Radiohead – The King of Limbs
Radiohead’s eighth record, The King of Limbs, represents a marked attempt to create a considered and cohesive unit of music that nonetheless sits somewhere outside of the spectrum of their previous full-length discography. And that’s not to say that it doesn’t ripple with the dazzling sonics or scenery that have become the band’s stock in trade, but just that, unlike so many of their milestones, there’s no abiding sense of a band defying all expectations in order to establish new precedents.
Instead, we get eight songs that feel mostly like small but natural evolutions of previously explored directions. Opener “Bloom” announces Radiohead’s return with a scattershot sequence of chewed-up drum loops and peeling horns that dissolve into a rhythmic tangle. “Morning Mr. Magpie” re-casts an old live acoustic ballad in a more anxious light, its once-sunny disposition frozen into an icy glare. With its crumbling guitar shapes and clattering, fizzing percussion work, “Little By Little” sounds dilapidated and rundown. Meanwhile, “Feral” contorts Yorke’s voice into a reverb-infused, James Blake-like wriggle that pings around the stereo channel against a mulched up drum pattern that sounds sharper than glass. Read the full review on Pitchfork
Mountain Goats – All Eternals Deck
While The Mountain Goats’ last album took us through Bible verses, “All Eternals Deck” takes listeners on a loose mystic journey, John Darnielle boldly mixing his personal relationships up with the mystical beginning, middle and end of Man.
There’s the origins of humankind in “Sourdoire Valley Song”, the Fall from grace with the snakes and Cars guitars of “Birth of Serpents” and, in between, the fighting-off our impending doom. The straight-forward rock of “Beautiful Gas Mask” does the latter best, having us rise from our knees and assuring “someone’s coming to reward us, wait and see.” Read the Full review on HitFix
The Sounds – Something to Die For The new album, the band’s first release since signing with kitchen-sink-punk label SideOneDummy, is not a celebration of everything that made the band’s first two albums excellent (danceable rock, sprinkled with synth, but raw enough to keep you interested). Instead, Something to Die For is a simple, uncomplicated step in the right direction. It is more a perfection of the sound they tried for when they crossed on Rubicon, with a few surprises here and there for good measure. “Better Off Dead,” while hardly representative of the rest of the album, is the band’s most adventurous song in years. “Diana,” with some surprisingly pronounced guitar work, feels like the foot-tapper that “4 Songs & a Fight” should have been. “The No No Song,” “Dance With the Devil,” and the title track are equally as addicting. Read the the full review on Sputnik Music
So you’ve all probably downloaded it by now – but i’m sure like us you’re wondering “Hey! When can i get my hands on a physical copy!?” Well… on April 4th, we’re gonna have both Vinyl and CD copies available. And if you pre-order now, you can save a few bucks. That’s pretty cool.
Here’s what the Telegraph had to say about the Album, which has received pretty much positive reviews across the board:
As the title somehow suggests, The King of Limbs has a percussive undertow, constructed on nervous, skittery rhythms that draw on North African and jazz sources, chopped and skewed by computer-era cut and paste sensibilities. For all their movement and agitation, the rhythm tracks are tip toe light, Phil Selway’s microbeats laterally tied to Colin Greenwood’s strolling, silvery, spacious basslines, the bottom end vibrating with sub sonic shudders. On top, Thom Yorke’s vocals float with sweet tunefulness.
