As the world grows increasingly complicated, May seeks a return to basics, at least regarding new CD titles. Keeping it real, singer-songwriter BENNY MARCHANT’s honest, melodic comments reveal perceptive poignancy inside, “Cold Weather,” while silver-throated songbird EMMYLOU HARRIS offers the wise and wonderful ,“Hard Bargain.” Unstoppable mirrorball-rockers, DIRTY VEGAS practice elastic trafficking with, “Electric Love,” as hotwired roustabouts, THE CLUTTERS present the insanely ballistic, divinely sadistic, “Breaking Bones,” Face facts.
Secret Cities - Strange Hearts
Album title: Strange Hearts
Record Label: Western Vinyl
Love children from Brill Building refugees, S C mastermind lo-fi, reverb-addled shin-digs; muffled scuffles baked inside grandly bandied jukebox soufflés whose gentle persuasions with twilight choirs shiver behind fading AM beach-party bingo. Swooning and canoodling through retroactive odysseys, “Strange,” hosts idyllic misfit idolizers worshipping vintage pop thoughts, ghostly baroque smokescreens soaked in rainy-day dreams, fab nostalgia and timeless adolescent appetites.
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Anni Rossi - Heavy Meadow
Album title: Heavy Meadow
Record Label: 3 Syllables
Squeaky-clean dreams packed in vacuum-sealed sass, “Meadow,” spins quirky aesthetics into stoic, focused contrapuntal conundrums, engaging the head, heart and hips. Throbbing tropical marches slowly unroll infectious eccentricities coupling blinking syncopation to plunked funk and catwalk grooves to intellectual whimsy showcasing Rossi’s stilted staccato and incandescent wit devoted to rhythmic conniptions coloring dispassionate analysis, cautious tales within seductive art-pop diplomacy.
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David Kilgour and the Heavy Eights - Left By Soft
Album title: Left By Soft
Record Label: Merge
Kiwi Merseybeat shaken, tamed and reborn, Kilgour and mates burst with deep-shag majesty, drizzling thunderous blues over braided electric-folk, adding vertigo-inducing transcendence over sturdy, understated song. Compact covenants swimming in shimmering chords, “Soft,” howls, prowls and harmonizes, campfire jangle-rock drifting in placid dappled patterns as level-headed lyrics brave vast swells of multi-layered guitars reaping rippling skiffle sizzling in psychedelic tranquility.
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Grand Pianoramax - Smooth Danger
Album title: Smooth Danger
Record Label: Obliqsound
Machine-gun runs of skittish drums maneuver through arched arpeggios erupting from prattling Moogs and palpitating pianos. “Smooth,” beautifully moves lively prog-rock robotics, shifting tangled tangents into methodical madness. Interwoven explosions cushioning savvy raps, GP’s sophisticated cat and mouse bouts pit dynamite keyboard flights against ground-pounding percussion, scattering frazzled scales behind diligent rhythms and railroading classical backgrounds into hyperactive jazz acrobatics.
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Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside - Dirty Radio
Album title: Dirty Radio
Record Label: Partisan Records
Whack scats, romping bop and whip-smart jive straddle bawdy shotgun operas drawn from washboard boogie, barn-stormin’ rock-a-billy and smoldering back-alley soul. Ford and company’s vivacious revivalism injects contemporary perspectives into swinging traditions, pairing hootchie-cootchie come-ons alongside waltzing walk-on-bys. Channeling Patsy Cline, Big Bill Broonzy and Bessie Smith, “Radio,” radiates raw, feisty geek-girl charm for tasty raves and brash maverick ballads.
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Manchester Orchestra - Simple Math
Album title: Simple Math
Record Label: Famous Gentlemen
Weary indie-rock antiheroes compose symphonic underdog uprisings, energized by scorching discourse brimming in frank angst and suburban ennui. Vague prey hunted in restless, impetuous reconnaissance, “Math,” traps sacred aching in sinister hook-filled insurrections and breathless mosh-pit proclamations. Balancing searching grandeur against seething street-wise insecurity, MO’s epic introspection sweeps over tender defenses, bolstered by defiant alliance, minor-key reprieves and cathartic martyrdom.
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Life’s a zoo. An uncaged spring brings Ozark archivists THE BLACK SWANS’ melancholy Americana, “Don’t Blame the Stars,” as Britain’s incendiary THE WOMBATS claw past slick-pitched,” This Modern Glitch.” Fashionably nocturnal shadow-crawler WILD BEASTS’ goth-pop feast, “Smother,” slithers in woeful post-modern romance while post-apocalyptic proselytizer THE MOUNTAIN GOATS’ well-chewed existential-folk, “The Eternal Deck,” soothes through literate enlightenment. Bug-eyed New Wavers GOLDEN DOGS unleash the high-voltage, “Coat of Arms,” cornering unbridled power-pop against jungle love; the evil twin to satin and chiffon jet-setters THE HIGH LLAMAS’ highbrow laid-back lampoon, “Talahomi Way.”