As every Friday brings new music, Tomorrow's Verse brings you our top picks. Here are our favorite records from May 11.
By: Alex Wood
Jerry Garcia – Before The Dead
This massive box set compiles most known recordings from Garcia between 1961 and 1964 before the formation of the Grateful Dead. Ranging from birthday parties to coffee house performances to local radio broadcasts, these recordings show Garcia’s early love of bluegrass as you practically hear his musicianship improve over the years. A delightful listen and an incredibly important compilation in regard to the band’s early history, you need to hear this for yourself.
Beach House – 7
The seventh record from Baltimore duo Beach House continues the band’s dedication to dense, uncharted sonic territory. Recorded with the help of famed producer Sonic Boom, the songs on 7 reach massive heights, with layers of organs, keyboards, reverb-drenched guitar and slow-burning percussion giving an ethereal, spacey feel. It’s beautiful music that revels in what Beach House does best, an inimitable style that sucks you in.
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino
After the success of 2013’s AM, English alternative rock favorites decided to embrace a dramatic change. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino may sound more like a side project to longtime listeners, trading the guitar riffs of past records for stark, wandering electronics. The lyrics, though clever, seem to meander as well, at points sounding as though singer Alex Turner is embracing a stream-of-consciousness technique. Slow moving but still mesmerizing, it’s a record you’ll need to spend some time with to even attempt to understand.
The Sea and Cake – Any Day
Since their formation in 1994, The Sea and Cake have been an unbelievably influential force in the Chicago music scene, blending clean indie-rock with jazz influences. Any Day, the band’s first record in six years, stands alongside the group’s best work, though certainly not reinventing the wheel. Perhaps the band’s greatest strength is being able to sound distinctly like themselves without having to do anything over the top or drastically change. On Any Day, the songwriting and musicianship speak for themselves, and The Sea and Cake remain a pride of Chicago.
La Luz – Floating Features
Blending surf with psychedelic rock, four-piece La Luz have perfected a sound that leans on nostalgia without ever sounding overly derivative. Melodic guitar riffs lead the way as organs and clean drums add to the 60s sound. The songs on Floating Features are definitely the band’s most mature, multi-faceted and refusing to sit still. It’s a sound that feels difficult not to enjoy, laid-back but ambitious, classic yet modern, and a welcome addition to the often-repetitive psych scene.
Mason Jennings – Songs From When We Met
Singer-songwriter Mason Jennings has a knack for adding melodic pop sensibility to his folk songs, each new record full of infectious tracks that revel in simplicity. Jennings’ newest, Songs From When We Met, continues this trajectory, and that’s just fine. Recorded in the woods in Wisconsin, the album plays like a love letter to his wife, the two having been married since his last record. Each song feels organic and inspired, and finds Jennings in prime form.
Mark Kozelek – Mark Kozelek
Since focusing on solo records instead of Red House Painters or Sun Kil Moon recordings, songwriter Mark Kozelek has gone down a certain songwriting wormhole that is understandably not for everyone, with his new, self-titled release a perfect example. The songs are stark and dreary, with Kozelek basically just describing his day-to-day life in a simple drawl. He tells you what he sees, where he walks, what he smells, who he meets, but rarely how he feels. Though it’s occasionally interesting, the result is fairly meticulous and often exhausting. Still, he’s good at doing what he does.