Waterloo Records

Employee Picks

Call (512) 474-2500 to check in-store availability! All albums and films reviewed here are available in the store in one format or another at the time of posting. If something shows up as "unavailable" online, it might still be in the store.

January 2024


Bug (dir. William Friedkin, 2006)

Bug dir. William FriedkinWilliam Friedkin is widely known for his infamous 1973 classic The Exorcist, but the director wedged his way under my skin with a different horror film — 2006’s Bug. This unsettling feature explores paranoid delusion and the danger of being vulnerable in the wrong company.

Part romance, part melodrama, and wholly frightening, the movie is almost entirely set in a seedy motel room lending to its claustrophobic tone. Ashley Judd and Michael Shannon play the two leads to perfection, portraying a descent into psychosis that leaves one with whiplash. Judd in particular is at her very best here, simultaneously heartbreaking and terrifying. She is authentic to the point that you almost worry for her and tragically overlooked as she received no real accolades for this role.

What I love about Bug is its simplicity and groundedness. Friedkin employs practical effects for the brief but gruesome gore, and the dialogue (from screenwriter Tracy Letts) is refreshingly real, not perfectly articulate and verbose so as to take you out of the movie. The pacing and editing make for a manic experience and there is not one lull in its entire runtime. I truly wish I could see this movie for the first time again. - Anjelica


 


The Daytrippers (dir. Greg Mottola, 1997)

The Daytrippers dir. Greg MottolaWhere do I start with the delightful romp that is  1997’s The Daytrippers? I watched it on a lark, having never even heard of it before, and am so glad I took the chance. The film has a simple premise: A woman (Eliza, played by Hope Davis) suspects her husband is cheating on her when she finds a love letter addressed to him. Her well-meaning but meddling Long Island family insist upon taking action to confront him, so they head to the city to catch him in the act.

The ensemble cast shines here and their chemistry truly sells them as a family, warts and all. Parker Posey plays Eliza’s younger sister Jo and is cool and charming as always, sporting the most enviable outfits that speak to the film’s costume design. Ann Meara plays Rita, the matriarch, and is the true star of the film in terms of her presence and performance. Her comedic timing is incredible, especially when she is bonding with Jo’s quirky boyfriend Carl (Liev Schreiber). Their conversations are a big highlight of the journey and left me wanting some sort of spinoff. Another highlight is the script, boasting fast-paced and loose dialogue,  giving each actor plenty of jokes to work with and time to shine.

Coming from a family of colorful New Yorkers myself, The Daytrippers was especially comforting and familiar to me. It makes me want so badly wish to go back in time on a road trip through the city to sleuth and bond. Maybe I wouldn’t find the humor in the situation were I living it, so the fact that this movie is available to watch is an excellent alternative. I challenge anyone to see this movie and come out of it in a bad mood. - Anjelica


 


ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH by Spirit of the Beehive (2021)

ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH by Spirit of the BeehiveSpirit of the Beehive is one of the most interesting bands in the indie scene today. Each release outdoes the last in terms of sonic innovation, and their 2021 LP ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH proves they are at the top of their game.

The album is noisy and melodic and defies any singular genre. It contains gorgeous vocal harmonies between Zack Schwartz and Rivka Ravede, the latter of whom is especially hypnotizing. Her voice is like that of a siren lulling prey into calm before the music swells into chaos. There are fuzzy samples of commercials throughout that remind you of falling asleep with the TV on and awakening to a fever dream of a program you can never find again.

The lyrics speak to my teenage self, bored in suburban America with nothing but drugs and the uncensored Internet for entertainment. It paints images of driving down a maddeningly flat highway, passing only billboards and fast food restaurants and another car on fire. It’s the sound of ennui and languor romanticized.

Ran all the way home
I want to believe in another life
The one we’re meant to be in
If hell is a mirror then I can’t pretend I mean it
And when you’re gone I’ll keep the light on like we were together
— track 3, "WRONG CIRCLE"

- Anjelica


 


Monte Sagrado by Robi Draco Rosa (2018)

Monte Sagrado by Robi Draco RosaDéjà Vu — once again, I find myself treading through halls I feel I have crossed before…

(Stop me if we have had this conversation before; yet, something tells me this is a discourse that needs to be discussed.)
There’s a beauty to discovering new music-artists: a certain cadence that guides one’s footsteps into new uncharted trails. Therein lies the true capacity of Music (emphasis on the capitol ‘M’): creating new pathways there were not visible before. For years on end, Puerto Rican singer/songwriter Robi Draco Rosa has been ushering audiences into uncharted territories — with machete on hand, like a true modern day bushwacker. 2018’s Monte Sagrado (which translates to Holy Mountain) is not a reference to avant-garde filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky but a testament to the world that awaits on the other side of Discovery. An open invitation to pioneer into the unknown and peer atop the clouds of noise that drown out (y)our fuel for Adventure…

Highlights:
-333
-Que Se Joda El Dolor
-Monte Sagrado
-Yo Mismo
-En Las Horas Más Tristes

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Garden State Soundtrack (2004)

Garden State SoundtrackEnnui…if you ever go to the library and decide to look up this word and its genus, chances are you will find a readily available DVD copy of Zach Braff’s 2004 Garden State along with its musical companion/counterpart (read: soundtrack). Bridging the musical gap between a wide array of artists that ranged from Nick Drake to Thievery Corporation, from Coldplay to Simon & Garfunkel, from Men At Work’s Colin Hay to Iron & Wine’s reinterpretation of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights”…the musical crossovers are endless deep cuts that subconsciously narrate a story. A collection of 13 songs that best encapsulate the coming-of-age for a generation on the brink of self-discovery. In the end, all I can say is, like Braff’s character, Sam, “You gotta hear this one soundtrack*, it'll change your life I swear!” (*granted in the movie he says song, but you get the gist of this review).

Highlights:
-I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You (Colin Hay)
-Blue Eyes (Cary Brothers)
-Fair (Remy Zero)
-Lebanese Woman (Thievery Corporation)
-Let Go (Frou Frou)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Siembra by Willie Colón & Rubén Blades (1978)

Siembra by Willie Colon and Ruben Blades“La vida te da sorpresas, sorpresas te da la vida, ¡ay, Dios! (x2)” -Willie Colón & Rubén Blades’ “Pedro Navaja”

If anyone ever walked up and asked (you): “If you could live during any era or decade in time, which would you pick?” Me?! My answer would, indubitably, be influenced by the music I was listening to during the line of questioning; but, 9 times out of 10 I would say “The 70’s…Specifically, late 70’s/beginning of the 80’s.” Although the World (emphasis on the capital “W”) was going through what I would call a pre-pubescent whirlwind of changes, one of the key developments that shaped the then near future and the thereafter was Willie Colón and Ruben Blades’ 1978 classic Siembra. All of a sudden here were 7 songs — 42 minutes and 47 seconds to be exact — that helped the word “salsa” graduate from a condiment in people’s pantries to a world-renowned genre that everybody wanted to dance and sing to. Moreover, it sowed a generation of Latinos proud and eager to scream “La vida te da sorpresas, sorpresas te da la vida” (which roughly translates to “Life gives you surprises, surprises is what life gives you”)... Oh, God, almost 46 years later after its release I must say truer words haven’t been professed; but let's table that conversation for now, let’s just get to the closest dance floor and bask in the glory of this Latin American gem.

Highlights:
-Plástico
-Buscando Guayaba
-Pedro Navaja

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

December 2023


Aprender A Ser by Mint Field (2023)

Aprender A Ser by Mint FieldTwo words. Mnemonic therapy… that is what comes to mind when I think about Mint Field’s latest outing, Aprender A Ser (which translates to “Learn To Be”): a conceptual psycho-visual project whose sole purpose is to arrest your senses (yes, all 5!) all-the-while rocking you into a melodic shapeshifting dreamscape. Dreampop. A hazy diapason of 10 carefully concocted recordings. 40 minutes and 27 seconds…that will account for the weightless aura that will (inevitably) accompany its listeners as they float in(to) the ether left by lead singer, Estrella del Sol, and company's both lyrical and musical vapor trail…

Highlights:
-El Suspiro Cambia Todo
-Sueño Despierto
-Nuevo Sol
-Puerta Abierta
-Respiro Profundo
-Orquídea
-Antes Que Se Acabe El Año

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Swimming by Mac Miller (2018)

Swimming by Mac Miller“My regrets look just like texts I shouldn't send” -Mac Miller’s “Come Back to Earth”

Regrets are inevitable… Not having discovered Mac Miller in his heyday, is one of my biggest. Here was a true Promethean-figure who rose to stardom by encapsulating the élan vital and ennui of a whole generation only to be swallowed by the weight of it. During his discography Mac let his listeners ride shotgun on the passenger side while he cruised through the ‘burb of his hopes and fears – that imaginarium that lived far from the clutches of the demons that (over)populated his mind. Sadly, behind all the rhymes and bars, lied a flawed hero. Although Swimming was released a month before his passing it still feels like an open letter; signed, delivered, yet un-sealed... 5 years after its inception, the ink on his penned lyrics still feel wet. The marriage between the immediacy to live and the delusion of his dark ideations ebb and flow between 13 songs. It is only when the record ends, that one can’t help but loop back to the beginning and beg Mac “Come Back To Earth...Please! La-da-da-da, da-da-da….”

…while we wait for a reply from above, let us collectively swim against the tides of time and reminisce for another 58 minutes and 39 seconds on Easy Mac’s lyrical and musical prowess. Man, was he special – the definition of a true sonic explorer!

R.I.P. Malcolm James McCormick

Highlights:
-Come Back to Earth
-Hurt Feelings
-What’s The Use?
-Perfecto
-Self Care
-Ladders
-Jet Fuel
-2009

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


14 Episodios Sinfónicos by Gustavo Cerati (2022)

14 Episodios Sinfonicos by Gustavo CeratiIt is impossible to write a book about Rock en Español without name-dropping the Argentinian band Soda Stereo. More specifically, their lead singer, Gustavo Cerati. He’s an encyclopedia by himself. The very definition not only of an Artist but of an Icon.  A worldwide phenomenon born of the flesh and bones of Argentina — the equivalent of a European country in Latin America — whose body of talent exceeded the expectations of the goddess Tyche* herself….although doomed to live the life of a mythical figure (read: Icarus). Nonetheless, Cerati exuded Life. More specifically, Immortality. That’s what his catalog of work cemented. A testament of this statement lies in 14 Episodios Sinfónicos. A collection of songs that have come to see the light of day 8 years after his passing. One final farewell far away from the greedy maws of Death: a swan song sans the sadness that would have shadowed its inception… No, this outing lives as a reaffirmation of his prowess, as well as a bookend to the symphonic musings he had shared 21 years earlier with 11 Episodios Sinfónicos (2011). Then again, to listen to Gustavo Cerati is to unlock a spiritual state of ascendance – pure and unadulterated magic (i.e. Nirvana).

Highlights:
-Canción Animal
-Bocanada
-Corazón Delator
-Lisa
-Verbo Carne
-Persiana Americana
-Un Millón de Años Luz
-Signos
-Hombre Al Agua

-J Guillermo Paleo

*The god of success in Greek mythology.


 

November 2023


Nada Escrito by Dorotheo (2023)

Nada Escrito by DorotheoI have said it before, and I shall say it again now (and most probably a couple more times down the line): “Latinos do things different!” I explain: 2023 gifted us wave after wave of music coming from an America that was not the North, yet it was attached to it, in a way. Among the many releases, there was a band from Guadalajara, Mexico that entranced me from its opening chords… Their name? Dorotheo (and, no, their name is not derived from that Taylor Swift song). Their album? Nada Escrito (which translates to Nothing Written). Now, if the last 102 words have not convinced you of, at the very least, doing a Google search, let me give you a proper enough reason to do so…

Penned as “a band with the hauntological cool of Broadcast and Stereolab” by NPR, Dorotheo is much more than the sum of these two iconic bands: they are an arranged marriage between the alien and the familiar. A cornupic portrait that beckons a mere 36 minutes and 38 seconds from its listeners to evocate a journey into literal saintly steadfastness. The only question that remains is: would you give this opus an opportunity? If so, be ready to be blessed with Dorotheo (which, may I add, means “God’s gift”)…

Highlights:
-Las Nubes
-Día
-Humano
-Intención
-Capricho

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Laugh Track by The National (2023)

Laugh Track by The National2023 saw The National at its most productive…  Just mere months after releasing their long-awaited First Two Pages of Frankenstein they decided to grace us with a counterpart we, as listeners, didn’t know we needed — cue (the) Laugh Track.

Now, although this story seems reminiscent of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2022 — a total and complete déjà vu — rest assured, when I say it’s not. Where RHCP failed to grow and deepen the roots of their musical narrative, The National found new ways to highlight what they do best: let Matt Berninger (and wife, Carin Besser) write some of the most self-deprecating lyrics, all the while letting the brothers (both the Dessners and the Devendorfs) tailor-make melodies that shelter each emotion from falling prey to the tropes of cliché. The result is 12 songs that further cement the band’s legacy and their accuracy to haunt one’s immediate memory…

…59 minutes and 22 seconds: that’s all The National asks of us… just enough to make you re-conflagrate your faith (in their work): attest that, like fine wine, it needs to be tended properly for it to age perfectly with time!

Highlights:
-Alphabet City
-Deep End (Paul’s In Pieces)
-Weird Goodbyes (Feat. Bon Iver)
-Turn Off The House
-Dreaming
-Space Invader
-Coat On A Hook

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

As Tall As Lions by As Tall As Lions (2006)

As Tall As Lions by As Tall As LionsAs Tall As Lions was built different-ly…

Sometimes I catch myself reminiscing about the bands that shaped the way I value and adhere musical value to the present. Even though the Music(al) Zeitgeist is always in a continuous and contiguous state of change, As Tall As Lions has always held a dear place in the canon of groups I admire and wish they would still be around — so people would witness how amazing they are… The embodiment of their genius lies in their sophomore self-titled record: 2006’s As Tall As Lions.  Penned as “[...] schmaltzy alterna-rock that splits the difference between Jeff Buckley and Coldplay” by Pitchfork, this record is so much more than the equal parts of that critic’s reductive 11-word description of a 45 minutes and 27 seconds (magnum) opus. (Then again, comparing lead singer, Daniel Nigro, to the late Jeff Buckley speaks to the prowess and range of his voice; and reducing the band to 2006 Coldplay is just more validation to my point — we all know that Coldplay was at their peak that year.) But that’s neither here nor there — or is it?! In the end, there are bands that rise and stand in the halls of one's memories as tall, majestic, and proud as lions — this being one of them… Moreover, if their third and final album, 2009’s You Can’t Take It With You, showed us anything, it’s that all great things have their time and space on Earth but once they depart you can take them with you: just follow the thread of these words and unearth this gem!

Highlights:
-Stab City
-Song For Luna
-Ghost of York
-Be Here Now
-Where Do I Stand

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Dummy by Portishead (1994)

Dummy by PortisheadPortishead’s 1994 debut is a slow swirling thing of jazz and hip hop, and electrified skipping movement, birthing a perfect 90s trip-hop piece. Lead vocalist Beth Gibbons graces the sonic masterpiece with a sunken baby doll voice over a rumbling electro-rhythm. Vulnerable and desperate poetry reverberates in a hyper-feminine song and contrasts the deep, dark, tunneling fusion of a tripping bipolar sound. Notable tracks "Biscuit" and "Glory Box" both bear haunting tones of righteous unease and naive brokenness. "Glory Box" is a defeated cry for understanding, a romanticized reflection of the tumultuous phenomenon: the experience of being a woman. Dummy is a 90s classic and a must have for fans of trip-hop and fusion-esque playtime. - Molly Boris


 


Revolver by The Beatles (1966)

Revolver by The BeatlesThis album is a perfect axis point between their early and late work. Revolver is my favorite Beatles album. Released in 1966, their early optimism became less of a novelty, and instead, we start to hear a response to the fast-changing world that surrounds the decade. The Beatles will forever symbolize change. Whether or not you were a fan in 1966 and going forward, you were affected by the pulse of The Beatles music; it ran through the blood of everything… politics, fashion, art, cults, murder, drugs…

From the longing dance of "Eleanor Rigby" they float to a painfully simple and childlike song, but "Yellow Submarine" is rumored to be deeply coded. The album approaches its end beautifully with a nod to the future. "Tomorrow Never Knows" I’d say is the best song on Revolver, written primarily by Lennon. This album introduces serious experimental work with Eastern influences, sampling, and tape manipulation. Revolver sends its listeners off into a spiraling hunger for more. - Molly Boris


 


The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet Underground (1967)

The Velvet Underground & Nico by The Velvet undergroundIn the late sixties, the band of fast New Yorkers shined like wet latex under neon lights compared to the dusty and camouflaging hippies in California. Thank the Gods. I’d say this is one of the first and greatest alternative albums to have ever been made. When you compare it to what was happening in the era, this is the birth of an absolutely revelatory sound and work of art.

