The Black Keys / Brothers / Nonesuch Records
The Black Keys created the term “riffage” and though on Brothers it seems like it’s lost underneath earnest songwriting and hooks laced with funk, it still breathes. Singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney just made it put clothes on so it could look attractive and appeal to radio. It still sways with dirty garage rock guitar work (“She’s Long Gone”, “Next Girl”) and also flirts with nostalgic psychedelia on “Black Mud” and soul that makes the heart sing on tracks like “Never Give You Up” and “The Only One”. The ability to touch different aspects of blues further exemplifies the duo’s talent as musicians and notes their creativity is everlasting. All in all, blues rock has never been sexier.
Download: “Next Girl”, “She’s Long Gone”, “Sinister Kid”
LCD Soundsystem / This Is Happening / DFA
Have you ever walked into a low-key yet well-embraced bar and noticed one particular fellow who’s swagger draws a glowing spotlight and makes him the life of the party? LCD Soundsystem is that exact individual, especially on This Is Happening. Barely hyped, the third release from producer James Murphy obnoxiously gives you nine dance punk tracks and says “I don’t care what you think, but you’ll love it”. Each spiral into a hypnotic breakdown seems almost perfect as the backbeat of each tune is simple but entrancing – almost to the point where you don’t care that the average song is over five minutes long. A bit more spacious than previous material, This Is Happening informs you that an aging artist can indeed cause your feet to convulse with glee.
Download: “Drunk Girls”, “You Wanted A Hit”
Nas & Damian Marley / Distant Relatives / Universal
When you throw an iconic Brooklyn rapper and the youngest son of Bob Marley into a studio, the result isn’t going to be a record designed for dance clubs. Distant Relatives is venom spat with a sense of ferociousness only found in testaments about serious subjects like African liberation. Since it’s not beaten senseless with pop, the album can be seen as dry but it’s a collaborative piece that criss-crosses Nas’ daring rap style with Damian Marley’s fearless reggae lines that’s loud enough to make people lend an ear for 60 minutes.
Download: “As We Enter”, “Nah Mean”
Sing It Loud / Everything Collides / Epitaph
Pop punk has grown up a bit. It chopped off it swooping bangs, added a little gel for that “morning hair look” and even grew a little stubble. Its voice however hasn’t quite hit puberty and Everything Collides is the perfect example as Sing It Loud doesn’t astound, but impresses. The sophomore follow-up from the Minneapolis five-piece sounds extremely similar to the debut that gave the group potential but relentless hooks and refined vocals show shades of pioneer acts like The All-American Rejects and Something Corporate. One could argue, but it’s unfair to call Everything Collides a disappointment as it can easily find a home in the convertibles of puppy love teenagers (for the summer anyway).
Download: “Light It Up”