THE RENTALS

THE RENTALS If you're one of those Weezer fans who thinks it doesn't get any better than their "Blue Album," then say hello to one of the reasons that record is so flawless: founding bassist/backup vocalist Matt Sharp. After being fired from the band with no warning in the wake of Pinkerton — disagreements over the direction of Rivers Cuomo's songwriting maybe? — Sharp formed The Rentals, proving his own power-pop prowess with instant college radio classics like "Friends of P." But then something happened at the tail end of the '90s: The Rentals disbanded, making this month's Lost in Alphaville LP their first effort in 15 years. And Sharp's recruited quite the crew to mark the occasion, including members of The Black Keys, Ozma, Lucius, and The Section Quartet. All in service of one thing: The Almighty Hook.
Posted on August 29, 2014
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THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS For Neko Case, A.C. Newman, and Destroyer's Dan Bejar, The New Pornographers are home — something they can always go back to in between side-projects and solo albums. Which explains why they can let four years pass without losing the chemistry that's been there from the beginning. That said, a few things have changed since the band formed 15 years ago: Aside from bringing Newman's niece (singer Kathryn Calder) deeper into the fold with each passing album, there's the way interstellar synth lines spike much of this month's Brill Bruisers LP. Or as Newman put it in a press release, "This album is stylistically as close as we can get to what I think I’ve always imagined us being." As strong as ever, then, from the honey-dipped harmonies of its title track to the ecstatic, Bejar-led choruses of "War on the East Coast."
Posted on August 28, 2014
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Football Fantasy

Football Fantasy Somehow, the kickoff of football season is not a national holiday. We looked it up — it’s not. How this came to be is anyone’s guess, but we’re certain that our elected officials are on the job, so we’ll move on to the job at hand: scoring every pass, rush, block, taunt, and celebration dance with sack-proof songs built for the punishment. We’re talkin’ about “Heavy Action (ESPN Monday Night Football),” “Remember the Name,” Down With the Sickness,” “Lose Yourself,” “Notre Dame Victory March” vs. USC’s “Fight On!,” and more. Are all your rowdy friends coming over tonight? Excellent. Crank it up.
Posted on August 28, 2014
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THE WYTCHES

 THE WYTCHES With a name like The Wytches, the three young Brits behind Annabel Dream Reader could’ve ripped off a bucketload of Black Sabbath riffs and called it a day. Instead, the tortured power trio uses sweet-leaf-scented metal merely as its starting point, as frontman Kristian Bell howls and heaves his id all over an unhinged blend of surf guitar stabs, wild-eyed Jack White-isms, and Gothic-hued nods to Nirvana and everything that was excellent (in the Bill & Ted’s sense) about ’90s alt-rock. If it were 2002, The Wytches would’ve trampled The Vines and toured with The White Stripes. As it stands, they're a reliable escape route from The Age of EDM — and an exhilarating one at that.
Posted on August 27, 2014
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THE BUG

 THE BUG Kevin Martin has always been . . . complicated. While he's best-known for the sheer bombast of his last album as The Bug (2008's London Zoo), the bunker-dwelling beat-maker has also dabbled in everything from dread-filled dub (King Midas Sound) to post-apocalyptic hip-hop (Techno Animal). Angels & Devils splits the difference between all of the above, spreading a stacked guest list of left-field singers and MCs — from Grouper to Gonjasufi to Death Grips — across two distinct sides. The first half is meditative and moody, a slow simmer that turns sinister as soon as the flip kicks in with the Flowdan-helmed "The One." From that point on, it’s war — a relentless mix of rap, grime, and dancehall that's as terrifying as it is therapeutic.
Posted on August 26, 2014
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