“Finding a new love sparked the creativity and songwriting that went into the making of No No No. Condon and his bandmates, bassist Paul Collins and drummer Nick Petree, worked on the new album in the fall of 2014, finally recording it in two weeks live in the studio. Last June, videos of Beirut playing several new songs at Brooklyn’s Northside Festival appeared online. One of them is ‘No No No,’ the title track to the nine-song collection. It’s a jaunty, syncopated, playful tune with a simple yet anthemic melody. The horn arrangements bring depth to the song’s spirited repetition. It’s undeniably Beirut — and a joyfully welcome return” – NPR.
Gary Clark Jr. – The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim CD/2xLP+MP3 (WB)
“On his 2012 major label debut, Gary Clark Jr. was hungry for all the music he could get his hands on. He rose up out of Austin as a certified bluesman and killer guitar player, sure, but Blak And Blu also pulled funk, soul, and molten garage rock under its wide roof. What that album lacked in cohesion it made up for in spirit and a whole pile of hot licks. Three years later, The Story Of Sonny Boy Slim smooths out some of that wayward fire, as Clark uses the album to comb through states of danger, frustration, and especially love.” – Consequence Of Sound
Duran Duran – Paper Gods CD/2xLP (WB)
Duran Duran’s 14th album includes an A-list of collaborators, including Nile Rodgers, Mark Ronson, Mr. Hudson, Janelle Monáe, John Frusciante, Kiesza, Lindsey Lohan and Davide Rossi. On title track “Paper Gods” (which features Mr Hudson) “the celebrated band’s sound is almost unrecognizable from the bouncing, guitar and synth hook-laden hits of their earlier years. And they’ve adopted a serious lyrical tone. It all sounds unlike any other Duran Duran song that came before it. Simon Le Bon blasts today’s celebrity-obsessed culture, singing: ‘Bleeding from paper cuts, money for headshots, fools leading, who needs it’” – Billboard. CD is available in Regular and Deluxe editions. Deluxe adds three bonus tracks.
Empress Of – Me CD/LP (XL)
Where her previous recordings worked in moody abstractions, layered soundscapes hinting at a voice deep under the surface, Me plays out like diary entries from one female voice musing on the personal, the political, and all the middle ground between. Bringing to life her unique blend of deeply personal yet incredibly celebratory dance music. “Empress Of is the alias of Lorely Rodriguez. Her debut EP consisted of shimmering synthpop, and now, she’s stepping up as an avant-R&B auteur with pop star potential. Her first proper LP, Me is not just Rodriguez’s most outwardly pop-focused work to date, but also her most restlessly experimental and lyrically raw.” [BNM] — Pitchfork
Craig Finn – Faith In The Future CD/LP+MP3 (Partisan)
Faith In The Future is the second solo album from Craig Finn. At times stark and spare, at other times vibrant and dynamic, the album is Finn’s most compelling collection thus far, each song a powerfully alluring and subtly nuanced composition wedded to his distinctive short story narratives, which owe as much to authors such as John Cheever and Raymond Carver as they do any rock influences. Most of the material on Faith In The Future was written several years ago, around the time Finn’s mother died, and while none of them directly address that loss, he insists the idea of transcending grief and finding redemption running through the album can be directly traced to that event.
Ben Folds – So There CD/2xLP+MP3 (New West)
Ben Folds takes a turn on his new album, So There. He embraces strings and chamber music yet still maintains a passion for his love of pop. The album consists of eight chamber pop songs with the very talented yMusic Ensemble and a 21-minute piano concerto performed with the Nashville Symphony. Ben Folds meeting and recording with yMusic became the bridge between the classically themed concerto and the contemporary chamber rock songs that live in harmony on So There. The combination is an inspired body of work on both small and grand scales. (Limited copies pressed on white vinyl.)
The Fresh & Onlys – The Early Years Anthology CD (Castle Face)
A very valuable release here from The Fresh & Onlys, compiling together top-notch early material. The Early Years Anthology is bursting at the seams with Bay Area DIY garage-punk fun, and is released with the assistance of John Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees) on his very own Castle Face label. Vinyl version dueSeptember 25.
