Another Cudi and Kanye collaboration for the decades
Released a week after the highly anticipated "ye" and as the third album from the new G.O.O.D imprint, "Kids see Ghosts" is the first collaboration of Cudi and Kanye since their very public falling out. This album has all of the hallmarks of a Kid Cudi album: throwback samples beats that seem otherworldly and beautifully disturbing artwork (contributed this time by Takashi Murakami). It also is one of the better produced Kanye albums in a long time. Clocking in at 7 tracks, including a part two from the album "ye", this album is lyrically and musically stunning. I promise you will have it on repeat for a long time to come.
Aimee Mann churns out astonishingly hooky riffs in this start-to-finish gem. Between her droning, too-cool voice and her quietly brilliant lyrics, Mann's distinct voice is firmly planted in the driver's seat of this album. A talented lyricist as well as guitarist, Aimee Mann has accrued wide-ranging appeal with her cerebral lyrics and humorous tone. You'll sink into the melodies of I'm With Stupid like a comfortable couch, and her outstanding rhymes will compel you to check out more of her stuff. The opener, Long Shot, is impossible not to love, and it's a nice ride from there. Anyone who was an angsty teen in the 90s will remember track 4, You Could Make a Killing, from a particularly existential moment in the movie Cruel Intentions, but it's track 10, "That's Just What You Are" that rules the show. The song will speak to anyone who broke up with a narcissistic ex. Her backbeat-heavy jams are great for driving and studying. Put on your belly shirt and get those butterfly clips in your hair, and relive the 90s with this classic.
Imagine you are sitting in your favorite reading chair, next to a vast row of windows overlooking a rainy autumn day. There is a slight chill in the air. Everything is how you like it. That is where Agnes Obel takes you with her music. Her voice is smooth as honey coupled with her enchanting lyrics. As a whole, this album envelopes you into this sense of security and calm. I would recommend this to everyone. Especially people drawn to the mythical.
If you love jazz guitar but haven't heard of Julian Lage, do yourself the biggest favor ever and check him out! Technique, tone, taste, phrasing, etc etc etc, Lage has it in droves. I've played and taught guitar for almost 30 years and rarely has an album impressed me like Modern Lore has. Don't miss it!
Broken People is one of those albums that you can listen to endlessly on repeat. With a unique sound and great lyrics, Muddy Magnolias is definitely a band that warrants a listen. The album has a solid mix of slow bluesy numbers and some more upbeat alternative rock songs that you can easily add to your party playlist.
Chvrches' second album will drag you in and keep you there! At times playful and other times dark, Every Open Eye is a must, delivering track after track of rich, driving sound and thoughtful lyrics. Leader singer Lauren Mayberry (the "adorable Scottish elf-maiden," as I've heard her called) has a unique soft yet powerful voice that complements the synth sounds. Great stuff!
Firepower, the latest from Judas Priest, is an exceptional album which maintains their classic sound. Having listened to this album a few times, I can say there are no weak links - each song adds to the whole of the record. My favorites from this album are "Lightning Strike" and the title track. Definitely recommended for any fans of Priest or classic metal.
This is Bob Dylan at his best! Having just gone electric and pushing his "novelesque" lyrics further than before, he divided his fans and most were not happy. To please them, he decided to do his concerts half-acoustic/half-electric. For my money, the acoustic stuff is the winner. His harmonica playing goes off into long beautiful tangents that seep into your soul. Here he plays "crowd favorites" such as "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Visions of Johanna" and "It's All Over Now Baby Blue." The standout track for me is "Fourth Time Around" which I never dug until hearing this version. As for the Electric side, it rips like only The Band can rip. Between songs, the crowd boos and lightly cheers, prompting some to yell "Judas" at Dylan. If you wanted to hear Dylan at his best, this is the CD for you. Highly recommended!
If you like J-Pop (Japanese Pop) music, but are bored of the typical songs that you might hear in the genre, you should give BabyMetal a try. The band consists of three girls - Su-metal, Yuimetal and Moametal - who sing energetic pop lyrics to a mix of metal, electronic and rock music. The music is catchy and unique, and I guarantee that you'll find yourself humming their songs throughout your day.
I first stumbled across Spoon when their album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga came out. Spoon is one of those few bands where there is hardly a song from them I don't like. I love listening to an album and not having to reach for the "skip" button. Spoon is also a band that in my opinion has evolved their sound successfully with each new album. In Hot Thoughts there are a lot of sounds that haven't been in their previous albums (see songs "Pink Up" & "Us"). They continue to impress with catchy melodies and their unique songwriting.
Released in late 2014, Alpha Mike Foxtrot is truly a great collection for any Wilco fan. With a diverse selection of rare studio and live tracks, the box set is a pleasure from start to finish. There are some interesting covers ranging from artists like Big Star, Steely Dan and Neil Young - as well as totally different recordings of songs from Wilco's album releases.
A new Screaming Females record is always cause for celebration, and their new record All at Once, the sixth in their discography, is no different. Being one of indie rock's most consistent and hardest working acts since 2005, Screaming Females is a trio based out of New Jersey, fronted by the enigmatic Marissa Paternoster. Being 15 tracks in length and having nearly an hour running time, All at Once is one of Screaming Females most ambitious efforts. Stylistically, they play to their strengths of making hard-edged indie rock, but also get a bit more poppy with "I'll Make You Sorry" and experimental on "End Of My Bloodline." It's an album with a lot to dig into and a huge payoff in the amount of great songs that are on display here, which demand repeated listens. Stop sleeping on this band and spin this album as soon as possible.
