The Ethereal Blues/self-released
Mimi Page has been carving out a niche for herself in the indie electronic scene for several years, and The Ethereal Blues is her most accomplished work yet. The singer-songwriter’s breathy vocals are as spellbinding as ever on ambient numbers such as “Indigo,” and on the gritty electronic track “All is Not Lost,” she sounds like a siren calling out from the other end of a long tunnel. Page’s penchant for examining the seedier side of human behavior is on full display on tracks such as “Black and Blue” and “Human Hurricane,” but she adeptly juxtaposes those explorations with missives on the exquisite beauty and power of love (“Hold Me”). The album, though largely based in the electronic-pop world, has a down-tempo streak that gives it an irresistibly chill vibe. Blues paints a subtle, stunning landscape and is far and away one of the best albums I’ve heard this year.
Chain of Flowers
Chain of Flowers/Alter
Take some face-melting, brash rock ‘n’ roll, splice it together with shoegazey goodness, then toss in some punk-rock flair and you’ve got the electrifying debut record from Welsh sextet Chain of Flowers. From the catchy, hook-filled opener, “Nail Me to Your Cross,” to the driving tour de force that is “Death’s Got a Hold on Me,” the album rarely lets up. When it does though—like on “Glimmers of Joy”—the results are melodic and danceable despite not being mosh-inducing like the rest of the record. Frontman Josh Smith imbues the songs with a palpable energy, whether he’s shouting the primary refrain on “Bury My Love” or taking a more subtle approach on “Crisis.” With no shortage of thunderous drums and roaring guitars, Chain of Flowers is a raucous, beautiful, swift kick in the ass that you’re going to love.
Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown
The Wayside EP/Republic Records
Tyler Bryant is one of the more underrated rock artists of this generation, and The Wayside is proof that you need to get hip to him in a hurry. This EP is a mix of absolutely filthy rock, blues and soul. “Criminal Imagination” shows off groovy, dirty guitar licks and bluesy edginess, while the crunchy-rock and soul swagger of “Mojo Workin’” is a head-bobbing air guitarist’s dream. Not content to simply crank the amps and attitude, Bryant admirably tones it down musically on the ominous acoustic ballad “Devil’s Keep,” and takes his often-throaty howl down to a croon on the closing title track. As is the case with his previous efforts, Bryant knows how to throw one hell of a rock ‘n’ roll party, and given the enthusiasm on this record, you’ll be a delightfully sweaty mess by the end.