Tag Archives: rock

Favorite albums of 2016, the mid-year review

THE ALBUM I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO

Adore Life, Savages – It’s like I’m 15 all over again, and I just want to listen to the same album time after time, flipping the cassette over to start it again every time it hits the end. Since Adore Life dropped early this year, it’s been rocking my world. I like Savages’ 2013 full-length debut, Silence Yourself, and thought it showed promise. But I was unprepared for Adore Life, a significant step up in songwriting and intensity. Can’t wait to see them later this month in Indianapolis.

OTHER FAVES OF 2016

Changes, Charles Bradley – Bradley has had his heart broken, and has probably broken a heart or two himself. Changes – with the exception of the bizarre choice of God Bless America to open the album – is Bradley baring his soul for the world, looking for love, sometimes in the wrong places.

Fill In the Blank, Car Seat Head Rest – Beck, Parquet Courts, Weezer, Sebadoh The Strokes … all names of bands that run through my head as I listen to Fill in the Blank. And let’s be clear: I’m in no way calling Car Seat Head Rest derivative. They have their own thing going on, and that thing puts them in some pretty good company.

The Hope Six Demolition Project, PJ Harvey – Probably the most I’ve enjoyed a PJ Harvey album since 2000’s Stories From the City, Stories From the City. It isn’t that Harvey hasn’t done good work since then, but there’s a cohesiveness to Hope Six that her other recent offerings have lacked.

Lightning at the Door, All Them Witches – Grungy stoner rock for anyone who has ever owned 20-sided dice. You can hear touches of Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age on Lightning at the Door, and it’s best to listen with the lights out and some candles burning, preferably in a basement.

A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead – As a music fan, I really appreciate a band’s evolution over a period of time. Not everything is going to be a winner. There will always be favorites. While I don’t love A Moon Shaped Pool like I love OK Computer or Amnesiac, the more A Moon Shaped Pool simmers in my ears, the more I could see myself loving it just as I do my other Radiohead favorites.

Post-Pop Depression, Iggy Pop – I think the pairing of Queens of the Stone Age guitarist Josh Homme and Iggy Pop is natural and fluid, and Post-Pop Depression reflects that. Iggy does his thing, and Homme keeps the guitar wankering reeled in, doing more subtle, detailed work over the bulk of this nine-song collection rather than cranking it up to 11.

Puberty 2, Mitski – I’m not sure what I expected when I first listened to Puberty 2, but it wasn’t a pop rock album that would work as a soundtrack to an episode of Twin Peaks. Whether it’s the gloomy vulnerability of Dan the Dancer, the dreamy strings-and-beats-driven Fireworks or the noisy defiance of My Body’s Made of Crushed Little Stars, Mitski drops track after beguiling track.

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth, Sturgill Simpson – Come for the outstanding cover of Nirvana’s In Bloom; stay for more from one of the most interesting voices in American country music right now. Simpson’s less from the line of “cowboys” and “cowgirls” dominating the charts look like they went straight to the stage from the tanning bed, and more from the thoughtful, intelligent, rebellious line of John Prine, Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn.

We Were Wild, Esme Patterson – Esme Patterson has a wonderful voice, which has served her well. But on We Were Wild, she loosens up a bit, amping up the energy some, and the result is a more engaging collection than either of her two previous albums. This is one that grows on me the more I listen to it.

ON THE BUBBLE

BlackSUMMERS’night, Maxwell – I could see this being in my top albums at the end of the year. I don’t know that I like it as much as 2009’s BLACKsummers’night, but I find it growing more satisfying with each listen.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Introducing Karl Blau, Karl Blau; Leave Me Alone, Hinds; No Burden, Lucy Dacus; No One Deserves Happiness, The Body; The Suffers, The Suffers; untitled unmastered., Kendrick Lamar; You Will Never Be One of Us, Nails

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Let Lucy Dacus light up your life

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Lucy Dacus (in hat) and her band at The Brass Rail in Fort Wayne, IN, on March 28, 2016.

As a member of Generation X, I remember all of the bullshit my fellow Gen Xer’s and I put up with, largely from asshole Boomers, about how we were a bunch of slackers, apathetic, etc. I see this same thing happening with Millenials, and I’m not inclined to believe it much this time around, either.

