Epic techno sets that offer listeners a deep appreciation of history, a legend stepping out on his own, guitar bands for the everyman – or the surfer set, and folk duos perfectly capturing a feeling. This week’s recommendations include a little something for everyone.
Dixon & Âme – Live @ Boiler Room X Innervisions, Amsterdam, 10/18/2012
This week’s obsession is this Boiler Room set from Dixon and Âme. The Innervisions label founders take dancers/listeners on a 4 (!!!) hour journey befitting the name of their record label, a moody and mesmerizing mix that somehow manages to neither flag nor become exhausting. It is also the rare DJ mix that works equally well in your headphones as it did on the dance floor, full of indelible groove and stitched together with impeccable transitions. -Ramona
Hannah and Maggie – In the Company of Strangers
There is no shortage of harmonic folk female duos. So why did I choose Hannah & Maggie? Sincerity. Songs like “The Old Gang” paint a rich picture of grasping with coming of age, moving away, and losing friends. But they don’t shy away from delivering haunting tales of longing and separation in “September.” They have captured a pure sound with In The Company of Strangers I believe they had sought for some time. Give this one a spin to enjoy a soundtrack perfect for overcast and chilly days perched at the edge of spring. -Jeremy
John Lennon – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band
There are two things in this world that make me so happy that I jump up and down and giggle. The first is pancakes. The second is record stores. A few weeks ago I had the fortune of heading to a great little store called Hi-Voltage Records in Tacoma, WA. I picked up a copy of one of my favourite albums on vinyl, John Lennon’s first solo record – John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
After the Beatles broke up, Lennon was emotionally distraught. He started going to primal therapy, a kind of therapy that encourages you to face reality, relive tramautic experiences, scream, cry, and feel the pain that’s built up inside you since childhood rather than holding everything inside. He started working on this album shortly after this and ended up creating one of his most honest, emotionally raw albums, with some of his best work (“God”, “Working Class Hero”), some more obscure gems (“Isolation”, “Love”), and lots of screaming (see “Well, Well, Well” and “Mother”). This is an album worth revisiting, over and over. -Christine
Lo-Fang – Blue Film
Fact: Matthew Hemerlein plays more instruments than you do. In his first release under the moniker Lo-Fang, he fuses inspiration from a list of genres as long as the list of instruments he plays with the album’s foundation, which is a slew of plodding electronic beats that are incredibly accessible. He then weaves in strings and percussion to form a really delightful, incredibly listenable album which he created entirely himself. It’s a wonderful work soundtrack that I’ll revisit throughout the year. -Johnny
Matthew and the Atlas – Other Rivers
I’m sure you may have heard of Matthew and the Atlas, and if you love their music you’ve also probably been disappointed to find out there is not much material out there. BUT, now they are preparing their debut album and the first few released tracks are amazing. On “Everything that Dies” I cannot help but hear a little Bruce Springsteen in there whether it is the lyrics or the timbre of his voice. I know that may put a bad taste in some peoples’ mouths but you know, there’s no accounting for taste (or lack thereof). Enjoy this taste of what I’m sure is going to be a top 10 of 2014 album. -Dave P.
The Men – Tomorrow’s Hits
I had the good fortune of being dragged to a concert by The Men in a back-room venue for a bachelor party some time after the release of the band’s excellent 2013 record, New Moon. Despite having only sampled a track or two of their more low-key fare headed in, they played a raucous set of terrific rock music, trading vocals and guitar leads and transforming the venue into a sweaty dance pit in the midst of a cold winter night. Their latest album, released just this week, expands the band’s sound in terrific ways. They’ve added a brass section, and the up-tempo rockers exude a confident grasp of melody in addition to the vibrant energy they’ve harnessed on previous releases. This is an album born to be played at the local bar, filled with sing-a-long rock choruses reminiscent of classic The Hold Steady records. It’s a lot of fun, and the product of a band making pretty amazing strides. -Jeff
Nick Waterhouse – Holly
I’m not even done with this album and I know this will be my recommendation for this week: Nick Waterhouse’s Holly. Given my last two recommendations, this one should come as no surprise. At times Nick Waterhouse is reminiscent of Jim Morrison. Other times, his tracks give off a 1950s/60s beach rock vibe. If you enjoyed my other two recommendations, you’ll enjoy Holly. I guarantee it. -Christopher
Quilt – Held in Splendor
“Rocky, will you shut up about your psych-rock already?!” No, no I will not. That’s why this week I want you to listen to Quilt’s Held in Splendor. The New England based trio nails it with their second album. It’s as if The Pentangle modernized and the late 60’s fuzzy song structure I’ve come to depend on never wah-wah’d it’s way into the 70’s. Get hype! -Rocky