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COURTNEY BARNETTTELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL (WB) (DLCD)Released Friday, May 18, 2018
Price: $17.99 (sale priced)Rock & Pop
Many of the songs on Tell Me How You Really Feel, out May 18th, deal with soul-searching, though Barnett has a hard time defining it. 'I didn't have a clear direction,' she says. 'I just tried to figure some things out and it kind of turned into something bigger.' She was working on the album's songs before she recorded her collaborative 2017 album with Kurt Vile, Lotta Sea Lice, and by her estimation she kept distracting herself from writing with other projects. In the time since she released Sometimes I Sit, she was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, a Brit Award and a couple ARIAs (a Grammy equivalent in her native Australia). 'There was some pressure from that stuff, but I think a lot of my motivation was just my own pressure from myself,' she says. 'I just tried to ignore the other aspects. I just wanted to make an interesting album for myself.'


JOE BONAMASSABRITISH BLUES EXPLOSION LIVEReleased Friday, May 18, 2018
Price: $16.99 (sale priced)Blues
Joe Bonamassa releases yet another live CD! This is from the July 2016 show at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, London, at which this reviewer was lucky enough to be present.As the title suggests, this is a salute to the Brit blues heroes, featuring the unbelievable music of Clapton/Cream (Mainline Florida/SWALBR ), Jeff Beck (opener Becks Bolero/Rice Pudding) and Jimmy Page (Tea For One/I Cant Quit You). The solos were long and fantastic, whereas the backing from Michael Rhodes on bass, Reese Wynans on keys, Russ Irwin on guitars and keyboards and an outstanding, super energized Anton Fig on drums whose mastery of his kit brought to a spellbinding climax the initial proceedings with a dynamic solo in Led Zeppelins How Many Times, but possibly also some of the audience as well. John Mayall, the Grandfather of British Blues, doesnt escape the Bonamassa touch either, with a blistering cover of Double Crossing Time, segueing brilliantly into Motherless Children, which brings CD1 to a close.Disc 2 kicks off with Creams SWLABR, quickly followed by Zeps Tea For One, a personal favorite. Yet again, JoeBo has nailed it, terrific throughout, impossible to select favorite tracks, just sit back, turn up the volume and enjoy, whichever format you choose.


LEON BRIDGESGOOD THINGReleased Friday, May 04, 2018
Price: $12.99 (sale priced)Soul - Funk - R & B
Bridges sophomore album, Good Thing (Columbia), is his way of changing the narrative.And Forgive You could quickly establish him as a pop star. With help from Justin Tranter, the go-to collaborator for everyone from Selena Gomez to 5 Seconds of Summer, Bridges taps into his inner Bruno Mars more classic Grenade, than 80s-obsessed Finesse to create a simple, sweet midtempo love song.Bridges, however, doesnt want to trade one cultural box for another. On Good Thing, he doesnt stick with one style for very long, resulting in a jumble of styles only held together by his warm, powerful voice.He is still most effective in retro-soul, moving from a gorgeous Smokey Robinson-esque falsetto to a Marvin Gaye-like full voice with Daptone trimmings in Bet Aint Worth the Hand. And the wrenching closer Georgia to Texas, with its jazzy saxophone and drum fills, shows how much stronger Bridges lyric writing has gotten since his debut.Where things get a little dodgy is when Bridges stretches into the club. He sounds like hes rushing to keep up with the disco groove on If It Feels Good, Then It Must Be and the Ooh baby, ahh baby chorus of the Daft Punky You Dont Know just feels forced.


CHVRCHESLOVE IS DEADReleased Friday, May 25, 2018
Price: $10.99 (sale priced)Rock & Pop
Which brings us to Chvrches, the scene-defining avatar for indie rocks 2010s dalliance with synth-pop. They made their entry into the mass consciousness in 2013, embodying a cultural shift from rock groups toying with synth-pop aesthetics (Passion Pit, Phoenix, MGMT) toward outright synth-pop acts with a rock bands sensibility and marketing plan. These kinds of projects seemed impossible to escape half a decade ago, but in hindsight, Chvrches stand out. When asked to name a synth-y indie band, they are likely the first one that comes to mind. Even Purity Ring, their closest competition as standard-bearers for the indie-goes-synth-pop sound the White Stripes to their Strokes, if you will sounded more than a little like Chvrches on their most recent LP, 2015s Another Eternity. They werent the only ones.Its easy to see why other groups would be attracted to Chvrches approach. On 2013s The Bones Of What You Believe, the Glasgow trio mustered all the anthem-writing skill theyd accumulated in their years with various depressive Scottish guitar bands and turned it loose on keyboards and drum machines. The result was soaring, sparkling pop music, tinted by melancholy but bright and approachable in execution.