The VU has not even come close to losing its appeal and undeniable uniqueness. I remember the first time I heard this (2014). I was fifteen years old then. I remember "Venus In Furs" and "Run Run Run" and "I’m Waiting For The Man." I’d never experienced such a strange awakening: I was filled with a satiation that suddenly made me weird and hot and happy, my face got warm, and I wanted to do something crazy. I’ve returned to The VU for years just to feel it. You don’t really walk away from hearing this unchanged. You walk away invigorated, validated, new and shameless.

“If it has more than three chords, it’s jazz.” - Lou Reed

- Molly Boris


 


The Enduring Spirit by Tomb Mold (2023)

The Enduring Spirit by Tomb MoldAfter a 4 long year of radio silence from the band, Tomb Mold finally returns in full force with their new full-length album The Enduring Spirit. The band’s last album, 2019’s Planetary Clairvoyance, was seen by many fans and critics alike to be the most impressive and well-crafted death metal album in years. So how does a band follow up an album that was hailed as a masterpiece? Well, Tomb Mold found a way by keeping what works and improving on the formula with some slight experimentation. These adventurous songs are composed of a wonderful soundscape of stellar solos, crunchy grooves, and sophisticated moments of atmosphere fancy, yet they also come altogether as an entire unit of harmony. This album has a much more grand scale to the sound than their previous albums and feels like an outworldly adventure. Overall I would rate this album very highly and is on the same level if not slightly better than Planetary Clairvoyance. - Grant


 


(It Goes Like) Nanana by Peggy Gou (2023)

It Goes Like Nanana by Peggy GouPeggy Gou’s new single from her upcoming album feels like something straight out of a time machine. If you would have played this for me and told me it was a hidden gem from early 90’s house pop, I wouldn't question it. This song perfectly captures the catchy, upbeat nature of House songs from that time period. Vintage rave chords swoop in over hefty, swinging percussion and a mournful synth with Eurodance overtones. It’s so well structured it almost feels like this was created in a lab to create the most catchy dance pop song of all time. From this single, Peggy Gou has my full attention and I can't wait to hear the upcoming album. - Grant


 

Drinking Gasoline by Cabaret Voltaire (1985)

Drinking Gasoline by Cabaret Voltaire“Hypnotic, erratic, and somewhat primitive” is how I would best describe Cabaret Voltaire’s 1985 EP Drinking Gasoline. The duo uses a basic staccato pace, set by drum machines and sequencers, to convey their shattered messages. Bizarre noises and voices cut in and out, distressing your peripheral senses as the insane pounding of the hyperkinetic beatbox strikes the brain. Overall, Drinking Gasoline laid the foundation to their next album The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord which hammered out some of the roughness of Drinking Gasoline and perfected it. Despite all that, I would still recommend this EP. It is an interesting, memorable listen that will make you wanna dance or tap your toes to its mutated rhythms and beats. - Grant


 

October 2023


Moottorilinnut by Kimmo Kuusniemi Band (1982)

Moottorilinnut by Kimmo Kuusniemi BandMoottorilinnut was supposed to be the third Sarcofagus album but for some reason their label thought it was a good idea to change the name to Kimmo Kuusniemi Band (after main band dude Kimmo) even though his name is almost impossible to spell in English. Regardless, Moottorilinnut translates as Motorbirds. And the metal on Motorbirds has chimes, weird sound effects, and three different vocalists, including Kimmo’s sister, Muska. There are acoustic intros and exits (outros?) that don’t fade in or out but sound like leaving one room then entering another. Some of the songs are about metallic rainbows and Suzuki motorcycles ridden by “nocturnal wanderers with glowing eyes.” Others are about haunted houses. On “Megamachine,” we hear about a world of technocratic children whose “best friend is the data terminal at home.” Of course all this is in Finnish, the irony being that we can now use said data terminals to translate warnings from 40 years ago of the data terminal’s very existence.

All this adds up to the fact that Sarcofagus/Kimmo is the best thing to come out of Finland since saunas and reindeer. Which is saying something, because Finland is also the home of bands like Hanoi Rocks and Demilich. It’s also where Santa Claus lives and probably the Krampus too.  And in a country that has more heavy metal bands per atmospheric decibel than anywhere else in the world, or something, Sarcofagus was, in the early 1980’s, among the very first. They make metal that is unconsciously weird. Spooky atmosphere is all around it. In the world of Kimmo Kuusniemi time cycles, motorcycles, amplifiers and a guitar that also works as a functioning flame thrower are more than just symbols, they are tools for collapsing the space time continuum. - Adam


 


Regresa by Buscabulla (2020)

Regressa by BuscabullaWhen Hurricane Maria struck my home island, Puerto Rico, in the Fall of 2017, it left us, its inhabitants, for a lack of a better word, displaced. Lack of resources (i.e. water and food), fallen cell towers, and the absence of a working electric grid made this once idyllic paradise a snapshot of desperation. Our slogan — “We live where you vacation” — was no longer accurate. It was in the midst of all this pandemonium that the brain trust of Buscabulla — Raquel and Wilfredo — decided to leave Brooklyn, NY, and return back home, to PR. With two EPs under their belt (2014’s EP I and 2017’s EP II), they decided to make a record that would change the course of their career… but I’m getting ahead of myself – I apologize.

On May 8th, 2020: during a worldwide phenomenon (which we shall not name like the villain in Harry Potter) they dropped their full-length album aptly titled Regresa (which translates to Return). The title felt like a call to action, not only for them but for everybody who had to leave. Needless to say, when I first heard this album upon release, I was instantly beguiled… I learned that Puerto Rico was no longer half a hemisphere from Austin, Texas; no, it was only half an hour away — 11 songs to be precise. Could you imagine being in a foreign place and discovering that you are one music record away from being (transported) back home?!

The rest is History (yes, with a capital H!): Bad Bunny heard their material and decided to compose and write a song with the group. The result was “Andrea,” a song featured in 2022’s Un Verano Sin Ti. Fast-forward to today and Buscabulla has garnered recognition outside of the limits of an island in the Caribbean (100 x 35 to be specific): they are a band whose ambition and talent knows no limits. A band that makes me proud of calling myself Puerto Rican! In the end, just like the lead singer, Raquel, I can’t help myself but sing “Mío, esto es mío.

Highlights:
-Vámono
-La Fiebre
-El Aprieto
-Mío
-NTE
-No Sabemos
-Nydia

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


As The Sparks Fly Upward by Harvest Thieves (2023)

As The Sparks Fly Upward by Harvest ThievesHailing from the Caribbean, Country as a genre always felt down-home: music made from a place foreign to my ears and my understanding. Yet, when Cory Reinisch (our fellow Waterloovian) and his band of multi-faceted musicians started making the rounds during the summer season with their single “Cadillacs In The Sky,” I couldn’t resist the urge to break the dry spell and two-step in line… — I mean talk about ending the summer with a new pep in your step!

Fast forward to Friday, October 20th and their long-awaited, full-length album was out-and-about. Suddenly, here were 12 songs (46 minutes and 46 seconds) of pure and unadulterated nectar harvested directly from the tree of melodies: a concoction that would make a country of Hall of Famers honk-&-tonk to.

Now, the sum of the 135 words (up to this point — yes, I counted them!) don't hold a candle to the beauty that this record holds behind each lyric, know that  every song holds a garden of emotions that wait to make their way through your subconscious. Yet, don’t just take my word, grab yourself a copy and feel the sparks (as they fly upwards)...

Highlights:
-Birth Of A Salesman
-Cadillacs In The Sky
-Gaslighter
-McCulloch County Wind Chimes
-Friendly Fire
-Unrequited
-Last Call

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Ahora by Melenas (2023)

Ahora by Melenas2023 has brought about many musical surprises, thus far… yet, one of the most unexpected came from a Spanish all-women-quartet called Melenas. On September 29th, they released their latest album aptly-titled Ahora, which translates to “Now or Right Now” — depending on which of your Spanish-speaking friend(s) you ask. All of a sudden, here was a carefully crafted elixharating concoction that upon consumption (44 minutes and 7 seconds, to be exact) would not only morph both the word elixir and exhilarating into a newfound creation that would have the editors of a dictionary scratching their head, but into a roller coaster ride that will have the most conservative of listeners pirouetting between infectious hooks and melodies. Now, without the need to devolve into a philosophical discourse, I attach the true purpose of this review: my open invitation which reads as follows: “If you’re reading this STOP; don’t waste any more time, put on your (dancing) shoes and discover this gem of a record ‘¡AHORA! …’


P.S. I expect a thank you! ”

Highlights:
-Ahora
-K2
-1986
-Dos Pasajeros
-Bang
-Promesas
-Mal

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

 
Covenant The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord by Cabaret Voltaire (1985)

Covenant The Sword And The Arm Of The Lord by Cabaret Voltaire(AKA The Arm Of The Lord.) Cabaret Voltaire’s 7th full length studio album (1985). Outstanding 80’s electronica that is a must have for every collection. Punchy, freakish, industrial dance music that will blow your socks off!!! Not for the average folk, but is so nice on the ears of an electronica fan. I’d highly recommend it to fans of Yello or New Order. It’s seriously one of the weirdest, yet satisfying things that I have found myself dancing to. Important context for spirits alike: The band takes its name after the Zurich nightclub that fostered the early DADA movement. This album is a perfect sonic response to the dadaists absurdity. IYKYK. - Molly Boris


 


Rejected Unknown by Daniel Johnston (2001)

Rejected Unknown by Daniel JohnstonCLASSIC OUTSIDER. A small piece to an incredible discography of the soft, weird?, genius, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, nuts, Danny Johnston. He will forever be a trembling and smiling face in my memory. This album or anything he’s ever recorded will soundtrack your romance, your anytime-crisis, and your hungriest moments. Let him shed his light upon you. BUY THIS and then hug your friend, take the walk… take the toad way… be kind, be primal! Sing your heart out! R.I.P to THE MAN WHO KILLED THE MONSTER! - Molly Boris


 

September 2023


Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century by Mui Zyu (2023)

Rotten Bun For An Eggless Century by Mui ZyuFinding oneself and self purpose, that is one of the most treacherous and personal journeys anyone of us could embark on. Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century is a telling of Mui Zyu’s (Eva Liu) said journey. The album is a dreamy, atmospheric telling of Mui Zyu's quest drenched in reverb and accompanied by lofi drum tracks. The most interesting thing about Rotten Bun’s sound is the use of traditional chinese instrumentation run through various effects units. The majority of songs start off simple enough with a single instrument with vocals and a beat, then will morph into something greater entirely, usually with a wall of sound, distorted guitars, and detuned pianos. Just by your first listen, you can tell this album is extremely personal to Eva Liu and her struggles, and this album perfectly encapsulates those feelings and emotions. I think most of us could find some relation to Eva’s struggles and identify with her struggles. My suggestion is to take time to actually sit down. Focus on the music by yourself free from distractions and become fully engrossed in the music and journey though this Lo Fi Bedroom pop dreamscape. You wont regret it. - Grant


 


Unicorn
by GUNSHIP (2023)

Unicorn by GUNSHIP“I can make you feel alive.” For any fans of synthwave or nostalgic 80’s music, then GUNSHIP might ring a bell or two. Formed in the UK in 2014, GUNSHIP helped pioneer what the synthwave genre would become known as today. Unicorn is the group's 3rd full length album, and the sounds of the 80’s radiate as bright as ever with some twists here and there. Featuring a number of collaborators such as Power Glove, Carpenter Brut, and HEALTH just to name a few. These collaborators help bring the 80’s synth wave sound some edge to them. Using various effects to make the bass line stand out more and sounding more gritty and sharp. This album has just the right amount of fast-paced synthwave action paralleled to the more downtempo tracks to keep you invested and keep you going at the gym. (Seriously this is a fantastic album to jam at the gym to). - Grant


 


Michael by Killer Mike (2023)

Michael by Killer MikeGrab a drink of your choice and listen carefully to the words, nay the lyrical poetry, flowing from the lips of the illustrious Killer Mike a.k.a. Michael [Render]. Last time he released a solo album was back in 2012, R.A.P. Music: a record that sparked a long-standing partnership with El-P, which in turn sparked the super duo Run The Jewels. 11 years later and Killer Mike is, once again, in the front seat riding solo all-the-while exorcizing the (childhood) demons that define his identity outside the stage and the fame: Michael. Curiously, right around 53 minutes and 51 seconds after the last chords hum into one’s subconscious, one can’t help but come to the conclusion that this is a harrowing and enlightening musical experience…you can’t walk out unscathed without shedding some tears, taking your hat off, and screaming into the void: “Keep your eyes on the prize and don't let the devil coerce you!”

Highlights:
-DOWN BY LAW (Feat. CeeLo Green)
-SHED TEARS (Feat. Mozzy & Lena Bird Myles)
-RUN (Feat. Young Thug)
-NRICH (Feat. 6LACK & Eryn Allen Kaye)
-TALK’N THAT SHIT!
-SCIENTISTS & ENGINEERS (Feat. André 3000, Eryn Allen Kaye, & Future)
-DON’T LET THE DEVIL (Feat. El-P & thankugoodsir)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Síntesis Moderna: An Alternative Vision Of Argentinean Music 1980-1990 by Various Artists

Sintesis ModernaThe 80’s are, indisputably, one of the decades that forever changed the way we see (and read) the world today. Although, one could argue for hours on end about the impact it had with the World, as a whole; I think the biggest impact, on this Western side of the hemisphere, was in Latin America. Granted, Latin America has always been a fertile ground: a sort of imaginarium locus from which, ironically-speaking, magical realism flows from whether it be in the pages of a novel (see Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude) or through coup d'états (e.g. Chile 1973). Yet, for all its enchantment and all its many offerings one can’t deny the musical footprint Argentinians left in the 80’s. Sure, I could talk ad nauseum about the Latin American version of The Beatles (i.e. Soda Stereo) and all the bands that shaped Rock En Español but I would be doing a disservice at shedding a light on artists that fell in the shadows of those titans. Hence, not only this review but this mixtape: a collection of 19 songs from different artists that perfectly synthesizes (pun intended) in 1 hour and 38 minutes not only why representation matters but why Latinos do it better…

Highlights:
-Carlos Curia “Operativo”
- El Signo “Dimensiones Ocultas” ( Ric Picolo Edit)
-Ultimate Warriors “Running Away with You”
-Toby “Ain’t That Better” (Harari Edit)
-The Originals “Vamos A La Playa”
-Los Músicos del Centro “Esquirlas”
-Divina Gloria “Mediterranée Club”
-Delight “I Wanna Make You Mine”
-Bad Girls “Dance To Dance”
-Carla Rab “Sexy Films”

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


I'd Be Lying If I Said I Didn't Care by Hannah Georgas (2023)

I'd Be Lying If I Said I Didn't Care by Hannah GeorgasI’d be lyin’ if the next words out of this review were to say that I didn’t care for Hannah Georgas’ latest outing, I'd Be Lying If I Said I Didn't Care (2023). Oh, no, quite the opposite: these 12 songs hide a garden of emotions that await the hunger of readily-abled hearts and ears to hear (and feel!), as well as thump to the drum of her confessions. From the opening verse on “Scratch” (“Start from scratch/How do I do that/How do I make sense of everything I thought I had”) to the last recorded sounds on “Keep Telling Yourself” (“I feel like I'm fighting/And I'm in a ring and everyone’s watching/Everyone's watching”), this record feels as though it was recorded through the lattice of confessional booth — and rightfully so. For the better part of 40 minutes and 43 seconds she creates an imaginarium where she carves out a myriad of questions and feelings we have all felt at one moment in time, one way or another…

Highlights:
-Scratch
-What I Don’t Want
-Better Somehow
-Beautiful View
-Not The Name You Say
-Fake Happy
-Keep Telling Yourself

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Homogenic
by Bjork (1997)

Homogenic by BjorkThis is an album that sonically replicates the volcanic, porous black stone, malleable and molten, erupting with emotion in the extreme. With her third solo album, Björk has done it once again: put those slippery indescribable feelings into song. Take her for no fool; she is as straightforward and cognisant of what she is saying as she ever was. Additionally, one of her primary intentions was to honor the Icelandic landscape she hails from, both in the sounds she used and her lyrics.

Anyone’s emotional fallout will be properly chaperoned by Homogenic, the chorus of strings carrying the heart and the shearing drums holding up the spine – and, of course, her caterwauling serving as a spirited champion for the impassioned. We even hear glimpses of her playing with the delicate microbeats that would later feature in Vespertine in tracks like "Hunter." “Pluto” does right by those experiences that shake the core, smashing tectonic plates. “Five Years” features Bjork at perhaps her most biting: ‘I dare you to take me on.’ Overall, the skipping, glitchy electronic rhythm pairs graciously with frank and sincere timbres throughout this album and delivers a master thesis to us all: to be loved is to be changed. - Eva Nova


 


Shaw Scope Vol. 1 boxset (2021)

Shawscope Volume OneAll you need is this Shaw Scope Vol 1 boxset by Arrow Films and a copy of 36th Chamber (and if you ask me, a copy of My Young Auntie with the greatest female martial arts star in Hong Kong history, Kara Wai/Hui) and you have a very nice Shaw Brothers Collection going.  Without even trying too hard!!

