OUTSIDE THE HEARD (JUNE) & NEW RELEASES

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Pujol
United States of Being
Saddle Creek
 
Pujol carries on the Nashvillian ideals of DIY and self construction through adeptly crafted songs and meaningful lyrical content. It's these motives and songs that have taken Pujol from the basements of Middle Tennessee to stages across the country. Releasing a plethora of singles and cassettes over the past two years on Jack White's Third Man Records, Nashville's Infinity Cat Recordings and Turbo Time Records among others, Pujol has now partnered with Omaha's Saddle Creek. United States Of Being continues on with Pujol's doctrine of trying hard everyday and ventures lyrically to a place that most contemporaries fail to reach. Addressing the current status of twenty-somethings in America's present and capturing their shared dispositions, the album throws the brakes on "catharsis," and begs the listener to decide for themselves how to answer the robot's last question, "What is love?" With riff-oriented guitar playing reminiscent of greats like The Replacements and Beetlejuice-esque earworms, Pujol now sits atop the fringes of the rock and roll and DIY vernacular.
 
Julia Stone
By The Horns
Nettwerk

 
The spirited wings of Julia Stone's music have carried her to reside in foreign lands, to delight crowds of many thousands and to graciously receive the highest acclaims in her homeland. The centerpiece and title track of the record, By The Horns describes the duplicitous power of male aggression and deceit; Julia assumes the guise of a commanding chanteuse leading her crack nightclub band and declares: “I've learned my lesson, no one is to blame, except for you” as she repeatedly asserts “I believe in love” amidst her clinical dissection of a callous lover's transgression. These songs have been composed in California, refined in France and sculpted in Australia, India, and New York City. They poured through her hands to the ears and hands of Producer Thomas Bartlett who has worked with Doveman, Antony & the Johnsons and The National (whose “Bloodbuzz Ohio” is sublimely covered here) and is currently producing upcoming record by Glen Hansard. By The Horns signals a great transition: The introduction of Julia Stone as a singular artist.
Paul Simon
Graceland 25th Anniversary Edition
Legacy

 
In 1986, Graceland sold 14 million copies worldwide and garnered both the Album and Song of the Year Grammy in 1987. Paul Simon and the members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo performed on Saturday Night Live and appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone. It generated three hit singles and it kept Paul Simon and the Graceland tour on the road for five years. Its music was heard across the globe. Today, its music and its reputation still reach generations of music enthusiasts yet so many are unaware of how pivotal that one album was during the 1980s, how it helped birth the idea of World Music and revived the career of one of America's most important songwriters. How it influenced the political progress of South Africa a country divided by institutionalized racism, causing and then transcending years of controversy. Graceland's 25th anniversary CD features the original album with bonus tracks including a unreleased tracks audio documentary produced in 2012 with Paul Simon discussing the writing, inspiration and recording of the title track. Also available as a deluxe CD / DVD set and on Vinyl. You need this.
 
Adam Cohen
Like A Man
Decca

 
The son of the legendary Leonard Cohen, all his life Adam Cohen had sought an artistic space beyond the reach of his father's looming shadow. But in January 2007, at the age of 34, Adam Cohen owned up to his legacy. After years of declining to sing in public so much as a single note written by his father or to participate in any tribute, on stage in Barcelona, Adam sang Leonard's classic song “Take This Waltz” -- in Spanish. “Barcelona in 2007 was the first time I ever played a Leonard Cohen song in public. Until then I hadn't so much as learned one on guitar. It was cathartic. My son Cassius was only a few months from being born, and embracing fatherhood was on my mind -- my father, and the father I was to be. Intimate, romantic yet shrewdly reflective, Adam's songs on Like A Man evoke something of his father just as in any child you can discern the echo of the parent. But there is Adam's own unique and distinct voice and perspective too -- a plain-speaking style freighted with disarming candor.
Kimbra
Vows
WB
 
Despite your feelings on Gotye's smash hit, “Somebody That I Used To Know,” there is one thing that Music fans the world over can agree on: Kimbra! Originating from Hamilton, New Zealand, Kimbra has been performing her jazz-inflected pop since she was 14. Her Australian debut, Vows, has spawned three hit singles, is certified platinum, earned her a "one to watch" rave from Rolling Stone Australia and won Kimbra the ARIA (Australian Grammy) for Best Female Artist. Though here new album, Vows, features a few tracks from her Settle Down EP, this proper full-length will prove to be the ultimate introduction for newcomers. Yes, Gotye fans will have plenty to cheer about, but so will fans of Bjork and St. Vincent - especially given Kimbra the beautiful layers of texture and percussion that surround her amazing voice. There is a little something here for everyone... And that could end up turning her into quite the star.
 
