This week we look at a couple of long-awaited albums by The Lumineers and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals released Friday, April 8. Also released today are albums by Deftones, Frightened Rabbit, Tim Hecker and Mayer Hawthorne. We’ll also take a look at two albums released during our break last week – the Weezer white album and Andrew Bird’s “Are You Serious.”
The Lumineers – “Cleopatra”
Denver-based folk rock band The Lumineers follow up on their breakout debut album with “Cleopatra,” released Friday, April 8. The band shows they can go deeper with their folksy roots than just “Ho Hey,” even on the first single “Ophelia.” “Cleopatra” captures the stories of characters that are featured throughout this album, like the title song and the album cover photograph of Theda Bara from the 1917 silent film “Cleopatra.” The band spent six months in an house in Denver writing this album and they didn’t try to recapture their success in pop waters – “Cleopatra” is a showcase of depth and possibility from a talented group of artists. See The Lumineers Friday, June 17 at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey for the Radio 104.5 ninth Birthday Show, and Saturday, Aug. 6 with Langhorne Slim and The Law and Rayland Baxter at the Stone Pony in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Get “Cleopatra” from The Lumineers, iTunes and Spotify.
Deftones – “Gore”
“Gore,” the eighth studio album by alternative metal band Deftones, is a gutsy record. Once part of the nu-metal era, the California-based band led by Chino Moreno has expanded its sound for its first album since the death of bassist Chi Cheng in 2013. From the opening track, “Prayers/Triangles,” the band proves that it is trying to pull listeners into its new sound rather than just scream in their faces. There’s plenty of screaming and heavy guitar riffs, but “Gore” proves that a band that has been around since 1988 can explore new audio territory. See Deftones Saturday, Aug. 6 at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, Pa. Get “Gore” from Deftones, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals – “Call It What It Is”
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Ben Harper is back with his band The Innocent Criminals for “Call It What It Is.” Harper isn’t burying the lead on this one – on the title track he calls attention to gun control and the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. This, his 13th album and his third with The Innocent Criminals, is dark, deep and burns with intensity. Harper is clearly trying to make a statement with his music and it’s not just the lyrics; the tone of the slide guitar, the rattle of the snare drum and the entire production is gritty, folksy and draws from roots in blues, R&B, rock and reggae. See Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals with Christopher Paul Stelling Sunday, April 10 at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, Pa. Get “Call it What It Is” from Ben Harper, iTunes and Spotify.
Frightened Rabbit – “Painting of a Panic Attack”
Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit released its fifth studio album and first release in three years, “Painting of a Panic Attack.” From the first track, “Death Dream,” Frightened Rabbit paints a sad but beautiful landscape. This album draws its inspiration from the gloomy hillsides of Scotland but also from sun-soaked Southern California. Frightened Rabbit maintains its upbeat and sunny disposition while opening the door to a parallel universe of the other side of the brightly-lit characters in the songs on “Painting Of A Panic Attack.” Lyrics like “I woke up hurting/ but I can’t quite say why,” on “Woke Up Hurting” show lovely a contradiction can sound. See Frightened Rabbit Friday, May 6 at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, Pa. Get “Painting of a Panic Attack” from the Warner Music Store, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Tim Hecker – “Love Streams”
Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, electronic artist Tim Hecker hasn’t exactly captured the ambient sounds of the great white north on his eighth album, “Love Streams,” but it isn’t far off. The disorienting and seemingly random sounds on “Love Streams” are compounded from a variety of elements, including the Icelandic studio where this heady album was tracked beneath the Northern Lights. The result is whimsical and dark; like the music that would be created by your brain while you’re exploring an ice cave alone in the dark. Is Hecker just experimenting with music and tone or is he playing with our brains? See Tim Hecker Thursday, April 14 at Warsaw in Brooklyn, New York. Get “Love Streams” from iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
Mayer Hawthorne – “Man About Town”
“Man About Town” is a title that fits soul singer Mayer Hawthorne just right. Hailing from Ann Arbor, Michigan, the multi-instrumentalist and producer draws from his vast musical knowledge and experience as a DJ to sample various styles in his music. “Man About Town” is soulful, energetic, honest and intimate. It’s hard to not get caught up in the emotion of songs like “Breakfast In Bed.” Hawthorne isn’t trying to be Marvin Gaye – he’s uniquely modern with lyrics like: “Let’s order breakfast in bed/ Just me and you and Mr. Sunshine.” It’s not just the love, but the swagger that makes songs like “Lingerie & Candlewax,” such a great jam. See Mayer Hawthorne Tuesday, June 28 at Union Transfer in Philadelphia. Get “Man About Town” from Mayer Hawthorne, iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.
What We Missed Last Week – New Music Released Friday, April 1, 2016
Weezer – “Weezer”
Weezer released its 10th album Friday, April 1. The self-titled white album is a must-have for longtime fans, people who loved “Pinkerton” and anyone with a Weezer tattoo. See Weezer with Panic! At The Disco Saturday, July 2 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, New Jersey and Tuesday, July 5 at the BB&T Pavilion in Camden, New Jersey. Get “Weezer” (White Album) from iTunes, Amazon, Spotify.
Andrew Bird – “Are You Serious”
Andrew Bird is one of my favorite singer-songwriters making music today. His 10th solo studio album, “Are You Serious” is a captures a warm sound on his first release since settling down in his personal life. The multi-instrumentalist sounds incredibly personal on this album and less like the aloof songwriter left alone in a barn with a guitar and a violin. “Are You Serious” also includes a collaboration with Fiona Apple. See Andrew Bird with Boogarins tonight – Friday, April 8 at Terminal 5 in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Get “Are You Serious” from iTunes and Amazon.