This collection has 12 of the Shaw Brothers' (Runje, Runme, Runde, and Run Run) best features in the correct aspect ratio, many with new or recent transfers.  Standouts Five (Deadly) Venoms, Dirty Ho (pronounced more like "khuh" than "ho".  It is a character's name), Crippled Avengers, and Five Shaolin Masters are easily some of the best kung-fu films ever made.  And the rest of them are damn good.  Mainly representing the work of two of SB's most successful directors, Chang Cheh and Lau Kar-Leung (Liu Chia-Liang), the films were all made in the 70s which was the heyday of early HK cinema.  The outlier in this set is Mighty Peking Man which was an attempt by SB to capitalize on the giant monster craze.  But it's so weird and fun that Quentin Tarantino actually released it on VHS at some point in the past.  So it doesn't really detract from the set.

The box set itself is beautifully done with the outer skin being that weird blue Florentine privacy glass (?) that is shown behind the SB logo at the beginning of every movie.  Inside a 60-page oversized booklet provides details on the movies and many, many articles about stars, directors etc.  And the discs are held in a very cool hardbound caddy that sports new artwork for every movie. 

All in all an amazing first entry in their Shaw Brothers series by Arrow Films.  I would expect nothing less from them.  - Corby


 


Shaw Scope Vol. 2 boxset (2022)

Shawscope Volume TwoShaw Scope Volume 2 is here!!! And it really “completes the set” when paired with Volume 1.  You get another 14 great movies, several from the mid to late Shaw Brothers period, 9 of which are beautiful new transfers.  This includes all 3 of the Lau Kar-Leung/Gordon Liu “36 Chambers” movies, Kara Hui/Wai’s hilarious My Young Auntie (also directed by Lau), 4 Venom Mob flicks (including the fantastic Ten Tigers From Kwangtung), The Boxer’s Omen (a black-magic horror/action movie with no equal), Martial Arts Of Shaolin, the last major Shaw production featuring, at the time, brand new action hero Jet Li, and a few more great films.  Plus the same beautiful packaging of Volume 1, including gobs of extra features, interviews, featurettes, soundtrack CDs, etc.  And of course owning this gorgeous boxes set will make your Qong Fu much more powerful, regardless of what style you practice. - Corby


 

August 2023


Time Will Wait For No One by Local Natives (2023)

Time Will Wait For No One by Local NativesGiven our current state of affairs (i.e. economically, meteorologically, and politically-wise), better words haven’t been professed: “Time Will Wait For No One.” These are the opening words (lyrics?) to Local Natives’ latest outing, 2023’s Time Will Wait For No One: a call to action or an open letter to commiserate as life’s hourglass runs out of sand? Let’s explore.

Last we heard from the California quintet was back in 2019 with Violet Street: a record adorned with lush vocal arrangements and packed with a plethora of metaphors that would make a grown man cry for not being able to paint such lyrical soundscapes. Fast-forward to the Present, and goddammit (in a good, positive way!), they’ve managed to not only create another masterpiece of a record, but a soundtrack to a season. Suffice to say, their direction and focus on this record is different yet familiar: international obstacles to sharing common ground forced them to be absent not only from their fan base’s hearts and ears but from themselves. Yet, the end results were something that I — who has been a fan of their discography ever since they burst on the musical scene with their 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor — did not expect! I’m short, this record is the equivalent of a refreshing spritz on a hot Summer day! Now, I wouldn't go as far as to calling them “21st century miracle workers of modern Indie music,”  but I will say, I’m incredibly happy to have found them, once again, shining bright with vim and vigor and an open invitation for all: “'Cause time will wait for no one/But I'll wait for you.”

Highlights:
-Time Will Wait For No One
-Just Before The Morning
-Paper Lanterns
-Desert Snow
-Featherweight
-Ava
-Paradise

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Aura by Bajofondo (2019)

Aura by BajofondoRiddle me this: the year is 2023 and someone has just told you about an Argentine-Uruguayan octet. Their name? Bajofondo (roughly translated: the Shallows — although there’s nothing superficial about them). Genre? Even the jury is out on that one (including God himself). Yet, there are those who brave the task of defining them and say that their music is a modern take on Tango. Personally, I think they’re closer to a découpé: an aleatory, yet metaphorical, conundrum that sums-up all the different genres that exist and make Latin America the melting pot of cultures it is. Therefore, one could come to the conclusion that their album Aura was not created with the intention of whittling an hour and ten minutes of your time, but rather invest it in something that will make you come-alive. Thus, untangle the webs of preconceived perceptions and sail away into a path of discovery — I promise, you won’t see the genre “Latin Music” the same.

Highlights:
-Solari Yacumenza (Feat. Cuareim 1080)
-Clueca La Cueca
-Espiral
-A Las Siete
-A Tiempo (Feat. Usted Señalemelo)
-Absente
-Bailarín

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Second Life
by Jaws Of Love. (2022)

Second Life by Jaws Of Love.Breathing in a new mentality; finding purpose — a second lease on life — among the trenches of a worldwide-fatal topsy-turvy. That is what Kelcey Ayer of Local Natives explores through his sophomore record, aptly titled, Second Life (2022). Here are 10 tracks that blur the lines between guard and prisoner: while some songs haunt you into the echoes of your subconscious, others seek to weather the storm and shelter us. For 45 minutes one can’t help but fall — enchanted — into the jaws of life. Once again, Ayer has found an outlet to house his creativity and made a record from which the listener can’t walk out unscathed — similar to his  2017 debut, Tasha Sits Close To The Piano.

Highlights:
-1000 Years
-Angelica
-Guard & Prisoner (Feat. Omotola)
-Rainbow Baby
-Rachel Takes A Bath
-5 Years (Feat. Combat!)
-100 Years

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

July 2023


The Artist in the Ambulance by Thrice (Revisited for its 20th Anniversary, 2023)

Artist In The Ambulance by ThriceRecently, my mentor and friend, Patrick Floyd, said: “Time is the only thing we have scarcity of…” This, in turn, made me wonder: “What if the clock’s hands fell still: what would the remains of one’s days say?” This prerogative took even more influence as Thrice announced the re-release of their 2003 career-defining record, The Artist In The Ambulance, aptly titled, The Artist In The Ambulance (Revisited). My mind couldn’t help but wander… 20 years later, and upon hearing the first 10 seconds of “Cold Cash And Colder Hearts,” both my heart and my mind were sent into a whirlwind of emotions… Instantly, I was back in time, lost in a bout of nostalgia: rediscovering a long, forgotten treasure amongst familiar faces and voices (i.e. friends and family)... The floodgates of my memories washed me to the shores of the question that birthed them. My answer? If I were to part from this world as I’m writing these words, I would have 12 songs (41 mins and 18 seconds to be exact) that would best encapsulate my existence — I would feel like the Artist in the ambulance of Thrice’s song: heard and seen.

Highlights:
-Cold Cash And Colder Hearts
-Silhouette
-Stare At The Sun (Feat. Andy Hull)
-Paper Tigers (Feat. Holy Fawn)
-Blood Clots And Black Holes (Feat. Hot Water Music)
-The Artist In The Ambulance
-The Abolition Of Man (Feat. Curl Up And Die)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Soda Stereo by Soda Stereo (1984)

Soda Stereo by Soda StereoIt’s always interesting to sonically go back in time and hear an artist’s rise to fame. Enter Gustavo Cerati, Zeta Bosio, and Charly Alberti: a.k.a Soda Stereo.
What began in the 50’s, with the rattle of a guitar and the hum of a bass alongside a beating drum’s tempo, marinated all over the silhouette of the Americas until it unspooled its roots to the fertile grounds of South America. All these travails lead us to the origin of our review: 1984; where a power trio with a healthy dose of attitude (along with other fixings) emerged from Argentina, and you will know them by the trail of Aqua Net. Fast forward to the Present, to the offices of the Hall of Fame where they’re interviewing witnesses who lived through the intoxication to tell the tale. The stories all concur: Soda Stereo revolutionized the way we now — four decades hence — see and hear Rock En Español; this record was their humble stepping stone to a path of immortality.
Highlights:
-Por Qué No Puedo Ser De Jet Set?
-Sobredosis de T.V.
-Trátame Suavemente
-Tele-Ka
-Un Misil En Mi Placard
-Afrodisíacos
-Mi Novia Tiene Biceps

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Levitation Sessions by Mint Field (2022)

Levitation Sessions by Mint FieldWith two records under their belt — Pasar De Las Luces (2018) and Sentimiento Mundial (2020) — Mexican trio, Mint Field, dropped their haunting Levitation Sessions (2022): 11 songs, 46 minutes and 58 seconds of pure-ethereal-shoegazing bliss that would turn a pagan into a believer. Right from the opening chords of “Jardín De La Paz” to the closing hum of “Present,” you can’t help but feel beguiled: lulled into a dreamscape from which one wouldn’t — and/or shouldn’t — escape... Shucks, I’d be surprised if by the time you finish listening to this record you haven’t reached a heightened sense of sonic enlightenment — yes, it is that life changing!    

Highlights:
-Jardín De La Paz
-Sentimiento Mundial
-Delicadeza
-No Te Caigas
-Nadie Te Esta Persiguiendo
-Quiero Otoño De Nuevo
-Presente

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


In Times New Roman
by Queens Of The Stone Age (2023)

In Times New Roman by Queens Of The Stone AgeAnd on Friday, June 16th, Apollo — the God of Music — (re)introduced Queens Of The Stone Age into the musical discourse: at last, a band who is not afraid to boogie! (Yes, I am aware of the word I employed to describe them, rest assured, it’s not a typo…) I can’t stress how much this amplifies my emotional state for I would need a venue (preferably Red Rocks) to house my élan vital. I explain: it’s been 6 years since we were last graced with their musings, Villains (2017), and in their radio silence we were suddenly invited to the nearest dance floor with the release of their single “Emotion Sickness.” Thankfully, the wait wasn’t long; before one could break the fever of their lyrics or learn a choreography, their record arrived and, man, what a way to welcome the Summer season.

Highlights:
-Obscenery
-Paper Machete
-Negative Space
-Carnavoyeur
-What The Peephole Say
-Sicily
-Emotion Sickness
-Straight Jacket Fitting

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Gossamer by Passion Pit (10th Anniversary, 2023)

Gossamer by Passion PitCelebrating Gossamer’s 10th Anniversary is a refreshing look back into the limitless sonics of the 2010’s! Released on July 20th, 2012, this follow up from Passion Pit’s (Michael Angelakos) debut album Manners is a triumphant benchmark of an uncertain world. Billowing alongside production from the legendary Chris Zane, Angelakos riddles out his vulnerability on this journey every step of the way! Gossamer delivers in a vast wave of genre-bending sounds. With standout tracks such as “Take A Walk,” “Constant Conversation,” and “Cry Like A Ghost,” which catapulted this project to the #4 spot on the US Billboard 200 of 2012. Truly a refreshing dive back into a simpler time! - Elijah


 


Through and Through
by Baby Rose (2023)

Through and Through by Baby RoseD.C.'s own and North Carolina's raised, Baby Rose makes waves with her Secretly Canadian debut, Through and Through. Co-produced alongside Tim Maxey, (NOT THE TWOS) one of the minds behind the narration of Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers, the two deliver a mesmerizing moment outside the norm of contemporary R&B. Rose’s poetic pen shines through her stellar vocal performances throughout this experience. Most notably in her standout singles "Pressure" and "Borderline." Through and Through takes you on a heartfelt journey, backed by impeccable production. Baby Rose's commanding presence and undeniable eye for curation show there is so much more to come from within her heart! - Elijah


 


Pink Tape
by Lil Uzi Vert (2023)

Pink Tape by Lil Uzi VertLil Uzi Vert’s Pink Tape is a long-awaited, explosive return from Philadelphia’s beloved rockstar. This project pays homage to the era Uzi helped pioneer, showcasing his colorful and vibrant versatility! Throughout the album, Uzi passionately expresses his love for various themes that define him. From 2000s Pop-Rock, to nostalgic Animes, Jersey-Club music, and even his unwavering affection for strawberry Pop Tarts. With notable collaborations featuring Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Don Toliver, Babymetal, and Bring Me To The Horizon. The Pink Tape solidifies Uzi’s boundless potential. No limits hold him back! - Elijah


 


The Black Album
by Jay-Z (2003)

The Black Album by Jay-ZIn honor of the "Jay-Z exhibit" recently opened by the Brooklyn Library and approaching its 20th anniversary, we revisit Jay-Z's acclaimed album, The Black Album. Executively produced by Def Jam's co-founder Rick Rubin and featuring contributions from legendary producers such as The Neptunes, Kanye West, Timbaland, Eminem, 9th Wonder, DJ Quick, and Just Blaze, this project stands as a captivating moment in the Golden Era of Hip-Hop. The album was released on November 14th, 2003, and was rumored to be his final album. Heavily inspired by Brian De Palma’s film Carlito’s Way, Jay takes us through his supposed farewell in an introspective direction, while effortlessly championing his name and legacy in stone. With standout tracks such as “Public Service Announcement,” “99 Problems,” “Change Clothes,” and “Dirt Off Your Shoulder,” The Black Album sat at a well-deserved spot of #1 on the US Billboard 200 of 2003. The Black Album remains a timeless testament to Jay-Z's artistry, gracefully swaying among the rafters of Hip-Hop history! - Elijah


 

June 2023


Audioslave by Audioslave (2002)

Audioslave by AudioslaveChris Cornell, like his fellow 90’s comrade, Jeff Buckley, was not meant for this world…. Thankfully, in the wake of his passing we are regaled with a catalog that embodies the prowess of his words and the grandeur of his voice. The perfect coalition of these two variables are mainstreamed in Audioslave’s 2002 self-titled outing — I mean, talk about starting the 21st Century with a bang! (Literally: Cornell and bandmates are lit almost entirely by a barrage of fireworks, all-the-while creating some of the most impressive opening verses in recent memory: “Well, I've been watching / While you've been coughing / I've been drinking life / While you've been nauseous” Thinking about it just gives me goosebumps). Dismissed by many as an anachronistic version of Rage Against the Machine or, the other way around, Soundgarden; this record was so much more than the sum (or lack!) of words: they were the epitome of a supergroup! Here you had a band who substituted the need to be political and a lead singer who forgot the need to honor his musical ancestors (i.e. The Beatles). The result: the marriage of two musical staples that (re)defined the face of the late 20th Century and the beginning of the 21st.

Highlights:
-Cochise
-Show Me How To Live
-Gasoline
-Like A Stone
-Set It Off
-Shadow On The Sun
-I Am The Highway
-Exploder
-The Last Remaining Light

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Lucha by Y La Bamba (2023)

Lucha by Y La BambaLuz Elena Mendoza Ramos’ latest outing, Lucha (2023), feels like an invitation to browse through a scrapbook of sun faded polaroids. Collapsing English confessions into Spanish epiphanic verses. (Dis)assembling a memory(‘s) palace.  More specifically: hers. For 42 minutes and 59 seconds we are in the antechambers of self-Discovery: weaving together the imperfections of a Past in the hopes of reconciling it with the portrait of the Present… Therefore, sit back, grab your favorite beverage, and get lost in the haze of her lyrics.

Highlights:
-Dibujos De Mi Alma
-Collapse
-Nunca
-Ceniz
-Damned

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Figura de Cristal by Estrella del Sol (2023)

Figura de Cristal by Estrella del SolWhen one hears about an artist whose record and name (aptly) translate to Crystal Figure by Star of the Sun, one can’t fight the feeling of wonder and the urge of discovery. That’s exactly what the side project of the Mexican singer/songwriter of the shoegaze band, Mint Field, alludes to – or, at least, what I suspect — with her latest outing. Here are 9 songs that cohabitate with one another in a capsule of time — 21 minutes-and-a-half to be clear. A prismatic collection of songs a listener illumines into existence.

Highlights:
-Ver A Través De Tus Ojos
-Tangible
-Adentro De Mis Sábanas
-Solo Yo Puedo Cuidarte
-Acompáñame

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Chloë and The Next 20th Century by Father John Misty (2022)

Chloe and The Next 20th Century by Father John MistyI’ve always felt that Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, has written and composed musical vignettes for his ever-fleeting Present. An actor stuck in a Tragicomical Myth: a man who keeps getting swallowed into a Past tense before he can (e)quip his lyrics with the proper tinge of wit into existence. Thus, his lovelorn songs: an Imaginarium locus he has erected to haunt the hallways of his immediate Memory… This brings me to his latest record, 2022’s Chloë and The Next 20th Century — another perfect example of his aforementioned self-induced predicament. Another brick on the wall of his mythos… A near-perfect concoction of songs that hinge between self-delusion and genius.