Butterfly Boucher
Butterfly Boucher


 
“This is a new era for me, being independent and calling my own shots,” says Butterfly Boucher of her self-titled album. Originally signed to the now-defunct but once mighty A&M records, her ‘03 debut Flutterby drew notable mentions from David Bowie, Madonna, Ben Folds and Sarah McLachlan. But Boucher was caught up in the decade's label maelstrom, and was unable to release her second album until 09. Now, as not only a performing artist, but also a multi-instrumentalist, writer, arranger, and producer - she's funneled her multiple creative outlets into the making of Butterfly Boucher with an adventurous and experimental spirit that embodies her smart indie-pop with alt rock muscle. Boucher recorded in Nashville and played most of the instruments, including guitar, bass, drum, piano, synthesizers, and other odds and ends. Just head straight to “5678!” and you'll get a wallop of instant magic. Stretching the gamut from sincere to playful, Boucher's high voltage electric pop inhabits a world of pure creativity where fragility and force are complementary. It's a triumph - and well worth your attention.
Gossip
A Joyful Noise
Columbia
 
Gossip have had an unexpected yet glorious career - one that took them from underground Indie Dancer Punkers to... Well, Major Label Dance Punkers with budget to match their songs' ginormous intensity. A Joyful Noise is a blend of Soul, Gospel, Rock, Funk, Disco, Punk, Passion and Rebellion, Recorded in both Xenomania, Higgins' studio in England, and KBC Studios in Portland, Oregon, A Joyful Noise stays true to Gossip's trademark brash and unapologetic nature - that is, as true as possible for a band that is constantly reinventing itself and pushing boundaries. Working with Higgins, Gossip sought to create their own brand of pop. Singer Beth Ditto's proclamation that she "spent the whole year listening to ABBA and not listening to the radio," certainly accounts for the pulsing energy of A Joyful Noise. The album's infectious tracks will certainly be welcomed by fans who are already entranced by Gossip's insanely danceable beats, and will no doubt lure in many more. Highly recommended... And don't miss a live show.
 
Ed Sheeran
+
ATL
 
Ed Sheeran has an album. It's called +. "I'd like to say it's all about positivity, " Ed laughs, "but really it's just a cool sign that I love. It is also one step on from all the independent releases I have done.” Ed's album features a host of very special songs. "Small Bump" is a true story, with the most heart-wrenching twist, about a friend and her baby. "Lego House" is a love song that imagines a world where you can, ("pick up the pieces and build a lego house, and if things go wrong we can knock it down!"). "Wake Me Up" was written while sitting, really drunk, under a tree by Jamie Foxx's pool (that's another story). "Grade 8" ("your body is my ball-point pen/ and your mind is my new best friend... ") sees Ed as a worrier / warrior with bloodshot eyes, his heartstrings being twanged by a virtuoso guitarist. The truth is, there's not a bad song on it, precisely because Ed wouldn't dream of it -- he's that type of guy. "I have slept on a different sofa every night for two and a half years so I can do this " Ed says. "I'm ready for the next level." And a new sofa.
Emeli Sande
Our Version of Events
Capitol

 
While still a teenager, Emeli Sande got her first big break as a singer and songwriter as she was named a contest winner for a BBC songwriter contest and record-deal offers soon started pouring in. But instead of signing to a label, Sande put her music career on hold and embarked on a six-year degree in medicine. As evidenced on her debut album Our Version of Events, Sande defies categorization, yet appeals to fans of pop, credible singer-songwriters, soul, dance and everything in between. She has already had an amazing 12 months as her album debuted at #1 in the UK in February and she has had four songs from that album chart high on the UK singles chart, while guesting on four others that charted Top 10 for other artists. She has also been lauded as a songwriter, penning songs for UK artists as varied as Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle, while being identified by none other than Simon Cowell as his favorite songwriter of the moment. Alicia Keys was so impressed after she opened for her in the UK last summer that she co-wrote and produced the track “Hope” and has been collaborating with Sande for her own next album. Your move, Adele...
 
