Listen Up! Spring New Music Arrivals

Faded collage of six album covers with the text "Listen Up!" printed over them.

Chase away the clouds with some great new music arrivals. Place your holds now:

Starchild & the New Romantic – Language (Ghostly International) – Down-tempo funk with a retro feel. Artist Bryndon Cook’s music may be a nod to greats like Prince, P-Funk, and Michael Jackson, but the album is far from derivative. It’s more of a homage to those who have come before with the sincerity of a creative and talented musician blazing his own path past the monuments.

Soccer Mommy – Clean (Fat Possum Records) – Dreamy, folky, a little gritty. Singer/songwriter Sophie Allison took what was more or less a home-grown scene of her making via her uploaded music and re-recorded her material into a robust full-length release for a wider audience. The album still has the intimate, personal feel of her earlier recordings, but is more fully realized with the backing of a band. Her material is stripped down, autobiographical, and highly relatable – giving you a window into the life of this very talented young artist on the rise.

Meshell Ndegeocello – Ventriloquism (Naive) – Ndegeocello’s vocals are spare, layered over production that has an almost dreamlike, ambient feel. Her work features interpretations of RnB hits that anyone who came of age in the 80s or 90s will recognize. Each track is less of a cover and more of a reinvention; there is a warmth and mystery to each that makes me think of them as throwback lullabies.

Shopping  – The Official Body (Fatcat Records) – A post-punk concoction that’s a little surf rock, pop, and new wave all in one. If the B-52s and The Slits had a love child, it would sound a little like this album.

No Age – Snares Like a Haircut (Drag City, Inc.) – Lush, full bodied noise-rock. No Age’s fifth studio album shows a maturity of sound that has developed over 13 years of collaboration. The mingling of beauty and turmoil creates an explosive mix of highly enjoyable tracks. Is polished roughness a thing? If so, they’ve nailed it.

Screaming Females – All At Once (Don Giovanni Records) – Alt rock with venue-dominating vocals and a punk vibe. Another release from a veteran act making the list, this is the 11th album for the Screaming Females. Clearly they haven’t lost a step as they continue to push the boundaries of generefication. Special treat for the fans of Fugazi – Brendan Canty makes a guest appearance on drums.

Dabrye – Three/Three (Ghostly International) – Hip hop with strong electronic production. Producer Tadd Mullinix returns to his Dabrye moniker after a long hiatus. His time ‘off’ has been fruitful for his work in different electronic music ventures, but fans of his hip-hop material have long been awaiting this latest release. Three/Three does not disappoint. This album boasts a long list of collaborators staying true to Mullinix’s Michagander roots by highlighting Detroit-area MCs new and old in particular.

Lindi Ortega – Liberty (Shadowbox Music, Inc.) – Dramatic ballads with a Spaghetti-Western flare. Ortega’s beautifully-emotive vocals lend an air of mystery to her tracks. Grab this album and be taken along on a wild ride as each track tells a tale of loss and salvation. I have a soft spot for albums that tell a story and this one delivers a Country Gothic tale worth hearing.

Listen Up! August New Music Arrivals

New Music Arrivals Collage

August seems to be the month for the rowdy and the thought-provoking; most of my picks this month deliver some pretty strong messages. Get involved – place your holds now!

Laura Mvula – The Dreaming Room (Sony Music Entertainment) – A strong follow-up to Mvula’s highly-acclaimed debut, Sing to the Moon. Enjoy rich vocals backed by a delightful mix of orchestral accompaniment, neo-soul rhythms, and a range of powerfully-moving songwriting.

Anohni – Hopelessness (Secretly Canadian) – Down-tempo alt rock/electronic pop with strong political themes. Vocals that shift from dreamlike to a hypnotic drone at times, even lilting.

Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate (Interscope) –  First and foremost a soul album, but with hints of rock, blues, gospel, and even a kind of classic rock feel at times. Very beautiful, grand, and political. I loved this album.

Audion –Alpha (The Ghostly International Company; !k7 Records) – The kind of club-friendly techno you’ve come to expect from Matthew Dear’s more driving and gritty alter ego.

Fantasia – The Definition Of… (RCA Records) – RnB with a little bit of rock, soul, and electronic influence. This is a great pick for anyone looking to dance around to some great harmonizing with the occasional dose of humor. It has a throwback feel that makes me think of a lot of early 90s RnB.

Mitski – Puberty 2 (Dead Oceans) – Gritty, beautiful, and packed with raw emotion. Mitski Miyawaki explores love, loss, anxiety, and depression in her 5th wonderfully-complex and vibrant indie rock offering.

White Lung – Paradise (Domino Recording Co.) – Vancouver punk trio dips a toe into new songwriting territory in their 4th release. The album remains unflinchingly confrontational and provocative, but they have embraced a hint of new pop sensibility that makes this release perhaps a little more accessible to a wider audience without much compromise.

Xenia Rubinos – Black Terry Cat (Anti) – A deeply-satisfying mix of funk, rock, electronic, RnB, jazz, and hip hop styles that explores how women of color move through today’s social landscape.

Listen Up! March New Music

Album Cover Collage

We’ve got a lot of ground to cover this month, so let’s get right to it! Place your holds now for these great new arrivals.

Sun City Girls – Torch of the Mystics (Abduction Records) – Mostly instrumental rock, with a a bit of a surf rock influence. The overall feel is surreal, like a circus side show with David Lynch directing from the center ring. Warps and distortions, misheard lyrics, chants in other languages or maybe just gibberish, chicken noises, raggas, and odd pitch changes. It’s a little unsettling but that’s the beauty of it. Added bonus: this is a local band.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra – Dee Dee’s Feathers (Okeh; Sony Music Entertainment) – Strutting, smoldering, romancing, dreaming – full of sound and energy. Bridgewater’s homage to the Crescent City’s past, present, and future captures the heart and soul of New Orleans jazz.

Jeff Buckley – You and I (Legacy) – This release doesn’t have a ton of new material to offer to the devoted fans of Jeff Buckley; most of the songs are featured in one form or another on some of his live releases (Sin-e and Olympia). That being said, it’s a beautifully-produced album that shares the richness of his voice and emotion with new and old fans alike.

Shearwater – Jet Plane and Oxbow (Sub Pop) – Dark and brooding alt rock that reminds me a little of Depeche mode. If you’re a fan of syths, krautrock and lyrics with strong political overtones, this is the album for you.

Anderson Paak – Malibu (Obe; Empire) – Lyrical, jazzy, a little rock and roll, and extremely chill. The album’s smooth vocals are at times reminiscent of Curtis Mayfield. Paak draws from many musical styles – funk, rock, jazz, house, hip hop, and beyond. I spent a lot of time dancing in my desk chair previewing this one.

Adrian Younge Presents Venice Dawn: Something About April II (Linear Labs, LLC) – This album is a bit of a soul, rnb, and funk fusion that sounds a little like Stereolab at times. Beautiful vocals, and dreamy, mysterious instrumental tracks that would make awesome beats to rhyme over.

Moodymann – DJ-Kicks (K7 Records) – Down-tempo, jazzy, funky, with a mixed salad of beats and rhymes. This is an excellent mix CD to throw on to decompress during a Friday night happy hour, or while chatting with friends.

Night Beats – Who Sold My Generation (Heavenly Recordings) – Night Beats possess a raw sound that is reminiscent of the garage bands of the 60s. This Seattle-based trio lays on the reverb and bombards the listener with the kind of frenetic energy that you’d hope to find at only the finest of dive bars.