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James Blake – James Blake
While the songs are the magnetic center here, Blake’s musicianship and sonics are equally striking. A “dubstep” producer with a gentle piano touch and an ear for granular synthesis so sharp it will make fleets of laptop toters envious, his toolkit is seamless. The two-part “Why Don’t You Call Me” / “I Mind”, for instance, opens with only voice and piano, played with the studied delicacy of a classical student. But Blake cuts it short 30 seconds in by splicing and resampling the piano line. He then bends his own voice and sings the lone verse twice, editing and re-shaping it into a new form that bears only the faintest resemblence to its opening source material. In the suite’s second half, the vocals become spinning smears that fall into the background. It’s the only time on the album where the drum clicks, static bursts, and piano splashes become the essential motion. It’s the type of track you might have heard on one of his recent EPs– the kind Blake purists lament this album’s supposed lack of. Read the full review on Pitchfork
The Strokes – Angles
Angles finds the band at times sounding very much like the Strokes of old, and other times, experimenting with its signature sound in familiar Strokes ways. For the former, look no further than “Under Cover Of Darkness,” a rollicking throwback to the leather-jacketed urban cool of Is This It by way of Steely Dan’s “Bodhisattva.” Or the snaky album opener “Machu Picchu,” where the intricately strummed riffs of guitarists Albert Hammond, Jr. and Nick Valensi interlock and explode over a faux-reggae shuffle with the precision of military movements. Then there’s “Games,” a synth-pop sparkler that initially sounds like an outtake from Julian Casablancas’ 2009 solo effort Phrazes For The Young. Read the full review on AVclub
Greenday – Awesome as Fuck
The album launches into the title track of Green Day’s last studio album and is a perfect start, with each note being hit with precision. The next two tracks are also off of “21st Century Breakdown”; “Know Your Enemy” and “East Jesus Nowhere”. Both tracks are pulled off well, Billie Joe knowing exactly how to rock an audience. Next up is “Holiday”, which was a pretty big hit a few years ago. Again, Green Day’s stunning live performance ensures that this is a great version of a modern punk classic. It mellows out a bit for “!Viva La Gloria!”, which is a beautiful track with an awesome piano introduction riff. Read the full review on Resonance UK
Mastodon – Live at the Aragon
For fans of Mastodon this DVD will surely be a delight. Finally, a pro shot DVD of an entire concert is available, with full quality sound and editing. This is something fans have been eagerly awaiting for a long time now.
Mastodon’s Previous DVD The Workhorse Chronicles featured a wealth of live content from various periods in their career but none on the scale and of the quality available here, its great to see the band on a large stage absolutely in control, fully confident and completely delivering on every promise their music made from as far back as the Lifesblood EP, this DVD is a perfect culmination of the hard work and dedication documented on their previous DVD and shows a band deservedly fulfilling their potential. Read the full review on King Crimson Prog
J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why
A large part of J Mascis’s genius is how well he distills that dull, brutal anxiety. His songs are never about partying, getting laid or smashing the state. If they’re about anything discernable, they’re almost always about being lonely, ruminating, waiting, and not getting what you want or even really knowing what that is. This frustration is most pronounced in teenagers, but it’s hardly irrelevant for anyone. Without the chaos of punk or the theatrics of FM rock, it shines like the North Star in the Arizona sky. Read the full review on Dusted
Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes
Wounded Rhymes is an album of stark, scintillating contrasts: between fantasy and reality, between the powerful and the vulnerable, between the brash and the quiet, between the rhythmic and the melodic. Audacious anthems jostle next to heartbreak ballads like “Unrequited Love”, with its simple guitar and shoo-wop backing vocals. Dense, busy numbers give way to emotionally and musically stripped tracks like “I Know Places”. “I’m your prostitute, you gon’ get some,” she sings on “Get Some”, a come-on so blunt that it’s become the talking point for this album. As a single, the song brazenly grabs your attention, but in the context of this album, alongside such forlorn songs, it becomes a desperate statement, disarmingly intimate in its role-playing implications but also uncomfortably eager to shed or adopt new identities to ensure a lover’s devotion. Read the full review on Pitchfork
Alexander / Awol One + Factor / Baseball Project / Anna Calvi / Devotchka / Dum Dum Girls / PJ Harvey / Scott Kempner / Middle Brother / Morning After Girls / Paper Cuts / Portugal The Man / Rural Alberta Advantage / Say Hi / Stateless / Lucinda Williams / Beady Eye / The Builders + The Butchers / Cut Copy / Gang Gang Dance / Mt. Eerie / REM / Rival Schools / Gil Scott-Heron + Jamie xx / Kurt Vile / Wye Oak
