With 232 pages and an expanded 12″ by 12″ format, our biggest print issue yet celebrates the people, places, music, and art of our hometown, including cover features on David Lynch, Nipsey Hussle, Syd, and Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory Records, plus Brian Wilson, Cuco, Ty Segall, Lord Huron, Remi Wolf, The Doors, the art of RISK, Taz, Estevan Oriol, Kii Arens, and Edward Colver, and so much more.
Devendra Banhart, Flying Wig
With the aid of producer Cate Le Bon, the psych-folk songwriter’s Mexican Summer debut swaps crinkly textures for something uncharacteristically glossy.
Kylie Minogue, Tension
The electropop trailblazer’s 16th LP reignites her commitment to small reinventions in order to suit the modern pop landscape.
The Singaporean songwriter and producer diverges from the predominantly gitchy stylings of their previous release and explores heavenly sounding guitar-based melodies.
Beyond being wiser than her debut, this sophomore LP is also sharper, meaner, funnier, more assured, more pleasurable, and more persuasive that Rodrigo is operating on a plane of her own.
Coalescing disparate genres, generations, and value systems into a big-tent pop blockbuster, Batiste’s latest streamlines musical and ideological sophistication into an LP designed for mass appeal.
The jazz fusionist plays to his strengths as a sample-based thinker and collage artist while also showing how he can wrestle his micro-moments into long-form works.
The teen punks’ debut is a set of sturdily constructed songs that blur the line between bubblegum tunefulness, power pop crunch, and punk abandon.
Kacey’s latest feels like several types of divorce album spliced together, at once messy, conflicted, and purposeful.
The jazz collective’s fourth album is first and foremost a dance record, bruising, visceral, and thrilling in its physicality.
Bird reconnects with his Squirrel Nut Zippers associate Mathus for the most straightforwardly old-timey music he’s made since the late ’90s.
The latest from Sir Paul is warm, inviting, a little weird, persistently tuneful, endearingly merry.
“Moon Piano” creates an environment that emanates tranquility without ever overstepping its bounds.
“Rumors” may seem almost like a deliberate provocation of the country purists.
HAIM has always made their music sound effortless, but here they sound genuinely unencumbered.
On “Petals for Armor” Williams is in full blossom, telling her story without requiring our permission.
Looking for a consolidated history of soul music in one handy package?
The narrative behind Aaron Livingston’s third full-length as Son Little is one of relinquished control.
It’s not exactly a Beck album without precedent; but maybe at this point, that’s asking too much.
A record that still “sparks shit” today.
They remain faithfully yours in taut, ruthless, uncompromising rock and roll.
Their third album may feel almost like a tonic for those befuddled by last year’s bizarro-world “Boarding House Reach.”
The singer-songwriter notes that he’s long been fascinated with the cowboy mythos, which captures both the freedom and the solitude of life on the great open frontier.
Try as he might to sound brash and nonchalant, Rivers Cuomo still comes across like the goofball nerd that he is.
“Sunshine Rock” is bedazzled with literal bells and whistles, including an eighteen-piece string section to lend Mould’s muscular rock a sense of transcendence.
Rightly intuiting that they’d only embarrass themselves by carrying the “boy band” ethos into middle age, they long ago shifted into pure adult contemporary.
“Goes West” summons all the majesty and loneliness of Tyler’s other work, but condenses it into his tightest, punchiest, and most palatable set of songs yet.
It’s not an album about what Tweedy has been through so much as an album about what we’ve all been through—a weathered yet buoyant reflection on shared trauma.
Even if it’s pitched as a continuation of earlier works, “Look Now” never feels like a rehash.
These songs take on a kind of confessional immediacy that you don’t hear much on proper Prince albums, and there’s stark emotion in abundance.
For a band that’s so steady and sure-footed, Low are uniquely gifted at conveying a sense of unraveling.
Mitski is deepening her craft and heightening her emotional availability, but never dulling her edge.
Cowboy Junkies have never reckoned with the times as vividly or as pointedly as they do here.
More than ever, Welch trusts her magnetic personality and her unerring gift for skyscraping pop hooks to do the emotional lifting.
Everything’s writ large; it is music that contains multitudes, and it’s teeming with joy and power.
Friedberger has crafted an album of contoured melodies and steely precision.
Every generation needs its own soundtrack for kicking against the pricks, and Monáe delivers one here.
Willie’s addressing his twilight years with a light touch and an amiable chuckle.
They may be the only band around who can make the New Wave sound old-timey.
What the indie rock veterans offer is an album’s worth of palate-cleansers—songs of pastoral purity and laid-back reflection.
“Loner” could rightly be called a feminist album or simply a human one, weaponizing empathy in an age of despair.
SHIRT comes across as a battle rapper; he blazes through “Pure Beauty” in a blur of shit-talking and chest-puffing.
“Vessel of Love” feels modest and small-scale—the work of a self-possessed singer who’s inspired by tradition but never beholden to it.
Merrill Garbus’s latest LP doubles down on hooks and polished mainstream sheen without actually jettisoning any of her quirks or peculiarities.
Nico Segal’s Chicago quartet is exploring what jazz music can and should be in 2017.
