Picks of the Week

Doom pioneers bestow exceptional eighth album.

1. Pentagram

Curious Volume sounds noticeably stronger than 2011’s Last Rites. Like a feral cat on its ninth life, Pentagram’s Bobby Liebling channels his demons and victories into these riff-rife rockers with historic authority. His adoration for Blue Cheer’s songwriting surfaces throughout. Young longhairs with big amps take note – your riffs won’t endure without memorable songs. –Eric Shea

CURATOR’S DISCOVERY

Koffi Olomide honors the Voice of Lightness.

2. Koffi Olomide

Koffi Olomide is one of Africa’s most revered active artists. As the title implies, Koffi Chante Tabu Ley documents his tribute to one of Africa’s most revered singers of yesteryear, Tabu Ley Rochereau. Recorded live in Kinshasa, Koffi’s band is crackin’, his voice butter. Sparkling tunes to lift your spirit with beauty. –Diego Gonzalez


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Marcos on #MusicologistMonday

I think it’s important to mention here that Latin music is not actually a genre. Synthesizing the cultures of almost one billion people across two continents and an entire hemisphere into one category is not possible.

Musical expression stands on its own and defies genre; that’s what draws me to the music of Latin America and its far-reaching diaspora. Traditions endlessly reinvent themselves through creativity and drive. Today’s artists and musicians are standing on the shoulders of centuries of innovation and experimentation.
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Picks of the Week

Carrie Underwood’s first single from Storyteller tells a story.

1 Carrie Underwood

Anyone who thought that the country superstar was too posh to wax blue collar is in for a surprise. “Smoke Break” is a lighter-hoisting anthem for the working people. Underwood’s narrative spins a salt-of-the-earth country rocker that empathizes with anyone who has ever flirted with their vices after a stressful day. –Eric Shea

CURATOR’S DISCOVERY

Longhaired, bellbottomed riff worship from Down Under.

2 Hydromedusa

Aussie, hard rock heads Hydromedusa deliver some serious, seventies style, retro-psych, proto-metal swagger. They infuse a classic psychedelic heaviness with bristling punk rock energy. Hydromedusa sounds like it could be a genuine lost psych rock artifact from back in the day, brimming with big riffs, fuzzy bass, yowled vox and yeah, cowbell! –Andee Connors
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Darian on #MusicologistMonday

The earliest memory I have is being carried into a church on my mom’s hip, hearing this rhythm that sounded larger than life and thinking, “I am that sound!” My mother always told me that I was cursed to be a drummer because when she was pregnant with me, she recorded eight disco albums. My mother and her sister, better known as The Duncan Sisters, also sang background for Little Richard. My father is a trumpet player and back then he was touring with Z.Z. Hill until Z.Z. died. Both parents say that I began playing a full drum kit at age two — I would jam along to a live Michael Jackson album. They say I would play the whole album and hit all the hits with the drummer. I don’t remember any of that. But I do remember obsessing over the grooves, parts, hits and fills that drummers recorded for artists like James Brown, Pleasure and Herbie Hancock (to name a few).
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Picks of the Week

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B.o.BB.o.B. gets you high on the funk with Psycadelik Thoughtz.

His perfect mixture of soulful harmonies, funky bass, southern slang, vocoder and spaced out beats provide the soundtrack for a spaceship landing in Georgia. Back and Forth has a funky steppers vibe, and guests Jon Bellion and Sevyn Streeter add to the flavor on this surprise release. –J Boogie

CURATOR’S DISCOVERY

Bay Area gem radiates goth-folk garage-rock gold.

Calls

“Don’t know it yet/ You’re going to love me,” warns gauzy voiced Kati Knox, as if she’s casting a siren’s spell. Her Oakland based band Calls has a penchant for recording bewitching, lo-fi songs. Drenched in reverb and analog hiss, Tiny Flowers sounds like John Dwyer produced it in Paula Frazer’s home studio. –Eric Shea

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Michelle Solomon on #MusicologistMonday

It was predestined that I was going to be in love with music from the get-go. My parents were both immersed in the progressive, bustling music scenes of the ‘60s and ‘70s. My dad was a San Francisco hippie who played music during the Summer Of Love. My mom emigrated from Mexico to LA’s San Fernando Valley; as a teenager she fawned over The Monkees, The Doors and Thee Midniters. My dad built out a very ample LP collection that included San Francisco stalwarts Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe & The Fish and Moby Grape along with such British Invasion staples as The Beatles, Donovan and The Who. Whether on turntable, tape deck or Discman, music never got lost in my upbringing and education. During college I fell into San Francisco State University’s music department and enjoyed semesters playing piano, singing in operas and musicals. I also savored lectures about the history of rock ‘n’ roll, the roots of jazz and music of the world’s peoples. I took what I learned and applied it to my first job out of college working at a local record shop where research, discovery and sharing between employee and customer were heavily encouraged. Suffice to say; my path to Pandora was firmly rooted.
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Picks of the Week

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Bro country approaches middle age.

1. Luke Bryan

Don’t let the title of Luke Bryan’s fifth album fool you; He’s still young at heart. Kill The Lights opens musing on trucks, tractors and partying. And the title-track fuses disco beats with country-pop. But “Just Over” reveals Bryan maturely handling a breakup while “Scarecrows” finds him accepting things that change and things that don’t. –Eric Shea

 

CURATOR’S DISCOVERY

Jay Pharoah impersonates everyone else while asking, Can I Be Me?

2. Jay Pharoah

The SNL veteran’s debut comedy album features a rapid-fire parade of the celebrity impressions he’s known for, alongside more personal tales of why he’s scared of Richard Sherman, his pre-fame gig working at Golden Corral, and how a shark attack ruined his relationship. –Kelly Anneken

 

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Diego on #MusicologistMonday

My name is Diego Gonzalez; I got my start in music long before I became a Music Curator at Pandora, it was probably the violin lessons beginning at the age of three. What was intended originally as a hobby became my life. I grew up with classical music, but my first musical obsession was The Beatles, whom I discovered on old LPs left over from my mom’s youth. Metal was my next obsession and since then it’s been a long road of radio shows, record stores, practices, shows, tours and now Pandora. I’ve played bass guitar for over 25 years in too many projects to count. Noteworthy gigs have included Citay, Vetiver and The Dry Spells. These days, I play bass in an improv rock band called 3 Leafs. I also compose music for solo recordings featuring the oud, an Arabic lute. I think of myself as chasing a thread through the landscape of the imagination.
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