Easy Picks: Rock/Pop

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EL VY

EL VY

Return To The Moon

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EL VY (pronounced like a plural of Elvis; rhymes with ‘hell pie’) is the musical collaboration between Matt Berninger, vocalist and lyricist of The National, and Brent Knopf, the Portland musician and producer best known for his work in Menomena and his more recent band, Ramona Falls. Their debut album Return To The Moon will be released on October 30th via 4AD. The album is a project Berninger and Knopf have been thinking about for years. Their friendship spans nearly a decade, starting back when the National and Menomena played small half-empty clubs along America’s west coast. Feeling an immediate musical kinship, the pair kept in touch, Brent sending Matt occasional rough sketches of music and Matt responding with melodies and lyrics. Finally, in the winter and spring of 2014-15, they actually got together to make an album.
EL VY
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Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

1989

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Produced by Adams, the first news of this reinterpretation of 1989 was revealed last month on the Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter's Instagram (misterryanadams) with the post ''Taylor Swift 1989 full album cover night 1. As played by the Smiths.'' Several subsequent posts of song snippets revealed much more range than that including a take on ''Bad Blood'' that VANITY FAIR called ''a lovely Heartbreaker-era style version'' referencing Adams' classic debut, a string quartet-enhanced version of ''Blank Space,'' what Adams promised to be the ''guaranteed saddest version of 'Welcome to New York' ever - or your tears back,'' and more.
Ryan Adams
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Wolf Alice
London-based four-piece Wolf Alice will release their debut album entitled My Love Is Cool on June 23rdvia Dirty Hit / RCA Records. Produced by Mike Crossey (Arctic Monkeys, Foals, Black Keys), My Love Is Cool is a remarkable leap forward from the band's EP Creature Songs, released last year. Having already captured critical acclaim on their track and breakout video for "Moaning Lisa Smile" which was previously released in the UK, Wolf Alice is poised for global success.
Wolf Alice
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Thee Oh Sees

Thee Oh Sees

Mutilator Defeated At Last

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2015 album from the San Francisco-based garage rockers. Here we have nine muscular tunes primed to pummel. Last year's Drop was more schizophrenic, ranging from heavy to whimsical and back; Mutilator Defeated At Last has more in common with the monolithic hugeness of Floating Coffin. With only two brief reprieves from its onslaught, this record is made to be played loudly and demands bodily sacrifice. Despite the plutonium heavy feel, Thee Oh Sees continue to be omnivorous. Synths and acoustic guitars wind throughout the album like veins of gold through granite. Any and all that stands in its way will be devoured and assimilated. This is the sound of a band doing what they do best.
Thee Oh Sees
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Unknown Mortal Orchestra
The threads of our past never unravel, they hover like invisible webs, occasionally glistening due to a sly angle of the sun. On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together. Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band's already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
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Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood

1000 Palms

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1000 Palms marks a return to Surfer Blood's DIY ethos. Abandoning the big time studio, the band decided to head back home to self-record and self-produce their third full-length album. Free of major-label-influence, Surfer Blood has delivered a uniquely compelling album, unlike anything in their catalog. The story of 1000 Palms began on January 1st 2014, after playing a New Year's show in Portland, OR. The band decided to stick around for the rest of the month, renting a practice space and sorting through a backlog of ideas. By February, as their lease ran out, Surfer Blood had recorded demos for most of the tracks that are now featured on their third LP.
Surfer Blood
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METZ

METZ

II

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“I look at it like this,” METZ frontman Alex Edkins says. “You start a band, just as something to do, because music’s what makes you tick, the thing you dream about and think about and that’s it. You never think that you’ll be able to do it all the time. But then, for some inexplicable reason, people actually listen and latch on and the band begins to take on new meaning. All of a sudden there are expectations and pressure, real or imagined, to change who you are. It was important to us, when making this record, not to give in to that pressure.” What happens when a seemingly irresistible force meets an immovable object is a serviceable metaphor for the music METZ creates, both live and on record. Now behold II, the concussive new full-length from what is arguably North America’s finest touring rock band.
METZ
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My Morning Jacket
My Morning Jacket has built a reputation as a group who consistently challenges the paradigms in which they are placed. From psychedelic to soul to classic rock and roll, My Morning Jacket's range remains steadfast throughout the band’s sixteen years. The Louisville quintet released the first of 6 albums in 1999 with their last two, 2008's "Evil Urges" and 2011's "Circuital" each receiving Grammy nominations - the latter debuting at number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart. On May 5, 2015, My Morning Jacket will release their seventh full-length album, The Waterfall.
My Morning Jacket
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The Orwells