Highlights:
-Kiss Me (I Loved You)
-Buddy’s Rendezvous
-Q4
-Olvidado (Otro Momento)
-Funny Girl
-We Could Be Strangers
-The Next 20th Century

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Dirt Femme by Tove Lo (2022)

Dirt Femme by Tove LoTove Lo’s electro-synth exploration in vulnerability floats through your brain with ease (and only the occasional gut-punch). Right off the bat, she hits us with ‘No One Dies From Love,’ pulling us in with the connection of heartbreak. If all lovers feel like they’re inventing something, each heartbreak invents something too. Tove Lo expounds on this: It’s different for everyone - but doesn’t that make it the same, in a way?

Thus begins the exploration into Dirt Femme. It’s like fighting a fire of feelings while kindling it. Spinning and dancing and shouting how we feel at the top of our lungs - chin up and chest out.

Overall, great album for a year-round dance party. Powerful and earnest, Dirt Femme sparkles in speakers and leaves you with a smile on your face. - Johanna


 


Dawn FM by The Weeknd (2022)

Dawn FM by The WeekndThis is an album that takes you somewhere just outside this plane of existence. It holds you in its fist, floating, until the final track tunes in and out. Listening for the first time was almost like being hypnotized. You blink and suddenly you’ve been driving under a deep orange sky the whole time, thunder rolling without you hearing it. Looking at your hands on 10 and 2, wondering when you put them there.

In addition to a tracklist stacked with heady dance tracks, there are also two spoken word pieces (one by Quincy Jones and one by 'Jim,' the narrator-slash-radio host) interspersed at significant points in the progression of the album’s narrative. The first piece reminds us to trust others, and the second reminds us to trust ourselves.

Sit and listen to the whole thing, preferably at night or while watching a thunderstorm. Or both.

Skips: Track 4

- Johanna


 

May 2023


First Two Pages Of Frankenstein by The National (2023)

First Two Pages Of Frankenstein by The NationalThe National’s comeback into the musical zeitgeist is one I have pined for ever since they last serenaded us with their 2019 studio recording session, I Am Easy To Find. Now, I stress the verb pine as their aforementioned recording fell short. In its wake, I was left piecing together, haphazardly, the rhymes that would help me find - with ease -  the genius of lead singer Matt Berninger’s perfect (ironic) concoction between self-deprecation and (literary) brilliance (e.g. “Don't you understand?/Your mind is not your friend again/It takes you by the hand/And leaves you nowhere”). This is just a glimpse of the beauty that adorns their new effort, First Two Pages of Frankenstein, an album packed with lyrics that border the lines that blur melancholy and enlightenment. Just like The Beatles sang 57 years ago: The National gets by with a little help from their newfound connections (i.e. Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, and Taylor Swift). The result of such collaborations reaches uncharted territory, one that makes us wonder what the future holds for a band whose record feels like a new lease on life. Then again, don’t just take my word for it…give it a spin and find for yourself the genius of the first two songs of The National’s new Frankenstein-like outing: a creation to behold and bask in the wonder of.

Highlights:
-Once Upon A Poolside
-This Isn’t Helping (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)
-Alien
-The Alcott (Feat. Taylor Swift)
-Grease In Your Hair
-Your Mind Is Not Your Friend (Feat. Phoebe Bridgers)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Stereo Mind Game by Daughter (2023)

Stereo Mind Game by DaughterDaughter exists almost synonymously with the famous line actor Tom Hanks delivered in Robert Zemeckis’ 1994 film Forrest Gump: “[...] like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.” That is, with every release, the band finds ways to elevate their craft to new heights all-the-while giving you the comfort and richness of a box of sweets. Given their 6-7 year absence from the musical limelight, the band doesn’t waste any time in luring listeners into familiar ground with their track, “Be On Your Way”: a call to action to meet them back in the same corridors they last serenaded us and stay for a while... or, at least, until we muster the courage to scream the lyrics to their lullaby, “Wish I Could Cross the Sea,” and see them perform upfront. Therefore, as a result, their music feels like an open invitation to look inward, pick up a pen, and proceed to tune out the (stereo)typical mind games we all harvest beneath the surface of one's skin.


Highlights:
-Be On Your Way
-Party
-Neptune
-Swim Back
-Future Lover
-Isolation
-To Rage
-Wish I Could Cross the Sea

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Eco by Jorge Drexler (2004)

Eco by Jorge DrexlerThere’s a sweet magnetism from the first time you listen to Uruguayan singer-songwriter Jorge Drexler’s opening chords on 2004’s Eco. Maybe it's the echo of the opening song’s title being echoed with the title of the record or maybe it’s just the disarming simplicity of his lyrics to which one can’t help but feel, sing, and dance – in no specific order, of course. While our minds ponder the complicity of his talents, I can’t help but say that regardless of the outcome to the prerogative interposed in the last sentence, this record feels like the encapsulation of a season: Summer. Fun, breezy, and filled with the all-encompassing feeling of driving around a coastal town in a convertible.

Highlights:
-Eco
-Deseo
-Guitarra Y Vos
-Polvo de Estrellas
-Don de Fluir
-Fusión
-Salvapantallas

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Depende by Jarabe de Palo (1998)

Depende by Jarabe de PaloEverything is dependent upon time and space… Two variables frontman, Pau Donés, became acquainted with as he began his musical career in the mid 90’s. I explain: ever since Jarabe de Palo burst into the Spanish Rock scene – both geographically and linguistically speaking –  with their 1996 debut La Flaca you could instantly tell they were special. With hit singles like “La Flaca,” “El Lado Oscuro,” and “Grita” Donés immediately garnered the attention of both music critics and fans (including myself, of course!): an audience of ready-abled listeners that desperately awaited his follow-up. Then, Depende (1998) came to fruition: a collection of 14 songs that solidified Donés and his alternating company of musicians into the canon of Latin Music by bridging the gap between commercial and critical success. So much so that a quarter century since its release it still manages to break new ground and find new fans – a perfect example of the continuous disruption of both time and space... then again, if you were to ask Donés himself, I venture he would answer “Depende ¿de qué depende?/De según como se mire, todo depende”...

Highlights:
-Depende
-Pura Sangre
-Te Miro Y Tiemblo (Feat. Ketama)
-La Plaza De Las Palmeras
-Toca Mi Canción
-Duerme Conmigo
-Adiós

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

April 2023


The Valley Of Vision by Manchester Orchestra (2023)

Valley Of Vision by Manchester OrchestraHow do you peel back the fabric of your words in order to show the vulnerability of your existence? Heavy — I know! Then again, that is the prerogative I found myself pondering late into the wee hours of the night after listening to Manchester Orchestra’s latest release, the EP, aptly titled The Valley of Vision (2023). Lead singer Andy Hull has always written music/lyrics that felt immediate: as my friend and mentor, Patrick Floyd, eloquently pronounced “[…] the lyrics were wet ink, not given a moment to dry, before being committed to wax…” A poetic carpe diem to an existential conundrum that has accompanied us, as purveyors and listeners, over the span of his musical career. Yet, for all his need to immortalize a Moment in time — the universal Here and Now — the lyrics never seem to reach a date of expiration: they are a message in a bottle that reaches the shore of those it was meant to reach at the right time. Yes, in short, Hull is an alchemist! His craft just keeps getting perfected record-to-record, all-the-while peeling the curtains back and making us face ourselves in the mirror with the most difficult questions. Andy Hull is a genius and his catalog proves it. So please, take a chance, put your headphones on, and know that I’ll be on the other end of this review waiting for your re:view…

Highlights:
-Capital Karma
-The Way
-Letting Go
-Lose You Again
-Rear View

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Mad Love by Robi Draco Rosa (2004)

Mad Love by Robi Rosa Draco“¡Puerto Rico Lo Hace Mejor!”

Growing-up in Puerto Rico, these five words adorned much of my adolescence without any weight or gravitas…until 2004. For the better part of my puberty, my musical proclivities were (pre)occupied trying to find a fertile garden in which to bloom and bear fruit. It wasn’t until my ears were met with the melodic nuances of Robi Draco Rosa’s single, “Más y Más (Crash Push),” from his album Mad Love (2004), that I was able to understand the immediacy of love at first sight — what ensued was nothing short of a pure and unadulterated concoction of mad love, I might add! Now, before this album was released, Rosa had been around the cultural discourse for quite some time: starting his career as a member of the boy group Menudo; writing and composing musical arrangements and busting out hits (e.g. Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and Ednita Nazario’s “Más Grande Que Grande,” among other songs); producing and releasing three (3) albums and a “Greatest Hits” prior to this record. Yes, if you’re keeping score, it took me a grand total of four (4) releases and a few international hits for me to take stock and listen to him, but the moment I heard him it was over: my chest was inflated and I was filled with so much pride for this wasn't any artist making music, this was a Puerto Rican Artist whose catalog I wanted to pore through — he was one of ours!

Almost 20 years have passed, and although Draco has released many other albums, I still find myself reminiscing over this one record: the one that made me go and scream to the four winds “PUERTO RICO DOES IT BETTER!”

Highlights:
-Dancing In The Rain
-Lie Without A Lover
-My Eyes Adore You
-This Time
-California
-Mad Love
-Más y Más (Crash Push)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


MTV Unplugged by Fobia (2020)

MTV Unplugged by FobiaIt is ethically impossible for me to hold a discussion about Rock En Español without name-dropping Mexican band Fobia: they exist in the same brea(d)th as the term Latin Music. More specifically, this is a band whose impact and accolades are synonymous with the word Icon(ic): as opposed to other bands who’ve pursued the ever-fleeting mistress known as Fame, yet have fallen short of its shadow, Fobia has emerged victorious. Yes, one could say they are not only famous but a musical staple, and rightfully so. And, their latest release, MTV Unplugged,  further cements this statement: a collection of 13 songs that highlight their 23-year tenure all-the-while serving as the equivalent of a sparknotes for those who want to whet their curiosity.

Highlights:
-Pesadilla
-Hoy Tengo Miedo
-Mi Pequeño Corazón
-2 Corazones
-Hipnotízame
-El Diablo
-No Eres Yo

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Lasso Yo by Canon Blue (2017)

Lasso Yo by Canon BlueThere’s something – musically speaking – percolating in the Tennessee waters…

Just as I preface this review with this PSA, I must stress the fact that my intention is not to alarm but to lasso the gap between obscurity and enlightenment. That said, cue the opening track of Nashville producer/singer-songwriter, Daniel James’ third outing, Lasso Yo (2017), and let yourself feel…Beholden….Yes, that is both the feeling that accompanies you as you take in this body of work and discover his alter ego: Canon Blue; as well as the opening title track of his most personal work to date. For a span of 9 songs and 36 mins, our ears wander through a safari of musical chords and a rollercoaster of emotions… then, just as the closing track “Germanium” germinates into our subconscious, you can’t help but bear witness to James’ plea to house his malaise and struggles with depression into a cathartic opus that breathes and embraces a new mentality for life.   

Highlights:
-Beholden
-Tame Birds
-Plea Rel
-Carry My Weight
-Back In Town

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Honey by Samia (2023)

Honey by SamiaWhen listening to Honey, it’s obvious that Samia showed up to create this album and didn’t waste a single word. The result is a modern tightrope walk with quicksand pain on one side and effervescent happiness on the other. She is unafraid to sway between these two extremes, creating a picture of the waves we move through in life - the ones we choose and the ones we don’t. With a delicate yet powerhouse voice, she lets us in and tells us of the terrors and the joys that come with being alive, with waking up and facing another day. You’ll dance, you’ll sing, you’ll be rendered speechless. - Johanna


 


the record
by boygenius (2023)

the record by boygeniusAfter who knows how many listens since it arrived on March 31st, the record still gets me emotional. It's been a long time since I've heard an album and wanted to listen to nothing else. The boys' sonic fingerprints remain distinct, but they meld into a hand that you want to high-five, hold, and knock around in a secret handshake. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for the end of "Letter To An Old Poet," when Phoebe calls back a familiar melody but changes the words to show us that things have changed since 2018's self-titled EP; I had to listen again immediately. An ode to female friendship, platonic love, and doing whatever the **** they want. It's a great idea, and I'm all about it.

Highlights include Julien wishing you were kind enough to be cruel about it, Phoebe asserting that she wants to be HAPPY, and Lucy admitting that there's something in you that she will always recognize. Favorite lyrics: "you say you're a winter bitch / but summer's in your blood / you can't help but become the sun" (from "True Blue") and "but we don't have to talk about it / I can walk you home and practice method acting / I'll pretend being with you doesn't feel like drowning" (from "Cool About It") - Allie


 


Transference
by Spoon (2010)

Transference by SpoonAs pure and as lo-fi as a street organ and as modern and as brutalist as a sledgehammer striking steel, Transference is the 7th studio album from Austin’s own Spoon. Front man Britt Daniel’s elliptically forthright lines and fuzzed out, melodic howl and growl melds with a pounding, bare bones, Jim Eno sonic landscape to create a masterclass in minimalism with all of the groove and soul of a vintage Stax record, and all of the Back to the Futurist hum of a ray gun blasted through a transistor radio.

Highlights:
-Mystery Zone
-Before Destruction
-Out Go the Lights

- Russell G. Ochoa


 


Black Pumas by Black Pumas (2019)

Black PumasDoes everything Adrian Quesada touches turn to gold? Was Eric Burton born a genius? Can anyone touch this lineup? Are the Black Pumas even from this era? This planet? To find out the answers to these questions and more, grab this Grammy nominated, self-titled debut (!) album... immediately. Assembled at the intersection of Los Angeles and Austin, and built from the bones of rock solid tunes, bulletproof riffs and thumping, feel-it-in-your-veins soul for days, everything about Black Pumas reverberates through your body like that sweet and joyous hallelujah ache you get when you visit with a friend you haven’t seen for ages. You might not have even known that you’d missed them as much as you did, but now that they’re in front of you — damn, are they a sight for sore eyes.

Highlights:
-Black Moon Rising
-Colors

- Russell G. Ochoa


 

March 2023


Fantasy by M83 (2023)

Fantasy by M83M83, comprised of multi-instrumentalists Nicolas Fromageau and Anthony Gonzalez, has always had a knack for making music that feels larger-than-life. From 2008’s Saturdays = Youth to 2011’s Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, the French duo have created music that feels like it would make Proust proud and nostalgic in the breadth of a song: longing for a Past that felt lost yet, suddenly, recouped and up-to-Present…

It is in the Present Tense that we are presented with their latest outing, Fantasy: a collection of 13 new songs that immediately feel as a continuation to the ellipsis that was interjected between 2011 and the cemented Here and Now 2023. The album feels like the third (and closing) act to a trilogy that was concocted back in 2008, and which the other two aforementioned records could be seen as Act I and II. Ironically, every record has been tinged with a visual preface thanks to their covers: Birth – being young (2011), Youth – being in your teens (2008), and Adulthood – aging into the inevitable (2023). The Fantasy is palpable, and if anything, we are grateful to have the main acts come back — center stage — and serenade us as we age along with them.

Highlights:
-Oceans Niagara
-Us And The Rest
-Earth To Sea
-Fantasy
-Laura

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Blow Up by Bomba Estéreo (2008)

Blow Up by Bomba EstéreoThe year: 2009. The Season: Summer (specifically the hot and sticky month of July). These are the two factors that come into play when talking about Bomba Estéreo’s debut, Blow Up, and its perfect interjection not only in this sentence but in Latin Americannot the cringing, umbrella-like denomination, “Latin” – music. Hailing from Colombia, Bogotá, this group broke into the mainstream with their own take of Dance/Electronic music. Just like the title of their record, this group came, played/danced their beating hearts, and exploded into our collective subconscious! So much so, that almost 14 years later anytime this record reaches the (virgin) ears of someone who’s never witnessed the plethora of styles they’ve embodied in just 12 songs, immediately feels like they must preach the BE Gospel for fear of simply blowing-up from withholding such a multicultural art/work from being shared with others. In short, it’s hard to think of the current state of Music in Spanish without having them amongst the almanac of recorded history.


Highlights:
-Fuego
-Agua Salá
-Feelin’
-Pa’ti
-Raza

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Tako Tsubo by L'Impératrice (2021)

Tako Tsubo by L'ImpératriceIt’s been years since I screamed the lines to a chorus that was sung in a foreign language to which I was the foreigner: an outsider looking in trying to decipher the rhyme of words that seemed to slip so naturally from my tongue... Yes, I admit: the song was “Lady Marmalade'' from Baz Luhrman’s 2001 musical Moulin Rouge! which was interpreted by a collective of talent that you wish existed outside of that one song – I mean, talk about an ensemble! But, that’s neither here nor there. If anything this serves as a perfect segue as to the impact Music has on us, as listeners, so much so that we are not only entranced but ready-able to destroy any barriers (e.g. language) that would normally hold us back. That said, cue: Tako Tsubo, the second full-length album by French group L’Impératrice. Without falling into the trappings of a music critic, I will keep it short and simple and say this: this group has weaved together 13 songs in which you’ll be dividing your time between dancing (non-stop!) to the fluid arrangements that travel between English and French lyricism or simply looking up translations of what you're singing the chorus to. Spoiler alert: it’s nothing dirty or out of place but playful and quirky like their tunes… Question is: Voulez-vous écouter ce disque avec moi?*

Highlights:
-Anomalie Bleue
-Fou
-Submarine
-Peur de Filles
-Voodoo?