Legendary Shack Shakers – Southern Surreal CD (Alternative Tentacles)
The infamous, explosive Southern wrecking crew The Legendary Shack Shakers are back with a brand new full-length titled The Southern Surreal. Their first release in five years, the album lands on the band’s 20th anniversary and is their Alternative Tentacles debut. The infamous, explosive Southern wrecking crew The Legendary Shack Shakers are back with a brand new full-length titled The Southern Surreal. Their first release in five years, the album lands on the band’s 20th anniversary and is their Alternative Tentacles debut. Vinyl version due October 9.
The Libertines – Anthems For Doomed Youth CD/LP (Harvest)
Anthems For Doomed Youth is the long-awaited follow-up to the band’s 2004 self-titled, second album. The Libertines was formed in London in 1997 by front men Carl Barât (vocals/guitar) and Pete Doherty (vocals/guitar). The band, centered on the songwriting partnership of Barât and Doherty, was part of the garage rock revival and spearheaded the movement in the UK. “A third Libertines album once seemed about as likely as a fifth Smiths LP. Like recovery, Anthems For Doomed Youth takes things one step at a time. It’s an absorbing listen front to back, rich with mood and gorgeous melodies.” – Pitchfork
Low – Ones And Sixes CD/2xLP+MP3 (Sub Pop)
“It’s one thing for Low to have made a rewarding career of sparse, dramatic, glacially paced music — for song after slow-moving song to have been constructed out of little more than crystalline guitar lines, minimal bass, maybe a few effects here and there, brushes of snare and the alternating or intertwined voices of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. It’s another to make those ingredients sound so incredibly dynamic; to spend 20-plus years making a dozen albums that each feel distinct, and that each introduce new ideas, twists and ways to wring drama out of the space between notes. Low’s unwillingness to repeat itself comes in especially handy on Ones And Sixes. Here, the palette feels magnified from the very first song: The tense thud and crackle of ‘Gentle,’ reminiscent of the unease that pervaded 2007’sDrums And Guns, announces that upfront. From there, Ones And Sixesbroadens to include sounds that feel as intimate as a whisper over pillows or as obtuse as transmissions from a faraway satellite. Sometimes, they’re intermingled.” – NPR
Micachu And The Shapes – Good Bad Happy Sad CD/LP+MP3 (Rough Trade)
Micachu And The Shapes’ return, three years after the release of their last record, is almost an accident: the trio of friends decided to rehearse in an East London studio, and found themselves immersed into an hours-long jam. Drummer Marc Bell had an Eiderol field recorder in hand, and unbeknownst to his bandmates, recorded the whole session; Bell, Mica Levi, and Raisa Khan were so enamored of those off-the-cuff audio experiments that they became the underpinnings of a new record. With one listen, it’s easy to see why. Good Sad Happy Bad maintains the avant-pop sensibility the band has brought to previous efforts, combining the lightness and bounce of their best singles with the sonic textures of field recordings, industrial effects alongside straightforward instrumentation.
Petite Noir – La Belle Est Vie / Life Is Beautiful CD/2xLP (Double Six/Domino)
Yannick Ilunga aka Petite Noir is half-Congolese, half-Angolan and was raised in South Africa. His four track debut, early 2015’s EP The King Of Anxiety, blended raw angular energy with bright African rhythms and subtle R&B into his alt guitar sound, and now La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful takes that sound to louder, more defiant places. It’s what Ilunga calls “Noirwave,” which is more of a concept than a specific sound. Inspired by innovators like Mos Def and Kanye and legends like Fela Kuti and Tabu Ley, Noirwave encompasses a “new African aesthetic,” plain and simple.
Shannon And The Clams – Gone By The Dawn CD/LP (Hardly Art)
For Gone By The Dawn, the Oakland trio hooked up with studio wizard and renaissance man Sonny Smith to record the album at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco. Best known as the driving force behind San Francisco’s beloved Sonny and the Sunsets, Smith uses his refreshing production techniques to create an engaging sonic landscape without compromising the Clams’ signature Lou Christie-meets-The Circle Jerks sound. The Clams have evolved: their skills are sharper, their chops are tighter and weirder and they’ve added new instruments to to the mix. A whole new dimension of the Clams has emerged. In the West everything is big. The mountains are towering, the rivers broad, the deserts vast, the canyons deep, and the emotions huge. The Clams have painted themselves into a massive landscape of sound and desolation. Gone By The Dawn is monumental; immense, magnificent, and unforgettable.