Particularly when I see a 20-year-old like Lucy Dacus, as well as her young band, put on a helluva show after a rough day. I saw Dacus on March 28 at The Brass Rail in Fort Wayne. They showed up late, and the crowd was wondering what was up. Turns out, Dacus & Co spent the night before in Chicago, where their van had been broken into. Fortunately, no band equipment was stolen. However, plenty was taken, from the very personal (all of Dacus’s hand-written journals) to the vitally important (their Canadian videographer’s passport).

After Dacus told the story, the band proceeded to crank out more than an hour of solid, engaging indie rock. No excuses, no soundcheck, no tuning up. They got down to business and didn’t let it affect them, coolly burning through a flawless set that lasted for more than an hour. Totally professional. And more than enough to impress a cynical Gen Xer like me.

Dacus’ first album, No Burden, is out now.

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10 favorite albums of 2015

Alabama Shakes, Sound & Color – They are on my must-see-live list. This album is strong, top to bottom.

Action Bronson, Mr. Wonderful – This one just kept growing on me. Bronson’s adept verbally, and mixes a standard street vibe with some smarter-than-you-might-expect lyrics.

 

The Do, Shake, Shook, Shaken – Olivia Merilahti’s beautiful voice delivers, and the production backing her is more interesting than it might initially appear. I haven’t enjoyed an electronic pop album this much since Postal Service’s Up.

Girl Band, Holding Hands With Jamie – Girl Band’s 2015 EP, The Early Years, makes an appearance in my honorable mentions below, as well. What can I say? This kind of noise rock is right in my wheelhouse.

Heartless Bastards, Restless Ones – Erika Wennerstrom’s voice immediately captivated me when I first heard 2009’s The Mountain. But what keeps me coming back is the evolution of these Bastards, how they aren’t satisfied to keep making the same album over and over. I didn’t love 2012’s Arrow although it was decent. Restless Ones is a home run, arguably the best album I heard in 2015.

Houndmouth, Little Neon Limelight – Thanks to White Reaper and Houndmouth, Louisville had a pretty good year in 2015. These roots rockers follow their solid 2013 debut, From the Hills Below the City, with an even stronger sophomore effort. One of my goals in 2016 is to see Houndmouth live.

July Talk, July Talk – These Canadian rockers manage to balance a bluesy rock sound and Peter Dremaneis’s low, raspy voice with a lighter, poppier feel, largely provided by co-vocalist Leah Fay.

Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly – An album that’s actually worth all of the rave reviews its received throughout the year.

Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love – It is awesome to have these ladies back. I was privileged to see them live in Indy, and I’m hoping maybe they’ll hit some festivals in the Midwest next summer so I can catch them again. Punk rock that seems to be louder than the sum of its parts.

Young Fathers, White Men Are Black Men, Too – I get bored with hip-hop artists pretty easily. I don’t care what car rappers drive, what over-priced alcohol they drink or how many bitches they have. I grew up in the era of A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Public Enemy, Paris, Boogie Down Productions, The Jungle Brothers, Das EFX, etc. I want some goddamn substance. Young Fathers not only provide that, but their production sounds not at all like the repetitive beats that flood the airwaves.

On the bubble: Girlpool, Before the World Was Big; Dead Weather, Dodge & Burn; No Joy, More Faithful; Pale Honey, Pale Honey; White Reaper, White Reaper Does It Again

Honorable mentions: A Place to Bury Strangers, Transfixiation; Ryan Adams, 1989; Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit; Girl Band, The Early Years; Elle King, Love Stuff; Miguel, Wildheart; Motorhead, Bad Magic; Tunde Olaniran, Transgression; Torres, Sprinter; Wolf Alice, My Love is Cool

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Indianapolis, 12/04/15: Sleater-Kinney and Waxahatchee

Five things about Sleater-Kinney’s first appearance in Indianapolis:

