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by Stephanie Benson

May 3, 2014

New Release Sampler, 4/29/14

by Stephanie Benson  |  May 3, 2014

This week's biggest new releases run the gamut from ruminative troubadours to alt rock heroes to Brit-pop pioneers to a flamenco-busker duo. Singer-songwriter Ray LaMontagne recruited Black Key Dan Auerbach to help produce Supernova, LaMontagne's most eccentric work to date. Alt fans will want to check out the Pixies' [Indie Cindy], their first album in 23 years, as well as the gorgeous, introspective Everyday Robots, the first proper solo album from Blur and Gorilllaz mastermind Damon Albarn. Also up this week is Rodrigo y Gabriela's 9 Dead Alive, a bare-bones return to basics for the rapid-guitar-picking duo, and a new album from Lindsey Stirling, Shatter Me, which explores the overlap between EDM and neoclassical. In addition to the artists already mentioned, our playlist includes new tunes from Wye Oak, Jennifer Hudson and Timbaland, Royksopp and Robin, Grouplove, Seether, the Old 97's and more. Check out album reviews of our top five must-hear new releases below.

Ray LaMontagne, Supernova
Hooking up with Black Key Dan Auerbach (one of rock 'n' roll's most in-demand producers), LaMontagne unleashes what is far and away his most eccentric LP to date. Though Supernova still boasts his ruminative storytelling, sonically speaking, he's chosen to explore new waters. Reminiscent of My Morning Jacket, the record is a dreamy and psychedelic fusion of rural rock ("Drive-In Movies"), neo-tropicalismo ("Pick Up a Gun") and retro-garage ("Julia"). By album's end it becomes clear that LaMontagne possesses far more ambition than the majority of singer-songwriters considered his peers. -- Justin Farrar

Pixies, Indie Cindy
The first Pixies album in 23 years is actually good. You shouldn't expect anything as instantly blissful as "Debaser" or "Here Comes Your Man," though the heavenly chorused "Snakes" is close, and the poky stuff is no harder to take than Trompe le Monde. With no Kim Deal as moral center, the remaining trio gleefully pounds through spoken-word-abilly ("Indie Cindy"), space balladry ("Greens and Blues") and some of their most demented riffage since "Tame" ("Blue Eyed Hexe"). Just don't deny that they've earned the right to weird you out again. -- Dan Weiss

Damon Albarn, Everyday Robots
After inventing Brit-pop with Blur, changing pop with Gorillaz and collaborating with myriad artists from around the globe, Damon Albarn finally releases an album on his own terms; naturally, it's his most introspective yet. Over trip-hop drum machine beats, plucky guitar, Lennonesque piano, an occasional choir and two Brian Eno guest shots, Albarn reflects on modern life in its still-rubbish existence -- this time through the lens of an iPhone. Gorgeous, minimalist tracks like "Everyday Robots," "Lonely Press Play" and "Hollow Ponds" prove he's still, incredibly, at the top of his game. -- Stephanie Benson

Rodrigo y Gabriela, 9 Dead Alive
9 Dead Alive is a bare-bones return to basics for the flamenco-busker duo, after 2012's salsa-band-augmented Area 52. But give or take the downcast if tranquil "Megalopolis," it's got little of the minor-key doom the metal-inspired twosome has often displayed in the past. Harriet Tubman-dedicated "Misty Moses" hints at "Stairway to Heaven" and spaghetti westerns, while Dostoyevsky homage "The Russian Messenger" moves from "Smoke on the Water" echoes to a Middle Eastern-tinged hard shuffle. The rest noodles in typically percussive fashion, with theological paradox crosstalk in "Sunday Neurosis." -- Chuck Eddy

Lindsey Stirling, Shatter Me
On the follow-up to her 2012 debut, Lindsey Stirling continues to explore the overlap between EDM and neo-classical. For the first time, she brings collaborators on board, with Lzzy Hale and Dia Frampton lending vocals to "Shatter Me" and "We Are Giants," respectively, but make no mistake: Stirling's pyrotechnic violin style is the real star here. Producers SILAS and Marko G provide beats that range from electro-house to dubstep to drum 'n' bass, while the closing "Master of Tides" slips into triplet rhythms and Celtic-inspired melodies. -- Philip Sherburne

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