*It’s ok, you can go ahead and copy/paste this last sentence on your Google Translate and come back to me with your answer…

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Galaxia de Emociones
by Jackie Mendoza (2023)

Galaxia de Emociones by Jackie MendozaThere’s something incredibly entrancing, yet familiar about listening to Jackie Mendoza’s newest album, Galaxia de Emociones: from its opening track to its closing chords we are enveloped into a dreamscape where she wields her ukulele-strumming talents into an arranged marriage with loops and electronic beats that make me yearn (with bouts of nostalgia) for the old Grimes (i.e. 2012’s Visions). Yet, Jackie goes beyond the musical reference: her ambition is palpable yet grounded. For every song, you hear an artist who is comfortable in the sonic highway in which she travels yet leaves space for exploration. The record reads like a night-drive: an open invitation to go out into the dark and explore the rollercoaster (or should I have said galaxy?!) of emotions around which she wraps around you like a weighted blanket waiting to rock you to sleep.


Highlights:
-Natural
-Oh Cielos
-Pedacitos
-Hay Frijoles en la Casa (Stomps)
-Mousetrap
-3AM
-Ya Somos Estrellas

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


El Bueno Y El Malo by Hermanos Gutiérrez (2022)

El Bueno Y El Malo by Hermanos GutierrezSince the release of El Bueno Y El Malo, their latest Dan Auerbach-produced album, gallons of ink (digital and physical) have been spilled on Ecuadorian/Swiss siblings, Hermanos Gutiérrez. Their epic evocations of Morricone and spaghetti westerns conjure up expansive, sonic panoramic visions on tunes like ‘Thunderbird’ and ‘La Verdad,’ while the dreamy and thoughtfulness of ‘Cielo Grande’ will send you on a deep, explorative journey of nature and consciousness. But don’t take my word for it…

‘It’s like we are taking a road trip. Sometimes we’re traveling up the coast, but always we are in nature, and we see the most beautiful landscapes, sunrises and sunsets.’  -- Estevan Gutiérrez

Highlights:
-  Thunderbird
-  Tres Hermanos
-  La Verdad
-  Cielo Grande

- Russell G. Ochoa


 


Cracker Island by Gorillaz (2023)

Cracker Island by GorillazCracker Island, the eighth studio album from the animated, misfit outfit Gorillaz finds the creative wellspring that is Damon Albarn and illustrator/artist Jamie Hewlett teaming up with producer extraordinaire Greg Kurstin for a thinly-veiled exploration of present day life via a fictitious cult that dips in and out of mirroring society and all of its trappings... real, virtual, imagined and invented.

From the future funk, driving bass of Thundercat on the title track, to the inimitable Stevie Nicks doing her 21st Century, Fleetwood Mac best on 'Oil,' and Kevin Parker & Bootie Brown (Pharcyde) melding hip hop with the psychedelic/electronic Tame Impala sound on 'New Gold,' Albarn hasn't lost his knack for keeping his collaborations true to showcasing his guests' strengths, building the tracks around the hallmarks that put them on the map.

Nowhere is this more evident than on the reggaeton ambiance of ‘Tormenta' featuring Bad Bunny. Albarn's vocals merely bookend the tune, taking a backseat to the Puerto Rican born superstar’s note-perfect, lounge-like delivery.

In the same vein, the ethereal 'Silent Running' sees Albarn bring long time Gorillaz 'Humanz Choir' member and former Amy Winehouse backing vocalist, Adeleye Omotayo front and center for a mesmerizing counterpoint to Albarn’s melancholic refrains.

All things said, Cracker Island is a true Gorillaz record full of crowd pleasing brilliance in the form of ear-worm lyrics (e.g. ‘Fairy light companions…To the dark maths that catapult’), pulsating tunes and recognizable, heavy hitters to guide the way. 

Whether it’s utilizing synth sounds that evoke late 70’s/early 80’s American radio staples, Albarn mining his pop and punk roots on ‘Skinny Ape,’ or the former partnering with Beck to manifest the Walker Brothers on the baritone-laden ‘Possession Island,’ Cracker Island sets itself apart from the Gorillaz discography as an unabashed pop record that goes for longevity and groove versus flash and bubblegum.

Highlights:
- Cracker Island (featuring Thundercat)
- Silent Running (featuring Adeleye Omotayo)
- Oil (featuring Stevie Nicks)
- Tormenta (featuring Bad Bunny)
- Possession Island (featuring Beck)
- Baby Queen

- Russell G. Ochoa


 

February 2023


New Erections by The Locust (2007)

New Erections2007 saw the end of their sonic infestation, but not without a final devastating and powerful sonic boom. If you’ve perhaps experienced the urge to dabble with trepanation, I’d pass this album to you along with a sweet pair of bug goggles and maybe a tray for ensuing fluids. The Locust stands out from their particular genre, not just donning their iconic insect uniform, but moreso for the innovative implementation of the classic Moog sound into a traditional grindcore platform. Cresting just over 20 minutes, The Locust’s final album whips by with razor sharp glassy wings. Notable also for the variation in vocals throughout the album and the group’s descent into a heavier, at times nearly sludgy, tone. Highlights of New Erections include their hit “AOTKPTA,” and my personal favorite, “Full Frontal Obscurity,” a song that culminates in a satisfying call-and-response between Justin Pearson and Bobby Bray. Some songs achieve a borderline disturbing effect, like “Book of Bot,” when the ground suddenly falls out from under the typical grind track leaving the listener in the wake of a nauseating synth drawl. Whatever your preference is, I fully endorse the new hole in your skull. - Eva Nova


  


Dry - Demos by PJ Harvey (issued 2020)

Dry DemosTypically, when an artist grants us access to the demos of their published work it tends to have more of a vulnerable feeling much akin to holding the raw film of their very own ultrasounds. This album, however, stands in defiant contradiction to the vulnerability that you may have expected. The Dry demos are brimming with the kind of full-grown confidence that grips your collar and, with teeth bared, declares that it has full conviction in its own conception.

At just 21 years old, PJ Harvey composed these songs while she was attending art college in Yeovil; there she carved out the demos in space with a 4-track and her guitar. As a dedicated Polly Jean listener, it was hard to believe that Dry could sound even fuller when stripped from the production of her backing band. Above the power chords, her frank, sincere voice quivers with a little more fragility than we’re used to hearing from Harvey. At times you can hear her struggle to wrangle her voice and the car hydroplanes, but she redirects just in time.  

Dazzling moments on the album include “Oh My Lover’s” unexpected softness, and “Dress” building leering swagger. “Victory” pulls itself up to look up at the sun like a marooned body washing up on a windy shore. No matter the song, her sense of humor pushes through the fabric and makes itself known. We bear witness to the process of her discovering, and swiftly adjusting to, a fearless delivery. With just 11 songs, PJ Harvey nocks an arrow. - Eva Nova


Abattoir Blues by Nick Cave (2004)

Abattoir BluesThe first time I heard “Breathless,” my mother prefaced it with a specific visual: “It sounds like a vampire woke up on the right side of the bed and started singing a love song.” As the song traipsed along, the picture started to paint itself. She was right - I could totally see some caped Count Vamp in the sunny woods, the flutes kicking in like little cartoon bluebirds singing along.

Some sources suggest that this album was written as a love letter to his wife, and being the type of poet that he is, of course he chose to filter his feelings through the sieve of Greek mythology. Could one argue that Nick Cave turns a page with Abattoir Blues? The difference from his previous moody work cannot be denied; perhaps marriage has sublimated Cave’s proclivity towards angst.

Nick Cave and his band draw down ecstasy, trepidation, and, what’s that? Even a little twinge of gospel? Out of the Grinderman, into the Bad Seeds once more, and don’t forget to take a little red wine with you on the way out as sacrament. - Eva Nova


 


Nacarile by iLe (2022)

Nacarile“A la deriva” (roughly translated to “Adrift")...is how Puerto Rican singer-songwriter, iLe, welcomes us into her new creation Nacarile: adrift among a sea of newfound soundscapes and coursing a drift of verses that weave together 11 songs of which nobody can walk away unscathed from emotion(s). Helming only 36 minutes and 52 seconds, iLe has made an album that will have you immersed in a delirious state of singing – even if you don’t know what she’s singing – and dancing until the very last chord. The artist has amassed the equivalent of a UN panel of talent from all over Latin America: from the all-female mariachi band from New York City Flor de Toloache to the Mexican songstress Natalia Lafourcade; from Chilean songbird Mon Laferte to Puerto Rican rapper/reggaeton singer Ivy Queen – these are just a few of the names that make this album such a trove to treasure.

Highlights:
-A La Deriva (Feat. Flor de Toloache)
-(Escapándome) de mí
-En Cantos (Feat. Natalia Lafourcade)
-ALGO BONITO (Feat. Ivy Queen)
-Cuando TE MIRO (Feat. Rodrigo Cuevas)
-Paisaje
-No Es Importante

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


High Violet by The National (2010)

High VioletI still remember the first time I heard a song by The National: it was Fall 2012, I was living in Washington, DC, and I was walking to work when I heard their single “Bloodbuzz Ohio” from their album High Violet blasting through my headwires thanks to a Dropbox folder I shared with some friends. What ensued from this discovery was nothing short of obsession: I began poring through their catalog and memorizing every verse and every piece of information that permeated the media about them, as if I was on the path to become the band’s historian. My discovery led me to understand lead singer Matt Berninger’s long-standing self-induced relationship with gloom and his “need” to house his limitations all-the-while bridging the ground between self-deprecation and self-accountability for his (entropic) raison d’être within this collection of songs. This is a record that almost 13 years after its release still has me going back and peeling back the layers of its intricate nature – I mean, talk about replay value…anyone!?

Highlights:
-Terrible Love
-Sorrow
-Anyone’s Ghost
-Little Faith
-Afraid Of Everyone
-Lemonworld
-Runaway
-Conversation 16

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Residente o Visitante
by Calle 13 (2007)

Residente o VisitanteWhen the Puerto Rican duo comprised of siblings Residente (the singer) and Visitante (the producer/beat maker) commonly known as Calle 13 first burst into the mainstream zeitgeist with their self-titled debut, critics did not know how to catalog them: Reggaeton, Hip-Hop, Electronic, or, the “all-encompassing,” yet cringing term, Latin? Yet, this was a group that did not want to be pigeonholed; therefore, it is safe to assume that they’re all of the above. Moreover, maybe that’s what being classified as Latin means: Latinos can play any sort of genre and because we’re a diaspora of cultures we encompass anything and everything other genre(s)-artist(s) wish they could. But, I confess, I digress from my original motive for writing: reviewing this specific piece of art-work.

This record is an amazing follow-up to a debut that had people all over the world bobbing their heads and screaming the lyrics to “Atrévete-Te-Te” (including my grandparents). The music and the lyrics in this outing are just phenomenal: both members are at the top of their game: the production feels more polished and the writing more elevated – both just yearn for an audience of ready-abled listeners to house its melodies… It’s an open invitation to become either a permanent resident of their musical journey (Residente) or a visitor (Visitante) who just listens and walks away nonplussed. It’s my humble opinion that, given the right disposition to spend 1 hour and 2 minutes of your time, you will walk out of this listening experience with a new outlook on “Latin” Music. Question is: do you dare-re-re? (CUE “Atrévete-Te-Te”!)

Highlights:
-Tango del Pecado (Feat. Bajofondo Tango Club, Panasuyo)
-Mala Suerte con el 13 (Feat. La Mala Rodríguez)
-Algo Con-Sentido (Feat. pg-13)
-Pa’l Norte (Feat. Orishas)
-Cumbia de los Aburridos
-El Avión Se Cae
-La Crema

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Two Dreams by Circa Survive (2023)

Two DreamsCirca Survive announced their decision to go on hiatus for an indefinite time in the Fall of 2022. Yet, with the news of their departure from the limelight, they also left us with a parting gift to hold us - the listeners - through our lonesome nights while we wait for them to come back to our welcoming eardrums like a prodigal son. The gift: an album that has united (in musical matrimony!) the last two EP’s the band had recorded together –  2021’s A Dream About Love and 2022’s A Dream About Death – aptly-titled Two Dreams. Gone is the angst and the desperate screams that once adorned their songs; in its stead we are presented with a record that plays like an open love letter: a dream-like heartfelt swansong… a (temporary) departure before we wake-up from the nightmare of their absence.

Highlights:
-Imposter Dream
-Our Last Shot
-Gone For Good
-Sleep Well
-Late Nap
-Discount on Psychic Readings
-Die on the West Coast

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers by Kendrick Lamar (2022)

Mr. Morale & The Big SteppersAt this point, Kendrick Lamar is quite obviously one of the greatest artists of our time. On the double- album, therapy-voyage Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers, Lamar uses elements of jazz, R&B/soul, and trap to produce a “conscious hip hop” record that explores themes of trauma, toxic masculinity, and celebrity worship. Much like the rest of the world, the surreal music video for “The Heart Beat Part 5” launched my interest in the album, Lamar’s fifth and final project on the TDE label. As with all the most memorable artists, Lamar’s greatest strength is his vision – modern trap sounds are used to pivot away from narrative tropes and instead comment on greater social and institutional issues via the main character’s personal narrative. A collection of songs that should come off as choppy and meandering is wrangled gracefully into a cohesive statement under Lamar’s pen; this masterpiece sees him at his most potent and powerful yet, nestled between legacy and just getting started. - Serenity Autumn


 


RENAISSANCE by Beyoncé (2022)

RENAISSANCELast year, Beyoncé gifted us with RENAISSANCE, and it was precisely the house pop escapism we all needed post-pandemic (if we can even call the summer of 2022 that). The resilient “BREAK MY SOUL” – as refreshing and joyous a single as it is – arguably received radio overplay, but that just comes with the territory of a powerhouse like Beyoncé. Album tracks like the 6-minute track “VIRGOÂ’S GROOVE”, my personal favorite, “CHURCH GIRL”, and Donna Summer-homage and closer “SUMMER RENAISSANCE” never overstay their welcome. In fact, RENAISSANCE's seamless, beat-matched transitions implore listeners to respect the hour-long album-to-dance-floor experience, and Beyoncé consistently inspires and delivers. - Serenity Autumn


 


Barbarism by Katie Alice Greer (2022)

BarbarismFormerly of D.C.’s post-punk band Priests, Katie Alice Greer released her first solo album, the surreal electro-rock Barbarism, on Four Four Records. While her frontwoman persona with Priests boasted a classic feminist-punk approach, Barbarism sees Greer taking the reins with a much more poised, Bjork-ian presence. Just as eerily commanding, Barbarism’s chaotic soundscapes mirror the feeling of a socially deteriorating, mid-pandemic world; yet Greer’s calm-but-effect-ed voice at once guides when isolated and excitingly skin-crawls in the context of doom-laden soundscapes and lyrical themes. Standout tracks include the hook-y singles “FITS/My Love Can’t Be” and “Dreamt I Talked To Horses,” but the record overall is its own complete, tripped-out, must-listen experience. - Serenity Autumn


 


Love Transcends by Jackie Venson (2021)

Love TranscendsAustin treasure Jackie Venson continues her ascension to the top with blues album Love Transcends. Described by Venson as "written across a decade, recorded in a pandemic, played in a style a century old," the record was performed completely live with her long-time band at Arlyn Studios and produced by Tim Palmer. Venson is known for her Prince and Hendrix-esque guitar work as well as for her eclectic pop songwriting style, which blends studied swaths of reggae, blues, rock, R&B, and electronica. Love Transcends showcases Venson's catalogue of original, new and familiar blues-centric songs, which got a revamp on the record. Followers of Venson will recognize a good number of fan favorites from her live shows ("Rollin' On", "See What You Want", and the album's title-track) -- even better, the songs certainly have new life provided by the lush organ and piano arrangements and, more significantly, by Venson and co.'s wildfire performance. - Serenity Autumn


  


January 2023


Alpha Zulu by Phoenix (2022)

Alpha ZuluEver since Phoenix broke into the music charts with 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus, they have brought their own sense-brand of French Pop. Fast-forward 13 years later and two studio albums, 2009’s Bankrupt! and 2017’s Ti Amo, and Phoenix have regaled us with Alpha Zulu. Helming just 35 minutes, this new outing is the perfect metaphor of a musical treat: these 10 songs, like a piece of cotton candy that dissolves and awakens your tastebuds, are sure to spark your senses, and have you licking your fingers and saying “Damn, that was good! Can I have another taste?!” From Alpha to Zulu, beginning-to-end, this is one delightful confection of an album you can enjoy on repeat sans the unwelcomed calories and the fear of developing unhealthy habits.

