Lock the Gate
Creek Mud Records
Panama City’s Blind Tiger is a perfect example of what happens when hardcore bands (or people who are regularly a part of hardcore bands) start experimenting outside the genre. Blind Tiger uses the moniker “chaos hardcore” on some of their marketing, and that’s about the best label possible. The songs are heavy, unpredictable, unruly…and fearlessly evocative.
‑ Nikki Hedrick
Ron Carter and Richard Galliano
An Evening With (Live at the Theaterstubchen, Kassel)
On An Evening With, American bassist Carter and French accordion‑bandoneonist Galliano team up to give their Hessian audience an evening of “We make this look easy, don’t we?” jazz. On past albums, Galliano has paired with an impressive list of world jazz masters, and Carter is reportedly the world’s most‑recorded jazz bassist. Galliano two‑handedly breaks the chains of nerditude that have held the accordion back. Carter validates his claim that “the bassist is the quarterback in any group.” The 11‑track playlist includes relaxed, lively and danceable stuff, as well as a Carter solo of “You Are My Sunshine.”
‑ Bruce Collier
Banjo maestro Fleck did not win 15 Grammy awards by staying in his own backyard. For years I pegged him as a bluegrass player, then he jumped into jazz, pop, rock, and African roots music. With Juno Concerto (named for his son), he’s ventured into classical. Recorded with the Colorado Symphony, Fleck’s three‑movement piece shows flickers of Aaron Copland, with a little John Hartford ghosting around the edges. Fleck wields his banjo like a violin, stepping backward and forward to play over and around the symphony. The album includes two additional pieces, “Griff” and “Quintet for Banjo and Strings.”
‑ Bruce Collier
More Alarming Records
The sixth album from British folk singer‑songwriter Marling finds herself looking within and all around in her exploration of femininity and womanhood. This feels like such an effortless, breathless undertaking for Marling that on first listen, the total absence of male pronouns may go unnoticed because nothing is really missing. Marling devotes space to the complexities of women, to their longing and loving in her gorgeous storytelling over soft, warm production. She reflects on an entirely feminine world by looking at the intricacies of the women in her life—the self, the maternal, the grieving, the admirer, the creator, the friend, the lover, and beyond.
‑ Jane Morgan
Paul Johnson and the About Last Nights
Give Up the Ghost
Deal With the Devil Records
With roots in the area and across the Gulf Coast, a snarl, and fast tempos, Give Up the Ghost is a strong debut. Long name aside, they are a no‑frills rock band with southern flair and distinctive guitar tones ready to make their mark on the region.
‑ Nikki Hedrick
Listen to just about any track on this album, and you’ll recognize James Mercer’s signature style that defined both the Shins and Broken Bells. That said, a few of the tracks are pretty folksy, heavy on lyrical storytelling and even sprinkled with Jimmy Buffett‑ish island‑style steel instruments. Others—“Dead Alive,” “Rubber Balz,” “Name for You,” and “Painting a Hole” are classic Mercer. When it’s all said—or sung—and done, it’s a highly listenable album that’s sure to delight longtime fans. Maybe some new ones, too.
‑ Joni Williams
Tennis, the Denver‑based husband‑and‑wife pop duo, turned to what they know best for their fourth album—the sea and themselves. Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley went sailing on their boat and, without outside contact, focused inward. The album is a meditation on relationships, on what it means to be committed and share a life. Instead of telling stories of the milestones, the couple focuses on the little things that make up their life together—the waiting, the playfulness, the expectations, and the isolation. Yours Conditionally is layered but remains intimate and sunny, with Moore crooning about love over wavy beats that evoke the particular feeling of a slow summer night.
‑ Jane Morgan
V‑8 Death Car
Greasers take notice. Although accepted by punk culture, V‑8 Death Car is about crafting retro rock ‘n roll in modern times. It’s fun and anthemic, and oozes that ‘50s cool that always seems to be in short supply. Grab a leather jacket and a few friends, and a good time is guaranteed.