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Django Django are often classified as an "art rock" band, which is appropriate since the band members met while attending Edinburgh College Of Art in Scotland.  The group itself formed in London in 2009.  Their new album, Born Under Saturn, is the follow-up to their 2012 debut full-length release.  That first album received widespread critical acclaim, plus it was nominated for the 2012 Mercury Prize (awarded annually for best album of the year in the UK).

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While Frances Quinlan was a senior in high school, she began her acoustic solo project and called it by the rather unwieldy name of Hop Along, Queen Ansleis.  That was in 2004.  In 2008, Quinlan's brother Mark joined as drummer, and bassist Tyler Long came aboard in 2009.  The Philadelphia band shortened their name to just Hop Along around that time, and have since added guitarist Joe Reinhart.   Painted Shut is their third full-length album; their first for Omaha's Saddle Creek label.

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Why Make Sense? is the sixth studio album from the British electronic music band Hot Chip.  The band formed in London in 2000.  Hot Chip strive to be melodic in their dance music.  While listening to their music, one never feels that the synths are overpowering the humanity behind the machines.  For the new record, the band has said they had enough material for an album twice as long, but they held back in an effort to not be indulgent.  They made the right choice- Why Make Sense? is a great listen!

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The Magic Whip is the the eighth studio album from the British band Blur.  It's the first new album in 12 years for the band, and features the intact original lineup:   Damon Albarn (vocals & keyboards), Graham Coxon (guitar & vocals), Alex James (bass) and Dave Rowntree (drums).  Blur has achieved mass popularity in the UK, but here in the US they are known for their own particular brand of smart indie (albeit on a major label) rock.  Recorded in Hong Kong and London, The Magic Whip is the welcome return of Blur. 

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Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno formed Best Coast in Los Angeles in 2009.  California Nights is their third full-length album.  Influences for the band include surf rock, 1960's girl groups, The Beach Boys and much more.  Those influences and Best Coast's own take on them combine to create their sound.  Their songs evoke the feeling we've come to associate with west coast music.  That appealing vibe continues on California Nights.

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My Morning Jacket can be described as a roots rock band that is willing to experiment and stretch their sound. The new album is titled The Waterfall, directing the listener's attention to fluid and moving cascades of sound.  Since their 1998 formation in Louisville, Kentucky, My Morning Jacket have been in the tradition of deliberately creating albums of songs that flow best when heard together.  Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Jim James leads the group.  They are on tour now, with an Iowa stop in Waverly on June 19.    

Alabama Shakes show absolutely no signs of "sophomore slump" on their new record Sound & Color.  The album comes three years after Boys & Girls, their debut full-length.  Alabama Shakes began when singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell were attending high school together in Athens, Alabama.  They soon recruited guitarist Heath Fogg and drummer Steve Johnson, performed cover songs and worked on original material.  The band sounds positively  inspired on Sound & Color, and Brittany Howard's soulfully intense vocals are undeniable.

Untethered Moon is the first album from Built To Spill in nearly six years, and that's the longest amount of time between new records in the band's history.  Band founder Doug Martsch has indicated that the latest project was a bit of a struggle for him, and ultimately a new rhythm section were hired  to complete the album.  There have been several personnel changes since Built To Spill began in 1999, with guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Martsch the only constant member.  This is a guitar band through and through, with plenty to enjoy on Untethered Moon.

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin grew up in Laguna Beach, California where he developed a passion for surfing and also for rock and roll.  Cronin earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music from the California Institute of the Arts.  Since 2005, he has played and recorded with several bands, most notably collaborating with fellow Californian Ty Segall.  Cronin released his first (self-titled) solo album in 2011, following it up with MCII in 2013, and now the new record.

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Toro Y Moi is the stage name of musician, songwriter and producer Chaz Bundick.  Bundick had been in bands in high school and also played music while at the University of South Carolina (his home state), where he received a degree in graphic design.  Within a year of graduation he released his 2010 debut album on Carpark Records, with two more full-length albums following as Toro Y Moi, and also one as Les Sins.  Album #4 under the Toro Y Moi moniker is titled What For?, and finds the artist moving in a definite indie pop/power pop direction.