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna
Sparklehorse – Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot
Blue Magoos – Electric Comic Book + Psycedelic Lollipop
Kinks – Kinda Kinks
Ariel Pink – Doldrums + House Arrest
This Mortal Coil – It’ll End In Tears
Neil Young – Neil Young
REM – Collapse Into Now
For anyone wondering what Michael Stipe wants after all these years, Stipe has chosen R.E.M.’s 15th album as the place to run down his wish list. “I want Whitman proud!” he declares in the superb finale, “Blue.” “I want Patti Lee proud,” meaning old friend Patti Smith, who’s there in the studio making gorgeously guttural noises. “I want my brothers proud,” probably meaning Peter Buck and Mike Mills, who cut loose with a country-feedback guitar groove. “I want my sisters proud! I want me! I want it all! I want sensational, irresistible! This is my time, and I am thrilled to be alive!” And he sounds it. Read the full review on Rolling Stone
Jonny Greenwood – Norwegian Wood Original Soundtrack
Greenwood (formally noted for such scores as There Will be Blood) approaches the score with the same sincerity that Murakami writes with; there seems to be a genuine respect and appreciation among both Greenwood and Murakami, particularly heard on ‘And I’ll Come and See’, and it is beyond speculation to say either were informed in the participation of the other, but it is a complementary and successful partnership nonetheless. As the film follows Toru Watanabe through his nostalgic freshman university days, developing relationships with Naoko, a beautiful yet emotionally troubled women, and lively and outgoing Midori, the score evokes these themes of alienation and loneliness that Murakami plays with by the minimal instrumentation and obvious sorrow within most pieces that Greenwood creates. Murakami always seems to gamble with this idea of ‘spiritual emptiness’ within his generation and how, what he believes to be an apathetic and ‘weak-willed’ protest feeds into the work-dominated culture of Japan and its dehumanization of its people. Read the Full Review at Sound on Sight
Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Halo
“On tour, Lord of the Flies. Aw, hey kids, what’s a guuuii-taaaaar?” So begins the sharply titled “On Tour”, a spacious, diary-like explosion nestled just a few minutes into Smoke Ring for My Halo, Kurt Vile’s fourth and finest full-length to date. Strings buzz, strummed patterns double back on themselves and from up above it all, the Philadelphia-native showers everything with cosmic, harp-like harmonics. It’s a song that’s both monastic and vast all at once, the kind of curiously rich work that seems like it was crafted by forty longhairs instead of just one. But Vile has gone great lengths in answering his own question in recent years, finding a way to distill thousands of hours spent with classic American guitar music into one very singular and sublime vision. Whether he’s channeling the energies of John Fahey or Tom Petty or even Bob Seger, Smoke Ring makes clear that the end result is his alone. Read the review on Pitchfork
Lucinda Williams – Blessed
“Blessed,” one of the best albums she’s ever released, comes as a relief. Produced by Don Was (who produced Raitt’s “Nick of Time”), the dozen songs on the album tackle complicated emotions with a deft touch to create profoundly moving moments. Whether it’s the sense of loss in “Copenhagen,’ about the instance in which she learns about the death of a friend, or “To Be Loved,” a tender ballad that every mother should sing to her children before bedtime (“You weren’t born to be mistreated/You weren’t born to be misguided/You were born to be loved”), Williams’ writing on “Blessed” is seamless. Read the full review on LA Times
Mike Watt – Hyphenated Man
Musically, Hyphenated Man consists of short songs in a guitar-bass-drums configuration, similar to the Minutemen. In fact, Watt said he was inspired by the making of the Minutemen documentary We Jam Econo.
“I had to listen to Minutemen a lot while it was going on,” Watt said. “We drove around Pedro and I answered questions and showed them around and we listened to music.”
That process gave Watt an opportunity to revisit Minutemen music for the first time in 20 years. “I didn’t listen to it for a long time after D. Boon got killed. It made me sad,” Watt said. “But listening to it was, like, ‘Wow, this is kind of interesting, no filler.’”
For Hyphenated Man, Watt said he wrote the songs on guitar and then built bass lines around them. “Sometimes I’d do that with D. Boon, I’d write a little on guitar, and he would take it and make it real,” Watt said. “It’s just a different thing than coming from the bass straight off.” Read the full Interview on Recoil
Devotchka – 100 Lovers
Devotchka’s triumph on their new album is the increasing synthesis of their many influences. You don’t get to yell “Wheee! Mariachi!” on this first track (and really, do you want to do that anyhow?), but that doesn’t mean the band’s drifting into more radio-typical sounds. All the previous influences still present themselves throughout the album, but more seamlessly than before. Even a more exotic track (to US ears) like “The Common Good” sounds less like one tradition juxtaposed with another and more like, well, Devotchka. Read the full review on Pop Matters