As every Friday brings new music, Tomorrow's Verse brings you our top picks for the week. Here are our favorite records from April 6.
By: Alex Wood
Blackberry Smoke – Find A Light
Nearly two decades into their musical career, Blackberry Smoke remain a beacon of creativity and inspiration in the Southern rock scene, using blues and classic rock as a basis to see just how hard a group of five guys can rock. With Find A Light, the band doesn’t reinvent their sound, but doesn’t need to. The songs hit hard, at times as heavy as any of their studio albums have sounded, yet never lose their passionate delivery. Find A Light is the first Blackberry Smoke album to include guest musicians, with Robert Randolph providing slide guitar, Amanda Shires offering country vocals and The Wood Brothers inflicting a track with their folk-rock expertise. It’s another massive success for one of the most talented bands in modern guitar-rock, and all that fans could ever ask of the band.
Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
California duo Wye Oak are a band that have truly evolved over the year, growing out of their reverb-drenched, simplistic early sound into a synthesizer-infused, grandiose world of their own. The band’s sixth record, The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, may be their most fully-realized to date, complex and rich arrangements backing layered vocals. Synthesizers and distorted guitars move through arrangements freely, giving an infinite density, each track seemingly able to grow endlessly. It’s beautiful indie-rock, shockingly mature, and an album you absolutely can’t miss.
Various Artists – Johnny Cash: Forever Words
Produced by Johnny Cash and June Carter’s son, John Carter Cash, Forever Words is a star-studded compilation album created from Cash’s previously unknown lyrics, poetry and letters. Featuring Elvis Costello, Chris Cornell, Kacey Musgraves, Alison Krauss, Robert Glasper, Willie Nelson and more, the 16-song album gives freedom to the musicians to work with the words as they please, creating a stunning whole that demonstrates the importance of solid lyrics. [FINISH]
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Sex & Food
Beginning with angular garage-rock, Unknown Mortal Orchestra have remained a staple of the indie scene for nearly a decade. Yet 2015’s Multi-Love saw them incorporating Prince-like funk into their songs, leading to Sex & Food, where the band fully embraces this danceable sound. Sex & Food is consistently funky, though incorporating a heavier feel that often leans on screeching, distorted guitars and fuzz bass. It’s complicated and often messy, but stands as some of the band’s most talented work to date.
Tauk – Shapeshifter I: Construct
The new EP from jazz fusion favorites Tauk contains six new tracks spread across a half hour runtime. Musically, it finds the ensemble in top form, combining funky rhythm tracks with progressive guitar and ambitious horns. Recorded in a short session at their home studio, the recordings have a consistency that sometimes lacked in prior albums. The musicianship on this record alone justifies the group's steadily growing fanbase in the jam band scene, making it an EP you have to hear.
Eels – The Deconstruction
Though Eels had their heyday in the 90s appearing as direct competition to early records from Beck or Cake, songwriter Mark Everett has remained a prolific and ever-changing force in the music scene, growing into his own style without losing the influences of his past. Recent records have found him incorporating more electronics into his arrangements, or focusing on minimal, spacious songwriting instead of the cluttered arrangements he was primarily known for. While The Deconstruction doesn’t abandon these new experiments, it feels like a return to form, with minimal but effective drums placed in the forefront of the mix, directly reminiscent of the 90s scene that birthed the project. But it’s the background that makes the songs, as horns, strings, keyboards and effects build a dense arrangment that grows and shift beneath E’s gritty vocals. After a four-year hiatus, it’s a welcome return for Eels.
The California Honeydrops – Call It Home: Vol. 1 & 2
This new double-record release from The California Honeydrops is a loose concept album exploring the notion and meaning of what makes a place a home. Musically, the band continues to draw influence from New Orleans music, R&B and roots sounds melding to become something truly their own. Bonnie Raitt appears on the first track, lending her vocals to the band’s funky backing track. Overall, it’s another great set of horn-laden R&B ballads, ranging from upbeat bangers to slower ballads, but always done with taste.
Mipso – Edges Run
North Carolina quartet Mipso have honed an incredible style of their own over the years, combining traditional string music with incredible vocal harmonies to create an extremely moving style of folk. Edges Run is proof that the band has perfected this style. Over the course of 12 songs, Edges Run feels like an emotional rollercoaster, the lyrics focused primarily on love and failed relationships. Vocalists trade as the lead but harmonies are constant, the musical backng often sparse and spacious to keep the focus on the words. It's gorgeous string music that tears at your heartstrings, and a record that sucks you in quickly.
Hop Along – Bark Your Head Off, Dog
Minimalist indie-folk project Hop Along is the brainchild of Frances Quinlain, whose brilliant lyrics are driven by a fresh and honest perspective. On Bark Your Head Off, her vocals and acoustic guitar remain the driving force, while strings, keyboards and simplistic percussion come and go, adding tension, release and power as needed. The lyrics are built around everyday life, building emotional cases out of working in the service industry or simple relationships. Self-produced and recorded, it’s everything the indie scene was ever supposed to be.
GUM – The Underdog
Tame Impala drummer Jay Watson releases his fourth solo record as GUM, titled The Underdog. Featuring massive arrangements that lean on layered vocals, bright horns, synths and electronics, strings and, of course, powerful drumming, Watson demonstrates his wild creativity on the record. Meant to evoke “that sensation of triumph and that weird parallel universe feeling you get when the person that’s not supposed to win, does,” The Underdog manages to explore new sounds in psychedelic music, an often-difficult feat in this day and age. Not simply for Tame Impala fans, but for fans of excessive, trippy rock in general, The Underdog is a huge achievement Watson.
Rainbow Kitten Surprise – How To: Friend, Love, Freefall
North Carolina indie band Rainbow Kitten Surprise are a lot more than a goofy band name. The band combines influences from practically every genre imaginable, leaning on fast-paced vocal harmonies as they move through rock, folk, reggae, hip-hop and more. Somehow, the record still feels consistent, though unimaginably unique. An up-and-coming act that you have to hear to understand, How To: Friend, Love, Freefall proves that Rainbow Kitten Surprise are still full of surprises and some of the most creative minds on the scene.