Janet Jackson returns, unbroken.
When I think of Janet, I think of innovation, social consciousness and silky, seductive pop. Unbreakable (her first release since brother Michael’s death in 2009) delivers on all counts, aided by fresh yet restrained production from Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. Janet herself waxes reflective: “Wherever life takes me,” goes “Well Traveled,” “I’m willing to go.” –Party Ben
A decidedly sophomore UN-slump from these San Francisco post punks.
While Let It Pretend shares plenty of sonic DNA with Dirty Ghosts’ Metal Moon debut, the new songs sound more like Patti Smith fronting ‘70s era Devo – or a grittier, garage rockier Pretenders. Tracks like “Cataract” fuse ‘80s MTV rock to sinewy, angular, post-punk; delivering some seriously addictive, retro-pop action! –Andee Connors
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Eagles singer releases his first solo album in 15 years.
Don Henley’s fifth album is more than a return to form. Recorded in Nashville, Cass County is a celebration of his Americana roots and influences. Henley covers The Louvin Brothers and Tift Merritt. He’s also joined by friends like Mick Jagger, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Miranda Lambert and Martina McBride. –Eric Shea
Discover the hottest new sound of soul with Louisville’s Bryson Tiller.
The infectious tone of bass drops and sensual vocals creates a seductive combination of R&B and trap on T R A P S O U L. Can this young man revive the soul of the South? Creating a signature vibe some have called RnBass, Tiller is the next voice. –J Boogie
Trevor Hall wrote his most recent album in Hawaii taking in musical influences from acoustic rock, reggae and Sanskrit chanting. His playing features acoustic strumming coupled with intimate and inspirational lyrics. Other…
Gillian Welch’s partner delivers a sophomore jewel.
Recorded on analogue tape, Dave Rawlings Machine’s Nashville Obsolete blends timeless tones with classic songwriting that’s both familiar and surprising. Rawlings’ guitar work shines (especially in 11-minute-long epic “The Trip”), but his uncanny chemistry with Welch best exemplifies why they received a Lifetime Songwriting Achievement Award at the 2015 Americana Music Association Awards. –Eric Shea
Psychedelic threnodies and dismal euphonies.
On their third album, Windhand expand even further on the lumbering dirge-doom of their debut, crafting a songsuite of lysergic heaviness that often sounds more like a heavier, slower, female-fronted Alice In Chains. The molten metal of Grief’s Infernal Flower flows hypnotically beneath Dorthia Cottrell’s haunting croon, conjuring up a bewitching doom metal otherworld. –Andee Connors …
Like a lot of ‘80s kids, I was a big fan of synth pop, early hip hop, new wave and The Smiths, and I was obsessed with the radio. I was a bit of a weirdo growing up in mylittle Nebraska town, but music was evidence of an outside world where there were people like me—and radio was a connection to that world. When the weather was just right, I could dial in Omaha stations, catch “Rock Over London,” “Dr. Demento,” a hip hop show or weekend dance mix. Any chance I had to travel (marching band trip to Denver!), I’d obsessively record radio broadcasts on my little Walkman, and these tapes were my prized possessions. …
The late, great, self-proclaimed “first black hippie” gets a deluxe reissue.
Before his untimely death in 2006, Arthur Lee claimed that without him, there’d be no Jimi Hendrix or Sly Stone. Sure enough, the extended Black Beauty rocks loud and funks hard. By 1973, Love was a vacuum-tight all-black band. Vestiges of their early psychedelic sophistication surface in “Lonely Pigs.” –Eric Shea
Oakland’s Shannon & The Clams continue pioneering their distinctively fun sound.
On their fourth studio album Gone By The Dawn, Shannon Shaw and the Clams draw on doo-wop, garage rock and girl groups with dark, slick and soulfully emotive vocals. Opener “I Will Miss The Jasmine” features freaky Joe Meek-esque sonic beams, paving the road for one heckuva killer album! –Michelle Solomon
I‘ve chased music around nearly every day of my life. One of my earliest memories is running all the way home from elementary school to choreograph disco moves in our basement. At that same age my piano teacher generously made simplified arrangements of my favorite pop songs so that I could play them.
I have a favorite sound: wind. Maybe that’s why I’m partial to classical minimalism — waves of continual sound washing over you…. …