Many critics loved erudite New York indie-rock band the Walkmen, but not this one. Sonically speaking, they struck me as one of the blandest acts of the ’00s. I saw them perform once in Orange County, and it felt like being politely force-fed mayonnaise on white Wonder® Bread sandwiches. Peter Matthew Bauer played bass for the Walkmen, so he shares some of the blame for their offenses. But his debut solo album, Liberation!, while not a bastion of innovation by any means, contains more flavor pe... more » $10/$12.
Named for a classic Gregory Isaacs record, San Francisco's Extra Classic show an almost too-reverent love for the reggae sounds of yore, using all-analog equipment and filling their songs with winking, dub-inflected touches. Composed of members of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone and the Anniversary, Extra Classic won SF Weekly's "Best Unlikely Reggae Band" by crafting Technicolor tunes that touch on ’50s jukebox pop and modern psych, while also playfully mimicking the golden ’70s productions... more » $8.
“Sci-Fidelity,” a cut off Free the Robots’ stunning Ctrl Alt Delete album for Alpha Pup, pretty much captures his music’s essence in one neat phrase. Sure, a lot of musicians take inspiration from science fiction and space-age/comic-book effluvia, but Free the Robots (aka Chris Alfaro, Santa Ana, California’s finest producer) forges those familiar raw materials into potent laser beams of kitsch-free, bass-heavy productions that sound like a more fun-spirited Flying Lotus. Steeped in jazz, funk,... more » $15.
When a folk-oriented acoustic guitarist records for Tompkins Square Records, it means he/she’s basically arrived. That label’s imprimatur implies excellence in this style, as releases by Daniel Bachman, James Blackshaw, Shawn McMillen, Mark Fosson, and many others have proved. Add Chicago-based Ryley Walker to this esteemed legacy. His 2014 album All Kinds of You is a gorgeous collection of serpentine, spangly instrumentals and soulful, Pentangle-esque ballads sung in Walker’s deeply felt, vibr... more » $10.