Here are 5 albums that have been getting a lot of play in the store lately. It seems this year is off to a great start, with a variety of music that seems to be breaking a lot of the molds and shirking the popular trends. We hope these keep up, because we’re having a blast listening to it!

Damien Jurado – Visions Of Us On The Land
Damien Jurado returns, once again wearing his new hat as psych-folk troubadour. Visions Of Us On The Land is in keeping with 2012’s Maraqopa and 2014’s Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun, with their heavy use of backing instruments, spacey production and jammy, modal meandering. Visions… is by far his most “Pet Sounds” album to date. Even with all the layering and production, Jurado’s songs are still the driving force behind the overall emotional template of the songs. He may be toying with the character of charismatic psych-rock deity, but with his fragile voice and personal lyrics, he remains as sincere as he does on his earlier “singer-songwriter” albums.

Frankie Cosmos – Next Thing
We’re suckers for all things DIY, twee and saccharine pop. Greta Kline’s alter ego “Frankie Cosmos” is keeping the spirit of the early 2000s alive, drawing comparisons to bands like The Moldy Peaches, Mirah and The Mountain Goats, as well as predecessors like The Vaselines, Daniel Johnston and The Modern Lovers. Her voice is shy and under-stylized, giving a friendly slap in the face to anyone who tries so hard to sing like an American Idol winner, only to fall short, due to lack of personality and raw emotion. Frankie Cosmos is not the music for the winners of the world. These are anthems for the awkward and misunderstood, which we all have a little bit of deep in our souls.

Ashley Shadow – Felte
Ashley Shadow is no stranger to the world of music. She has lent her talents and voice to several recordings and projects, including The Pink Mountaintops, The Cave Singers and Bonnie Prince Billy. Felte is her debut album and it’s just as good as anything else she’s contributed to. It is clear that her style and musical sensibility is right in line with her past colaborators, drawing influence from folk and americana, as well as hints of classic rock and roll. Stylistically, it is similar to bands like Viva Voce, Arthur and Yu, Black Mountain and Mazzy Star, but there is a confidence in Ashley Webber’s voice that is all her own and makes for a strong debut. I look forward to hearing more from Webber, as the voice and creative force up front.

Suuns – Hold/Still
Suuns is part of what I consider one of the most exciting musical movements happening today. It may be too early to give any definitive definition or categorization, but along with contemporaries like A Place to Bury Strangers, Ought and Protomartyr, they are delivering dark, dissonant, driving tunes that are as catchy as they are jarring and at times, unpleasant. This movement is especially refreshing since trends over the last few years had been moving towards more forgettable white noise. Hold/Still doesn’t let you ignore anything. There’s an antagonistic nature to it that demands your attention. Once it has it, it rewards you with interesting melodies, infectious rhythms and haunting soundscapes. This is exactly the kind of album that lends itself to vinyl listening. It deserves more attention than just pressing a button.

Bitchin’ Bajas & Bonnie Prince Billy – Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties
When I first read about this album, they were labeling it as a “new age” project between Bajas and BPB. My initial thought was “Oh brother, what sort of ironic nonsense is this going to be?” I’ve been a fan of Bonnie Prince Billy for some time now, but I wouldn’t put it past him to come up with some wild concept that was maybe a little more tongue in cheek than his more sincere albums. However, he is one of the few artists that I will always give a fair listen to, because more times than not, I am pleasantly surprised and engaged with what he puts out. Epic Jammers is no exception. Although I wouldn’t categorize it as “new age” music, it is definitely ambient and strangely hypnotic. Where it may fall short of a “new age” classification is it’s sincerity and quaintness. The soundscapes are a mixture of synthesized, sweeping tones, arpeggiated acoustic instruments and a number of antiquated instruments, “found” objects and reed organs. While the music pulsates through the vast universe of sound, Will Oldham’s voice is the gravity and dark matter that holds it all together. It’s at times slightly out of place, yet always familiar and comforting. He has a Billie Holiday type quality to his voice that could “sing the phone book” as they say. There is life in his voice and it has never been so apparent as it is when it is left to fend for itself.