Chicha Libre
Canibalismo
Barbes

 
Chicha Libre devours tropical sounds, backroom beats and analog funk on Canibalismo -- an expression of the edgy craving that is fueling their pop rethink around South America. Sonic cannibalism feels to Chicha Libre like the easiest way to understand the cultural forces that led them from Brooklyn to rural Peru and to club stages all over South America. Taking their cues from Peruvian chicha, a style that put surf guitar, rainforest psychedelics and Andean flavor to a cumbia beat with open minded exuberance, they have learned from and teamed up with unsung geniuses of the music including Ranil and Los Shapis -- both featured on Roots of Chicha. Then taken it as a springboard to join the international stream of tropical experimenters from Columbia to Argentina. And now that the journey's complete and Canibalismo is on our shores, you'll want to re-live that ride over and over again. Check it out!
The Rocket Summer
Life Will Write the Words
Aviate Records
 
The Rocket Summer is the solo-project of Dallas / Ft. Worth's Bryce Avary, who, since 2003, has written, sung, played and recorded all of his rather prolific output. His album Of Men and Angels even bumped the Black Eyed Peas from the top of the charts back in 2010. In the time since, Avary's skills continue to develop on Life Will Write The Words. So, in case you've never heard of the band, you might wanna imagine Bright Eyes going POP - and I'm not talking Big Star. Rather Justin Timberlake fronting Switchfoot or the Foo Fighters.... And a touch of Springsteen. The hooks are as big as the sentiments - and maybe twice as infections. It's polished without being slick, making the guitars huge and cutting while Avery's multi-tracked angst is still the star. Youngsters will have their minds blown... And so will their folks. Check it out.
 
Robert Glasper
Black Radio
Blue Note
 
Robert Glasper has proven that jazz is not doomed to be “smooth” for the rest of eternity. His fifth release, Black Radio, not only drives this point home, but also provides a fully realized example of the future of jazz and the piano as a tool to blaze that trail. The Experiment portion of this record is made up of Casey Benjamin on vocoder and sax, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, and Chris Dave on drums. Together with Glasper on keys, the group lays the foundation for some of urban music's most prominent contributors, including Erykah Badu, Yasiin Bey (a.k.a. Mos Def,) and Lupe Fiasco. The Robert Glasper Experiment isn't about pushing boundaries, but rather defying genre. Urban radio would be smart to program this entire album for Saturday evening's  “Quiet Storm” hour, and those hoping to get lucky would be smart to have at the ready for the come-upstairs-for-coffee moment.
Cookie Duster
When Flying Was Easy
SQE Music

 
In 1997, weary from a flood of Pearl Jam fallout bands and the testosterone-gripped vocal style that dominated airwaves during the golden age of so-called "alternative rock," and prior to the indie-crossover explosion, acclaimed Toronto musician Brendan Canning (Broken Social Scene) looked to friend and fellow musician, keyboardist and beat wizard Bernard Maiezza of 90's seminal Canadian indie band, Change Of Heart, to collaborate. Years later, once Broken Social Scene wound down for a bit, Canning decided that now was the time to make music for what would now be known as Cookie Duster. When Flying Was Easy opens with "Cut Me, Focus" and its trapping intro that plays like an old school garage and techno track. First single "Two Feet Stand Up" and also "Standing Alongside Gone" offer no-nonsense, straight-ahead, guitar driven pop, while "Living On A Fine Line" channels the band's more delicate and precise nature. "Daddy's Got The Medicine," with its rather unusual sentiment is irresistibly catchy. Cookie Duster has taken the basic tools of their genre and created a record with massive hooks and some unusual arrangements. You're gonna wanna dance yr ass off!
 
