Need something new to listen to? Then let’s skip the intro and get right to it. There’s a little something here for everyone… Enjoy!
Vasudeva - Generator
It’s only April (or is it? I honestly can’t remember), but this has quickly placed itself in the “Album of the Year” category for me. It’s a beautifully constructed, recorded, and performed series of tracks that are maybe the very definition of “Mood Music.” New Jersey’s Vasudeva have long been a favorite - and their partnership with Kevin Dye of Gates, who has recorded and produced most of their output - is a big part of why this album works so well. They simply understand each other. As the band has evolved and refined it’s sound, Generator is the only logical conclusion. Dense and airy at the same time, dance-y and full on VIBE heavy, it’s an all-too-quick instrumental album that you will absolutely listen to over and over and over.
NNAMDI - Brat
NNAMDI’s last full-length, Drool, was one of the most awkwardly fun finds I’d had in a while - partially because it weirded my wife out quite a bit, and everytime I played it, she would ask, in something close to horror, “What is this?” Mostly, though, it was just a fresh, bizarre, and intriguing look into someone making experimental hip-hop from some really inspiring places. Fast forward to this month’s release, and, well, it gets weirder. Brat seems to be the culmination of all of Nnamdi’s experiences - check out his work in pysch-prog-jazz outfit Monobody and rock and rollers Options, for starters - and it’s full-tilt OUT THERE. If you dig schizophrenic hip-hop-centric freakouts, get to it.
August Burns Red - Guardians
Look, I’m just as surprised as you are to see this on a list like this. It’s easily the one that I would most consider the outlier here, but, seriously, the album straight up RIPS. These dudes have been around for a while - I’ve even managed to interview two of their five members at different times - and I’ve been a fan off and on since their second or third record (seriously, Messengers ALSO rips). If you’re looking for something heavy - with a positive message, they’re super nice dudes - then I think Guardians is one of the better choices you can make. Breakdowns, chugs, big vocals - I’ve really enjoyed breaking this one out from time to time.
STRFKR - Future Past Life
This is a super recent release that I’m just now diving into, but I already am really, really excited for the next listen (and the ones after that). For anyone missing some of the more straightforward Of Montreal jams, or bands like Phoenix and early MGMT, maybe even some Miniature Tigers, STRFKR’s newest, Future Past Life, is a great return to that heady, synth-y, dance-y type of indie rock that I feel like went away for a while. It’s been a lot of fun the first couple of listens, so I imagine this is one that I’ll return to quite a bit over the next few weeks. Frankly, it’s the first STRFKR album I’ve considered picking up on vinyl (read: ordering via the web) - seems like it would be a really nice record to listen to on a big analog system.
Purity Ring - WOMB
If I wasn’t a Purity Ring fan before this album, I am now. Womb is a towering achievement in oddball, off-tempo, moody AF electronic music. It’s ethereal and other-worldly, but somehow eminently listenable and accessible from the start. The music, of course, is one thing, but the vocals are something else entirely. They might as well have come from another planet - they’re gorgeous. This is a Zone Out and Feel It album in all the right ways, and perfect for what we’re all experiencing right now. Pairs nicely with NNAMDI’s Brat, as well...
The Smith Street Band - Don’t Waste Your Anger
Okay, so, this literally just came out as I was typing out this list of recommendations, so I’m not even a full listen through. Doesn’t matter. Anytime The Smith Street Band releases something it’s worth checking out, and less than halfway through this first listen Don’t Waste Your Anger is VERY much worth your time. Quite possibly one of the most underrated and, I guess, probably unknown rock bands of our generation, this Australian export is deserving of your attention - and not just this album. They haven’t released a bad one - Throw Me In The River is literally one of the best rock albums I’ve ever listened to. So, you know, get to it.
The Suicide Machines - Revolution Spring
An appropriate title for an album for right now if there ever was one. Revolution Spring is a bit of a throwback for The Suicide Machines - a band, I should add, I’ve seen live in like a half dozen different states in at least 3 different decades. They’ve kind of been all over the place soundwise, but cut their teeth with one of the better punk/ska hybrid releases (Destruction By Definition), then one of the the best punk/hardcore/ska releases (Battle Hymns), and then a bit of a mixed bag. This one, though, hits all the right notes for me right now. It’s not quite exactly like what they used to do, but manages to capture a lot of what made those first few records so special. If you want some music to both accompany your anger and incite some random Ska Dancing in your kitchen, this is the one for you.
Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
If you’ve not listened to any of Waxahatchee’s output, well, that’s on you. But if there’s an album that will make for a hell of an introduction, it’s her recently released Saint Cloud. It’s swimming in Americana, twangy and emotional, subtle and moving and just lovely. It sneaks in some modern tweaks here and there, but from the start, her honey sweet voice and barebones instrumentation make this another album that’s hard not to listen to front to back, repeatedly. It’s not gotten quite as many plays as the next album on this list, but it’s getting there. In fact, I think it makes a great listening pair with my next recommendation...
Soccer Mommy - color theory
A deceptive moniker - it sounds flinchingly twee. But the album, color theory, is anything but. Like the newest Waxahatchee, it’s filled to bursting with some of the smartest songwriting and production on any album released this year. It’s a moody one - but quiet in it’s approach, with the melodies sneaking up on you and lodging themselves in your brain for a few days or weeks. And, honestly, it’s just a lovely collection of lowkey indie rock tunes, nothing showy or over the top, with mellow vocals that let you just kind of… sink into each track, and, eventually, the record as a whole.
Ratboys - Printer’s Devil
When you see hyperbolic statements proclaiming something as genre defining or the best album of a band’s career or whatever, it’s pretty easy to ignore. For a band like Ratboys, though, beloved in certain circles of the emo/indie rock world, seeing some variation of those statements from virtually everyone caught my eye. And you know what? Yeah, this is literally one of the best rock records of the past 10 years. Printer’s Devil starts off without any hesitation, and plays all the way through with a confidence that’s as stirring as it is earned. It’s a roller coaster of an album, so buckle up and thank me later.