Superhumanoids – Do You Feel Ok? CD/LP+MP3 (Innovative Leisure)
Since their 2013 Innovative Leisure debut, Exhibitions, the L.A. trio sound like they’ve traveled 30 years forward. Whereas their first album elicited comparisons to artists from the 1980s, Do You Feel Ok? reflects the present in all the power and clarity possible with modern technology. The synths are phosphorescent. Lead singer Sarah Chernoff’s vocals are sleek, ethereal, and ignore gravitational limitations. With propulsive drum machines and feathery hooks, the band blends futuristic electronic textures with classic regard for songwriting. Superhumanoids are singular, but their grace at switching between dance music and rock recall similar hybrids, Darkside and Caribou.
Various Artists – MusicNOW: 10 Years CD (Brassland)
This 16 track compilation of live recordings features a who’s who of eclectic indie music today (Dirty Projectors, Andrew Bird, Grizzly Bear, Tinariwen, Tim Hecker, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy), including the only commercially available solo recordings from Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) and Justin Vernon (from Bon Iver, in a cover of a Sharon Van Etten song). It was curated by Bryce Dessner (a member of indie rock kingmakers The National) from a decade of performances at his MusicNOW festival which takes place annually in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Helen – The Original Faces LP (Kranky)
Released last week on CD – now available on vinyl. Helen is is comprised of Liz Harris (aka Grouper/vocals/lead guitar), Jed Bindeman (drums/tambourine), Scott Simmons (bass/guitar), and Helen (back-up vocals). Originally started with the intention of being a thrash band, it turned into something else entirely. The Original Faces was recorded over a period of several years in Portland by the band members, their friends Nick, Chris and, largely, Justin Higgins. Written together, some songs based on Liz and Scott’s demos.
Recently released on CD – now available on vinyl. Live and on record, the Tijuana Panthers are a great band. You could say garage, punk or surf while describing their sound, but they’re harder to pin than that. The truth is that they write classic songs that don’t depend on tropes from any genre. They craft perfect pop and deliver it with energy and immediacy. However, the real magic of this band is in their weirdness.
Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One [Reissue/1997] 2xLP+MP3 (Matador)
Back in print – repressed on 120gm vinyl with download. I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One expands the guitar-based pop of it’s predecessorElectr-O-Pura to encompass a variety of other music genres, including bossa nova, krautrock, and electronic music. Most of the songs on the album deal with melancholy emotions and range from short and fragile ballads to long and open-ended dissonance.
NEXT WEEK’S NEW RELEASES
DESTRUCTION UNIT – Negative Feedback Resistor CD/LP
GLEN HANSARD – Didn’t He Ramble CD
HECTA – Diet CD/LP
OUGHT – Sun Coming Down CD/LP
DAVE RAWLINGS MACHINE – Nashville Obsolete CD
TELEKINESIS – Ad Infinitum CD/LP
LANA DEL REY – Honeymoon CD/LP
BAIO (Vampire Weekend) – Names CD/LP
FRONT BOTTOMS – Back On Top CD/LP
LUCERO – All A Man Should Do CD/LP
BLACKALICIOUS – Imani CD
METRIC – Pagans In Vegas CD/LP
BATTLES – Ladidadi CD/LP
LEE RANALDO – Ambient Loop For Vancouver CD
SAY HI – Bleeders Digest CD
BOB MOSES – Days Gone By CD/LP
AIR WAVES – Parting Glances CD/LP
JOE ELY – Panhandle Rambler CD
VARIOUS – Daptone Gold II CD/LP
SKYLAR SPENCER – Prom King CD/LP
BOY – We Were Here CD/LP
HIBOU – Self-Titled CD/LP
LE BUTCHERETTES – Raw Youth CD/LP
RANDALL BRAMBLETT – Devil Music CD
MAC MILLER – GO:OD CD
DAVE and PHIL ALVIN – Lost CD/LP
CHRIS CORNELL – Higher Truth Deluxe CD
ROBERT DELONG – In The Cards CD/LP