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New Adds: Tracy Chapman, Ringo Deathstarr, and More!

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FOLK: Tracy Chapman - Tracy Chapman: When I think of folk music I tend to picture older white dudes with beards and crooning voices that make me feel like I’m driving across America. But that’s pretty boring most of the time and most of America is pretty empty. Tracy Chapman on the other hand is infinitely interesting. While her entire career could be written about endlessly, I’ll stick to her self titled first album Tracy Chapman released in 1988. She starts off the album with "Talkin’ Bout A Revolution" opening with a classic folk guitar finger pick. Lyrically, she spends the song really letting us know that she sees the world around her clearly and her fellow humans are sad and angry. She addresses sex and race issues, she questions war and acts of hate, and she laments social and economic injustice. It’s basically everything you could want from a folk album. "Fast Car" follows with another dose of melancholy hope where she plans her future, leaving her problems behind, but the song is also a reflection on the hardships that have followed her until now. She makes us ask what burdens people and why they feel the need to run away. "Behind the Wall" is a devastating poem on domestic violence in lower income communities, sung without instrumentation. It is chilling and maybe I cried, so what? In "Why?" she moves out of the turmoil of American cities to cover global issues of turmoil instead. “Why are missiles called peace keepers when they’re aimed to kill?” Not a moment is lost in her lyrics to sing for those who are often left unheard. Her first album brings to our attentions the extent of the failures of modernity, and reminds us of the relentless hopefulness of human kind. LIANA
 

Recommended Tracks: “Talkin’ Bout A Revolution” (1), “Fast Car”(2), “For You” (11) 

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NOISE: Merzbow - Pulse Demon: Some people may have trouble listening to noise, but Merzbow’s Pulse Demon is much harder to write about than it is to listen to. Really, though, Pulse Demon is just what the title suggests. Beneath the songs’ piercing static and wavering, abrasive mid-tones lies a warm, driving pulse. Merzbow (メルツバウ Merutsubau), who’s given name is Masami Akita (秋田 昌美) (remember the name Masami for a nice Easter egg next week), has been creating noise from Japan since the late 1980s, giving him a place in the sub-genre known as Japanoise. Like other types of noise, Japanoise is best listened to with good speakers or with headphones on, but listening to this from your laptop speakers might add another element of noisy distortion. PAIGE

RIYL: ??? n o iᔖ  ꆭ ???
Recommended Tracks: "Woodpecker No. 1" (1), "Worms Plastic Earthbound" (7), "Yellow Hyper Balls" (8), "Tokyo Times Ten" (6) 

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NEW Ringo Deathstarr - Pure Mood: Ringo Deathstarr was one of my favorite bands in my late high school era mostly for three ridiculous reasons: they were from Austin, Texas (represent), their band name is RINGO DEATHSTARR LOL, and their 2012 album was named Mauve,which is just such an exciting color. The fact that they made good music at all was totally secondary at the time, but I am proud to announce that they continue to make some solid tunes. Music-wise, RD has a lot going for them: with both a male and a female singer, the variety of vocal styles keeps the album from being monotonous; the shoegaze elements gives them a unique sound compared to other alternative bands; and furthermore, because the droning distortion subtly resides in the background, leaving the vocals and much of the guitar largely unaffected, the album is pretty chill and light (whereas most shoegaze tends to be pretty heavy, at least I think). This just sounds like music for cruising along the beach in a convertible in a really Hollywood way, where the wind does not fuck up your hair and the fact that the sun is slowly destroying your skin with cancer is irrelevant. ASHLEY 

RIYL: A Place To Bury Strangers, No Joy, My Bloody Valentine

Recommended Tracks: "Heavy Metal Suicide" (2), "Frisbee" (8),"Old Again" (11), "Acid Tongue" (12) 

NEW: Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger: I feel obligated to preface this review by admitting I had never listened to Ty Segall prior to this, and I don’t know the bands he is known for “reviving.” Hopefully I can shed some light on this album for others who are unfamiliar. Emotional Mugger is a rock album above all else. As a listener, one is constantly very aware of the presence of a fuzzy distorted guitar. The “sound” of this record is hands down, super classic garage rock. It’s the type of music that is really hard to dislike,  because it feels so pure in its musicality. The actual structure of the songs in Emotional Mugger is what makes this album unique; Segall works in strong elements of noise, psychedelia, and progressive rock. Funnily enough, if you know me, you know that “noise, psychedelia, progressive” are my buzzwords when it comes to metal music. Essentially, Emotional Mugger is a lighter rock version of my favorite kinds of metal, which is really cool. Think of this record like The Black Keys with all the "indie" replaced by glammy choruses and progressive jamming. 8/10, would recommend. CHRISTIAN

RIYL: The Stooges, Led Zeppelin, White Stripes  

Recommended Tracks: "California Hills" (2), "Emotional Mugger / Leopard Priestess" (3), "W.U.O.T.W.S." (10) 