Highlights:
-Alpha Zulu
-Tonight (Feat. Ezra Koenig)
-The Only One
-Winter Solstice
-Artefact

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

Cool It Down by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2022)

Cool It Down“Theeeyyy’re baaaack…!” screamed all of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ fan base in a non-creepy Poltergeist manner, as they made their long-awaited return into the cultural zeitgeist. It has been 9 years of radio-silence…yet, that is quickly forgotten as the first musical chords of their opening song, “Spitting Off the Edge of the World,” begin to ooze through the speakers. What ensues is just nothing short of a masterpiece for our modern times: you’ll cry, scream, dance, and sing-along – and, yes, beg for more – before the album ends. With just 8 songs, the YYYs have made an album that will take you on a rollercoaster ride through an universe of different sonic themes and back, but remember to “Cool It Down” before your next playback.

Highlights:
-Spitting Off the Edge of the World (Feat. Perfume Genius)
-Lovebomb
-Wolf
-Fleez
-Burning
-Blacktop

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

Rtj Cu4tro by Run The Jewels (2023)

Rtj Cu4tro“Oh, to be a fly on the wall when this was being discussed…” - a wishful journal entry from a Run The Jewels’ fan.

No, this is not a new outing for the duo known as Run The Jewels; it is a re-interpretation of their last album, 2018’s RTJ4, yet with a twist. I elaborate: Run The Jewels has a long-standing reputation for being one of the, if not the only, hottest Hip-Hop/Rap duo with whom every artist wants to work. With just four albums under their belts, some musical appearances range from Rage Against the Machine’s lead singer, Zack De La Rocha, to former member of Three 6 Mafia’s Gansta Boo; from Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker to saxophone-extraordinaire Kamasi Washington…the list continues on and on, and on… Yet, for all the different acts they have worked and collaborated with, none take the cake as the ones on this new release. Now, as mentioned, Rtj Cu4tro doesn’t change any of the elements that made RTJ4 so iconic; no, it just adds a different spice to the mixing table: a mirage of different acts from all over Latin America. Just like the tagline states: this is a re-imagining “through the prism of Latin America.” And, dare I add, “Ooh La La…what an internationally-designed-musical treat!”

Highlights:
-Ooh la la (Feat. Santa Fe Klan)
-Santa Calamifuck (Feat. Eva Peroni, Chucho Llano, Yulian Perks, and Nick Hook)
-Caminando En La Nieve (Feat. Akapellah, Apache, and Pawmps)
-Ju$T (Feat. Toy Selectah, Pharrell Williams, and Zack de la Rocha)
-Nunca Mirar Hacia Atrás (Feat. Bomba Estéreo)
-Tirando El Detonador (Feat. Lido Pimienta, Javier Arce, and Iggor Cavalera)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 

The Other Side Of Make-Believe by Interpol (2022)

Other Side Of Make-BelieveInterpol’s sound has always carried a certain grittiness and painted an audible portrait of New York City’s underbelly-seediness. And, although their sound has shifted between “gears” over the years, their efforts to pierce the veil of this undercurrent darkness have never quite ceased. Ever since their inception into the ever-growing cultural discourse of music with 2002’s Turn On the Bright Lights their sound has always carried a certain lull that only felt “grounded and secured” among the canon of critics and music lovers who were still dreaming of seeing Joy Division or New Order play live. Yes, the comparison was uncanny, but also unfair: it was a long-hard-casted shadow that was immediately donned upon their first chords. For any band, this would have crippled the mobility to discover new soundwaves and would have limited them to be discarded as a one-hit wonder. I stress any band, as this wasn't the case for Interpol, and their seventh release, The Other Side of Make-Believe, further solidifies this statement as they continue to cement themselves into the infinite halls of music.

Whether you like them or despise them; whether you write them-off as carbon copies of 80’s bands or simply admire their guile and ingenuity to shadowcast themselves into the cultural zeitgeist of Music; they are an act to reckon and take stock in. And, in the end, one can’t help but read the forewarning on the wall: the closing statements on their last track “Go Easy (Palermo)”: a whisper and a clamor directed to us, as listeners and musical purveyors/consumers: “Come on, go easy/Don’t matter what you bring.”…. My suggestion: don’t bring anything but your disposition; be-and-come as a passenger: welcome the sonic highways that greets us all on The Other Side of Make-Believe.

Highlights:
-Toni
-Into the Night
-Mr. Credit
-Passenger
-Gran Hotel
-Big Shot City
-Go Easy (Palermo)

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


December 2022


Hawaii
by Pete Yorn (2022)

HawaiiThe Pandemic hit us all in different ways and aspects. For Pete Yorn, it was a moment to reflect back on his past and find a new approach to writing and crafting music. In the wake of the “new norm,” Yorn decided to get back to the studio with friend/ musician Day Wave – who also happened to produce his 2019 outing Caretakers – and concoct an album that perfectly embodies the pursuit of (human) connection. It’s an album filled with lyrical resonance and depth; one that will no doubt have you singing and humming along as the sounds permeate through your headphones…

Highlights:
-Elizabeth Taylor
-’Til The End
-Ransom
-Also, Roses
-Fred & Wilma

-J Guillermo Paleo

 


  


Yhlqmdlg by Bad Bunny (2020)

Yhlqmdlg“Bad Bunny, bay-be” – this is the signature phrase that accompanies every song artist Bad Bunny sings: a signal to us, the listeners, to not confuse him with any other artist around, and cementing his residency among our collective cultural subconscious. Bad Bunny has become synonymous with the King Midas himself: EVERYTHING he touches turns to gold – in his case everything he releases becomes an immediate hit. After releasing his first album, X 100PRE, Bad Bunny was feared to be a one-album wonder, leaving fans and spectators to see what could come next after singing with Drake “Mia.” What ensued was a sophomore album that has left even the most conservatives swinging their hips and nodding their heads to the beats. Hailing from the small island of Puerto Rico – hear his pride on his song “P FKN R” – Bad Bunny is a force of musical ingenuity that one must reckon and recognize for his reach.

Highlights:
-Si Veo A Tu Mamá
-La Difícil
-Yo Perreo Sola
-Bichiyal
-Vete
-Ignorantes
-Safaera
-Está Cabrón Ser Yo
-P FKN R

-J Guillermo Paleo

 


 


Far In by Helado Negro (2021)

Far InRoberto Carlos Lange a.k.a Helado Negro has always been the perfect analogy of a multiverse. With every release, he manages to tap into another dreamspace, another side of his psyche for which we, as listeners, are invited to discover. When we last heard of Lange, he had released 2019’s This Is How You Smile, a record that gave us a full tour of his mind: his struggles as the son of immigrant parents and, thus, him trying to etch his identity in his late 30’s. Far In, continues along those lines, yet it does in a different fashion and direction. Gone is the desperation and in its absence we are given a new side of Helado Negro. Even though the album has a beefy 68 minute runtime, you don’t even notice it as one is immediately lost in the sonic highways, Lange has so carefully crafted – just buckle in, ‘cos you’re in for a ride.

Highlights:
-Gemini and Leo
-There Must Be A Song Like You
-Aureole
-Agosto
-Outside the Outside
-Thank You For Ever
-La Naranja

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


Sonidos de Karmática Resonancia
by Zoé (2021)

Sonidos de Karmatica ResonanciaWith a musical career spanning almost 30 years, Mexican band Zoé has been one of the most talked about and lauded indie rock acts of the last two decades in Latin America. With every release, they manage to explore new sonic waves all-the-while expanding upon familiar ground. Yet, Sonidos de Karmática Resonancia feels different. With their seventh outing, they have regaled us with their most polished, yet psychedelic release to date. The skinny: SKR is a trippy, lucid dream-like experience – the perfect encapsulation of why the 70’s is an era in which you’d rather get lost in than escape from…the perfect reason for you to stop reading this, get your headphones out, and give them a whirl…

Still here?!

Well, here’s some highlights to start the conversation:

Highlights:
-Popular
-Karmadame
-El Duelo
-SKR
-Tepoztlán
-Fiebre
-Ese Cuadro No Me Pinta

-J Guillermo Paleo


 


November 2022


Diagrams of Thought
by Nueen (2022)

Diagrams Of ThoughtAfter being absolutely spoiled with two astonishingly gorgeous albums in 2021 from Barcelona-based producer, Nueen, having to wait until the last months of 2022 for a new album felt like an eternity, but what a worthwhile wait. The past few years have seen Nueen beautifully sculpt and craft his own sonic world, which is growing even more vast with “Diagrams of Thought.” The album delicately progresses throughout, finding rhythms in spaces between sounds, beginning soft and curious but by the end of the album, broken jungle-inspired drums find their place inside the transcendent space Nueen has created. Well worth diving into this album head first, and I highly recommend his other releases as well if his name is new to you. You won’t be disappointed. - Corbin

 


 

Yasuragi Land by Foodman (2021)

Yasuragi Land If you have been letting yourself off easy with your listening habits lately, and are feeling ready to shake things up, “Yasuragi Land” is sure to be a wildly unique treat. Japanese producer foodman comes from juke and footwork roots, and you can hear it in the rhythm of this album. However, instead of rolling bass, the album consists of fun and quirky sounds that dance around in your head. This album feels as if your childhood toys made a dance album. In the best and most unique way possible. - Corbin

 


 

Top Natural Drum by Mister Water Wet (2022)

Top Natural Drum Kansas City legend, Iggy Romeu aka Mister Water Wet, strikes again. Easily one of the most creative and unique samplers in electronic music, his new album, “Top Natural Drum” is a fascinating and adventurous excursion into sound. Pushing and pulling found sound into all sorts of different directions to create an audial collage that is entirely refreshing and inspiring. Let MWW take everything you think about music, strip it, flip it, throw some sauteed mushrooms on there, steam it, shuffle it up, a little bit of sauce, rearrange it, and put it all on top of each other. - Corbin

 


 

Die Cuts / City Planning by Mount Kimbie (2022)

Die Cut City Planning The world has had to be patient for new music from the iconic duo, Mount Kimbie, as their last album was released in 2017. Since then, a few small projects have leaked out, but the duo has been mostly quiet as the members found themselves on other sides of the globe living different lives. This album is split into two parts: The first, “Die Cuts” is music Dom Maker has been making since his move from London to Los Angeles. Finding himself working more and more as a producer for rappers and pop artists in California, this half of the album leans heavily that way, featuring artists such as Danny Brown, James Blake, and slowthai. The second half of the album is by the second half of the duo, Kai Campos. This half is far more electronic than Dom’s side, weaving ambient grooves, minimal techno, and kicked-back house in a way that feels far more what fans of Kimbie’s older work might expect. The album is a really cool way to hear what both halves of this amazing duo have been kicking around individually and these are two artists well worth keeping up with. - Corbin

 


 


OCTOBER 2022


Big Time by Angel Olsen (2022)

Big TimeBig Time once again finds a prolific Angel Olsen following her muse to employ all of the soaring swoon and charisma of the ‘Nashville Sound.’ As she and 'The Big Time Band' lean into her pseudo-country side, Olsen effortlessly evokes the timeless charm and delivery of Patsy Cline, while channeling the vulnerability and revelatory resonance of artists like Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone. Preserving the highly personal songwriting style that continues to define her stellar body of work, Olsen exorcises golden grief from the swollen heartbreak of loved ones lost and things left unsaid, all the while braving the ever treacherous gauntlet of self-reflection and self-acceptance, world be damned. Full and beautifully constructed of equal parts lovesick and yearning, anchored by Olsen's magnificently measured vocals, Big Time is an introspective journey into the nuances of self and relationships, with a feel best summed up by the words on the back of her tour t-shirt...

‘It’s not country, but it’s not NOT country.’

Highlights:
"Chasing the Sun"
"Right Now"
"Ghost On"

- Russell G. Ochoa

 


 


Metal by Manilla Road (1982)

MetalThe word “Metal” as used in a musical context was already well established by 1982. It goes waayyy back to the Dark Ages. There was a cave somewhere in an obscure central European mountain range only accessible at certain phases of the moon. Inside the cave was a book, a lute, and a magic sword. To get the sword, the word had to be read from the book. The book’s pages were made from the skin of an extinct reptile. Its cover was locked shut and it could only be opened by playing a secret riff on the lute. Anyway, someone learned the riff, opened the book, read the word and got the sword. The word appeared again centuries later on the wall of a 7-11 just outside Manilla Road’s hometown of Wichita, Kansas. It was beyond the gas pump’s fluorescent lights, above the weeds, spray painted red like an ancient hieroglyph: METAL. And that is probably where the title of this album comes from.

Wichita also happens to be the site of the very first electric guitar performance in history (on an instrument built by the company that would become Rickenbacker) which took place on Halloween night, 1932. Maybe it’s more than coincidence that this is where Manilla Road’s major dude Mark The Shark Shelton learned the instrument and when, combined with a singing voice like a wizard trapped in a glass cage, became adept at communicating across barriers of language, time, space. A sequel to the hard rock sorta prog debut Invasion and direct predecessor to defining masterpiece Crystal Logic, the ideas formed on Metal are themes that the Road would come back to more than once: myths stolen from gods and brought down to be used as maps for navigating the everyday hassle of being a regular human trying to get by.

A cosmic awakening that crossed hippie rock with Shark’s own explorations of history, ingestion of weed, sword and sorcery, horror tales, science fiction and science fact, all incorporated with early Rush (Fly By Night, Caress of Steel), Uli Jon Roth era Scorpions, early Judas Priest (Sad Wings of Destiny, Sin After Sin) and a unique psychedelic weirdness. “Queen Of The Black Coast” based on Robert E. Howard’s tale, is a love story told from the perspective of Conan who becomes enraptured with said Queen as she watches her enemies heads get chopped off. “Defender” is about a dude on a never ending mission, returning from death to defend the planet with an ending that reveals he’s playing the arcade game: “Defending my planet is all that I do; won’t somebody play me; one quarter will do - DEFENDER!” Shark’s dad was actual Air Force brass who developed laser defense systems with N.A.S.A. and knew the secrets of Area 51 so he was probably real good at getting the high score. On “Cage of Mirrors” a magician searches for eternal life through black magic and gets trapped in a prison of his own creation. More than just a spooky tale, its metaphor extends to the use of science as magic, good and evil. The evil of advanced weaponry/careless consumerism versus rare instances of human decency and philosophical intelligence catching up with technological advancement.

Shark was a dude who believed in practicality and science over myth. Like R.E. Howard’s barbarian he appreciated the usefulness of steel over sorcery and wielded it in the form of an electrical axe. The Road would make heavier, more expansive albums, but Metal is where Shark found the cave, read the book, got the sword, and used the WORD as the most direct term available to describe where he was headed. He went all the way with it before climbing on his hog in 2018 to take that endless ride; the question asked on the album’s title track left unanswered: “Is life so pure we cannot seek; our hopes, our dreams to make our fantasies reality?” Or: the false morality of religion is over, isn’t it time to move out of the dark ages? Apparently this album is not available to stream or whatever, so we are not that far out of he Dark Ages yet. Doesn’t matter. Any person with a serious interest in Metal should buy and listen to this LP. Those who don’t can expect to wake up one night with the panicked realization of what it means to be a poser. - Adam

 
 


Selected Ambient Works 85-92 by Aphex Twin (1992)

Selected Ambient Works 85-92The debut album from one of electronic music's most important and groundbreaking figures, Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin), isn’t one of those older electronic records that ends up sounding cheesy and out of date. Decades later, this album still holds firm on its innovative, unique sound that ended up pushing forward an entire world of artists and musicians following its lead. Quite a feat when you consider that the earliest of these tracks were written when James was only 14 years old. Most likely due to his obsession with creating each sound digitally from scratch, rather than sampling or using a pre-programmed sound - the uniqueness of the record stands out from anything else being created at this time. For newcomers to electronic music - this is a genius place to start. - Corbin

 


 


Magnetic Eyes by Jeff Phelps (1985)

Magnetic EyesThere are so many amazing overlooked Texas artists, but atop my list of them is Jeff Phelps, an artist from Missouri City, Texas (near Houston) who recorded his debut album “Magnetic Eyes” in his bedroom back in 1985. Geniusly blending early deep house, R&B, and pop in such a minimalist, laid back way - it’s an absolute shame that Phelps isn’t held as one of the most important names in Texas electronic history. Definitely worth a listen for any Texas music lover or electronic digger or anyone in between. - Corbin

 


 

Migration by Bonobo (2017)

MigrationBonobo’s 2017 album Migration is a great record to spend some introspective moments with this fall. Remaining dancey at its core, the album is a bit darker in tone and subject than the artist's other albums. Dealing with topics of homesickness, an ever changing world, and a decaying environment, Bonobo captures a great glimpse of life in the modern age through sound. Although much of the tone is more dramatic than other releases, there is still often a lining of hope surrounding many of the songs. Perfect for someone feeling a bit hopeless or lost in the ever changing world. Perhaps Migration will give you something to grasp onto. - Corbin

