Typhoon -- Offerings

Offerings is divided into four movements (Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning, and Afterparty) to represent the mental phases the main character goes through where he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to his dreadful fate.
It’s this level of intricacy in Typhoon’s storytelling and musicianship that has helped Typhoon become one of indie rock’s most revered bands. Their previous album, White Lighter, hit No. 2 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Album Chart and got Best of The Year nods from NPR and Paste.Typhoon has brought their, at times, 11-piece live show on the road alongside indie rock peers The Decemberists, Portugal the Man and Grouplove, and sold out major clubs and venues across America.

Bob Boilen of npr music wrote “This album of brilliant storytelling, clocking in at almost 2300 words, is worth dissecting and poring over. Unlike previous music from Typhoon, where roughly a dozen musicians normally includes big and uplifting brass, this one is more guitar-centric, with dark string arrangements. After listening to it, I texted my All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton the following: "good lord this Typhoon album is brilliant ... haven't cried listening to a record since [Sufjan Stevens'] Carrie And Lowell." Offerings is truly a wise and ruminative record.”


Calexico- The Thread That Keeps Us

The need to find -- and sometimes fight for -- moments of joy and truth during hard times resonates on every track of Calexico’s The Thread That Keeps Us. Calexico have never shied away from social commentary, and they express the urgency of the late 2010s on unflinching songs like "Eyes Wide Awake" and "Dead in the Water," a snarling, stomping portrait of consumption and destruction. The band conveys this devastation more subtly -- and even more artfully -- on "Thrown to the Wild"'s hazy ruminations and on "Voices in the Field," where their outrage smolders rather than blazes.
Fortunately, Calexico spend as much time enjoying the world as trying to save it on The Thread That Keeps Us. Northern California's mellow beauty seeps into "Girl in the Forest" and balances its ecological concerns with a peaceful vibe. Elsewhere, the band's flair for vivid imagery comes to the fore on "The Town & Miss Lorraine," which combines an old woman, a book of stories from a sunken ship, and plenty of rum into a haunting vignette. However, Calexico sound the most joyous when they're exploring the eclectic mix of sounds at which they've always excelled. The album's midsection is frequently thrilling: "Flores y Tamales" is an equally funky and majestic update of the band's earliest days; the gritty beats and brass on "Under the Wheels" hark back to Feast of Wire; and the restless percussion and squalling trumpets of "Another Space" make it one of the band's most rewarding experiments. By turns gentle and bold, traditional and boundary-pushing, The Thread That Keeps Us is another fine example of Calexico's ever-broadening horizons.~Heather Phares, allmusic.com

Ty Segall--Freedom's Goblin

Anyone who has tracked Ty Segall's creative evolution since he launched his solo career in 2008 has probably noticed that new elements regularly float into his eclectic musical worldview, but very little ever entirely goes away. His canvas has gotten broader and his color palette has expanded at each turn, and 2018's Freedom's Goblin finds him putting practically all of it to work. Freedom's Goblin is a sprawling and ambitious album, packing 19 songs into 75 minutes, and while its sheer size is impressive, what really sets it apart is the wealth of ideas springing forward in every track, as well as the strength of the execution. The noisy attack of Segall's guitar is still at the center of this music, as always, but there's a great deal else going on. Ben Boye's keyboards are bigger in the mix than before, bassist Mikal Cronin and drummer Charles Moothart are still the smartest and strongest rhythm section Segall's had to date, and the use of horns on several tracks gives these songs a big, bold feel. Emmett Kelly returns as a superb foil for Segall's exploratory guitar solos (there are a few jam-nific guitar duels that would bring a smile to plenty of classic rock fans), and the band is on fire from beginning to end; the homespun sloppiness of some of Segall's early efforts has given way to a focus that's tight without strangling the performances. (The crisp, clear recording by Steve Albini gives the performances a welcome assist.) Much of the time, Freedom's Goblin plays like Ty Segall's version of the history of rock & roll as seen from his perspective, and it's as idiosyncratic and exciting as you would expect. It's also some of the very best music Segall has given us to date, essential for fans and strongly recommended to curious newcomers. ~Mark Deming, allmusic.com

