Monika: Secret in the Dark After a couple of acclaimed releases in her Greek homeland, singer/songwriter Monika has ventured forth and made some solid connections in the US market. Bringing in some talented pals (engineer John Congleton, guest vocalist Andrew Wyatt), Monika makes her stateside debut one to remember with a bright collection of low-key, danceable jams, with echoes of Kate Bush, Ariel Pink, and the Bee Gees .
Empresarios: The Vibes DC-based Latin-flavored party band Empresarios return with another dose of dance-floor ready world-beat jams on their new album, The Vibes. As in the past, this seven-piece musical machine pumps out track after track of an organic mix of reggae and salsa, set to a dubby beat and some slick Spanish rhymin'.
Souljazz Orchestra: Resistance For over 10 years, Canadian musical collective the Souljazz Orchestra have been releasing albums that smartly combine Afrobeat and Latin/Tropical flavors into a solid listening package. But this ain't no frivolous dance party! The Souljazz Orchestra bring a message of social consciousness in their music as well, and this aspect is as up-front as usual on their new album, Resistance.
Los Lobos: Gates of Gold Gates Of Gold, the group's first album of new material in five years, practically bursts with the spirit of exploration that has marked Los Lobos' best work over the years. Musically and culturally, the band speaks to its audience in a way few others have or could.
Dungen: Allas Sak The Swedish band Dungen has been pushing the boundaries of psychedelic rock since the dawn of the century, when the group first started turning the sounds of the late '60s and early '70s into a Technicolor sprawl of endless possibility. Allas Sak, Dungen's seventh album and first in five years, finds Ejstes and company immersing themselves deeper into the stacks and making small refinements that have a profound effect on their work.
Hermitude: Dark Night Sweet Light Australia's Blue Mountains region seems an unlikely place for the future of electronic pop music, but maybe it actually makes sense. The unusual sandstone formations, the gorgeous eucalyptus forests, the mysterious blue haze and the ancient aboriginal relics all seem like potential inspiration for the kind of unique mix of musical elements that characterize the sounds that hometown duo Hermitude produce on their latest album.
Gavin Turek and TOKiMONSTA: You're Invited On their first official collaborative release, singer/songwriter Gavin Turek teams up with local DJ/producer TOKiMONSTA, giving each lady a chance to explore some different flavors. Greater than the sum of its parts, You're Invited is truly an inviting combination.
Family of the Year: Family of the Year LA-based band Family of the Year have been around for a number of years now, but they had a really big boost with the appearance of their song “Hero” in the 2014 Oscar-nominated film, Boyhood. The song became something of an international sensation, but sooner or later the rollercoaster stops, and the question becomes how to follow up.
Painted Palms: Horizons SF-based duo Painted Palms do something many bands aspire to do: bring the aesthetic of an earlier era's music into a contemporary setting. In their case, it is using the light-psych vibe of the late 60s and layering it with 21st Century beats. The effect is totally modern, while saluting some of the best parts of pop music's long history.
Widowspeak: All Yours Widowspeak's gorgeously languid tunes match its pace of creation, with songs like "Cosmically Aligned" drifting along like a less guitar-pedal heavy version of Mazzy Star in a country-waltz time. Members of the band Quilt help out throughout, as do the rhythm section of Woods, lending extra touches that make All Yours Widowspeak's most complete record to date.