J. COLEKODReleased Friday, April 20, 2018
Price: $12.99 (sale priced)Rap
J. Cole stands alongside even the games most prominent figures; somewhere along the line, he managed to secure a powerful and loyal fanbase; that same base helped propel the K.O.D. launch into an absolute event, lining entire city blocks for a chance at catching Coles latest offering. Its strange, given the ostensible bias against the rapper; how can someone so boring, corny, and self-righteous have withstood the test of time so effectively? By his own affirmation, his skills have played a pivotal role in ensuring his legacy. Yet there must be something more. One does not reach J. Coles commercial success on the strength of lyrical prowess alone.On the surface, it would appear theres a dichotomy at play. Old King Cole and the Kidz On Drugz. Many critics seem comfortable labelling Cole a proverbial cop at a house party, flicking on the lights during the apex; put the doobie down or suffer the consequences. To be fair, neither the album artwork nor title did much to dispel the narrative, with haunting imagery from Sixmau depicting a generation of slack-jawed fiends. Not to mention, his ongoing feud with the likes of Lil Pump and Smokepurpp, which is addressed on album closer 1985 (Intro To The Fall Off). Youd think a get off my lawn was imminent.


GLITCH MOBSEE WITHOUT EYESReleased Friday, May 04, 2018
Price: $7.99 (sale priced)Eletronica &Techno
The Glitch Mob have announced their first album in four years titled See Without Eyes. In addition to the LP, they have released the first single How Could This Be Wrong featuring Tula. The group have been pretty quiet over the past year or two after releasing their 2014 album Love, Death Immortality and then the remix LP the following year. They toured extensively all over the world, playing some of the biggest festivals along the way. That will continue with a world tour announced in 2018 as well. They have updated their Blade setup to Blade 2.0, working with Martin Phillips who has designed live set ups for the likes of Daft Punk, Kanye and others. The group specialize in style, slick and cool, which are inherently superficial (and ideally ancillary as opposed to central elements of a group's sound), and when they try and slow things down for more 'serious' or 'introspective' tracks, they seem less sure of how to fill the space. They have their moments (the crisp synth stabs that help close out 'Go Light' come to mind, and vocalist Ambre acquits herself well over some cool synth soloing on 'How Do I Get to Invincible'), but most will likely favour the album's more upbeat first half.


MAT KEARNEYCRAZYTALKReleased Friday, May 04, 2018
Price: $12.99Rock & Pop
Like a migrating bird, Eugene native Mat Kearney returns to the Northwest from his adopted hometown of Nashville every summer when the weather gets hot. Hes promising that his next album, Crazytalk, will add yet another element to his sound by incorporating beats and other components of electronic music into his singer-songwriter song structure.I think this one would be like a counterpart to my City of Black & White record, which is a very singer-songwriter record, Kearney says. I would say this is the modern twist on that record. So its, like, very song-oriented. Were sitting in a room with a guitar writing songs, and then the production is kind of experimental and different and maybe a little cooler than stuff Ive done.It started as, like: 'Lets make a great singer-songwriter record that has really interesting progressive production.' That was the goal. So its very song-driven, and there are a few more acoustic moments that are coming and there are a few more even of the kind of spoken-word-leaning moments. ... I feel like its the kind of record where you can sit down with guitar and play every song and they work. But weve dressed them up in a unique way.


