Stranger To Stranger – Paul Simon

Stranger to Stranger is Paul Simon’s 13th studio album, and his first since 2011. During an interview with Rolling Stone, Simon reflects on the 5 year process of creating the album, saying, “There are a lot of preconceptions [about my new work] because I have been familiar to the public for 50 years. They go, ‘Is it going to be Graceland? Is it going to be ‘Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard?Simon and Garfunkel? The Capeman?’ To get people to listen with open ears, you have to really make something that is interesting because people are prepared for it not to be interesting.”

Light Upon The Lake – Whitney

Light Upon The Lake is the first album from Whitney. The band was formed in 2015 with members Julien EhrlichMcmillen KakacekJosiah MarshallMalcolm Brown, and William Miller. What began as early morning writing sessions between roommates, quickly became musical collaborations and eventually the formation of Whitney.

A note on their BandCamp page reads “We were both writing as this one character, and whenever we were stuck, we’d ask, ‘What would Whitney do in this situation?’ We personified the band name into this person, and that helped a lot. We wrote the record as though one person were playing everything. We purposefully didn’t add a lot of parts and didn’t bother making everything perfect, because the character we had in mind wouldn’t do that.”

Monolith of Phobos – Claypool Lennon Delirium

“Two worlds have collided, and what glorious and odd worlds they are. After a successful summer tour, pairing Primus with Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, the two bandleaders, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon, have decided to combine their abstract talents into a project called The Claypool Lennon Delirium. Their efforts thus far have spawned the upcoming, full-length release called ‘Monolith of Phobos.‘” (TheClaypoolLennonDelirium.com). Les Claypool, one half of the duo, has been with experimental rock/metal band Primus since ’88, and has released over 15 projects. Sean Lennon has been with Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger since 2008, and brings a bit more of the traditional psychedelic rock sound to the group. He is also the son of legendary musician John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

The two met “After some impromptu, backstage jams and an epic live sit-in on Primus’s psychedelic opus, “Southbound Pachyderm,” Claypool approached Lennon about doing a recording project. “I was trying to wrangle up an Oysterhead reunion since Primus was taking a rest for 2016 but the planets just wouldn’t align for that,” said Claypool. “I don’t like sitting around, so when Sean said he didn’t have plans for this next year, we started kicking around the notion of making an old-school, psychedelic/prog record. Next thing I know, he’s staying in my guesthouse, drinking my vino and banging on my drums.” (TheClaypoolLennonDelirium.com)

Love & Hate – Michael Kiwanuka

Love & Hate is the second studio album by British soul musician, Michael Kiwanuka. Kiwanuka “grew up in London the son of Ugandan immigrants and spent a lot of time trying to establish a cultural identity, one both complicated and validated through the music that spoke to him.”(Charlotte Richardson Andrews, The Guardian) Kiwanuka cites Bob Dylan, Bill Withers, Jimi Hendrix, Ottis Redding, and Al Green, as major influences in his own development. Paul Lester of The Guardian reviewed Kiwanuka’s first major release, Tell Me A Tale (2011), “At first you think: wow, is that a rare Bill Withers album? Play the songs some more and your mind darts between reference points. Tell Me A Tale has the jazzy feel of Van Morrison’s Moondance.” The sound is old school and the feeling is bliss. This album is must!

Faraway Reach – Classixx

The LA based DJ duo, Classixx have a great sophomore album. Faraway Reach is a strong follow up to Hanging Gardens, Classixx’s debut album. Renato Pagnani of Pitchfork writes, “their music often feels like a familiar hand on your shoulder urging you to keep going. In hindsight, the sun-bleached vibes of Hanging Gardens played a role in the rise of tropical house, and the same laid-back tempos and vague hints of sea breeze  are found on Faraway Reach“. Like their previous album, Classixx have brought in outside vocals, collaborating with Passion PitAlex Frankel of Holy Ghost, How To Dress Well, and many more. I foresee this album becoming the soundtrack of many great summer nights to come.

Concrete Vision – Still Parade

Still Parade’s debut album Concrete Vision looks to put the group on the map. Still parade has released two projects previous, Actors (2013), and Fields (2014), and have since left us longing for a full studio album. In Lior Phillips’ review of Actors, she concludes “Actors  allows you to momentary unplug and take a much-needed pause from your day, letting the soothing vocals and electro infused folk sounds speak loudly for them. It grabs your hand, pulls you in and makes you listen undistracted.” Their sound lends itself to musicians like Milky Chance, Animal Collective, and Bon Iver, but with timely hints of folk and country twang, Still Parade has developed a sound of their own. This project is definitely worth buying.

Additional releases include:

Eyes On The Lines – Steve Gunn

Wild Things – Ladyhawke

Future Present Past – The Strokes

Ha Ha He! – Mourns

Ash & Ice – The Kills

Fall Forever – Fear of Men

Minor Victories – Minor Victories

My Best Human Face – Moonface and Siinai

Treasure House – Cat’s Eyes

Love You to Death – Tegan & Sara