MUSIC MILLENNIUM - OUTSIDE THE HEARD - MAY 2015

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Becca Stevens Band
Perfect Animal
Universal Music Classics
 
Perfect Animal marks a quantum musical leap for the North Carolina-bred, New York-based artist, Becca Stevens (and her titular band). It boasts her most personally-charged songwriting and her most urgent, impassioned singing to date, along with vivid, adventurous arrangements that show off her fiercely expressive guitar work and unexpected electronics – think St. Vincent with Appalachian harmonies.
 
Tim Berne's Snakeoil
You've Been Watching Me
ECM Records

 
You’ve Been Watching Me finds saxophonist-composer Tim Berne and his band, Snakeoil, expanding in both size and scope with the arrival of guitarist Ryan Ferreira, whose sound adds new textural allure. Snakeoil is still bracingly kinetic, but there is a new lyrical focus to the improvisations, leading to a dramatic, even cinematic experience in such tracks as “Embraceable Me.”
The Ballroom Thieves
A Wolf In The Doorway
Blue Corn Music

 
Having thus far released 2 well-embraced EPs, Boston’s Ballroom Thieves have readied their masterwork, A Wolf In The Doorway. Already lauded for their adept melding of roots, indie folk and pint’s worth of Celtic bombast, Ballroom Thieves push their sound further with an album's worth of new material wherein no two tracks sound the same, but represent a palpably confident identity.
 
Say Lou Lou
Lucid Dreaming
Cosmos Music

 
Swedish/Australian twin sisters of Say Lou Lou have made waves through the blogosphere for the last 2 years thanks to their consistently excellent dream pop. Lucid Dreaming makes the most out of their geography: the south-pacific psychedelics are in the blood (Their dad is The Church’s Steve Kilbey) and the perfect techno pop is all Sweden. It’s a Pure Pop vacation so seductive that you’ll never wanna come home.
Olivia Chaney
The Longest River
Nonesuch
 
On The Longest River, Olivia Chaney balances her stately, original folk with a selection of covers that she has newly arranged to illustrate the broad sweep of her taste. Says the New York Times: “Her voice holds the purity, tension, dignity and sorrow of a heritage full of songs about lost love and cruel fate. Ms. Chaney is thoroughly grounded in the past, from medieval music to [Joni] Mitchell. But in her quiet way, she's radical."
 
Songhoy Blues
Music in Exile
Atlantic

 
Hailing from the heart of Gao, on the banks of the Niger River, Oumar Touré and Aliou Touré grew up obsessed with hip-hop, R&B, The Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix. They found a kindred spirit in guitarist Garba Touré (son of Oumar Touré, percussionist in Ali Farka Touré’s band). When growing unrest in the north of Mali forced them into exile, they decided to turn crisis into opportunity by forming Songhoy Blues. Music In Exile is hypnotic, ecstatic, and funky record steeped in tradition, yet with an eye on the future… And just wait until you hear their take on “Jolene.” Produced by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs).
Action Bronson
Mr. Wonderful (Explicit)
Atlantic Urban

 
Action Bronson is a purveyor of delicious unexpectedness. Having already made his name with his own cooking show, Queens native’s verses are delivered with sharp wit, highbrow hilarity, and machine-gun recklessness Mr. Wonderful is the culmination of every ingredient that’s made his discography delectable and then some – blasting the MC’s colorful influences (which span Cam’ron’s “Purple Haze” to Hendrix’s) onto an otherwise tope rap game.
 
Everclear
Black Is The New Black
The End
 
Bombastic, hard-driving, generation-spanning rock n’ roll with instantly memorable, sharp-as-hell hooks propel Everclear’s new studio album, Black Is The New Black. Muscular but melodic, this is the sound of a band driven and united by singular, intense purpose. At an average of three-minutes each, the songs rip forward with palpable swagger, supercharged by a mix of autobiographical exorcism and narrative storytelling, from the gut and throat of Art Alexakis. No ballads. No nostalgia. No prisoners.
 
Tyondai Braxton
Hive1
Nonesuch
 
HIVE1 marks a new direction for Tyondai Braxton – an album of purely electronic music. HIVE1 draws from the mid-20th century avant-garde, a world inhabited by the likes of Varèse, Xenakis, Adams, Subotnick, and Stockhausen – along with the more contemporary examples of Florian Hecker, and Braxton's frequent collaborator Ben Vida. Where his last album, Central Market, was scored for a small army of strings, guitars, horns, kazoos, and singers, the music of HIVE1 derives from the abrasive textures and manipulation of organic and synthesized sounds.
 
Hinder
When The Smoke Clears
The End

 
The songs on When the Smoke Clears run the gamut from rowdy rock to subtle country influence to memorable pop hooks, all of which retain the distinct spirit of Hinder. That ability to walk the tightrope between genres, without a net, is something drummer Cody Hanson is proud of. "We can cross genres whenever we want," he said. "We've always been that way. Having the ability to do our own production, having our own studio, gives us a chance to experiment and try new things." Party!
Turnover
Peripheral Vision
Run For Cover

 
Virginia Beach’s Turnover has never been a band afraid of telling the truth, but on their sophomore LP, Peripheral Vision, the band treads into deeper water – an ethereal, reverb-drenched soundscape blending elements of hazy dream pop and the delicate emo. Songs like “Hello Euphoria” and “Like Slow Disappearing” highlight the new calmer, more subdued approach to songwriting, matched by Austin Getz’s somber, confessional lyrics that echo throughout songs as if his words were haunting every measure.
 