 


 

Untrue by Burial (2007)

UntrueAs we start slipping into colder weather, I’d be remiss not to be ahead of the curve and highly recommend Burial’s 2007 album, Untrue. The long-mysterious London-based producer’s second album is yet another trailblazing album in electronic music. Fusing UK garage music with a much deeper and emotive sound - it’s not hard to imagine many cold, rainy nights on the Underground leading to the inspiration for this record, but I find that anytime it gets cold, taking a late night drive and listening to this album does something deep within me that resonates and somehow provides warmth. - Corbin

 


 


AUGUST 2022


Lucifer On The Sofa by Spoon (2022)

Lucifer On The SofaRecorded mainly in Austin, TX, as frontman Britt Daniel stated he wanted to “experience the vibe of the city,” Lucifer On The Sofa marks the 2022 return-to-form of local indie rock heroes Spoon - and they’re serving chunky guitars and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll. Austin hole-in-the-wall blues-rock club and Americana-tinged influences are certainly at home on the record, immediate and punchy on psych-washed opener “Held” and “The Devil & Mister Jones." Space-y, drippy arrangements on side B’s still-rockin’ “Astral Jacket” and “Satellite” compliment that nighttime drive comedown from a toe-tapping, boot-stomping Saturday night. Known for their consistent songwriting chops and live energy, Spoon deliver exactly that throughout this loud and proud yet dynamic vinyl LP. - Serenity Autumn

 




Music City USA by Charley Crockett (2021)

Music City USAWith the arrival of 2021’s Music City USA, 37-year-old Charley Crockett’s workboots have certainly been worn in. The Rio Grande Valley-made singer-songwriter was raised in a trailer park by a single mom; has earned money by picking crops in Pacific Northwest marijuana fields; and has briefly lived, worked, and busked in New Orleans, Dallas, France, Spain, and Morocco. His fascinating story lends to his eclectic yet familiar sound, as he harvests from various icons such as Waylon Jennings (the cover art even evokes a Waylon album), James Hand, and Freddy Fender. His self-described “Gulf and Western” and “‘60s country”-inspired sound is evident in the bluesy soul of lead single “I Need Your Love”; the galloping banjo-scaped rollick of “Round This World”; and the refreshingly biting “Music City USA.” Perhaps the greatest thing about the 16-track double LP is that there is no “act”, but it’s at once cinematic, authentic, and thoughtful - a Texas original. - Serenity Autumn

 




Gary Clark Jr. Live
by Gary Clark Jr. (2014)

Gary Clark Jr. LiveGary Clark Jr. is synonymous with Austin, TX. A lot of people don’t realize how difficult it can often be to capture the energy of a live show onto a recording - however, one could not hail from the Live Music Capital of the World, become this successful, and have that problem. This 2014 live record was recorded at shows across the world over the previous year, wherein Clark and his wicked band consistently blow the roof off the place. This double vinyl LP is a consistent best-seller at Waterloo, and the reasons why are evident: Clark boasts his soulful vocals, classic gnarly blues rock riffs, screeching wah pedal-ed guitar solos, and the tightest backup band around. The record’s hushed blues and R&B moments are served and adorned deliciously, punctuating Clark’s ability to put on an unmatched, dynamic live performance. - Serenity Autumn

 




A Beautiful Time by Willie Nelson (2022)

A Beautiful TimeWillie Nelson’s latest album (released on his 89th birthday, April 29, 2022) is a delightful reminder of why he remains timeless - Willie is consistently just himself while celebrating the classic country sounds he had a hand in perfecting (although, as humble as is, he would never admit that), and the music of both contemporary and classic artists (Chris Stapleton, Leonard Cohen, The Beatles). The unmistakable tone and cadence of his voice breathe new life into every song, even 72 albums in. And yes, in subject alone, “With A Little Help From My Friends” might as well be a Willie original. But doggone it, on this record, it really is. On the playful yet bittersweet “I Don’t Go To Funerals,” he assures us, “No, I don’t go to funerals, and I sure won’t be at mine.”

Oh, Willie. Your beautiful spirit will live on forever. - Serenity Autumn

 




JULY 2022


Georgia Gothic
by Mattiel (2022)

Georgia GothicOn third album “Georgia Gothic,” Atlanta duo Mattiel Brown and Jonah Swilley brew up the title’s atmosphere using drippy reverb, ‘60s-fuzzed guitar lines, and a rhythm section that enunciates with a bouncy drawl. Most impressively, the record oozes effortless pop melodies, decidedly enviable in “Jeff Goldblum” and “Lighthouse.” Sometimes, Brown’s vocal delivery dreams soft confidence reminiscent of early Lush (“Jeff Goldblum”), and other times rings like a lighter - but still as commanding - Buffy Sainte-Marie (“Other Plans”). The otherwise-perfect melodies sung are often altered by screwy tremolo, pitch shifts, or subtle distortion, which only aid in suspending disbelief. Even through the self-aware garage pop of “How It Ends,” the city-slickened Georgia goths maintain an undeniable cool. - Serenity Autumn




Let The Festivities Begin!
by Los Bitchos (2022)

Let The Festivities Begin!Los Bitchos (Serra Petale, Agustina Ruiz, Josefine Jonsson, and Nic Crawshaw) self-describe as “4 gals from the underground realms of London, tripping out on Tequila and Cumbia vibes.” Their debut “Let The Festivities Begin!” (produced by dance-rock enthusiast Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand) is a ‘60s and ‘70s-flourished instrumental trek led by catchy grooves, drippy psychedelia, and pure charm. Los Bitchos gift us a party record filled with infectious sunshine-y guitar lines as fun, sweet, and glimmering as the album cover promises. Highlights include opener “The Link Is About to Die,” single “Good to Go!”, and the suitably titled “Tripping at a Party.” - Serenity Autumn




Once Twice Melody by Beach House (2022)

Once Twice MelodyBeach House (Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally) offer irresistible, gleaming solace in electro-dreamscape “Once Twice Melody.” The record’s sweeter tracks, like "Runaway” and “Finale,” feature romantic, archetypal ‘80s synth lines, but via Valium-decelerated, Cocteau Twins soundscapes (which is definitely a compliment).

The music’s lushness is never just for show - the four-chapter journey succeeds in its hypnotism with trust in moving, bittersweet interludes that enrich its subtle pop sensibilities. On songs like “Pink Funeral,” "Masquerade,” and album-closer “Modern Love Stories,” the mood quickly shifts from heavenly ambiance to enticingly Alice-In-Wonderland nightmarish, then back again. The anxiety induced by changing electronic grooves or punctuating string arrangements only remedies itself through soft vocal melodies that glide in and soothe like lucidly-dreamt pink pastel clouds. If heaven truly is a place where nothing ever happens, “Once Twice Melody” sounds like a more real home, the party in the clouds for the heartbroken, the sad, and the hopeful. - Serenity Autumn




Is 4 Lovers
by Death From Above 1979 (2021)

Is 4 LoversDeath From Above 1979’s self-produced album, Is 4 Lovers, throws guitar-rock-driven electronica punches. Big, colorful, hectic, & all in the best way. Taking cues from hyper pop pioneers 100 Gecs and genre-bending guitar greats such as St. Vincent and MIYAVI, the Canadian duo blend shades of heavy metal, synth pop, hardcore punk, & dance rock to create a night-time house party record. The runtime is just over 30 minutes, but there's never a lull, its best parts are exemplified in single “One + One” & “Free Animal.” - Serenity Autumn




Never The Right Time by Andy Stott (2021)

Never The Right TimeSince the turn of the 2010’s, Andy Stott has been chiseling away at his own dark, decaying world of sound. The Manchester-based artist takes techno and pulls, twists, destroys, and contorts until nothing but raw emotion are left. And 2021’s Never The Right Time is possibly Stott’s most emotive work to date. As usual, Stott creates plains of nostalgic, introspective ambience that become broken up by chasms of infectious, yet distorted dance music. When assisted by his frequent collaborator (and former piano teacher), Alison Skidmore, the distorted techno sounds become wrapped in a dreamy layer of spaced out pop. A wonderful balance of sounds on this record leave quite the journey to be had - one moment introspective and full of feeling, then instantly deep and clubbed out. It’s always the right time for this album. - Corbin




Tracing Back The Radiance by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma (2019)

Tracing Back The Radiance“Tracing Back The Radiance” consists of three long compositions, and makes up what is perhaps San Francisco-based artist, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s finest work yet. Named after work by Chinul, a Korean Buddhist monk, this is absolutely a spiritual journey. The album gently breathes and meditates alongside the listener, creating a space that feels so comfortable, it might has well have been along with your for your entire life. It is harder and harder to find places of calm in our ever bustling world, and this album is a true companion for anyone seeking to spend time immersed in a place somewhere else. - Corbin




Textstar+
by Farben (2022)

textstar+Such an exciting reissue here. Textstar+ is made up of compositions originally released by Farben (aka Jan Jelinek & Gramm) on a series of four EP’s released from 1999 to 2002. Farben represents Jelinek’s most upbeat and dancy project, often the tracks have a housey foundation, yet still with his signature texture, rhythmic clicks, loose progression, and hypnotic melodies. An absolute must have for any fans of microhouse or clicks & cuts sounds. All twelve of these wonderfully remastered tracks might beckon some to dissect the intricacies of the music, but I personally recommend (and think it might be hard not to) just dance. - Corbin




Dubna
by Vtgnike (2014)

DubnaRussian producer, Vtgnike (pronounced Vintage Nike)’s 2014 album Dubna is still ahead of its time. This album feels downtempo at times even though most tracks clock in around 160 BPM, making for a super unique listening experience. Juke & jungle are pulled into some deep green fog here and it is hard not to get lost in it. Smudged and aquatic footwork that feels detached from the world and maybe more like what an underwater rave attended mostly by ghosts might sound like. - Corbin




Ways & Means
by The Deslondes (2022)

Ways & MeansOne of the most consistently inspired Americana outfits of the last decade, The Deslondes keep the streak going strong with their newest album, Ways & Means. After respectable solo albums from each of the band's two primary songwriters (Sam Doores and Riley Downing), Ways & Means manages to show that the two are fundamentally stronger together than apart. The New Orleans-based band flexes each of their muscles with old-time folk offerings, meaningful country, and a fair amount of R&B / Blues / New Orleans-funk that would make Leon Russell take note. Ways & Means takes an honest approach to deconstructing day-to-day life in a struggling country. Honesty is what has always made The Deslondes interesting, and honesty seems to be what keeps them going. - Cory


 


Soul (Original Motion Picture Score)
(2020)

SoulThere’s no movie viewing needed to enjoy the stripped back, buoyant sounds of the score for Disney/Pixar’s ‘Soul.’ Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross join forces once again to create this sonic exploration of the metaphysical - with a result that’s expansive, stirring, and comforting all at once. It’s a beautiful listen, best enjoyed on a rainy morning but really any moment spent looking out a window will do. The first time I heard my favorite track (‘Epiphany’) it felt like the day began again! This is also a great choice for someone looking to start exploring the world of film/movie scores. - Johanna


 


JUNE 2022


Annette
(Movie Soundtrack) by Sparks (2021)

From the ever-wonderfully bizarre minds of story writers and musicians Sparks (Ron & Russell Mael) and director Leos Carax comes Annette, an art-house art-pop musical. Both stunning and unexpectedly dark visually, tonally, and in performance, the project itself marks yet another glorious point of reinvention in the Mael brothers' 50-year career. Essentially an ultra-meta rock opera, Annette details the marriage, rise, and fall of comedian Henry McHenry (Adam Driver) and opera singer Ann Defrasnoux (Marian Cotillard) following the birth of their gifted daughter Annette (Devyn McDowell). Sparks fans might be surprised by the story's bleakness, but not by its quirks (musical repetition, humorous and anti-self-serious lyricism, deconstruction of masculinity), which are certainly, quintessentially Mael. Carax and Sparks form an enchanting yet difficult (in the best way) journey punctuated by essential and enthralling performances from Driver, Cotillard, and McDowell. - Serenity Autumn




SOUR by Olivia Rodrigo (2021)

SOUR announces the 2021 reign of 18-year-old Disney Channel star Olivia Rodrigo and solidifies the mainstream revival of '00s pop-punk. Written alongside indie rock musician/producer Dan Nigro, the record step-stones between rock arrangements and more expectedly-pop piano and acoustic guitar ballads (as advertised by the record's viral single "driver's license"). The latter spotlights Rodrigo's quietly powerful vocal style, accented by strings and hushed moments that declare an appreciation for the 2010s alt-pop of Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish. The album's less slick and beyond charming rock tracks feature grooves that pay homage to Paramore, Avril Lavigne, and even Elvis Costello. What pulls it all together? Rodrigo and Nigro have taken plenty of pop songwriting notes from heartbreak's cultural icon Taylor Swift and manic-yet-high-functioning album structure notes from art-rock/pop star St. Vincent. The power of SOUR lies in its familiar and accessible themes (teen angst, anxiety, and doomed relationships) and its inadvertent disruption of rock purists - the just-post-hyper pop and genre-bending album's massive success amongst both teens and young adults has cemented the future wrangled by the globe-embracing Gen Z. - Serenity Autumn




Daddy’s Home by St. Vincent (2021)

Dallas-born Annie Clark and producer Jack Antonoff return with Daddy’s Home, the latest from the chameleonic St. Vincent. The album was written over the course of the pandemic - a period of time which St. Vincent used to come down from 2017's MASSEDUCTION, her biggest record yet. Titled in honor of Clark's father being released from a ten-year prison sentence, Daddy's Home sets out to question just who "Daddy" is now. The clean funk, 70s-flavored "pre-disco" record pays homage to Clark's earliest childhood musical favorites, as well as icons from her adopted homeland of New York City: Stevie Wonder, Al Green, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Bowie, The Velvet Underground, & Candy Darling. Together, Clark and Antonoff inject the confidence of glam-rock juggernaut MASSEDUCTION into the softer, critically-adored fan-favorite that is St. Vincent’s 2011 album Strange Mercy; the result creates a nostalgic, wine-drunk acid trip. Highlights of the record include the first single and album opener "Pay Your Way In Pain," the Floyd-ian "Live In The Dream," side B's "Down" and "My Baby Wants A Baby." - Serenity Autumn




Sometimes I Might Be Introvert by Little Simz (2021)

English-Nigerian rapper Little Simz creates her magnum opus on her fourth album Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Inspired and co-signed by such artists as Lauryn Hill and Kendrick Lamar, Little Simz (Simbiatu "Simbi" Abisola Abiola Ajikawo) speaks on family, trauma, and the music industry over orchestral R&B arrangements, which make the hour-long record enthrallingly cinematic. The album succeeds 2019’s highly-praised GREY Area, both produced by Inflo, project leader of the experimental R&B collective SAULT. But Little Simz is stylized in her own right, her quiet confidence and thoughtfulness furthering the album’s potency. The soulful summer single "Woman" and tracks like “Standing Ovation” best exemplify what makes the rapper-songstress so charming and energetic. - Serenity Autumn



 
How Much Time It Is Between You And Me? by Perila

If Earth were to speak in environmental ambient sounds, and explain how she feels about her own existence in the 21st century, I imagine it would sound very much like Perila’s 2021 album, “How Much Time It Is Between You And Me?”. Recorded in a small mountain village in France, the Russian-born Berlin-based producer and sound artist combines textural, naturey concrète, hauntingly gentle synths, subdued dubby atmospheres, and longing whispery vocals to create a soundtrack to a planet reckoning with its own continuation. Tired and beaten, yet still full of beauty and hope, I imagine if you found yourself in a quaint mountain town in France, pressed your ear to the ground, and listened hard enough - you would hear this album. Perila masterfully channels so much through her music, and this album no exception. Listen closely. - Corbin




Space 1.8 by Nala Sinephro

The word “prodigy” has been tossed around flippantly throughout modern history, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more applicable current artist than Nala Sinephro. Recording her debut album “Space 1.8" at 22, the UK-based harpist exploded onto the scene with her cosmic ambient jazz that is easily comparable to works of Alice Coltrane and Jon Hassell. Delicate and introspective, the album weaves in and out of dreamlike spaces guiding the listener somewhere deep into a calm, far-away universe - yet somehow still somewhere deep within self. Each moment in this album feels so profoundly sacred and personal - allowing yourself the time to be still and listen will provide a truly unreplicable journey. An absolute must-listen for fans of Pharoah Sanders & Floating Points collaborative album “Promises.” - Corbin




Flowered Knife Shadows by exael

exael’s wildly contrasty album “Flowered Knife Shadows” was constructed entirely on a laptop on the verge of death. The Berlin-via-Kansas pipeline of weirdo outsider ambient is taken to an extreme on this release. Hyper clubby techno drums sit atop gorgeous organic atmospheres to create such a fun and unique listening experience. Back and forth between songs that would obliterate any underground tunnel parties to tracks perfectly suitable for a rainy day relaxing around the house. If you’d like to know what the future sounds like, look no further. - Corbin




