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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

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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.

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    Don’t forget to grab your copy of the new John Hiatt Album.

    CD $13.99

    LP $24.97

     

     

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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

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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

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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

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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

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    Lana Del Rey – Ultraviolence
    Her music positively drips with it. ‘Cruel World’, in opening the record, quickly has you realising why criticism of Del Rey’s vocal ability is largely redundant; her performances don’t need wide melodic range, or even straightforward emotional depth, as long as she’s able to keep up the sheer breadth of theatrics demonstrated on Ultraviolence. She veers between vulnerability and menace with a conviction largely missing from Born to Die, and then runs with it. She brings a tension to the title track that belies its glacial pacing. The vocal on ‘Fucked My Way Up to the Top’, especially, is so much more multi-faceted than the snark of the title suggests; it’s a tentative, almost whispered turn that spins aching sadness out of empathy where you’d expect coldness and detachment to prevail. Read the full review in Drowned In Sound

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    Antlers – Familiars
    The album’s great triumph – The Antlers’ great triumph – is the intelligence with which Silberman’s masterful lyricism is matched to its backdrops. The lackadaisical, dreamy “Director” has a warm, hazy guitar line that flickers in and out, smartly juxtaposed against words that lament a loss of control; at the climax, that discontent boils over into aggressive percussion. The piano and brass on the near-eight minute “Revisited” rise to the task of interpreting its raw wistfulness, as does a wandering guitar solo late on. Closer “Refuge” is scored through with a nagging sense that its relief from the record’s anxieties is bound to be short-lived; the horns are their own voice, less toeing the line between cautious optimism and gloomy resignation than frantically bouncing over it. Read the full review on The Line of Best Fit

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    Felice Brothers – Favorite Waitress
    Whereas 2011′s Celebration, Florida, their last LP, found the quintet indulging in electronic flourishes, spacey synthesizers, and drum machines, the band keeps the impulsive experimenting to a minimum on Favorite Waitress. It’s a return to their bare-bones roots music, marked right away with the acoustic strums and homey (albeit superfluous) recordings of dogs barking to kick off opener and highlight “Bird on Broken Wing”. On that track, which the band dedicates to the memory of Pete Seeger, Ian Felice’s warm, welcoming voice sings out, “Fare thee well my friend/ I’ll see you at the promised end/ Where the wind is laughter.” Read the full review on Consequence of Sound

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    Available 17th of June
    CD $12.49
    LP $20.99

    It’s asking a lot of an audience to listen to an entire album’s worth of new material almost two full months before release date (it comes out June 17), but it was an obvious treat for Gray’s adoring fans, who yelled their love for him so much during the show it felt like an adult version of a One Direction concert. And this came from both male and female members, leading to a very amusing moment as the affable Gray dedicated the tender ballad “Last Summer” to a male baritone voice who’d professed his love. “This is a romantic little song, especially for you,” he quipped. “I’ve just got to get the memory of those sweet, sultry nights out of my head.”

    The unusual format resulted in some unpolished points as Gray and mates performed, including one where he joked about having a “twin mic attack” before a brief false start on the new album’s “Beautiful Agony.” Behind Gray’s unassuming charm, though, those moments only added to the idea fans were seeing something special, a glimpse into the development of a show. Read about the show on The Hollywood Reporter

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    Jack White – Lazaretto
    When not channeling both key sounds, one or the other can usually be traced with ease. The bass-breaks and jerky-keys of opener “Three Women” play out between almost humorous lines of description (“Red, blonde and brunette… They must be getting something cause they come and see me every night”) alongside guitar work like some of Hendrix’s bluesiest blasts (“Red House”, “Here My Train A Comin’”), while the drums that keep his beat will always be reminiscent of Meg’s simple structures. Here, however, the outcome is something much deeper and more elaborate than similarly-styled White Stripes numbers. Read the full review on The Line of Best Fit

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    Tombs – Savage Gold
    Savage Gold betrays no indecision, from the production choices to the stunning execution. Working with American death metal demigod Erik Rutan in his St. Petersburg, Fla., recording studio, Tombs mostly mustered the heaviest elements of its sound—breakneck blast beats and high-stacked guitars, irascible screams and punishing repetition—for a cohesive, propulsive, and definitive statement. Tombs made the decision to keep it relatively simple on Savage Gold, and that mandate has reanimated the band for 57 extreme and urgent minutes. Read the full review on Pitchfork

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    First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
    This barely twenty-something duo manages to occupy a lyrical and musical space well beyond their years and place of origin. They tackle weighty subject matter with the allusive grace of road-weary veterans and not only are they conversant in Americana, but they seem intent to imbue it with a new pop sensibility. While The Lion’s Roar was an exercise in infectious melancholy, this time the sisters from suburban Stockholm appear eager for change and keen to move on. There’s heartbreak, loneliness and homesickness here, but the album’s subtext is restlessness. Read the full review on Exclaim