Lately, I've been returning to the music of my youth, something people seem to do with their thirties on the horizon. When I was seven, my dad gave me my first boombox along with a few cassettes and CDs to call my own -the Sundays, the GoGos and the Bangles. I played these cassettes until the tape gave out or my sister, at the tender age of one, did what I had done to a few of my dad's cassettes: ripped the tape out. The Bangles were one of the go-to soundtracks of my childhood. I was drawn to the darker and deeper songs - "Bell Jar", "Something to Believe in", "Be With You", and "Watching the Sky." While that might say something about me, believe me when I say I knew that cassette back and forth. "In Your Room" was the breakout song off this album, but Everything is worth a full listen.
It's been five years since the release of Dessa's last album, Parts of Speech, which I still count as one of my favorite albums of all time. When I heard that Dessa was releasing a new album, I jumped at the chance to pre-order a copy. And I've been listening to nothing else since. Yes, it's that good. While Parts of Speech was introspective and sometimes sad, Chime is sharper, wiser, more honest and extremely timely. Dessa is a master at what she does, and uses every word and every note with precision and poise. Chime is a perfect example of Dessa's prowess, both with music and words.
Coming off the Grateful Dead's 1990 spring tour, you would think Jerry Garcia would want to take a break. Nope. Jerry just wasn't that guy. He got his other band together, traveled to Hawaii and laid it down. The energy is there, the vocals are what you'd hope for and all the band members easily display why Garcia wanted to share the stage with them. Though the setlist is fairly common for a Garcia Band outing, the songs have energy and none are just a walk-through version. Well worth the listen and a respectable addition to the Garcia canon of official releases.
by Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams (Composer) (1872 - 1958)
A Classic for Fans New and Old
Sir Adrian Boult conducts members of the London Symphony, the London Philharmonic, and the New Philharmonia orchestras in this 1991 collection of some of Ralph Vaughan Williams' most classic works. The album is equally enjoyable for newcomers to Vaughan Williams' repertoire and by those who consider him an old friend. It opens with the "Serenade to Music" (a remastering of the original 1987 recording), featuring soloists from the London Philharmonic. This single-movement work for a small orchestra perfectly captures the composer's aesthetic. It is followed by the three tradition movements of the Folk Song Suite (for orchestra), familiar to many from military band repertoire, performed here by members of the London Symphony. For many listeners, this is the most iconic of Vaughan Williams' music on this album--all the more for its size and unassuming nature. The four tracks that follow the Folk Song Suite are all single-movement tone poems: traditional in their musical language and ideas, but less so in form and development. They are also all remastered recordings from 1987. Of the four, the Norfolk Rhapsody and In the Fen Country are probably the least known to listeners. They have become more well-known in recent years, though they were considered obscure as recently as the late nineties. The Fantasia on Greensleeves is a perennial favorite and demonstrates well the composer's knowledge of old-world counterpoint. The final work, The Lark Ascending, differs from the other tone poems in that it is really a single-movement concerto for violin. The 1987 recording features Hugh Bean as the soloist. The delicacy and finesse of Vaughan William's violin writing are such that this album could end with nothing else, and it is immediately obvious upon listening why the piece has remained popular with audiences and soloists alike. Were I ever famous enough to be featured on the BBC's "Desert Island Discs," this collection would certainly make my list.
by Composer: Gustav Holst (Composer) (1874 - 1934)
A clear, cosmopolitan rendition of a classic
Sir Colin Davis and the London Symphony recorded this rendition of Holst's most famous work in 2002. While many less-wise conductors might have tried to somehow put their own stamp on this well-known suite, Davis instead opted for a more hands-off approach. He allows the music to speak for itself through the orchestra, and the London Symphony executes their rendition with the clarity and precision that have been their trademarks for quite a while. To both Davis and the orchestra, Holst's intentions in the music are crystal-clear and need little interpretation. Holst was an accomplished orchestrator and a listener can hear through the recording that the music is a joy for the musicians to play, particularly in the fourth movement. The level of sincerity that Holst achieves in the suite and that Davis and the LSO preserve throughout their rendition make this the Planets recording that I always come back to.
A Day to Remember returns with their 5th studio album, Common Courtesy, bringing back the signature musical style that put them on the map in the first place! With songs that feature both groove-inducing breakdowns and huge, catchy, pop-like choruses, this album is sure to please fans of the pop-punk genre, metal fans and then some due to its unique take on two completely different genres!
Released in 2009, the debut album by Karin Dreijer Andersson - one half of the now sadly defunct electronic duo The Knife - Fever Ray's self-titled album holds up to this day. Where Andersson's work with The Knife veered more towards dance music, this project under the Fever Ray moniker is a much more introspective, nocturnally gorgeous affair. Right from the get go with album opener "If I Had A Heart", with its icy synths and production, this album is ripe with introspection and captivating melodies. This quality remains through the duration of the record, taking listeners through a dark, beautiful listen that will reveal more and more textures with subsequent listens.
Jon Anderson's Olias of Sunhillow was one of my first forays into progressive rock at the age of 11. At first, it was really out there for me. I had never listened to a concept album before, but I was big into science-fiction/fantasy, so it naturally clicked with me. The concept of Olias of Sunhillow: after hearing a distress signal on a distant planet, Olias, the title character, sets to build a ship to rescue those in distress. "To The Runner" remains one of my favorite songs on the album, along with "Meeting (Garden of Gods)/ Sound Out the Galleon". This album might be an acquired taste, requiring multiple listens to discover that it's really a gem. But it's worth giving your full attention.