When Danish punk band Iceage broke out with their debut album “New Brigade” in 2011 they sounded gloomy, apocalyptic and dangerous. But like any great band they have evolved their music with each album while maintaining their own distinct sound. Iceage are still strictly indie and very unknown among the mainstream but they have gotten catchier and more accessible as they’ve aged. “Beyondless” is their fourth album and certainly one of their best. Tracks like “Catch It”, “Pain killer” and “Thieves Like Us” are some of the band’s best songs yet- goth pop but with a detached, ramshackle, almost drunken quality to them. The band plays tightly while frontman Elias Bender Rønnenfelt sings loosely and off the rails, bringing to mind Pete Doherty of the late great Brit band the Libertines. “Beyondless” is one of 2018’s better albums.
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DJ KOZE- KNOCK KNOCK
Most high profile album yet from one of the the millennium’s best DJ’s and techno artists. DJ Koze if a German producer whose “Knock Knock” is a nearly 80 minute album encompassing nearly every type of electronic music imaginable, including minimalist techno associated with the Kompakt label, trip-hop, danceable club music with 70’s soul samples & balearic-style dream pop . The album features a slew of guest vocalists including Roisin Murphy, Jose Gonzalez and Kurt Wagner, and many of the tracks are warm, melodic and even summery. The album contains music to chew on but three obvious highlights include Gladys Knight sampling “Pick Up”, Bon Iver sampling “Bonfire” and the deeply groove oriented “Illumination”.
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LEON BRIDGES- GOOD THING
While Leon Bridges 2015 album “Coming Home” was a worthy debut of throwback soul heavily influenced by Sam Cooke & Otis Redding, its music too closely mirrored its influences to truly stand out by itself. Bridges has a beautiful voice no doubt and anyone who can shine a light on the greatness of 60’s soul is doing the universe a favor. That said Bridges new album “Good Thing” ups the ante considerably and feels much more contemporary, combining modern R&B with that retro soul which made Bridges appealing in the first place. “Good Thing” is filled with tasteful ballads and a few upbeat, more danceable songs and two of the standouts are lead single “Beyond” and “Bet Ain’t Worth The Hand”.
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BEACH HOUSE- 7
Over the course of the last decade. psychedelic dream pop Baltimore duo Beach House has unlikely become one of the bigger and most consistent great bands in indie rock. In seven albums they have yet to deliver an album short of very good and close to half of them have been great. Their new album, the aptly named “7” is one of their very best- right up there with “Bloom” and “Teen Dream”. While keeping their signature hypnotic, hazy sound with rich soaring vocals, “7” is heavier and thicker-sounding than their previous albums with more live instrumentation, particularly drums. Highlights are found all over the album but include “Lemon Glow”, “Dive”, “Black Car” and “Drunk In LA”. I predict “7” will land in my year end top ten as it continues to get richer and reward me more with each listen.
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COURTNEY BARNETT- TELL ME HOW YOU REALLY FEEL
Sophomore album “Tell Me How You Really Feel” sounds smaller and more minor than Courtney Barnett’s 2015 full-length debut “Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit”, which was a surprise hit for the young Australian singer-songwriter who has a way with quippy, memorable and detailed lyrics and crunchy guitar riffs. “Feel” is more introverted with less hit potential but it does not feel like a misstep. I think in time it will show as an under-appreciated album with a handful of hidden gems- a likable album among a series of peaks and dips in the hopefully long and storied career of a major songwriting talent.
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