In A Landscape
by Sa Pa

Utilizing otherworldy field recordings, mysterious producer Sa Pa’s album “In A Landscape” exists somewhere outside of time and space. Like the soundtrack to a strange dream from another planet, this record drifts in and out of textural ambient bliss and subtle yet driving dubby pieces that feel submerged under a layer of dense fog. A refreshing take on the sounds left off by Basic Channel’s Chain Reaction label. If drifting away from reality for an hour sounds nice, this is the perfect companion. - Corbin

 

 

MUNA by MUNA

MUNAMUNA deserves the world, and their new, self-titled album deserves your attention! It's their third album to date, and their first for Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory label. It's only been out for a week, but I can tell that it'll be one of my albums of the summer. It'll make you dance ("What I Want"), it'll make you sing ("Silk Chiffon"), it'll make you cry ("Loose Garment"). Great production and highly recommended if you're feeling nostalgic for '90s/early '00s pop (but make it gay). Standout lyric: "You're gonna say that I'm on a high horse / I think that my horse is regular-sized / did you ever think maybe you were on a pony / going in circles on a carousel ride" (from "Anything But Me") - Allie

 

 


PREVIOUS


Various Artists - Follow The Sun

Follow The SunThis is a fantastic view into a parallel world of the 70's from Australia! These are bands that I've never heard of before. All of these little folk rock gems were blasting on the radio down under while we were listening to the smooth and not so smooth sounds of LA . However think more Tim Buckley than the Eagles. A nice refreshing listen to satisfy your 70's folk rock needs- Bill

 





Guided By Voices - August By Cake

GBVThis is THE best GBV in a while! Im a huge fan and have liked all the other post break-up albums, however this to me is truly the best of that lot. This is Pollards Wings At The Speed Of Sound album in that he let each band member write two songs each. However there's no "Cook Of The House" (Lindas song! ugh!) here. My personal faves of the other writers would be Bobby Bare Jr's two songs. If you are already a big fan like me you already have this. If you havent bought anything since Under The Bushes, welcome back! Best song: "When We All Hold Hands At The End Of The World"- Bill

 



Drab Majesty - The Demonstration

Drab MajestyThe new Drab Majesty is so good! If not familiar, imagine the 80's, however this is a parallel world. The kind of dark synth pop that did not have hits but had a cult following. Drab Majesty is pretty much that. Drab Majesty is visiting from space....goth space! - Bill Jeffery







The Felice Brothers - Life In The Dark

Felice BrothersAfter years of home recording in chicken coops and busking in New York City subways, the Felice Brothers have finally found a way to incorporate their rowdy live performances in their fourth studio album, Life in the Dark. Opening with a rollicking accordion and witty rhyme scheme about addiction to Corporate America, the album is chock full of surprising insight and anxiety about a changing culture, until it closes with a chorus of spiritual yearning. “Triumph ‘73”, an ode to a motorcycle, is a romance set in a small-town, “Plunder” is an upbeat sing-along that expresses wariness of technology and greed, and “Diamond Bell” is a ballad about a rebel woman terrorizing the west. There’s songs to dance to - like “Dancing on the Wing” and the foot-stomping instrumental “Sally!” And songs to cry to - like “Life in the Dark,” a sorrowful folk song drawing from traditionals and “Sell the House,” a troubling tale of a family down on their luck. Effortlessly intertwining Americana with classic rock, the Felice Brothers intuitively celebrate the simplicities of life, while offering a fresh view on what it means to be American. -Alicia





Embrace The Serpent

Embrace The Serpent"Embrace of the Serpent", director Ciro Guerra's follow up to 2009's "The Wind Journeys", is a further exploration into the forgotten regions and people of Colombia. The story takes place in the remote Amazonian jungle of Colombia and follows a shaman as he helps 2 westerners (40 years apart) find a mythical psychedelic plant. It's like "Apocalypse Now", but instead of Viet-Cong occupied territory, we are floating down the Amazon in a canoe. Grab hold of the serpent and enjoy the trip... -Nico, July 2016





Modern English - Mesh and Lace

Modern EnglishRe-issue of the year for me! This is a post punk classic! Ill admit it took me a while to listen to it in the 80's as i thought they were only about "Ill Melt With You" there only US hit. I lumped them in there with "Don't You Want Me?"! I couldn't have been more wrong! originally out in 1981 , Mesh and Lace has a strong Joy Division influence . Its on par with Bauhaus and Birthday Party. Yes its that good! pure goth heaven! plus extra tracks! - Bill Jeffery






Modern English - After The Snow

Modern EnglishAfter The Snow is the Modern English album that most people are familiar with. most goth purists (what ever that means) definitely think this album is the weaker sister of Mesh And Lace. Maybe that's the case but this is still great post-punk music with a pop twist! and "Ill Melt With You" is undeniably great! If you say you don't like that song you are fibbing! this includes cool extra tracks






Zun - Burial Sunrise

ZunAn amazing Summertime album from the Godfather of Desert Rock. Gary Arce was in a band called Yawning Man with Alfredo Hernandez and Mario Lalli (who later became members of Kyuss and Fatso Jetson respectively). Supposedly the progenitors of the legendary “Generator parties” in the late 80s/early 90s Coachella Valley, California desert, Yawning Man heavily influenced the core trio of musicians (John Garcia, Josh Homme, Brant Bjork) who would eventually join Hernandez to become Sons Of Kyuss, later shortened, of course, to Kyuss.  

On Burial Sunrise, Arce plays all the guitars (including bass and lap steel) with vocal duties being handled by Kyuss’ John Garcia (in his desert crooner mode) and most enjoyably by Sera Timms (Ides Of Gemini). The breezy guitars awash in flange-y reverb and paired with aqueous meandering bass-lines and dreamy vocal melodies will drag you out of your Texas heat stroke and cool the air around you by several degrees. On this their debut, Zun creates a mellow trip conducive to lounging in the evening breeze while the cement around you pops and cracks; releasing its energy stored from the heat of the day.


 

Hiatus Kaiyote - Choose Your Weapon

Hiatus KaiyoteSounds like: BadBadNotGood, The Internet, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Erkyah Badu, Flying Lotus, Robert Glasper

This album is a soulful, funky journey into space and sound. From start to finish it has a cohesive flow, with each song moving fluidly into another. Nai Palm, the lead singer sings of creatures, animals, fire, and dreamscapes, reminiscent of a shaman, symbolically telling a different tale with each track. These are some soulful, otherworldly jams with complex and elevated song structures, which is really impressive and innovative from the Melbourne based band. Electronic and futuristic but natural, humanistic, and classic, peaceful, yet chaotic; the album is full of beautiful juxtapositions. You won't have to worry about each song sounding like the last or the album dragging on; each track has its own exciting and interesting story, like as if they were siblings. I am excited to see the future of Neo-soul /Jazz going into such a new direction. Mystical and magical, this album takes the genre to another dimension.
 
Favorite tracks: Borderline With My Atoms, Fingerprints, By Fire - Teddy

  

Carl Sagan's Skate Shoes - Carl Sagan's Skate Shoes

Carl Sagan's Skate ShoesThis relatively new Austin-3 piece has been making waves as part of the current wave of innovative, heavy punk coming out of central Texas, along with Borzoi, XETAS, Super Thief, and New China. Drawing from a 90s/alternative American rock influence, CSSS blends everything you like about Reagan-era noise rock together while adding a unique take + sound of their own. RIYL: Shellac, Mudhoney, Nirvana, METZ, Cows - Kana

 

 

   


Kleenex/LiLiPUT - LiLiPUT

Kleenex2016 took Bowie, Prince, and Guy Clark, but it also shook the underground by taking Marlene Marder, leader of the cult icon, post-punk all-female band Kleenex. There is a reason Kleenex (they changed their name after a threatened lawsuit by Kimberly-Clark) tops the lists of some of the most famous musicians of our time- their carefree, whirlwind creativity and sense of adventure met the landscape of 1970s/1980s post-punk brilliantly. An ESSENTIAL listen for anyone who supports women in music. RIYL: Institute, NOTS, Wall, Raincoats, Shopping - Kana

 

  

  
Cardinals Folly - Holocaust of Ecstasy & Freedom

Cardinals Folly"Death to nu-metal!" indeed. This statement from the liner notes of the latest Shadow Kingdom release from Cardinals Folly. This 3rd release finds them continuing down the hallowed doom cult trail. Doom metal at its finest, sounding straight out of the 70's with slight comparison to Electric Wizard - Bill

 

  

  
Lucifer's Hammer - Beyond The Omens

Lucifer's HammerListening to Lucifers Hammer takes me back to 1984! Yes its THAT good! Shadow Kindgom does it again. This time its from Chile. Great contemporary metal that sounds like Maiden. Very classy heavy metal! - Bill

 

 

  


Weird Light - Doomicvs Vobiscvm

Weird Light - Doomicvs VobiscvmPosthumous release from the awesome Shadow Kingdom label from French Doom cult Weird Light! The band only made one record and 2007's Doomicvs Vobiscvm is it! (with some un-released tracks included). It sounds further back in time than 2007 to me like maybe during the Black Plague days! This is great doom metal! i mean come on! they have a track on here called "CogMagog (Under The Trumpets Of Doom) Sabbath meets Candlemass. - Bill

 

 

 

 

Robert Pollard - Of Course You Are

Robert Pollard - Of Course You AreRobert Pollard definitely does not believe in "less says more"! Thats fine with me if he keeps putting out great
songs like this. Of Course You Are on Fire Records sees Pollard bring in strings and horns, and it works really well! Bring back Baroque rock Bob! Every track on here a golden pop nugget worthy of the GBV cannon. - Bill

 

 

 

 

ILian - Love Me Crazy (Anthology Records)

ILian - Love Me CrazyAnother great lost treasure from Anthology records! Originally put out on one of the many "tax write off" labels from the 70's. This one out in 1977, captures California breezy pop of the times. However this ain't no Eagles, "groovy" instrumentals intertwined with outsider folk rock, this feels like a misplaced classic. - Bill

 

 

 

 

Trad Gras Och Stenar - (3CD or 6LP box) Anthology Records

Trad Gras Och StenarWow what a great release this is! three live performances from the Swedish band called Trad Gras Och Stenar ("Trees , Grass,and Stones) all three are from the early 70's one disc never before released. These guys are not a jam band or a prog band , its more what you would call " collective-core" they were doing the "live off the land vibe" playing free shows at various get together's in Sweden. All three have a great mello guitar vibe of just going-along-feelin-just-fine music. very little vocals . just cool hippy guitar jamming (but NOT in a Phish kind of way) also on vinyl. great stuff! - Bill

 

 

 

Unbelievable Is Believable HereUnbelievable is Believable Here


Don’t let the lack of burnt orange fool you. If you sacrifice your bracket every spring by picking the Horns to advance too far, this is the doc for you. The story of Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams and the least predicted tournament run in recorded history. They did not win it all, but by advancing to the Final Four in Houston they shocked the world of college basketball. This year, Coach Smart’s Texas squad has put a scare into its Big 12 rivals & drawn comparisons to Lee Perry’s backing band by toppling national powers like North Carolina. Will the home team catch fire in March? This DVD will nurture your delusions. - Patrick

 

 

DIIV - Is The Is Are

DIIV - Is The Is AreThis is DIIV's sophomore release and stars the creative Zachary Cole Smith (Beach Fossils, Soft Black,& Darwin Deez). This double album (17 songs) is a unique blend of indie rock/dream pop/shoegazing/psych/post-punk..etc... I love the blend of guitar and Smith's vocals. Elliott Smith and Royal Trux are cited at Smith's influences for the album, but I'm not saying this album sounds like them, just throwing it out there. If you like the Beach Fossils, Wild Nothing, Beach House, Real Estate feel, check this out! Also, check out DIIV's first album, "Oshin". - Michelle

 

 

 

Prins Thomas-Principe Del Norte

Prins Thomas - Principles Del NorteOne of Lindstrøm's pals/collabs and part of a bevy of Norweigian DJs/Producers/experimenters to break loose from the Northern Hemispheres in the recent past (see also Todd Terje, Röyksopp, Bjørn Torske, Lasse Marhaug), Prins Thomas moves a little further afield from his previous work with new album Principe Del Norte. This new effort keeps you moving but not with 120 bpm madness thumping in your brain. Tracks A1 through D are somewhat ambient (without being too wallpaper-y) and soundtrack-ish enough to keep your attention. Relatively percussion-free but sequencer-heavy it mines early Tangerine Dream/Klaus Schulze/Moebius & Plank territory to great effect. Tracks E through H are closer to his usual fare but still much more subtle and refined than previous works. Airy yet substantial? Modern yet timeless? Yeah... something like that. - Corby

 

 

Various - This Record Belongs To ______

Various - This Record Belongs ToFor the past 6 months my daughter has demonstrated limitless enthusiasm for the songs from Frozen. I've had it with Olaf it, and my Menzel health demands I find something Elsa.

This is a terrific comp for kids!

Woody Guthrie's "Dance Around" follows the extended funk/psych of the
Pointer Sisters "Pinball Number Count"

Bobby Bare Jr. accompanies his dad on "Daddy What If"

Nina Simone and Kermit the Frog sing about rainbows.

The highlight for me is the collaboration between Carole King & Maurice Sendak
"One Was Johnny." Playful word economy & a warm vocal from King make "Johnny" the most elegant counting song I've ever heard. -Patrick

 

 

The Raincoats – The Raincoats (WE 1)
RIYL: Kleenex/LiliPUT, Gang of Four, Television Personalities, The Slits, Beat Happening

Raincoats - S/T“The Raincoats offered a completely different way of doing things, as did X-Ray Spex, and all the books about punk have failed to realize that these women were involved for no other reason other than they were good and original.” – Johnny Rotten

Punk bands were formed like crazy in the wake of the new wave of the Sex Pistols crashed, but this one was special. Unlike punkers before them, the Raincoats were unafraid of experimenting with instrumentation and song structure, using sounds from violin and a rotating selection of instruments they would find second-hand. Drawing from world and freejazz as influences and as a political statement against blues-based rock, which they considered to be a part of culture appropriation and genderizing in music, they created a sound that was uniquely their own and has yet to be replicated, but has influenced countless musicians. When you hear words like “jangly” “angular” and “ramshackle” used to describe punk, you should know these were some of the ladies who pioneered that sound. - Kana

 

 

 

Sacred Few - Beyond The Iron Walls (Shadow Kingdom)

Sacred Few - Beyond The Iron WallsAnother lost 80's metal classic from the Shadow Kingdom label! Cleveland Ohio's Sacred Few formed in 1977 and made one one album. They broke up soon after. This has a very "local band" feel but that to me is a good thing! If you like your early Judas Priest sound, this band is for you! very 1983 hard rock with powerful female vocals...and fantasy lyrics! this CD is awesome! - Bill Jeffery

 

 

A Salute To The Thin White Duke: The Songs Of David Bowie  (Cleopatra Records)

Salute to the Thin White Duke: Songs of David BowieYou never know with tribute albums. Sometimes they can be very "meh," but A Salute To The Thin White Duke is a pleasure all the way through. I originally was excited because one of my favorite local Austin bands, Heartless Bastards, are on this with their very cool version of "Jean Genie". However after listening to the Muffs awesome version of "Changes" and the sweet "shoe-gazy" version of "Rebel Rebel" by the KVB, I was hooked! Not a bad version on here! For Bowie freaks like me this another great way to hear what a genius songwriter he is. - Bill Jeffery

 

 

Witness for the ProsecutionWitness for the Prosecution

This is truly one of the best Billy Wilder films with one of the greatest casts ever assembled. Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich and Tyrone Powers are absolute perfection in this courtroom drama based on an Agatha Christie short story that influenced many films that came after it. This is being released for the first time on bluray by Kino Video. Absolutely essential. - Tracy

 

 

 

Phantom of the ParadiseThe Phantom of the Paradise

Brian De Palma's 1974 cult classic is getting the deluxe Scream Factory treatment on 8/5. What can you say about this glam rock, acid-trip version of Phantom of the Opera that hasn't already been said? It's got everything: a mixture of horror, comedy, rock n roll, unrequited love and fantasy makes this an extremely anticipated release. This one is LOADED with extras, tons of new interviews and commentary so don't feel guilty about upgrading that dvd copy! - Tracy

 

 

 

The Chills - Silver Bullets (Fire Records)

The Chills - Silver BulletsThe new Chills album is a cause for celebration for well..Chills fans who never thought there would be another one after 1996 as well as fans of the great 80's and early 90's Flying Nun sound.The Chills were one of the "4" of the infamous Dunedin Double (recently re-issued for Record Store Day) that started it all! As a huge fan of the Chills dark jangly pop I'm very pleased that 1996's Sunburnt is NOT the last Chills album. Silver Bullets is comparable to their masterpiece, Submarine Bells! Good all the way through! A "must have" for all pop music fans!  -Bill Jeffery

        
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