FUN.
Some Nights


 
Close your eyes. Okay, no wait - open them because you need to keep reading - but close them in spirit. Now pretend fun. is not a band, but an amusement park. Just replace the guitar with a log flume and the percussion with a carousel. Now imagine the crowds lining up for a ride on fun.'s sophomore record, Some Nights. The line snakes around the whole park. Maybe there are some bearded ladies on it. Maybe lots of bearded ladies. Anyway. As you get closer, you see the entrance to Some Nights is actually Nate Ruess' head. His mouth is open wider than should be physically possible and his uvula dangles in the dark. The musical tracks harden into wooden rollercoaster tracks. You get on the car, and with a jerk, it starts to move. There's that familiar feeling that tells you something pretty transformative is about to happen. Lights flash as you go plummeting into the darkness. The rollercoaster version of Some Nights follows the same path as the album version: colorful on the outside, deeper than you had imagined in the center, and so good it'll make your head spin. Want to go again?
Two time Grammy nominee and quiet stormer Ryan Shaw described this sophomore album to Essence as “A gumbo infused with soul, rock and two tablespoons of gospel.” If that's translatable to a sound that is a little splash of Otis Redding and another of Al Green into what is his own breed of soul, then Shaw's goods are the real deal. Too often, production is sacrificed for good songwriting, or the production is so slick that it's too late when we notice how bad the lyrics are or how weak the performance is. Fortunately, Real Love seems to have each detail covered to bring together a great sophomore album of songs that are informed by the past but are rooted firmly in the present. The album launches off with the insistent declaration of the title track, setting the tone for the next eleven tracks to come. One of the highlight tracks is “Gone, Gone, Gone,” where Shaw sings “I shoulda put a ring on your finger, that's what I shoulda done,” with soulful regret. In the swinging ballad “In Between,” Shaw recalls some of the greatest moments of Sam Cooke, whereas in “The Wrong Man,” he seems to be wholly himself.

Ryan Shaw -
Real Love

Dynotone Records
Ever since we first saw Edward Sharpe marching with his beardy band of gypsies (the Magnetic Zeroes) across a field to serenade us “Home,” it's been tempting to wonder if the guy could really be as sincere as he seems to try to come across. The follow up to its, at times, darkly wandering debut Up From Below, Here shies away from the darkness of a sophomore slump, yet maintains an introspective nature that is often inherent in second efforts. The interplay of Sharpe and co-singer Jade is still ever present, as in tracks like “That's What's Up,” a Woodstock-y throwback tune. Drifty afternoon stoniness blankets the middle portion of the album with “Mayla,” and “Dear Believer.” “One Love To Another” is one of the album's more seductive listening moments, with subtly reggae undertones, which is followed by the swaying swagger of track “Fiya Wata.” It's not the same persistent energy we heard on Up From Below, but Sharpe and his mates are proving their sincerity and commitment to the Magnetic Zeroes sound.

Edward Sharpe -
Here

Vagrant
Valtari is Sigur Ros' first full length album in four years, and it signals a return to the gorgeous, alien moodiness that captured listeners from the start. Valtari moves with glacial grace, recalling images of large pastoral landscapes painted in muted watercolor, impressionist, as ever. The tempo, if ever indicated, never drags, but moves with great breadth. Jonsi's voice returns to the ether, as well, eerily calling into the fog of music enveloping him. “Ekki mukk” creates immense, static stillness under his high warble, while “Varuo” moves and sways with a gentle yodel. The title track is perhaps the most cinematic and dynamic of the collection of songs, but all eight pieces included on Valtari are yielding aural landscapes for the imagination. And, wouldn't you know, the band has plans for a film for Valtari as well. Titled “Mystery Film Experience,” the piece will be a collection of music videos for the album, each by a different filmmaker. The result is sure to be lovely, but even if nobody ever made a single film for Sigur Ros, the cinematic scope of their inventive music is too lovely to miss.

Sigur Ros -
Valtari

XL
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The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. CIMS was founded in 1995; its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 47 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support.

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