The Rocket Summer / Of Men And Angels / Island Def Jam
Although the 15 tracks have a vintage The Rocket Summer feel to it, Of Men And Angels is a fresh dip into the talent singer Bryce Avary possesses. Instead of branching off and tackling new sounds, Avary opens an exhibit and shows listeners he can still pen unforgettable hooks and choruses that will nest in their ears for weeks, not days. A few songs such as “You Gotta Believe” and “Walls” sound like b-sides from previous albums, but creations like “Tara, I’m Terrible” and “Light” entertain, dying to be sung by admirers at live concerts. The reason for this isn’t because of the youthful fanbase that stalks the singer as instead it’s his lyrics that speak volumes and unravel personal themes. With four records as The Rocket Summer, it’s no surprise if the 28-year-old Avary still has enough creativity to pen his best and most emotional record yet.
Download: “Light”, “Nothing Matters”
Alkaline Trio / This Addiction / Epitaph
A generation of young punks were first introduced to the already-established Illinois punk group Alkaline Trio on the first Atticus: …Dragging The Lake compilation with the album opening “Jaked on Green Beers.” After hearing the sardonic and energetic track, many no doubt went out to buy Alk Trio albums like From Here To Infirmary and Maybe I’ll Catch Fire. If these were the last albums you bought by the band, and you picked up This Addiction on a whim, very little will have apparently changed. Actually, their latest marks a triumphant return to their three-piece punk roots that they’d diverged from on more recent releases. Their trademark mid-tempo grim melancholic style has aged surprisingly well and tracks such as “American Scream” (forgive the title) maintain the same level of irrepressible sing-along potential as “Private Eye”. The topic of addiction sure is popular of late (Eminem’s Relapse – which also uses a pill-ustration on its cover – comes to mind), but the trio mixes drugs and breakups into a familiar cocktail that goes down easy even after all these years.
Download: “This Addiction”, “American Scream”
Johnny Cash / American VI: Ain’t No Grave / Universal
Coming four years after Cash’s last posthumous release, American V1: Ain’t No Grave is the sixth and final installment of his American Recordings album series, which has included his latter day hits “Hurt” and “When The Man Comes Around.” This effort, released around what would have been his 78th birthday, continues the tradition of those earlier in the series, having the Man in Black cover a number of songs written by well-known songwriters, but probably lacks a big crossover sensation like the aforementioned songs. Instead, Ain’t No Grave, with its distinct gospel flavouring, depicts Cash as a man at peace with his mortality. Try listening to this on the beach on the last day of spring break; “Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over / but life goes on and this old world will keep on turning / let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together” – Amen, Johnny.
Download: “For The Good Times”, “Aloha Oe”
Micky Green / Honky Tonk / Universal
Indie crooners are hard to come by as most of them fade away after their hit single gets overplayed in a popular television commercial, but Micky Green has stood her ground. The Australian blues/pop singer has the looks of a bonafide cover model (a gig she does from time to time) and has a voice similar to Norah Jones but with more spunk. On her sophomore attempt, Honky Tonk, Green sings with a Motown swagger over a variety of tracks that bop heads with bewitching, vibrant beats (“Scaredy Cat”) and soothe the soul with relaxing harmonies (“Ready Already”). Her popularity may not be flowing through the airwaves of radio stations and music charts in North America, but it’s no surprise she’s captivated the ears of groove cats overseas.
Download: “No Line”, “Ready Already”
Crime In Stereo / I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone / Bridge Nine
Strip the Brand New comparisons and the fact they are from Long Island, New York and Crime In Stereo would still be an ill-tempered force that can’t be reckoned with. While searching for a sound they know exists in their earlier works, it’s quite clear the melodic hardcore quintet have found it with I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone. Full of brain-shattering breakdowns and riffs that can twist eardrums with delight, the record grabs one from the very beginning and decides to beat the crap out of them with every track. Kristian Halbert creates a pedestal for himself with primal yet haunting vocals but also illustrates the fine details of himself as a frontman with creative words. Raw? Yes. Loud? Check. Their best album released to date? Unpredictable but true.
Download: “Exit Halo”, “Young”