This week of new releases brings a Mark Ronson-produced Black Lips album, the country debut of psychobilly idol Nick 13, an inventive career-spanning set from Randy Travis, and another Arctic Monkeys album, continuing their interesting progression from Brit garage brats into muscular rockers with the help of guardian scum-angel Josh Homme.
For younger indie-rockers, this week brings news discs from Givers, Battles and Cults, bands that to the naked and jaded eye are all mostly the same, but upon closer inspection prove to have more under the covers. Nouveau Americana titans Dawes come out swinging with Nothing Is Wrong, a collection that is already converting people into their camp.
Next week brings Eminem's collaboration with Royce Da 5'9", Hell: The Sequel, a 1984 live disc from Neil Young, along with releases from Marc Broussard, Owl City, and The Dear Hunter.
Arctic Monkeys, Suck It And See:Continuing the old-school blues-metal tip from 2009's Humbug, the former It-Boys keep proving that there is life after hype. Who would have known that the kid who sang "I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor" could get spooky and sultry five years on?
Black Lips, Arabia Mountain: Produced by Mark Ronson, this may be the first fully-realized Black Lips album yet. Their sounds goes Technicolor here without losing the spit and bong resin from the first handful of albums. This time around Ronson helps them get cosmic.
Cults, Cults: Holy Phil Spector's Ghost! This is some snazzy shit, and totally unexpected. A lot of newer bands are trying to do this epic, echoey, garage thing, a la the Shangri-Las, but Cults are pulling it off. Yes, we know Spector is still alive in prison. For now.
Nick 13, Nick 13: Remember Tiger Army? A lot of people haven't forgotten the psychobilly band on Hellcat Records that turned a lot of punk boys and girls into wannabe greasers and pinup models. Lead singer Nick 13 reappears as a country troubadour and the results aren't bad, as he turns in a respectable debut record with tons of Johnny Cash and George Jones inflection. What's next, a Tim Armstrong bluegrass LP?
Joe Ely, Satisfied At Last: Seven original Ely songs, plus a few covers including Billy Joe Shaver's "Live Forever," which he knocks out of the park, along with some Butch Hancock cuts. Our favorite is "I'm A Man Now," so far.
Fucked Up, David Comes To Life: If you saw Fucked Up at Summer Fest for the first time ever on Saturday evening, you probably skipped work today to book it to the record store to pick this up and listen to it all day in your car or house. It's probably the best and loudest concept album you will hear this year.
Randy Travis, Anniversary Celebration: Travis celebrates nearly three decades in the industry with an album of all-new recordings and several re-recordings of his signature cuts with some of the genre's newest kings and queens, like Zac Brown, Jamey Johnson, and Carrie Underwood.
Also Out This Week:
Givers, In Light
Dawes, Nothing Is Wrong
Peter Murphy, Ninth
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Frank Turner, England Keep My Bones