  1. While I’ve enjoyed Waxahatchee’s albums – Ivy Tripp and Cerulean Salt – they’ve never really blown me away in recordings. Live, there’s an energy and centeredness to what they do that adds some real depth. You never really know a band until you see them live.
  2. This was my first time seeing Sleater-Kinney live, as well. The thing that really struck me about them live was how incredibly powerful the vocals of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein sound live. Vocals, like any other sound, can be manipulated in the studio to be made to sound stronger, more on-key – hello, Britney Spears – and more. But live, pretenders tend to be exposed. Tucker’s one-of-a-kind, staccato high-end and Brownstein’s more grounded low end make for a unique combination on all of Sleater-Kinney’s albums, and live it gives them a power that few other bands have.
  3. Carrie Brownstein is a guitar fucking god(dess). I cannot overstate this. I’ve seen guitarists like Josh Homme, Buddy Guy, Jack White, Dave Navarro, Tom Morello, etc., perform live, and Brownstein lives in that rarefied air. What really came off as odd during the show was that Brownstein was wearing a dark, short dress, and there were times she looked like Angus Young up there, between the licks and the rock star moves.
  4. A little less riot in these grrrls? Back in the day, I saw bands like Seven Year Bitch and L7 live, and I’ve been to my share of shows that involve unknown punk rockers playing in places like basements and veterans halls. In other words, punk rock is not a scene I’m unfamiliar with. But this show … I’m assuming the pre-concert, get-fired-up speech for Sleater-Kinney went something like, “Let’s do our hair and makeup, put on our pretty dresses and then go rock the fuck out of this place!” It was both unexpected and pretty frigging awesome.
  5. One of my top ten shows. And if I sat down and sorted it out, which I will eventually do for this blog, it might be top five. Sleater-Kinney was tight, pulsing with energy and loud enough to shake the building. I can’t wait to see them again.
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Favorite 40 songs of 2014

27, Passenger – A 27-year-old takes stock of his life. Witty, intelligent and occasionally sad.

1,000 Deaths, D’Angelo – D’Angelo emerges from his hibernation to drop one of the more interesting discs of 2014. Welcome back.

Avant Gardner, Courtney Barnett – Stream-of-consciousness psychedelic folk. Plus Barnett uses “emphysema” as a verb.

Bad News, Sleeper Agent – Love him or hate him? To be decided …

Blinded, The Bots – Not sure either of these brothers is old enough to drink. They are, however, old enough to kick musical ass.

Come Back Home, Trampled By Turtles – Amp the speed up to ludicrous and belt out top-notch bluegrass tunes. Repeat as necessary.

Dat Sound Good, PRhyme feat. Ab-Soul and Mac Miller – DJ Premier always sound good. Here, teamed up with Royce da 5’9″ and guests Ab-Soul and Mac Miller, the track rolls as the rhymers raise their game to keep up.

Dead Man’s Tetris, Flying Lotus feat. Captain Murphy and Snoop Dogg – I love it when hip-hop experiments. The production is unique and other-worldly, and Snoop lends the most familiar voice in the rap game to ground the track.

Don’t Mess With Me, Brody Dalle – Mrs. Josh Homme cranks out no-nonsense, ballsy rock.

Doses & Mimosas, Cherub – Probably my favorite song of 2014, and definitely not in my wheelhouse. A hedonistic, electro-funk disco kiss off that may be one of the catchiest songs I’ve ever heard.

Eye to Eye, Lee Bains & The Expressions – Soul music, done right.

FUNKNROLL, Prince – Ah, funky Prince sticks his head up again. Feels so damn good.

Guns + Ammunition, July Talk – I keep going back and forth on this one or Summer Dress. These Canadians are responsible for one of the best live shows I witnessed in 2014. Can’t wait to see them again.

High & Wild, Angel Olsen – A swirling haze of distorted guitars wrapped around Angel’s stoned, vulnerable voice.

I Just Don’t Understand, Spoon – Spoon’s always known how to ride a groove, but they upped their songwriting game on 2014’s They Want My Soul.

Indie Cindy, The Pixies – Classic Pixie sound, new Pixie song.

Jolly Fucker, Sleaford Mods – These guys land somewhere between iconoclastic Sex Pistols and Brit hip-hop star The Streets, a mix of UK punk attitude and stoner rap.

Just Another Bullet, Young Fathers – I’m not sure you can really go wrong with anything from Dead, but Just Another Bullet has some of the most interesting production I heard in the past year.

Legs, Chuck Inglish feat. Chromeo – A former Cool Kid teams up with the latest neo-funk stars for a track that should have been banging out of every third car over the course of the summer of 2014.

Like a Mighty River, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Soul music, effortless and classic.

Little Monster, Royal Blood – Just a bass player and a drummer cranking out thick, deep, melodic metal.

Littlest League Possible, Guided By Voices – So GBV imploded in 2014? Bob Pollard will likely be back with seventy-two albums in 2015, so you won’t get much of a chance to miss the genius of this Midwestern songwriter.

Love You Forever, Jenny Lewis – If only Jenny’s output was at a rate closer to that of Bob Pollard and Guided by Voices. But you won’t hear me complaining about the final product.

Madness, King Tuff – If this was 1983, I’d be calling this “rad.” I’ll stick with that.

The Map, Parkay Quarts – Parquet Courts’ alter ego dropped this little nugget of madness late in the year.

