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Pop - Released October 11, 2019 | Darla

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Following up a classic album is never easy. Roughly 99.9 percent of bands or artists lucky enough to make something that stands out as a paragon of their genre never get within range of it ever again. That seemed to be the case with Rocketship. Their 1996 album A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness is a brilliant distillation of indie pop sweetness, chamber pop skill, shoegaze softness, and dream pop hooks played on space-age keyboards and perfectly jangled guitars and sung by a chorus of voices dialed in on the special frequency between lovelorn and melancholy. It's a definitive album that perfectly sums up a moment in time, and after its release, the band embarked on a series of left turns that included an ambient album, a steady churn of bandmembers, split singles on small labels, and a strange and experimental self-released record in 2006. Around then, the group's guiding force, Dusty Reske, pursued non-musical endeavors, but he came back to music in the 2010s and began exploring new sonic avenues. After all the time that had elapsed after A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness, it seemed good enough that he was still plugging away and somehow too much to ask that he make another great album. Cue the record scratch sound effect because 2019's Thanks to You is exactly that. Working mainly with vocalist Ellen Osborn, Reske concocted a record that nearly measures up to their debut in every way, and it's clear that while time has passed and there are new elements added to Rocketship's sound, Reske's gifts as a writer and producer haven't faded at all. Whether dipping back into the space-age shoegaze sound (complete with vintage organ chords) on the opening "Under Streetlights Shadows," spacing out on dreamy, drum machine and synth ballads ("A Terrible Fix"), mixing glitter-ball disco grooves with distorted guitars on "Nothing Deep Inside," or channeling the Pet Shop Boys on the swooning synth pop-inspired "Outer Otherness," he creates sounds that are familiar and unexpected at the same time, while delivering hooks that land instantly and dig in deep. Osborn is a perfect vocal foil, equally at home taking on a modern pop song like "What's the Use of Books?," harmonizing with Reske's reedy voice on noisy shoegaze tracks or on the soaring chorus of the gobsmackingly pretty "City, Fair," or tripping lightly through the tricky melodies of the Smiths-in-space "Broken Musicbox." Reske deploys Osborn's voice perfectly and occasionally takes the lead himself, which is a nice balance and forges a link to the classic Rocketship sound. Thanks to You isn't only a wonderfully crafted follow-up to A Certain Smile, it reestablishes Reske as a sonic wizard with a few new tricks left to share. Best of all, it's music that thrills the ears, moves the heart, and both recaptures what was great about mid-'90s indie pop and shows how great it can be in 2019 as well. ~ Tim Sendra
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Pop - Released October 4, 2019 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 2, 2019 | Darla

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20 years ago, My Morning Jacket put out their first album, The Tennessee Fire. The 4 childhood friends from Kentucky recorded the entire 16 tracks in a grain silo in Shelbyville. That’s how the reverb-drenched sound that would come to characterize their first two records was born. To celebrate two decades since the record’s release, the band (led by Jim James and Tom Blankenship) put together a 2-disc set: the first contains the 16 original tracks, and the second is made up of alternative takes and previously unpublished songs. The higher fidelity of I Think I’m Going to Hell, recorded in 2000 at the Byton studios in Loosdrecht, Netherlands, as well as the psychedelic bottleneck playing on The Gift – which wasn’t on the original album – offer a previously unseen side of the band. It’s apparent that the songs selected for The Tennessee Fire didn’t entirely reflect the experimental tendencies which would emerge with later albums such as Z in 2005; those tendencies were nonetheless present as an undercurrent. Instead, alt-country would be the word, with acoustic guitars, washy drums and deftly crafted harmonies coming to define their debut effort. The Tennessee Fire: 20th Anniversary Edition is both a celebratory re-edition and a way to highlight the band’s early years before they gained more fame and momentum. Happy birthday! © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 26, 2019 | Darla

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Pop - Released July 19, 2019 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 12, 2019 | Darla

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Electronic/Dance - Released November 9, 2018 | Darla

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Known for making playful, melody-rich electronic music as I Am Robot and Proud since the early 2000s, Shaw-Han Liem successfully translated his aesthetic to the gaming world when he co-designed the acclaimed Sound Shapes, which won several awards following its release in 2012. Liem developed Lucky Static, his ninth album, from a series of computer-generated animations, designing audio-visual loops and posting them on his Instagram page. His music clearly lends itself to interactive visuals -- it sounds bright, animated, and polychromatic, and it seems tailor-made to accompany flashing colors and shapes, as well as cute, friendly characters. Yet it works perfectly well on its own accord, expressive and detailed enough to speak volumes without lyrics or visual cues beyond cover artwork. Lucky Static is every bit as unflappably pleasant and chipper as anything else Liem has recorded, and it maintains the seamless blend of acoustic and electronic instrumentation he's long since mastered. Members of his performing group (who have guested on past releases, particularly 2015's People Music, an EP of older compositions rearranged for the full band) contribute, but Liem otherwise plays most of the instruments. Gently strummed guitars complement the blippy 8-bit melodies, and the beats mix skittering micro-blips with more natural-sounding drums. While Liem incorporates subtle glitches into his productions, it's the exact opposite of Autechre's unforgiving harsh-scapes, which sound like the robots have eradicated every last semblance of humankind. Instead, as the moniker implies, this is music for happy robots who peacefully coexist with humanity and nature. While not a grand departure from Liem's past recordings, Lucky Static is nevertheless a fine, effortlessly enjoyable addition to his discography. ~ Paul Simpson
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Rock - Released November 9, 2018 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 5, 2018 | Darla

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Punk / New Wave - Released September 15, 2017 | Darla

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Punk / New Wave - Released September 15, 2017 | Darla

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Punk / New Wave - Released September 1, 2017 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 21, 2017 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 7, 2017 | Darla

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Country - Released February 3, 2017 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 11, 2016 | Darla

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Rock - Released September 30, 2016 | Darla

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 15, 2016 | Darla

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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Darla

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Rock - Released June 10, 2016 | Darla