Staff Picks: April

Mark Nosiri
Senior Contributor
Artist: OneofUs
Album: Disengage
Comments: Released in late 2011, Disengage is the debut album by international jazz/soul collaborative OneofUs. The duo’s music consists of jazz sample-heavy instrumentals produced by Maryland-based beatsmith Nathan “Sinitus Tempo” Peters, providing the backdrop for vocals by Australian singer Kitty Wong. At times, the record feels indulgent, but in a good way. Kitty Wong takes listeners on a ride into her own world with some beautifully cinematic beats behind her soft and smokey vocals. It gets to a point where one could believe Kitty could make complete nonsense sound incredible. Definitely a hidden gem for fans of the easy-listening/nu-jazz persuasion.

Will Donelson
Assistant Editor
Artist: Dry the River
Album: Shallow Bed
Comments: We are all aware of how easily a hook can sell a song, but in truth, many times that’s all a song really needs. My God, does Shallow Bed have some great hooks. From the first cheering chorus of “Animal Skins,” it’s obvious Dry the River know how to captivate a listener. However, between the hooks is an odd area. The band fluctuates between the overly simple and needlessly overdone, leaving many songs to feel only partially realized. Still, when the build of “Lion’s Den” pays off, it feels like the beaten, unusual path was well worth traveling.

James Brightman
Senior Contributor
Artist: Grinderman
Album: Grinderman 2
Comments: I am eagerly anticipating a new Bad Seeds album and it just ain’t coming. Nick Cave’s recent collaboration with The Flaming Lips (“You, Man? Human?”) didn’t set me on fire, so I went back to the stupendously gritty Grinderman 2 for a better fix, and now I’m even more eager for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to return – such is life. This album is a tour de force of the garage rock genre and represents a renaissance man that barely puts a foot wrong; the kind of guy that could breathe on Justin Bieber and give him critical credibility (if you’re reading this, Nick, don’t breathe on Justin Bieber). A forty-odd minute guttural roar of epic proportions, the amp is turned up to 12.

Michael Starr
Senior Contributor
Artist: The National
Album: High Violet
Comments: High Violet is perhaps the record most people will know the National for. In many ways it’s a triumphant release, a synthesis of the influences and sounds of their previous records. Perhaps more excitingly, it is the sound of a band fully finding their feet and promising us so much more. The lyrically self-lacerating “Conversation 16,” with Matt Behringer’s torn cries of “I’m Evil” and the brooding build and chorus of “Bloodbuzz Ohio” are perhaps the most obvious stand out tracks on the record, but as an album it is stunning. Fluid and enticing, every track has it’s own place on the record, and every one affecting in its own right. Give it a listen, even if it’s just for the lyrical genius of Matt Behringer.

Courtnay Glatter
Artist: Florence and the Machine
Album: Ceremonials
Comments: Every lyric and instrument throughout cuts me to the core. Florence sings with every fiber of her being. Ceremonials is without a doubt a perfect accompaniment for her new tour. The album is full of booming instruments and lyrics that transport the listener. While the album does have its upbeat, happier songs like “Heartlines,” you could tell Welch was in a darker period of her life during its creation. Her sophomore effort is completely relatable to women either in relationships or at the end of relationships. She also sings about her battle with depression in “Breaking Down,” but in a way that compares her sadness to a ghost she can’t shake. Though Florence talks about depression, you will not feel depressed when listening to Ceremonials; you will feel utter joy.

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