Means to be a Woman, Brother O’ Brother – Bluesy Indiana rock of the highest order.

My Mama Said Be Careful Where You Lay Your Head, The Wind and the Wave – This is one of those songs where the first time you hear it, you’ll be singing along by the second chorus. And by that point, you’ll have already been stomping your feet and clapping your hands through the verses.

My Resignation, Besserbitch – A chewy nugget of punk-pop rage.

New American Standard, Wussy – Sometimes, nice and easy works. This stripped-down rock cut exemplifies that.

Not the End of the World (Even as We Know It), Faded Paper Figures – “Yeah / It’s hard / But it’s not the end of the world / Not even as we know it.”

Oblivious, Jessica Lee Mayfield – Hints of Mazzy Star and Sleater-Kinney. I just love the guitar sound.

Question Everything, Logic – Quit listening to the lies and bullshit and see the truth. #logicforpresident

Raw Milk, Parquet Courts – When I hear Parquet Courts, I think of a lot of good 1990’s bands: Pavement, Sonic Youth, Slint, etc. Courts manage to reflect those influences while crafting their own sound.

Talk to God, Goat – It’s interesting and a bit hypnotic, rock grounded in folk tradition.

Two Weeks, FKA twigs – Twig’s album, LP1, is incredibly overrated. That said, promise shines through on tracks such as this one.

Violent Shiver, Benjamin Booker – Unrestrained blues rock that’ll have you bouncing off the walls.

Watch You Change, Drowners – I said it earlier this year, these rockers have one of my favorite lines of 2014: “There’s not a shoulder / cold enough for me / to give her.”

Welcome to America, Lacrae – Fight for your country and return, only to be targeted as a thug or gangster by the society you served. Welcome to America, indeed.

West Coast, Lana Del Rey – This and Brooklyn Baby drew me into Lana’s web.

On the bubble: Brand New, Pharrell feat. Justin Timberlake; Bring Me Your Loves, St. Vincent; Brooklyn Baby, Lana Del Rey; Chaghaybou, Tinariwen; Change My Ways, Tony Molina; Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck), Run the Jewels feat. Zach de la Rocha; Disco Shit, Cherub; D.R.E.A.M., Pharoahe Monch feat. Talib Kweli; Drown With the Monster, White Lung; Emerald Tuesday, Cibo Matto; Fall in Love, Phantogram; God & Nature, Loudon Wainwright III; I Don’t Wanna Go Home, Curtis Harding; I Wanna Be a Yank, Fucked Up; Jerk Ribs, Kelis; Lonely Sunday, Reignwolf; Longer Than You’ve Been Alive, Old ’97s; Lost Boys, Sir Michael Rocks feat. Mac Miller and Trinidad James; Never, The Roots feat. Patty Crash; Other Lovers, Devon Dubois; Owen, Frankie Cosmos; People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings; Porkpig, Logic; Riff Randall, Sleeping Bag; Rollercoaster, Bleachers; Sexy Socialite, Chromeo; Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Flaming Lips feat. My Morning Jacket, Fever the Ghost and J. Mascis; Strut, Lenny Kravitz; … to the bars, Sterile Jets

Honorable mentions: Ain’t So Simple, Protomartyr; American Horror, Speedy Ortiz; Black and White, Parquet Courts; Blind Faze, TOPS; Blue Moon, Beck; Bobby Reid, Lucette; Can’t Break Me Down, Billy Idol; Cedar Lane, First Aid Kit; China, BRONCHO; Creepin’ Jenny, The Pack a.d.; Dog Bumped (Live), Tim Barry; Don’t Leave Me Dry, Spanish Gold; Faithless, Black Veil Brides; Frequencies, Katie Herzig; Ghost & Pains, Wildbirds & Peacedrums; Heady Ways, Fly Golden Eagle; Heavy Metal and Reflective, Azaelia Banks; I Am Me, Logic; I’ll Go To Sleep, BLUFFING; I’m Only Joking, Kongos; The Impasse, Hookworms; Interference Fits, Perfect Pussy; Just One Drink, Jack White; Life of Sin, Sturgill Simpson; Long Gone, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger; Looking for Something, Paolo Nutini; Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Flaming Lips feat. Miley Cyrus and Moby; Magic, Mystery Skulls feat. Niles Rodgers and Brandy; Native Korean Rock, Karen O; Now Here In, Cloud Nothings; Parade of Choosers, Centro-Matic; Place Names, Cymbals Eat Guitars; Red Water, Diamond Youth; Run Rabbit Run, Black Pistol Fire; Runners, Lacrae; Sisters, Raveonettes; Slow Coming, Benjamin Booker; Sober, Childish Gambino; Soul Food, Big K.R.I.T feat. Rafael Saadiq; Summer Dress, July Talk; Supernova, Ray LaMontagne; Take Away These Early Grave Blues, Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra; Top Notch, Manchester Orchestra; Tongues, Joywave feat. KOPPS; Uno, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib; World Away, Tweedy

