February had me giddy over Sunflower Bean, which, apart from taking the top slot on my Baby Names list, is one of the greatest things I’ve discovered in a Rolling Stone blurb. Their first full-length album, Human Ceremony, is a transcendental ride through swirling, psychedelic guitar melodies, creepy, ethereal vocals and shrouds of dark reverb.
Listen to: “Come On”, “Easier Said”, “Creation Myth”, “Wall Watcher”, “I Was Home”
Picking favorite songs from Ra Ra Riot‘s newest album Need Your Light is like trying to pick the sweetest grapes from a whole bunch; each one is blessed with sunny, infectious hooks, fancy schmancy string accents and (perhaps the influence of Rostam Batmanglij in production), Vampire Weekend vibes.
Listen to: “Absolutely”, “Need Your Light”, “Call Me Out”, “Instant Breakup”
The blues greats will never stop inspiring new music, from the White Stripes to the Black Keys. For a more down-home alternative look to The Record Company, whose rugged debut album Give It Back To You relies more on acoustic guitars, searing harmonica and Chris Vos‘ tortured, husky vocals.
Listen to: “Don’t Let Me Get Lonely”, “Hard Day Coming Down”, Feels So Good”, “This Cooked City”
Past events have not made me the biggest Macklemore & Ryan Lewis fan, but This Unruly Mess I’ve Made has changed my mind a little bit. America’s “positive” rapper goes hard on this album, coming to grips with fame, slamming everything from vulture media to medication, and showing a chilling, humble awareness of his own white privilege and cultural appropriation.
Listen to: “Dance Off”, “Let’s Eat”, Downtown”, “White Privilege II”