The Melbourne, Australia singer/guitarist/songwriter Courtney Barnett first attracted attention in America with her 2013 release The Double EP:  A Sea Of Split Peas.  It was lengthy, but was in fact two separate EPs put together.  Her actual debut full-length is the new release Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.   Barnett is known for her confessional and sometimes rambling lyrics, delivered in her conversational singing style. Throughout the new album, her distinct voice is supported by her compelling guitar work.

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Strangers To Ourselves is the first album in eight years from Modest Mouse.  Vocalist and guitarist Isaac Brock and drummer Jeremiah Green remain in the band as founding members.  Original bassist Eric Judy left Modest Mouse in 2012.  After their hiatus, Modest Mouse is back with an album that is not about experimentation, but rather serves to remind us of their signature sound.   

The Canadian electronic music duo Purity Ring are originally from Edmonton, Alberta, and formed in 2010.  Megan James is the vocalist, and Corin Roddick the main instrumentalist in the band.  Another Eternity is the followup to their 2012 debut album.  While still ethereal and atmospheric in its sound, the new full-length finds the duo stretching in a more pop direction.  Both members write the band's songs, with James basing many of the band's lyrics on writing she had done in the past.   

Second full-length album from indie "supergroup"

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The family of Jose Gonzalez (his parents and sister) fled Argentina in 1976.  They settled in Gothenburg, Sweden where Jose was born two years later.  He played guitar and bass in a variety of bands, and eventually released his first album in 2003.  In addition to records under his own name, Gonzalez has collaborated with a number of musicians, worked on different musical projects, and most notably has been a member of the band Junip.  The new Vestiges & Claws features his de-tuned classical guitar work and thoughtful lyrics.

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It seems fitting that JD McPherson grew up in rural Oklahoma.  It was in that down-to-earth environment that he started playing guitar at age 13, and later began writing his own songs.  He went on to study, and eventually teach, visual art.  Musically, McPherson had been drawn to 1950's rock and roll, and he decided to pursue a career in music.  His debut album was released in 2010, and now comes the follow-up Let The Good Times Roll.  JD McPherson draws upon R & B, rockabilly and roots rock traditions for his own contemporary take on rock and roll. 

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Rockville, Maryland native Joshua Tillman has been recording music for over ten years under his given name, as well as J. Tillman, and most recently as Father John Misty.  He was also a member of Fleet Foxes from 2008-2012.  It was after leaving Fleet Foxes that Tillman began releasing albums as Father John Misty, for the Sub Pop label.  I Love You, Honeybear is his second full-length under that moniker.  Tillman is a vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter with a distinct narrative voice.  He has described the new record as a concept album about himself.   

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Live At A Flamingo Hotel is the new live record from the Philadelphia band, Dr. Dog.  The group has been around since 1999, but this is their first official live album.  The performances are spirited, with 19 songs spanning Dr. Dog's career.  The material was recorded during the six-piece band's 2014 tour, drawn from shows in different cities, with devoted and enthusiastic Dr. Dog fans in the audiences.  You may have seen Dr. Dog last July in Des Moines- their 80/35 set was a highlight of the festival!   

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Belle and Sebastian formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996.  Of course, the first thing to mention is that there is no Belle and no Sebastian in the band.  The name comes from a French children's book that later was adapted for television.  Long-time critical favorites, Belle and Sebastian have released their ninth full-length record, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance.  Stuart Murdoch is the lead singer and songwriter in the group, lending his distinctive vocals and literate lyrics to their songs.

The Portland, Oregon band The Decemberists have been creating their own particular brand of folk-rock/baroque pop since 2000.  What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World is their seventh full-length release.  The Decemberists have maintained their folky traditional instrumentation and idiosyncratic approach to writing lyrics, even as they have edged closer to being a "mainstream" band.  Lead vocalist and principal songwriter Colin Meloy is the frontman in the group.