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Favorite 10 albums of 2014

Benjamin Booker, Benjamin Booker – Maybe my favorite album of 2014. I wrote before that Booker is “somewhere between the Black Keys and the Black Crowes.” I still think it’s a fair assessment.

Curtis Harding, Soul Power – Today’s R&B so frequently sounds way too clean or way too dirty. Soul Power keeps a fresh, live sound throughout.

July Talk, Guns + Ammunition – A great one-two, male-female vocal combination. Saw them live in October, and I was blown away by their stage presence.

Jenny Lewis, VoyagerVoyager is a departure from the country-tinged solo albums preceding it. It’s Lewis’s lyrics that keep me coming back for more.

Parkay Quarts, Content Nauseau – Parquet Courts’ second release of 2014 was another impressive entry into their short catalogue.

Perfect Pussy, Say Yes to Love – Hard, heavy and awesome. I can’t wait for more from PP.

Pixies, Indie Cindy – It’s Frank Black’s band now, and it works. Not a classic, but better than 95% of the new releases from old bands getting back together.

Royal Blood, Royal Blood – The Lord said there shall be metal. And there was.

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light on Everything – It’s not easy, and it’s not catchy. But it is awesome.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Half the CityHalf the City recreates that classic Stax/Muscle Shoals sound, and St. Paul and Co. do it well. They also put on a show on the live stage.

On the bubble: Courtney Barnett, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas; King Tuff, Black Moon Spell; Lacrae, Anomaly; Tony Molina, Dissed & Dismissed; Parquet Courts, Sunbathing Animal; Spoon, They Want My Soul; Jack White, Lazaretto; Angel Wilson, Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Honorable mention: Cherub, Year of the Caprese; Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence; First Aid Kit, Stay Gold; Guided By Voices, Motivational Jumpsuit; Kelis, Food; Logic, Spectator; Pharoahe Monch, PTSD – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; Pete Molinari, Theosophy; PRhyme, PRhyme; Run the Jewels, Run the Jewels 2; Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Give the People What They Want; Spanish Gold, South of Nowhere; St. Vincent, St. Vincent; Trampled By Turtles, Wild Animals; Tweedy, Sukierae; Young Fathers, Dead

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Fave songs from 2014, so far: The 3Q wrap-up

Avant Gardner, Courtney Barnett – Smart, jangley, singer-songwriter cut. It’s worth it just to hear her use “emphysema” as a verb.

Change My Ways, Tony Molina – If you’re into the whole brevity thing, as well as enjoying melodic punk, Tony Molina is your man.

China, BRONCHO – I’m guessing, but these guys probably own The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine albums. Broody, distortion heavy rock.

Come Back Home, Trampled By Turtles – I love me some light-speed Turtles, and Come Back Home is that musical comfort food.

Don’t Mess With Me, Brody Dalle – The former Distillers frontwoman and wife of QOTSA chief Josh Homme unleashes a blast of mad girl rawk.

Doses & Mimosas, Cherub – A cheeky and hedonistic electro-funk, kiss-off, come-down jam that my brother mistook for an Andre 3000 joint. If pressed to pick my favorite song of 2014 so far, this would be in the running.

D.R.E.A.M., Pharoahe Monch feat. Talib Kweli – Hip-hop vets crank out a cut that, if you don’t bob your head when you listen to it, just proves you have no soul.

Eye to Eye, Lee Bains & The Expressions – This might be my favorite song of 2014. I think this because I keep periodically singing the chorus to myself as I go about my daily business.

High & Wild, Angel Olsen – A swirling haze of distorted guitars wrapped around Angel’s easy, unique voice. From one of my favorite albums of the year, Burn Your Fire.

I Don’t Want to Go Home, Curtis Harding – My one big regret about Forecastle Fest this year was not catching Harding, who has gallons of boogie to go with pounds of woogie.

I Just Don’t Understand, Spoon – The grooviest band of the past decade releases what will likely be remembered as one of their finest albums. I Just Don’t Understand is the tip of the aural iceberg.