The Orwells

Disgraceland

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The story of Disgraceland -- recorded in the fall of 2013 at studios in London, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles and Woodstock, NY -- is the story of The Orwells escaping the confines of their hometown and of their own expectations for themselves. They teamed with producers Chris Coady (Smith Westerns, Beach House), Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys) and Dave Sitek (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Santigold, TV On the Radio) to make the record.
The Orwells
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Various Artists

Various Artists

Darlings

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Broken Social Scene frontman Kevin Drew releases his sophomore solo album Darlings on March 18th via Arts & Crafts. The follow-up to 2007′s Spirit If.., Darlings was recorded in Alberta with co-producers Dave Hamelin (The Stills) and Graham Lessard (Stars). The 12-track album features contributions from Charles Spearin and Ohad Benchetrit of Do Make Say Think and Broken Social Scene and Dean Stone of Apostle of Hustle. It includes the singles “Good Sex” and “Mexican Aftershow Party”.
Various Artists
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Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
Dereconstructed is a careening, road raging, all night party of a record. Informed by a distinctly southern hoodoo, it is a master class in authentic Gulf Coast choogle. Having cut his teeth in the Dexateens, Lee Bains lll has been properly schooled in how to throw down, so much so that even his hyper literate musings are no match for the blown out distortion that gives this record it's blistering urgency. Dereconstructed was recorded by Tim Kerr, and mixed by Jeremy Ferguson at Battle Tapes, Nashville, TN. The band resides in Atlanta, GA. and Birmingham, AL.
Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires
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Death From Above 1979
Produced by D. Sardy (Red Hot Chili Peppers, LCD Soundsystem, Wolfmother, Oasis), The Physical World comes a full ten years after the release of the band's universally acclaimed debut album, You're A Woman, I'm A Machine, which made Jesse F. Keeler (bass, synths, backing vocals) and Sebastien Grainger (vocals and drums), an underground /over ground sensation.
Death From Above 1979
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Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini

Caustic Love

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Caustic Love is an album of unforgettable songs and choice grooves, topped with Nutini's gutsy voice, which just gets better and better with time and singles him out as arguably the best singer of his generation. This was proven by the live video (filmed at Abbey Road Studios) of the slow-burning, passionate politico-soul of "Iron Sky," which scored almost two million plays on YouTube before the album's release. Piece by piece, Caustic Love amounts to an album that will surely be viewed as a modern classic, right down to its open-ended title, for which the singer says there are many meanings. As the latest thrilling chapter in the story of Paolo Nutini, these thirteen tracks spotlight the singer's stunning musical development.
Paolo Nutini
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Boz Scaggs

Boz Scaggs

Hypnotic Eye

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Hypnotic Eye is the latest album from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and the first album from the band in four years. "I knew I wanted to do a rock & roll record, " Petty told Rolling Stone in April. "We hadn't made a straight hard-rockin' record, from beginning to end, in a long time."
Boz Scaggs
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Electric Wurms
Electric Würms, a prog-rock side project featuring The Flaming Lips' multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd on vocals, guitars, and keyboards and front man Wayne Coyne on bass and backed by Nashville psychedelic rock band Linear Downfall, presents a six-song album on Warner Bros. Records. Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk, will transport the listener into a new kind of transcendental orbit than one might expect from The Lips alone. Instead, these six velvety compositions appear to be harvested from a higher bardo plane of sound yet maintain a pleasantly familiar rock "experience" associated with The Lipsianoeuvre.
Electric Wurms
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Ty Segall

Ty Segall

Manipulator

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THE SEGALL HAS LANDED. And it s fully loaded, with everything that TY SEGALL (and you and me) are gonna need in the world to come. Heads up! It s coming down fast. Sticking his hand deeper into the machines all around him, TY is reaching ever further to the outer limits of inner space orbited throughout TWINS and SLEEPER.
Ty Segall
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Russian Circles

Russian Circles

Memorial

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Perhaps the most immediately apparent characteristic of Memorial is its wide range of emotion. Vacillating from somber-yet-soaring melodies on one track to pummeling metal heft on the next, Memorial sounds like an album with split personalities. Where one song showcases guitarist Mike Sullivan, drummer Dave Turncrantz and bassist/keyboardist Brian Cook's mastery of lush melancholic melody, the next exhibits their most abrasive underground metal leaning sound, with washed-out 16th-note riffs and crushing rhythms. The band's penchant for endless hooks remains a constant, but Memorial embodies their most dramatic ranges in tone.
Russian Circles
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St. Vincent
St. Vincent, the nom-de-stage of "playful chanteuse [and] fearsome shredder" (NY Times) Annie Clark, releases her second album for 4AD, Strange Mercy.
St. Vincent
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Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten writes from free-flowing emotional honesty and vulnerability, creating a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Are We There is a self-produced album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity, and immense breadth. Features appearances from Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel (War On Drugs), Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater), Jana Hunter (Lower Dens), Peter Broderick, Mackenzie Scott (Torres), Stuart Bogie, Jacob C. Morris and Mickey Freeze.
Sharon Van Etten
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Spoon