Lucy Dacus -- Historian

After releasing a debut album that led to a contract with and reissue by Matador Records, singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus follows up two years later with Historian. The response to 2016's No Burden took note of the songwriter's velvety voice and thoughtful lyrics as well as the album's mix of catchy indie rock and quieter introspection. For Historian, Dacus returned to the studio with the same production team (Dacus, Collin Pastore, Jacob Blizard), but here, they flesh out the arrangements, contrasting spare reflection with soaring dynamics, often within the same song. The album's epic first track, "Night Shift," is a prime example, opening with a quiet recollection of events over strummed guitar as the singer addresses an ex. It builds slowly, gaining drums and eventually grungy, churning guitars as Dacus moves into her upper range. That conversational midrange is her bread and butter, though, as most of the album seems to acknowledge. Tracks like "Addictions" and "Body to Flame" expand the palette even further with horns and strings. The latter song begins as restrained chamber pop with harpsichord-like guitar and a string quartet before it kicks into rock & roll gear, dramatically, halfway through. Later, the seven-plus-minute "Pillar of Truth," a hymnlike song that appears to play off of "Amazing Grace" with lyrics like "I once had sight/But now I'm blind," likewise rises and falls sharply in volume. Ultimately, the forte passages don't encroach on the songwriting, as they underline emotion, but they do, at times, step on Dacus' voice, when she's clouded by high-volume accompaniment or even vocal processing. Thankfully, those moments are brief and rare, allowing her lyrics and expressive sense of melody to shine. ~Marcy Donelson, allmusic.com


Khruangbin -- Con Todo el Mundo

Texan trio Khruangbin named themselves after the Thai word for airplane, which couldn't be more appropriate for a band whose influences imply heavy passport usage. Of course, the band are inspired by Thai rock and funk from the '60s and '70s -- sounds most easily available to Western ears via releases like the Thai Beat a Go-Go compilations or anything issued by ZudRangMa Records. The group also draw from the bass pressure of vintage dub reggae, the free-spirited haziness of California psychedelia, and the gritty passion of '70s soul, with hints of Iranian pop, Afrobeat, Spaghetti Western film scores, and countless other styles. While this sounds like it could be an impossibly tall order, or something that requires an encyclopedic knowledge of music just to listen to, the band achieve a remarkably, almost effortlessly cohesive sound, and it goes down much more smoothly than one might expect. The group never have a lead vocalist, but most of the songs on Con Todo el Mundo feature distant, shadowy backup vocals, making them seem like proper songs with the lyrics removed. Instead, Mark Speer's reverb-heavy guitar does most of the talking, playing a more ethereal variation on twangy surf or desert blues riffs. ~Paul Simpson, allmusic.com

Mimicking Birds-- Layers of Us

Sparkling to life in a manner unlike anything they've done to date, Portland, Oregon trio Mimicking Birds spread their wings on their third LP, Layers of Us. While retaining just enough of the soothing, pastoral spirit of their first two efforts, the band inject much-needed energy and vigor to their sound, resulting in a more engaging and immediate experience. They shake off the titular sediment on "Dust Layers," a pleasant ditty that finds the Nick Lacy-fronted group expanding their sonic space with production flourish and rhythm. Here, they're less Bon Iver or Fleet Foxes and more Midlake, War on Drugs, or the Shins. The rest of the album follows suit, as the driving "Another Time" and the upbeat "Sunlight Daze" jolt Mimicking Birds to life. Aaron Hanson and Adam Trachsel's rhythm section are put to work on the aforementioned tracks, as well as the urgent "A Part" and the loopy "Island Shore," which features their label head, Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), on the Primus-esque vocal breakdown. It's a clear spiritual departure from the campfire acoustics of Mimicking Birds and Eons, and yet they've lost none of their earthy soul. Layers of Us melts some of the band's delicate iciness with a warm, beating heart.  ~Neil Z Yeung, allmusic.com









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