I Wanna Be a Yank, Fucked Up – Sometimes, being punk as fuck is enough.

Indie Cindy, The Pixies – The title track of the Pixies latest album nails their classic sound, which just never gets old.

Just Another Bullet, Young Fathers – Some of the eeriest production since the Geto Boys’ Mind Playing Tricks on Me. The sound of organized madness.

Legs, Chuck Inglish feat. Chromeo – Sexy, cool and not nearly as misogynistic as Blurred Lines.

Like a Mighty River, St. Paul & The Broken Bones – A sweet, smooth slice of soul music.

Little Monster, Royal Blood – To steal from Ron Burgundy, Royal Blood is “the balls.” Melodic, heavy rock with plenty of brains to go with the cajones.

Lonely Sunday, Reignwolf – Speaking of the balls … My greatest hope for 2015 is a full-length from these metalheads. Until then, this will have to do.

Longer Than You’ve Been Alive, Old 97’s – The ballad of the rock band that’s been there, done that, and lived to tell the tale.

Lost Boys, Sir Michael Rocks feat. Mac Miller and Trinidad Jam – I’ve heard a lot of good production from underground hip-hop acts this year, and Sir Michael Rocks and crew benefit from this here. Lyrically, young hoodlums try to figure out how to grow up.

Love You Forever, Jenny Lewis – Aaah, Jenny’s back and all is well. Articulate, funny and heartfelt pop rock by one of my favorite lyricists.

Mama Said Be Careful Where You Lay Your Head, The Wind and the Wave – I don’t love the album, but there’s a few fine tracks on From the Wreckage. This is the standout.

My Resignation, Besserbitch – Dedicated to anyone who has walked off the job with a middle finger flying high. High-energy punk pop with plenty of “screw you” built into it.

People Don’t Get What They Deserve, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings – The title says it all.

Raw Milk, Parquet Courts – These guys are growing on me … in a good way, not in a “I have this fungus I can’t get rid of” way. When I hear them, I think of a lot of good ’90’s bands: Pavement, Sonic Youth, Slint, etc.

Summer Dress, July Talk – Blues rock with a pop hook with a terrific one-two punch at lead singer.

Violent Shivers, Benjamin Booker – A track that falls somewhere between classic Chuck Berry and the Kings of Leon’s debut, Youth and Young Manhood. Unrestrained blues rock.

Watch You Change, Drowners – A Strokes-ian breakup song with one of my favorite lines of the year: “There’s not a shoulder cold enough for me to give her.”

Welcome to America, Lacrae – The perfect hip-hop track for the Michael Brown era, a look at what America is for those who can’t rely on white privelege.

Honorable mentions: 27, Passenger; Ain’t So Simple, Protomartyr; American Horror, Speedy Ortiz; Black and White, Parquet Courts; Blue Moon, Beck; Bobby Reid, Lucette; Brand New, Pharrell feat. Justin Timberlake; Brooklyn Baby, Lana Del Rey; Cedar Lane, First Aid Kit; Chaghaybou, Tinariwen; Creepin’ Jenny, The Pack a.d.; Different Days, The Men; Dog Bumped (Live), Tim Barry; Don’t Leave Me Dry, Spanish Gold; Down With the Monster, White Lung; Emerald Tuesday, Cibo Matto; Fall In Love, Phantogram; Frequencies, Katie Herzig; The Ghost of a Sabertooth Tiger, The Coast; God & Nature, Loudon Wainwright III; Guns + Ammunition, July Talk; I’ll Go To Sleep, BLUFFING; I’m Only Joking, Kongos; Interference Fits, Perfect Pussy; Jerk Ribs, Kelis; Life of Sin, Sturgill Simpson; The Littlest League Possible, Guided By Voices; Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds, The Flaming Lips feat. Miley Cyrus and Moby; Native Korean Rock, Karen O; Never, The Roots feat. Patty Crash; Now Here In, Cloud Nothings; Other Lovers, Devan DuBois; Parade of Choosers, Centro-matic; Place Names, Cymbals Eat Guitars; Rollercoaster, Bleachers; Run Rabbit Run, Black Pistol Fire; Runners, Lacrae; Sexy Socialite, Chromeo; Sisters, The Raveonettes; Supernova, Ray LaMontagne; Take Away These Early Grave Blues, Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra; Tongues, Joywave feat. KOPPS; Top Notch, Manchester Orchestra; Uno, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib

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