Artist: Adrian Younge and Ghostface Killah
Album: Twelve Reasons to Die II
Quick Description: A continuation of a thematic project between the Wu-Tang member and a soul musician.
Why You Should Listen: You like good rap music from established stars, you are into acts that take thematic chances, you still believe that the Wu Tang Clan ain't nothin' to... well, you know.
Overall Thoughts: In the last year, we've seen a lot of solo work from Wu Tang members, and this one is just as good as any of them. I keep waiting for them to stumble out of the gate, but, 20 years later, they still have it.
Recommendation: As the album of the week, it's a must-listen. As a 2015 rap album, it's a must listen. As an interesting release it's a must listen.
Album: Calling Out
Quick Description: More throwback power pop in a debut album.
Why You Should Listen: You love throwback acts, you're not bored by the retro phase we're in.
Overall Thoughts: For me, this is nothing entirely special, but it's also a pretty good listen on a whole.
Recommendation: Give this one a listen if you're into the sort of thing this is trying to pull off.
Artist: Heather Woods Broderick
Quick Description: Second album from a "post folk" artist with ties to Horse Feathers and Sharon Van Etten.
Why You Should Listen: You like your folk music a little left of center, you can tolerate some weirdness within your folk songs.
Overall Thoughts: While this has a lot going for it, it does have its moments where things just don't really work. They're more than offset by some truly solid songs, but as a cohesive whole it's ultimately an uneven attempt.
Recommendation: In a slow week release-wise, there's more than enough here to like and warrant a listen.
Artist: Owl City
Album: Mobile Orchestra
Quick Description: Pop electronica with a big dollop of Jesus.
Why You Should Listen: If you've liked Owl City's output and overtly Christian overtones don't bother you.
Overall Thoughts: There is nothing wrong with religious music, and Owl City's beliefs have not been a secret. Still, on a mainstream album this overt, combined with what is frankly a tired sound coming from the band, this doesn't leave much to like.
Recommendation: Skip it.
Artist: Civil Twilight
Album: Story of an Immigrant
Quick Description: Well-produced indie rock with shades of Muse and Grizzly Bear.
Why You Should Listen: More thoughtful, deliberate rock music is your style and grand musical gestures do not make you think of prog rock.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan since "Letters From the Sky," and Civil Twilight's brand of epic rock music hits a good chord with me. This is another solid release from a band that's been very consistent over the years.
Recommendation: It may not be for everyone, but it's worth a listen.
Artist: Little Boots
Album: Working Girl
Quick Description: Ambitious-sounding third album from the Europop starlet.
Why You Should Listen: You like well-crafted pop songs that feel mainstream but can still surprise you.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard to not compare Little Boots to her early work like "Remedy" and "Stuck in Repeat," and Little Boots's biggest struggle is fighting for placement against the similar acts that, in many ways, are doing more interesting things. It's a good, possibly great, album, but, outside of the aesthetic, it fails to truly stand out.
Recommendation: An obvious listen, but the true question will be its longevity.
Artist: Veruca Salt
Album: Ghost Notes
Quick Description: A reunion album from the 1990s alt-rock band.
Why You Should Listen: You recognize how awesome and underrated Veruca Salt were in the 1990s, "Volcano Girls" was a mixtape staple for you.
Overall Thoughts: It's great to have Veruca Salt back. The downside to this album is that it never quite hits the peaks you want it to. It feels restrained and missing that final gear that would bring it into overdrive. A number of good songs rescue this one, and while I'm not as down on this as Ken is (who called it "boring"), I ultimately wish this album was just doing a lot more.
Recommendation: Give it a spin, if only to find the pieces you like.
Artist: It Hugs Back
Album: Slow Wave
Quick Description: Dreamy indie rock/pop with hushed lyrics and a deliberate pace.
Why You Should Listen: You found dreamy indie pop really awesome a decade ago, you can appreciate the occasional 7+ minute song with long instrumental breaks.
Overall Thoughts: While I know this isn't the first It Hugs Back album I've heard, the band itself still feels new and fresh even if the sound doesn't. This is absolutely a "not for everyone" album, but it hits a lot of right notes for me, a person who loved this sort of thing during/right after college.
Recommendation: Fire this one up, and you'll know if you like it within the first two minutes.