New Release Sampler, 6/10/14
Here we go again, getting all excited over another batch of new releases. This week, we've got a new album from indie pop/alt folk/Americana duo First Aid Kit. These Swedish sisters' harmonies are amazing, and producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes) certainly casts an amazing light on Stay Gold. Also in the retro vein is Jack White's newest, Lazaretto, which sees the rocker back in all his dirgey, garage-rock glory. Meanwhile, O.A.R. release their eighth album, The Rockville LP, named after the place where it all began for the band back in 1996. And have you heard Passenger yet? He's an amazing English singer-songwriter, akin to David Gray but with more grit, and his new album, Whispers, is a must-hear. And so is the groovin' debut album from Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan. We've also got new singles from Train, Psy & Snoop Dogg (?!), Ty Dolla $ign, Jason Mraz, Banks, Linkin Park and more. Also, read our editors' reviews of our top five new albums below.
Jack White, Lazaretto
If The White Stripes' sound was defined by its crisply rendered minimalism, then Jack White's still-unfolding solo career is all about the embrace of freewheeling exploration and sonic unpredictability. As with Blunderbuss, its predecessor, Lazaretto encompasses an unwieldy breadth of tactics. The title track grafts progressive folk to synth-rock. White then turns around and unloads pure country rock with the fiddle-laced "Temporary Ground." One of the best cuts is "High Ball Stepper," instrumental blues rock that benefits from an arrangement that's collage-like in its disjointed pattern-work. -- Justin Farrar
Michael David Rosenberg's breathy rasp once again fits nicely alongside delicate guitars and mournful strings on this fifth album from the Brighton busker-turned-international folk pop star. And as usual, he's finding creative ways to mix dark themes with feather-light arrangements: "Hey I'm a fish out of water/ A lamb to the slaughter." With gorgeous melodies and heart perpetually on sleeve (except when his heart's burning, as on lead single "Heart's on Fire"), this is Mumford & Sons meets Cat Stevens, courtesy of the nicest lad to ever break your heart. -- Jason Gubbels
Chrissie Hynde, Stockholm
Thirty-five years after the Pretenders released their debut album, Chrissie Hynde finally unleashes a proper solo record. The iconic rocker's longtime fans will not be let down. The result of her artistic collaboration with Swedish musician Björn Yttling, Stockholm is a marriage of Hynde's love of '60s pop and the post-everything indie aesthetic Yttling has developed as a member of Peter Bjorn and John. The album is well crafted and exudes great energy from beginning to end. Hynde sounds as sultry as ever on "Down the Wrong Way," "A Plan Too Far" and the deliciously dramatic "Adding the Blue." -- J.F.
First Aid Kit, Stay Gold
On Stay Gold, the Söderberg sisters expand on the bittersweet, folky sound of 2012 breakthrough The Lion's Roar with airy arrangements and lavish instrumentation -- a sound less Appalachian and more cosmic American. With honeyed harmonies intact, First Aid Kit sound positively majestic alongside producer Mike Mogis' expanded sound (see the Spector-esque flourish at the finish of knee-slapping jaunt "Heaven Knows"). Other highlights include "Shattered and Hollow," "The Bell" and the waltzing "Cedar Lane," a wistful beauty heightened by a gentle, shuffling beat and a melancholy slide guitar. -- Linda Ryan
Popcaan, Where We Come From
Popcaan's debut arrives at a time when dancehall is still reeling from the imprisonment of Vybz Kartel and sagging under the bullying swagger of Aidonia and Alkaline. Andre Jay Sutherland may boast an "Unruly Boss" chest tattoo, but his musical persona is fresh-faced and melodious, with party anthems (the dubstep-inflected, Pusha T-starring "Hustle") measured out against his social conscience ("Ghetto"). When's the last time a dancehall star talked about "Waiting So Long" to put a ring on their beloved's finger? Or sold a sentiment like "Everything [Is] Nice" as if they really believed it? -- J.G.