NEW: Chairlift - MothWhen I think of Chairlift, I do not think of dancing, yet on Moth their goal seems to be to fill the dance floor. This is not apparent with the red herring of an opener, “Look Out”, which sounds closer to the sounds of Ramona Lisa (member Caroline Polachek’s solo project) or their 2012 album, Something. By the time that “Ch-Ching”, the surprisingly bass heavy first single, Chairlift has undergone a sonic facelift with tracks like “Polymorphing” sounding like a new Haim record. That being said, Chairlift is still shines with their mid-tempo tracks with “Otawa to Osaka” Caroline’s delivery flowing over the listener. This album is the logical step forward for a band that has lacked a specific identity. Moth does not establish a singularity of sound, but is a step in the right direction. KEN

RIYL: Ramona Lisa, Au Revoir Simone, Class Actress, Haim

Recommended Tracks: “Polymorphing” (2), “Romeo” (3), “Ch-Ching” (4), “Otawa to Osaka” (6)  

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NEW: Idiot Glee - Idiot GleeIdiot Glee’s self-titled release was full of good surprises for me. Usually I am not one to be able to make it all the way through an indie rock album but this album’s catchy and mesmerizing melodies made it a pretty memorable listen. The album’s sound is led by the long tones of lead singer James Friley’s voice and kept steady with his piano. The course of the album maintains a melancholy and occasionally psychedelic sound that will make you want to lie down on the grass and look up at the clouds. The lead single “Evergreen Psycho” tells the story of a cactus falling in love with an evergreen tree, which is probably the most indie thing that I have ever heard before. My favorite songs on the album are definitely “The Whip” and “Personal Computer Television,” but there are no songs on Idiot Glee that I feel adversely about. This album does not move anything in new directions but will absolutely give any indie rock fan exactly what they are looking for. HARRY

RIYL: John Cale, Brian Eno, Father John Misty

Recommended Tracks: "I Don’t Feel Right" (3), "Evergreen Psycho" (6), "Personal Computer Television" (7), "The Whip" (8)  

NEW: Martin Courtney - Many MoonsMartin Courtney is the lead singer of the suburban, “looks like a bunch of dads” indie rock band Real Estate joining his fellow band mates in releasing solo albums.  Bassist Alex Bleeker started the woodsy Alex Bleeker and the Freaks while lead guitarist Matt Mondanile goes as Ducktails with dreamy soundscapes that is reminiscent of 70s Beach Boys. All three, as part of Real Estate and also solo, have made being very sleepy, airy, suburban stoners into an art form. Regardless of which project, including this one, you will feel like you’re floating on your bike or sedan underneath a blanket of  trees on your way back from high school i.e. look at the cover of this album.  Have you ever been stoned and the foliage of all plant life around you seems to dance together in perfect unison and in vibrant colors? That’s the vibe.  Martin Courtney’s album sounds like that warm wool sweater that you wear throughout autumn, accompanying you as the leaves change color the air turns cold. Like wise, Courtney seems to be going through a relationship that's a flame slowly burning out. He's unsure how to move forward and reconcile that the past must remain the past. DYLAN  

RIYL: Real Estate and its derivatives, Elliot Smith, Craft Spells

Recommended Tracks: "Foto" (2), "Before We Begin" (4), "Little Blue" (8)

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CLASSIC: Kraftwerk - Die Mensch-MaschineIt’s difficult to overstate the significance of Kraftwerk in the evolution of electronic music and especially in the birth of techno. This is the stuff Derrick May and Juan Atkins were bumping in 1981 driving around Detroit. I chose The Man-Machine because this album has some of the most lasting and recognizable tracks by the group “The Robots,” “The Model,” and “The Man-Machine.” This is by no means a definitive work by the group nor is it their standout best album, but I think it’s the best place to start if you’re unfamiliar with Kraftwerk. This is an exercise in tonal perfection. The music is precise and clean reminding us of the purity of sound, of which only computers are capable. All of the vocals are either sung through a vocoder or generated through computer-speech software over tracks composed of using homemade or at the least custom-made synths and drum-machines. Having grown out of the krautrock scene, Kraftwerk’s fascination with space and technology is evident on The Man-Machine. It’s the kind of music that you might expect from an alien race like the Daleks of Doctor Who.

I was fortunate enough to see the group a couple months ago for their 3D Experience. It was certainly an experience with the audience all wearing 3D glasses and the band members dressed up in spandex body suits equipped with strips of light that seemed to change with the music. Each stood behind their own pedestal of glitchy gadgets composing the tunes that made them famous as 3D images of robots and computers flashed on a large screen behind them. For the song “The Robots” the band left the station and were replaced by replica robotic mannequins that rose from the floor. The mannequins danced in jerky robotic motions miming the rigid movement of their human counterparts. The whole crowd was in their 50s and 60s – original fans, very respectful and low key. I can only imagine what they were like in Kraftwerk’s hey-day… SHILL