Spoon

They Want My Soul

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New album from Loma Vista/Republic Records' Austin-based band, Spoon, features the single, Rent I Pay.
Spoon
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The New Pornographers
Brill Bruisers is the first new release in four years from the acclaimed supergroup The New Pornographers, who NPR calls "virtually peerless in the world of power-pop and indie-rock. " Additionally, the New Yorker describes the band s music as "magnificent and clever" while Stereogum proclaims, "In recent history, no group has featured so much formidable established talent, collaborating on a regular basis. "
The New Pornographers
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Boris

Boris

Noise

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As their time spent celebrating a love of heavy sounds and crushing guitar tones approached nearly 20 years, Japanese band Boris had released hours and hours of music, getting into everything from drone metal to shoegaze-inspired pop. Noise, the 19th proper full-length in a discography full of collaborations, EPs, and miscellaneous work, does much to tie together the band's always restless muse.
Boris
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Jenny Lewis

Jenny Lewis

The Voyager

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Celebrated California singer songwriter Jenny Lewis presents The Voyager. This is the former Rilo Kiley frontwoman's third solo album and first in six years, following 2006's Rabbit Fur Coat (with The Watson Twins) and 2008's Acid Tongue.
Jenny Lewis
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J Mascis

J Mascis

Tied To A Star

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J Mascis' Tied to a Star is the follow up to his acclaimed Sub Pop debut Several Shades of Why. The album, led by the songs "Every Morning" and "Wide Awake," was recorded and produced by Mascis and mixed by John Agnello at Bisquiteen in Amherst, MA. Tied to a Star also features guest appearances from musicians Ken Maiuri (Young@Heart Chorus), Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion) and Chan Marshall (Cat Power).
J Mascis
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Andreas

Andreas

Royal Blood

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Royal Blood is a mixture of anguished vocals, ferocious drumming and bass that provides intricate detail as well as a rumble of rhythm. The sound is a result of a lineage that stretches from present day heroes Queens of the Stone Age to the influential Led Zeppelin, and all the way back to early blues pioneers... yet this huge wall of sound emerges from just two members.
Andreas
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Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo's sophomore album is a quirky yet comforting set of songs driven by refined pop songcraft and sneaky moments of grandeur that stick in the brain. At the ripe old age of 23, Avi Buffalo is ready to take on the world (again), and he's made sure the second time around will be just as memorable as the first. At Best Cuckold was recorded at Tiny Telephone, the analog-friendly San Francisco studio run by John Vanderslice (whose Bowie tribute Avi contributed to), engineered by Jay Pellicci (The Dodos, Deerhoof, Sleater-Kinney) and Nicolas Vernhes at Rare Book Room studio in Brooklyn.
Avi Buffalo
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Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker

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Benjamin Booker is a young New Orleans based singer-songwriter. He is influenced by The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson, and T. Rex. Benjamin Booker s debut self-titled album was produced by Andrija Tokic (Alabama Shakes, Hurray For The Riff Raff)
Benjamin Booker
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The Raveonettes

The Raveonettes

Pe'ahi

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Pe'ahi is the duo’s finest effort in years and a great example of what shoegazey noise-pop can do in 2014
The Raveonettes
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John Hiatt
Hiatt, a master lyricist and satirical storyteller, weaves hidden plot twists into fictional tales ranging in topics including redemption, relationships, growing older and surrendering, on his terms. The new record is musically rooted in acoustic blues, accentuated by Hiatt s soulful, gritty voice, which mirrors the gravity of his reflective lyrics.
John Hiatt
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John Fullbright

John Fullbright

Songs

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Songs is John Fullbright's follow-up to his GRAMMY-nominated debut, From The Ground Up. Songs has its moments of darkness, tracks born from pain and heartbreak, but for a craftsman like Fullbright, there are few greater joys than carving emotion into music, taking a stab at that lofty goal of immortality through song. It makes him and his fans 'happy,' and there's nothing bad about that.
John Fullbright
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Reigning Sound

Reigning Sound

Shattered

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Shattered Reigning Sound's first album for Merge and the first full LP by the group since 2009's Love and Curses. The band's principal songwriter/member is Greg Cartwright, who's been leading the shifting cast of characters since 2001. The album was recorded at Daptone's Brooklyn studio (where drummer Mikey works in the office) and masterfully engineered by Wayne Douglas. The recordings are warm and punchy, a mixed bag of rockers, ballads, and something in between. There are only 11 songs on the album, but the band reckons it's just right.
Reigning Sound