Elvis Depressedly
New Alhambra
Run For Cover
 
In many ways, New Alhambra is an auditory homage to what has shaped lead singer Mathew Lee Cothran’s life. Its title, as any hardcore pro-wrestling fan will recognize, credits the Philadelphia arena that birthed its most legendary and extreme version of it, and the use of samples from wrestling shows serve as a reference to his upbringing. New Alhambra is a fully texturized shift toward brightly melancholic noise-pop inspired by Cothran’s favorite unsung heroes such as Waterboys, Prefab Sprout and Emperor X, and in more conventional instances, Elliott Smith and Mac DeMarco.
 
Hiatus Kaiyote
Choose Your Weapon
Masterworks
 
Choose Your Weapon, the 18-track, 70-minute odyssey from the Melbourne, Australia’s Hiatus Kaiyote, takes listeners on a journey through the group's self-created ecosystem – populated with songs each embodying its own mini-cinematic sonic soundscape. The album is the hotly anticipated follow-up to their celebrated 2013 debut album Tawk Tomahawk, which was championed by Questlove, Erykah Badu, Pharrell and Prince, among others. Soulquarian Future Funk for fans of FlyLo, Kendrick, and D’angelo.
 
STS X RJD2
STS X RJD2
RJs Electrical Connections

 
You may not know the name STS at first glance, but you have surely heard him: his fingerprints are on Ciara's ''Oh'', The Roots How I Got Over, & tracks from Jill Scott to Jazzy Jeff and more. RJD2 the man behind the ''Mad Men'' theme, ''Ghostwriter,'' and many tracks on TV and film has likely crossed your ears as well. Together, the two formed a unit and cut a full-length album of beautiful, soulful, poetic, and fluid music that is both timeless, and like nothing else in rap today.
Avid Dancer
1st Bath
Grand Jury

 
1st Bath contains some of the most kaleidoscopic, distinctly individual – and above all, honest – pop music you’ll hear all year. Jacob Dillan Summers started Avid Dancer to express himself – and thus he does it all. During the songwriting process, he’d start with rhythms he’d create on percussion (he’s a champion drummer). This process ultimately gave his material a righteous rhythmic heft across the board – from the highly danceable “All the Other Girls” and the smoky torch-soul ballad “Stop Playing With My Heart,” to even the pedal-steel Americana of “Why Did I Leave You Behind?”
   
“We took our time to write this record, and I’m really glad we did,” says Brittany Howard, lead singer and guitarist of Alabama Shakes, about the band’s new album Sound & Color. “We were able to… explore all the things we wanted to on our first album… It’s even harder now when people ask, ‘What kind of band are you?’ I have no clue.” Rather than rest in “Southern Drag” purgatory, The Alabama Shakes find the perfect balance of RnB dynamism and “weird guitar band” only to burn it down and rise again as a powerful apparition that will haunt the pure analogue signal path that runs from your ears to your ass. Just check out the bluesy groove of “Shoegaze” or the garage-rock freak-out on “The Greatest” and the psychedelic space jam “Gemini.” Or the gently swaying, chiming title song opens the album with what Howard calls “more of a visual thing” then explodes into the urgent, tightly-coiled funk of “Don’t Wanna Fight.” Long instrumental intros and passages create hazy atmosphere, and then the intensity of Howard’s vocals snaps everything back into riveting focus. This isn’t dress up. This isn’t nostalgia. This is State of the Art Southern Soul that finds as much inspiration in the future as it does in the past. You need this.

Alabama Shakes -
Sound & Color

ATO Records
Wilder Mind is Mumford and Sons “Newport” – they looked around at what they had wrought and realized the only way forward was to go electric. It features twelve new tracks, written collaboratively by the band in London, Brooklyn, and Texas. A number of the new songs were written and demoed at Aaron Dessner’s (The National) garage studios in Brooklyn. “Towards the end of the Babel tour, we’d always play new songs during soundchecks, and none of them featured the banjo, or a kick-drum,” says Marcus Mumford. “And demoing with Aaron meant that, when we took a break, we knew it wasn’t going to involve acoustic instruments. We didn’t say: ‘No acoustic instruments.’ But I think all of us had this desire to shake it up. The songwriting hasn’t changed drastically; it was led more by a desire to not do the same thing again. Plus, we fell back in love with drums! It’s as simple as that.” There is a minimalist yet panoramic feel to Wilder Mind, whose sound Mumford describes as “a development, not a departure.” It came about by both accident, and by conscious decision. There’s also a little bit of Jersey in Wilder Mind, as specter of The Boss looms large over Marcus’s delivery. It’s still the powerful band so many people have come to know and love – except now they go to 11.

Mumford & Sons -
Wilder Mind

Glassnote
moremusic

The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. CIMS was founded in 1995; its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 47 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support.

Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in its community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.

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