Shapeshifter’s Masquerade – Black Market Research (Eurydice)

This is the is local mainstay’s debut album, filled with moody arena rock anthems that wouldn’t have been out of place on alternative rock radio last decade (with shades of Incubus and Dashboard Confessional). It sounds remarkable for a small band.  These guitars are massive and the songs sound ready for arenas already.  On top of that, they’re a friend of the station (they thank us in the liner notes of this album).  It’s too bad, because I’m not into this music.  It’s a genre I don’t really care to listen to on my own because I just don’t feel any energy here (despite the proud display of hearts on sleeves).  However, these guys play this card as well as anyone else.  Those who do like this kind of alt-rock may find a new favorite band here.

Nick Kline, 2/19/13

Voice of Ages – The Chieftains (Blackrock)

The Chieftains are world-famous Irish folk group.  They’ve been making music for fifty years.  They’ve played for the Pope.  So don’t get too excited about all the guest appearances here because this is still a Chieftains album and their sound still dominates.  In other words, be ready for some of your favorite artist to be interrupted by fiddles, tin whistles, and bag pipes.  But if you can tolerate these instruments, you will find that this is actually a really nice album.  The Civil Wars and Bon Iver tracks are beautiful.  The Dylan cover, “When The Ship Comes In”, is amazing.  So…adjust your expectations and then give this one a chance.

Charli XCX – True Romance (Asylum)

Charli XCX wrote “I Love It” for Icona Pop, though she could’ve easily kept it for herself judging by this album full of infectious pop songs. Her sound fits right in line with other recent UK pop star/electro-DJ hybrids like Katy B and AlunaGeorge. Half the album is regrettably not FCC-clean, but the songs that made it through come highly recommended. – Zach Shealy, 8/22/13

The Flower Lane – Ducktails (Domino)

Ducktails fires on all cylinders for its fourth album. Matt Mondanile (also of Real Estate) finds the perfect niche and gives indie pop its next great band. The Flower Lane starts off with two great Mark Foster-esque tracks (“Ivy Covered House”, “Under Cover”). Future Shuttle’s Jessa Farkas gives a great performance on Letter of Intent, one of the album’s best. The band’s grooves are great (Assistant Director”), and it’s incredibly hard to stop listening. This record hooks you from the start, and is a great ride from beginning to end. Ducktails seriously could be the next big thing in indie pop.

Austin Lyons 2/4/13

Motherland – Apollo Cobra (Rocketsnake)

Apollo Cobra’s second album revives 80s disco/dance music with startling fidelity, for better or for worse depending on your taste.  Motherland has a few catchy beats (‘Motherland’ and ‘Pissed’ in particular), loads of synthesizers, and ridiculously cheesy lyrics an vocals.  “Shut Up” actually centers on variations of “shut up, I want to make out with you.”  Put a few of theses tracks on a playlist with a Flight of the Conchords CD and you wouldn’t notice the difference, but in terms of their genre the funk-tinged “Feel Like It”, “Motherland”, and the instrumental “pissed” knock it out of the park.  The propulsive centerpiece “This Is” is the real triumph its best, “Motherland” sounds like the album Yeasayer meant to make this year.  Absolutely play this if you’re into electronic dance music.

Classixx – Hanging Gardens (Innovative Leisure)

Dance music, plain and simple. One 4/4 synth-washed banger after another. Track 1 is the perfect introduction to the group, with a slow build to an in-the-clouds chorus. Honestly you could throw on every track to a similar effect. Highly recommended. Similar to: Justice, Todd Terje, early Daft Punk.

-Zach Shealy 8/21/2013

EP–Omega Swan (Independent)

Omega Swan is a local band that reminds me of something you would see playing in a garage. They have an underground rock sound with a lot of funky guitar riffs. I have seen them perform live and they rock out. This EP has some good vibes at times but the vocals could have been a little more prominent. “Arrow Through My Brain” is a well put together song and “Planet Rad” isn’t a bad track either. I wasn’t impressed with the EP as a whole, but it is a local band and I feel like someone might enjoy it more. -Sean Doherty, 4/9/2013

Steve Martine & Edie Brickell – Love Has Come For You (Rounder Records)

Steve Martin’s talent for Bluegrass music continues to blow my mind. He’s taking some time away from the Steep Canyon Rangers, but this collaboration with singer-songwriter Edie Brickell is breathtaking. Martin’s banjo picking is as sharp and timely as ever, and Brickell’s voice is fantastic. Though both artists found success in their own right (Martin goes without saying, and Brickell was an accomplished musician in the late 80s/early 90s), this album ignores the artists’ pasts and looks to the future with happiness and hope. Martin even comes in to sing harmony, showing his vocal chops as well. Final word: I put this on the Nickel Creek tier of beautiful modern folk music. This music inspires me, it really does. This needs to be on rotation. It’s beautiful. I’m going to go do something amazing now. – Austin Lyons, 4/1/13