Thao and the Get Down Stay Down

“We the Common”
Ribbon Music
Since her 2008 debut, “We Brave Bee Stings and All,” Thao Nguyen has incorporated currents of Americana into her indie rock jams. In her latest album — “We the Common,” with her backing band, the Get Down Stay Down — those currents are stronger than ever, from the New Orleans brass on “The Feeling Kind” to the rockabilly bass line that leads off “The Day Long,” to her flirtation with psych folk on “Kindness Be Conceived,” a duet featuring harpist and singer Joanna Newsom.

Throughout her musical career, Nguyen has demonstrated a talent for writing quirky rock songs with unexpected hooks, and We the Common carries on that tradition. In ballads, anthems, and the occasional atonal cacophony, her music encompasses optimism, vulnerability, playfulness, and abandon. We the Common fits snugly into that milieu and is an endearing study of pop songwriting at its finest.
— Katherine Silkaitis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Terri Lyne Carrington

“Money Jungle: Provocative In Blue”
Concord Music Group
Producer Terri Lyne Carrington follows up her Grammy-winning, all-female “The Mosaic Project” by offering a fresh take on the classic trio recording “Money Jungle” — the session released 50 years ago that teamed pianist Duke Ellington, bassist Charles Mingus and drummer Max Roach.

Some of the strongest tracks — such as “Wig Wise,” which includes Brazilian rhythms and Mideastern motifs, and Clayton's ballad “Cut Off” that references Ellington's “Solitude” — spotlight the trio of drummer Carrington, pianist Gerald Clayton and bassist Christian McBride. And Carrington enhances “Fleurette Africain” with ex-Ellingtonian trumpeter Clark Terry's scat/spoken-word vocals and “Backward Country Boy Blues” with Nir Felder's earthy slide guitar intro and Lizz Wright's wordless vocals.

The hard-swinging “Money Jungle” includes sound clips on the state of capitalism from Martin Luther King Jr., Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, while the mellow “Rem Blues/Music” has Shea Rose reciting a poem comparing music to a seductive woman and Herbie Hancock quoting Ellington's observations on the clash between jazz creativity and commerce.
— Charles J. Gans, The Associated Press

Pi--ed Jeans

Sub Pop Records
Pi--ed Jeans distill hardcore aggression, working-class frustration, and self-conscious insecurity into a thick, heavy assault. Originally from Allentown, Pa., now Philly-based, the quartet won't win over anyone not predisposed to the shouted and growled vocals and unrelenting volume of archetypal hardcore and sludgy, trudging metal.

But “Honeys,” their fourth album, is faultless on its own terms, mixing speedy punk rock (“Health Plan”), garage-psych blues stomps (“Loubs”), and scuzzy heavy metal (“Chain Worker”).

“You're just another teenage adult, you're frozen in time,” Matt Korvette yells, and he could be addressing himself until he adds, “Still you're past your prime.” From the lacerating address to a smug project manager in “Cafeteria Food” to the screaming chorus of “Bathroom Laughter” to the almost bouncy romp of “Cathouse,” “Honeys” is prime ugly, loud hardcore.
— Steve Klinge, The Philadelphia Inquirer


“Holy Fire”
Warner Bros. Records
One thing you can say about the Foals is that they always mix it up. Their first album, “Antidotes,” was loaded with heavy drumbeats, while “Total Life Forever” was more melancholic with beautiful lyrical prowess.

The British band sticks to their wild formula on the new album, “Holy Fire.” It opens with “Prelude,” a 4-minute long instrumental that blasts into “Inhaler,” showcasing a rockier side to the band. There are howling guitars and shouting vocals, courtesy of Yannis Philippakis.

“My Number” is addictive and could have jumped straight from a Talking Heads record. It is funky, uplifting and playful, and the lyrics illustrate optimism: “I feel the love, feel the love.”

Melancholia isn't far away though, as the record swings back down with “Bad Habit,” which is a soulful lament. “I'm a bad habit, one you cannot shake,” sings Philippakis.
— Sian Watson, The Associated Press

Veronica Falls

“Waiting for Something to Happen”
Slumberland Records
The second full-length album from indie pop's Veronica Falls is a tasteful guitar pop set, brighter in tone than their first. The London foursome takes a communal approach to singing their lovely melodies and there is nothing remotely discordant about the affair.

The lyrics glorify the moments in between and aligned with the music play like anthems for the indecisive on “Waiting for Something to Happen.” These are songs about tiring of the people you hang out with, last conversations, the shortcomings of connectivity and the intersection of early adulthood.

It's not that Veronica Falls shun responsibility (“They say act your age”) or compromise (“Driving late at night/ I let you listen to the music you like”), they just don't want to settle down (“Bury me alive”).

A few tracks take subtly winsome turns: the drizzle of classic British folk in the opener, the elliptical harmony on “Shooting Star” and the chorus on “Falling Out” blossoming into their catchiest moment to date.
— Jake O'Connell, The Associated Press