May Highlights

1. Tune-yards Nikki Nack

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tUnE-yArDs caught my attention with 2011’s w h o k i l l and has kept me busy since then trying to effectively describe the sound Merrill Garbus produces. There’s African drumming, choirs of children, nearly atonal yell-singing. It’s odd, but very exciting. The act continues on Nikki Nack where Garbus uses her familiar resources to create some great school yard chanting material. Also, Garbus might have stolen “woo-ha” right from under Busta Rhymes’ nose.

Standout Track: “Water Fountain”

2. Kishi Bashi Lighght

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Violinist for Of Montreal, K Ishibashi started his solo career in 2011 and released the beautiful 151a in 2012. Thick with layered instrumentation, Kishi Bashi brings dream-pop soundscapes to counteract the crazy violin riffs that give Kishi Bashi his distinct sound that sets him apart from the sea of indie pop acts prevalent today.

Standout Track:  “The Ballad of Mr. Steak”

3. Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour

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England’s next classy crooner comes in the form of a 21-year-old singer who gained notoriety from the Disclosure track “Latch” and the radio tune “La La La” from producer Naughty Boy. Smith takes the more classical vocalist approach to his debut akin to Adele’s my-vocals-are-production-enough-thanks format and Smith backs up with some beautiful tracks. The lyrics are fairly non-specific and they remind me of the woe-is-me material that Marcus Mumford penned.

Standout Track: “Stay with Me”

4. Kitty impatiens  EP

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Formerly known as Kitty Pryde, the internet tumblr rapper releases a few more songs that sound pretty much like her older material. The intimate feel of Kitty’s bedroom whisper lines give her a specific style that cannot be confused with any other rapper, female or not, and she sticks to her guns here. Also, check out the loony track titles!

Standout Track: “☆:*・°☆:* emob0unce °☆.*・°☆”

5. Christopher Lee Metal Knight EP

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Christopher Lee is 92 years old. He started acting in 1947, just after WWII ended. This month he is releasing his third EP of heavy metal covers which includes songs inspired by Don Quixote. This is not a joke. I am just…I don’t know what…

Standout Track: Just listen to the whole thing here.

Cover of the Month:

This is just too adorable to pass up.

Best Music Videos:

Fall Out Boy finishes their epic tale chronicling each track from last year’s Save Rock n Roll

Extras:

XXL Freshman 2014 Announced! I only guessed two out of twelve right (Chance the Rapper, Isaiah Rashad)

Ted Talk on the history of Sampling in Hip Hop

 

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April Highlights

1. Nickel Creek A Dotted Line

After a long break that started in 2006, folk/bluegrass trio Nickel Creek reunited for a lovely LP titled A Dotted Line. The LP is less full-length album and more a collection of songs written by each member that were recorded together. It includes a few covers (one of which has Disney credits?) as well as a song about the end-of-days craze in “21st of May.” Really, anything that Chris Thile is involved with I will listen to, but this album does build it’s strength on the art of collaboration between all three members.

Standout Track: Hayloft

2. SOHN Tremors

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My new favorite music genre, the alt-R&B movement of the last year(ish), has had a multitude of catchy names ascribed to it (my favorite of which if PBR&B) that try to encapsulate the soundscape being explored by folks like How to Dress Well, James Blake, Lo-Fang, Sin Fang an other artists who address the R&B sensibilities with modern synths and electronic vocal tricks. SOHN is the next to release an LP in that arena, Tremors, and it provides the 80s vibe just as well as his peers.

Standout Track: Tempest

3. Duck Sauce Quack

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Look, even if Quack was terrible I might still have included it on this post. EDM producers Armand Van Helden and A-Trak goof off behind some computers and do their best to make sure you know not to take them seriously. The album is a mish-mash of old and new material and all of it, besides the lengthy faux radio play excerpts, are more than dance-worthy.

Standout Track: Radio Stereo

4. Antemasque Antemasque EP

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Vocalist Cedric Bixler-Zavala and guitarist Omar Rodrígues-López, the duo behind At the Drive In and The Mars Volta have reassembled themselves as Antemasque. Their new configuration, which includes Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea, harkens back to their older ATDI sound as they build more traditional rock structures for this EP. It looks like the two might be down for producing some music that is a little more approachable than the latter half of The Mars Volta’s discography, which is exciting for those who were wishing the ATDI reunion a few years back included new material.

Standout Track: 4am

Cover of the Month:

Ellie Goulding’s “Fire” goes 60s doo wop!

Best Music Videos

Hudson And Troop “Frameless

Tacocat “Hey Girl

Real Estate “Crime

Jon Lajoie “Please Use This Song