don't miss it!
Chvrches' second album will drag you in and keep you there! At times playful and other times dark, Every Open Eye is a must, delivering track after track of rich, driving sound and thoughtful lyrics. Leader singer Lauren Mayberry (the "adorable Scottish elf-maiden," as I've heard her called) has a unique soft yet powerful voice that complements the synth sounds. Great stuff!
Firepower, the latest from Judas Priest, is an exceptional album which maintains their classic sound. Having listened to this album a few times, I can say there are no weak links - each song adds to the whole of the record. My favorites from this album are "Lightning Strike" and the title track. Definitely recommended for any fans of Priest or classic metal.
This is Bob Dylan at his best! Having just gone electric and pushing his "novelesque" lyrics further than before, he divided his fans and most were not happy. To please them, he decided to do his concerts half-acoustic/half-electric. For my money, the acoustic stuff is the winner. His harmonica playing goes off into long beautiful tangents that seep into your soul. Here he plays "crowd favorites" such as "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Visions of Johanna" and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." The standout track for me is "Fourth Time Around" which I never dug until hearing this version. As for the Electric side, it rips like only The Band can rip. Between songs, the crowd boos and lightly cheers, prompting some to yell "Judas" at Dylan. If you wanted to hear Dylan at his best, this is the CD for you. Highly recommended!
If you like J-Pop (Japanese Pop) music, but are bored of the typical songs that you might hear in the genre, you should give BabyMetal a try. The band consists of three girls - Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal - who sing energetic pop lyrics to a mix of metal, electronic and rock music. The music is catchy and unique, and I guarantee that you'll find yourself humming their songs throughout your day.
I first stumbled across Spoon when their album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga came out. Spoon is one of those few bands where there is hardly a song from them I don't like. I love listening to an album and not having to reach for the "skip" button. Spoon is also a band that in my opinion has evolved their sound successfully with each new album. In Hot Thoughts there are a lot of sounds that haven't been in their previous albums (see songs "Pink Up" & "Us"). They continue to impress with catchy melodies and their unique songwriting.
Released in late 2014, Alpha Mike Foxtrot is truly a great collection for any Wilco fan. With a diverse selection of rare studio and live tracks, the box set is a pleasure from start to finish. There are some interesting covers ranging from artists like Big Star, Steely Dan and Neil Young - as well as totally different recordings of songs from Wilco's album releases.
A new Screaming Females record is always cause for celebration, and their new record All at Once, the sixth in their discography, is no different. Being one of indie rock's most consistent and hardest working acts since 2005, Screaming Females is a trio based out of New Jersey, fronted by the enigmatic Marissa Paternoster. Being 15 tracks in length and having nearly an hour running time, All at Once is one of Screaming Females most ambitious efforts. Stylistically, they play to their strengths of making hard-edged indie rock, but also get a bit more poppy with "I'll Make You Sorry" and experimental on "End Of My Bloodline." It's an album with a lot to dig into and a huge payoff in the amount of great songs that are on display here, which demand repeated listens. Stop sleeping on this band and spin this album as soon as possible.
A reissue of the remixed 1978 tapes, Days of Future Passed by The Moody Blues features great tracks such as "Nights in White Satin" and "The Day Begins." This 180g pressing features crystal clear audio and will sound fantastic on any player. Highly recommend this album and that you grab it now - before the price goes up! If you'd prefer a more original sound look for the repressing of the 1967 recording that was released at the same time as this one (or better yet, find an original pressing through us).
It's been five years since the release of Dessa's last album, Parts of Speech, which I still count as one of my favorite albums of all time. When I heard that Dessa was releasing a new album, I jumped at the chance to pre-order a copy. And I've been listening to nothing else since. Yes, it's that good. While Parts of Speech was introspective and sometimes sad, Chime is sharper, wiser, more honest and extremely timely. Dessa is a master at what she does, and uses every word and every note with precision and poise. Chime is a perfect example of Dessa's prowess, both with music and words.
Coming off the Grateful Dead's 1990 spring tour, you would think Jerry Garcia would want to take a break. Nope. Jerry just wasn't that guy. He got his other band together, traveled to Hawaii and laid it down. The energy is there, the vocals are what you'd hope for and all the band members easily display why Garcia wanted to share the stage with them. Though the setlist is fairly common for a Garcia Band outing, the songs have energy and none are just a walk-through version. Well worth the listen and a respectable addition to the Garcia canon of official releases.
A Day to Remember returns with their 5th studio album, Common Courtesy, bringing back the signature musical style that put them on the map in the first place! With songs that feature both groove-inducing breakdowns and huge, catchy, pop-like choruses, this album is sure to please fans of the pop-punk genre, metal fans and then some due to its unique take on two completely different genres!
Released in 2009, the debut album by Karin Dreijer Andersson - one half of the now sadly defunct electronic duo The Knife - Fever Ray's self-titled album holds up to this day. Where Andersson's work with The Knife veered more towards dance music, this project under the Fever Ray moniker is a much more introspective, nocturnally gorgeous affair. Right from the get go with album opener "If I Had A Heart", with its icy synths and production, this album is ripe with introspection and captivating melodies. This quality remains through the duration of the record, taking listeners through a dark, beautiful listen that will reveal more and more textures with subsequent listens.
Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow was one of my first forays into progressive rock at the age of 11. At first, it was really out there for me. I had never listened to a concept album before, but I was big into science-fiction/fantasy, so it naturally clicked with me. The concept of Olias of Sunhillow: after hearing a distress signal on a distant planet, Olias, the title character, sets to build a ship to rescue those in distress. "To The Runner" remains one of my favorite songs on the album, along with "Meeting (Garden of Gods)/ Sound Out the Galleon". This album might be an acquired taste, requiring multiple listens to discover that it's really a gem. But it's worth giving your full attention.
The Saga Continues is the first Wu joint released in three years and the first ever to not be produced by founding member RZA. Despite both of those facts, it is easily one of their best albums ever. Produced by RZA protg Mathematics, it has the rough, clipped sound of most other Wu albums but with a flow that is clearly Mathematics own. The lyricism is solid, the beats are fresh and if you had told me this album was recorded twenty years ago and then locked away-I would totally believe you. In an era of hip-hop where lots of golden age emcees are putting out new material that isn't always on par with their history-Wu-Tang stays relevant and true to who they are.
Lou Reed is most known for being the frontman of the legendary Velvet Underground, and after that, for the song "Walk on the Wild Side", which has been a staple of radio and commercials for years and has entered the English Language even for those unfamiliar with the song. But Reed was also an amazing musician and brilliant songwriter, and while none of his more famous songs are on this album, some critics consider this his finest work. If you read the liner notes, Reed suggests listening to the album in one sitting, as the songs tell a story that takes you through a year or so on the streets of New York, where you meet many memorable characters and get a feeling for what it's like to live in the city, among these people. Highly recommended.
In 1987, The Cure released their 7th Album, with 17 songs that balance all desires to dance, to sing loudly and dramatically, and to hide out for an hour. It starts out strong and heavy, mixes it up, then ends in fight, fight, fight. Listen to alone, or sing along with a friend.
Apart from a few tracks, this album was my introduction to the Gang of Four. Immediately, I was mesmerized. Tracks like "Damaged Goods" and "Not Great Men" just seem to march through your brain for days and weeks on end. If you break down the individual lyric parts of "Anthrax", you might think that either part on its own is amazing, but how do they fit together? The answer is brilliantly. The artwork on the outer sleeve and the inner sleeve are very clever subversive. This is definitely thinking person's punk. Musically, it's something you can bop your head along to, but if you sit back and take it all in as a whole, that's when the album becomes really rewarding.
Malaise blossoms into true beauty on Tyler, The Creator's 'Flower Boy'
What is Tyler, the Creator? It may almost be easier to pin down what he isn't. A hip-hop artist and leader of the collective Odd Future, fashion designer, TV show maker and an all-around provocateur, the 26-year-old renaissance man from Ladera Heights defies classification, which is exactly what he wants. When it comes to the bars he creates, Tyler has been just as impossible to describe. Ever since his debut mixtape 'Bastard', Tyler's lyrics have polarized due to graphic depictions of sexual violence, vulgarity and overall general mayhem which actually led to the artist being banned in the United Kingdom. This year, however, Tyler revealed a radically different side of himself with the lush, orchestral release of 'Flower Boy'. With his heart laid bare for many of the 14 tracks, Tyler disarms his audience with insights about finding yourself in your mid-20s, loving those who don't reciprocate and succumbing to the nostalgia of memory. Where horror-core imagery often shocked on previous albums, Tyler opts to gather listeners with relatable topics of ennui and loneliness. After the opening "Foreword", listeners are thrust into the teen years of Tyler with "Where This Flower Blooms". The track reflects on his days and nights sleeping on his grandma's floor, having Rent-A-Center employees coming to repossess furniture and working for meager tips at Starbucks. The track then shifts to the present where Tyler's current fame and status afford him material comforts but still leave him feeling hollow. Tyler spends a lot of this album looking back on the past as an inaccessible part of who we are. Despite the humbleness of his beginnings, there is a wistful quality to Tyler's remembrances on tracks like "November". Tyler spends time reminiscing about days spent skateboarding with the Odd Future crew, chilly, grey winter days in LA rocking Hawaiian shirts and people who are no longer part of his life, Tyler raps about driving back to a temporal space known as November. "Take me back, take me back to November..." Tyler repeats longingly in an almost Proust-like manner. On top of being more nuanced in its lyrical content, 'Flower Boy' is the most focused effort Tyler, the Creator has put out to date. Tyler trades in the frenzied energy of his previous releases for a more languid, R&B-influenced pace in the vein of Odd Future member, collaborator and friend Frank Ocean, who is also featured on multiple 'Flower Boy' tracks. With such a drastic shift in sound, Tyler, the Creator's 'Flower Boy' is an album for people who have hated Tyler's previous work. Rooted in a visceral pathos and beautiful musical arrangements, Tyler has made his most honest work to date. It's no shock that it's also his best album thus far. 'Flower Boy' is one of those "can't-miss" albums of 2017. Ask around for it at your local HPB.