At fifty-seven, Bono remains weirdly obsessed with charting a song on the radio, and hopelessly committed to the idea that rock and roll can still change the world.
Mavis Staples isn’t one to brandish a song like a weapon—not when she’s so good at disarmament—and here she aims to melt swords into plowshares through the cosmic force of neighborly love, wild empathy, and intentional optimism.
“Take Me Apart”‘s tension between sleek, modern sound and beating-heart humanity reveals what’s always been great about R&B: that it wears its emotions on its sleeve and provides a conduit for deep feeling.
The songs of Barnett and Vile are deliberately gnarled and unkempt, and never sound nearly as fussed-over as they probably are.
On his second album, the Mercury Prize winner is a big star and a total alien on a pilgrimage through hostile lands.
By keeping it low-key, the stakes on The National’s new album somehow seem even higher.
Seven years after “This is Happening,” James Murphy remains unparalleled at building slow-burn epics from all the fun bits of his record collection.
It’s another great Queens of the Stone Age record that’s simultaneously of a piece with the others and distinct in its character and identity.
For as much as the spiritual jazz movement of the 1970s reached for the stars, the great triumph of “The Elements” is how earthbound it feels.
On paper, “Everything Now” is the dourest of any Arcade Fire album, a significant achievement for a group whose debut album is called “Funeral.”
Is Big Boi underrated?
This band does delicate beauty so well that the stand-out moments of “Crack-Up” tend to be the ones where they let their hair down a bit.
These are songs that feel like they’re reaching for something; songs that sound like invocations.
On his third full-length, DeMarco pits the innately good-natured, easy-going tone of his music against a hint of sorrow in his lyrics.
Leslie Feist is casually virtuosic and quietly adventurous throughout her first record in six years, though you never get the sense that she’s pushing things just to push.
“DAMN.” bears our struggle and triumph, swagger and fear, success and uncertainty, love and original sin.
Nothing here wants for hooks or for energy, but the songs on The New Pornographers’ seventh album all seem flat somehow.
Colter creates music that drones, builds, drifts, and crests, never following familiar emotional beats but instead allowing them to follow their own wild intuitions.
“Salutations” maintains the tattered humanity of its unaccompanied counterpart, but somehow makes it all go down a little smoother.
There was always bound to be a straight-ahead dance-rock album from Spoon. How could there not be?
“Being You” is gnarly and cerebral, the sound of a jittery headspace that’s got room enough for every flight of fancy.
Sampha’s debut is a record with broad appeal and precise vision; a record where listeners can find themselves but also where they’ll spot the auteur’s hand if they really care to look for it.
The erstwhile minimalists have never made a record that sounds so glossy and full, but there’s not enough production polish in the world to mask the the hurt and the vulnerability at its core.
There is immense catharsis in Killer Mike and El-P’s appetite for destruction.
It’s tough to shake the idea that we’re getting the real John Legend for the very first time.
The author’s reflections on his relationship with his deeply racist brother make an appeal to our common humanity.
If a sudden shift toward EDM trappings sounds like an awkward fit for an alt-country band, on “FLOTUS,” it plays out as neither sudden nor awkward.
The My Morning Jacket frontman’s second solo record is not a hymn to destruction, but an anthem of resolve.
Nothing is held back.
If you found yourself lost in the cosmos of Kamasi Washington’s triple-LP “The Epic” last year wondering which star to reach for next, 2016 has a few answers for you.
With the essay collection “Upstream,” the lauded poet offers a portrait of herself and the world that is no less shrouded in mystery than her best work.
Rumors of Leonard Cohen’s desire for death have been greatly exaggerated.
“Ruminations” is what it claims to be: a series of ponderous reflections that abide and even cultivate solitude, finding the melancholy romance in moments of quiet introspection.
These are songs that tangle with love as a force both personal and political, and with the love of self, the love of God, the love a people must have for one another if any of them are going to last.
Though it turns out this isn’t a Harry Nilsson tribute album, the title is still a good omen.
Daptone’s inaugural reggae release is freighted with a tragic backstory.
The Chicago rapper and singer delivers an album filled with psalms of lament and hymns to hope through hard times.
When presented with a collection of songs that’s explicitly billed as mood music, the correct question is: what sort of mood?
All together now: “We make fire! With our bare hands! We catch fish from the stream like a bear can!”
Past ScHoolboy Q records have shown a similar grasp for introspection, but “Blank Face LP” is all immersion.
Rhymin’ Simon’s still vital at seventy-four.
On “Everything’s Beautiful,” the jazz pianist deconstructs Miles’s old recordings, then reassembles them with help from Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, KING, Bilal, and more. Here, he talks about how the legend’s legacy extends far beyond jazz.
Like Miles and Monk, Julianna Barwick understands the importance of space; each resonant note and each distinct sound is chosen judiciously, allowing each one to echo with even greater power.
The psychedelic outlaw’s third album album doesn’t hold a lot of easy answers, necessarily, but it does have plenty of right ones.
The breakout star of the FX show’s second season talks about his character’s rise to the top of the show’s hierarchy of violence and what it means to be the sole black actor in a snow-white world.
The National Book Award winner returns with a collection of short stories and a novella.