RAY LAMONTAGNEPART OF THE LIGHTReleased Friday, May 18, 2018
Price: $12.99 (sale priced)Rock & Pop
After stepping into the tone zone with Dan Auerbach for 2014's unexpected rock breakout Supernova, enigmatic folk artist Ray LaMontagne recruited like-minded producer Jim James (of My Morning Jacket fame) for his next album.The result was Ouroboros a sprawling epic similar in style to Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon. Upon receiving the album, his longtime label, RCA Records, didn't know what to do with it what kind of modern major label artist releases a pseudo-concept album in 2016? So, it sat on the shelf for over a year; speaking with Rolling Stone upon the album's release, all he hoped was that 'the real music heads [would] get it.' They did. Ouroboros was a minor triumph for the oft-pigeonholed singer-songwriter, allowing him to spread his wings and move away from the Starbucks compilation-worthy sounds of his early career, if just for a little while. Now, sounding as assured as it gets, he returns with Part of the Light, a soft and sumptuous collection of self-produced songs recorded at his home studio that, while not as sonically or conceptually consistent as his last two albums, features some of the finest songs of his career.


PARQUET COURTSWIDE AWAKEReleased Friday, May 18, 2018
Price: $13.99 (sale priced)Rock & Pop
Parquet Courts seem ready to make a crossover bid: the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Denton quartet hired mega-producer Danger Mousethe man who turned the Black Keys into radio bait and CeeLo Green into a pop starand recorded thirteen of their hookiest songs ever. But the resulting album, Wide Awake! (Rough Trade, May 18), doesnt soften many of the bands edges. Danger Mouse bakes in his sonic trademarksstringy synths, spaghetti western guitar, and plenty of funkbut this is still a Parquet Courts record. Songs like Total Football have hip-moving basslines but dont sacrifice the bands snotty aggression or decidedly non-pop lyrics: Collectivism and autonomy are not mutually exclusive . . . F Tom Brady.Wide Awake! brings to mind another exclamation-mark album, the Clashs Sandinista!, which also used punk energy to explore a broad sonic palette. Parquet Courts, like the Clash before them, eschew genre purity to play with arrangements that would thrive both on dance floors and in mosh pits. In that sense, Wide Awake! isnt a crossover, its an expansion.


SHAKEY GRAVESCAN'T WAKE UPReleased Friday, May 04, 2018
Price: $10.99 (sale priced)Folk
Texas singer-songwriter Alejandro Rose-Garcia, who performs under the moniker Shakey Graves, is known for twangy, blues-rooted Americana that charms your socks off, the kind fit for dancing barefoot on a back porch in the southern heat. On Can't Wake Up, his fifth album, he gambles with the very formula that brought him fame. Armed with new instruments and a lifetime of dreams, he forgoes his boot-stomping, cheeky folk for a sound that fluctuates between finely-tuned rock and full-band pop. Alejandro Rose-Garcia pulls it off in large part due to his storytelling prowess; these songs would be welcoming, even enthralling, in any style.Last December, Rose-Garcia took to Twitter to hint at the change: 'Next album. New sound. Sell your suspenders.' While the message is apt in that straightforward folk is nowhere to be found on Can't Wake Up, it's best to keep the suspenders on for support given the amount of trekking through new soundscapes. It's a dense listen Rose-Garcia describes life lessons he's learned over the years and filters it through the hecticness and slight apprehension of films like Fantasia, Snow White and The Wizard of Oz but it floats like a dream.


SLEEPSCIENCESReleased Friday, April 20, 2018
Price: $12.99 (sale priced)Metal / Goth
After teasing new material a little over a year ago in the most Sleep way imaginable, The Sciences is here.When 'The Clarity' was released as a one-off single in 2014, NPR Music asked the band what a new Sleep record would sound like all these years later, especially given the rich evolution of both guitarist Matt Pike's High On Fire and bassist/vocalist Al Cisneros' Om. Their non-response was unhelpful, but not wrong: 'There is no preconceived idea of what the new material should be. It would be an amalgamated effort of decades of riff immersion.' So yeah, it sounds like Sleep. Rumbling riffs rolled up into your chosen weed metaphor, seeking enlightenment through repetition. 'Marijuanaut's Theme' and 'Giza Butler' have a little bit more of Holy Mountain's mean-mugged chug, where 'Sonic Titan' rides the stoner groove to a damn near psychedelic boogie. It's 'Antarcticans Thawed,' though, where Sleep captures what I experienced live at the 9:30 Club two summers ago, projecting and concentrating a hypnosis that expands universes.


SNOW PATROLWILDNESSReleased Friday, May 25, 2018
Price: $13.99 (sale priced)Rock & Pop