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Sleater-Kinney formed in Olympia, Washington in 1994, and by the turn of the century the trio had come to be recognized as one of the best rock bands in America.  They released seven studio albums between 1994 and 2005.  In 2006, Sleater-Kinney went on a hiatus to work on individual projects and also to simply live their lives.  Corin Tucker (vocals and guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar and vocals) and Janet Weiss (drums) quietly reunited about a year ago to write and record the songs for a new album, No Cities To Love.  Their common aim was to reinvent the band.

Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper is the fifth full-length album Noah Lennox has released under his nom de plume Panda Bear.  Baltimore native Panda Bear is a co-founding member of Animal Collective, a band known for their musical creativity and experimentation.  The multi-instrumentalist has indicated that death and personal growth are lyrical themes of the new record.  The music has been aptly described as "swirling" and "as pure as a babbling brook." 

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Gravity Well is the new album from Rose's Pawn Shop.  The Los Angeles-based, five-piece group formed in 2006, and this is their third full-length album.  The sound of Rose's Pawn Shop can be categorized as Americana leaning toward the indie rock side.  In fact, the songs on Gravity Well have been described as rousing, fierce and anthemic; the music a "stomping interpretation of alt-country and Americana songcraft." 

Philadelphia's DRGN KING (pronounced "Dragon King") began as a duo in 2009, with singer and frontman Dominic Angelella, and multi-instrumentalist and producer Ritz Reynolds.  The duo later expanded to a four-piece band.  After recording a few tracks and releasing a few EP's, the debut full-length album from DRGN KING was released in 2013.  Baltimore Crush is the follow-up, with songs inspired by Angelella's youth in Baltimore, and highlighting the band's bright indie-rock sound.  

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The Heart Of A Dark Star is the fourth album from mr. Gnome, a married duo from Cleveland, Ohio.  The full sound of mr. Gnome's music is created by singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister.  They have been recording as mr. Gnome since 2006.  Their sound has been described as "art rock", with songs that explore fantastic and mythical subjects, and a theatrical approach to their music and stage show. 

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James Mercer's band The Shins began as a side project of his then primary group, Flake Music.  The Albuquerque, New Mexico band was more collaborative than The Shins, and was active for much of the 1990's.  They only released one full-length album, When You Land Here It's Time To Return, in 1997.  Because of the success of The Shins (and another Mercer project, Broken Bells), interest remains high in Flake Music.  The album's songs, remixed and reissued now on the Sub Pop label, are enjoyable guitar-based indie pop.   

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Blind Boys of Alabama formed in 1944, and have stated that their goal is to "spiritually uplift audiences."  They have released many records over the years, and Talkin' Christmas is not their first Christmas album.  It is, however, the first to feature collaborator Taj Mahal.  Taj Mahal has been putting his unique stamp on blues and world music for nearly 50 years.  In Talkin' Christmas the singers and musicians have created a special blend of gospel and R&B for the season.

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La Isla Bonita is the twelfth full-length album from Deerhoof, a band that formed in San Francisco in 1994.  In that twenty year span, Deerhoof have produced and managed themselves, creating an avant-garde pop sound that can be equally challenging and intriguing.  Japanese-born Satomi Matsuzaki is the band's distinctive vocalist.  Inspired by the high energy, to-the-point style of the Ramones, Deerhoof reportedly recorded La Isla Bonita live in the basement of guitarist Ed Rodriguez in a "weeklong sleepover". 

Ariel Pink is the stage name of Ariel Marcus Rosenberg, a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter and producer based in Los Angeles.  He studied visual art for a time at the California Institute of the Arts, and has been writing songs for most of his life.  He began making lo-fi recording of his songs in the mid-1990's, and has recorded over 500 songs since then, most of them unreleased commercially.  The new album Pom Pom is an entertaining mix of accessible pop songs and Frank Zappa style eccentricity.

thenewbasementtapes.com

Bob Dylan gave producer T Bone Burnett a batch of his lyrics written circa 1967.  Burnett gathered Elvis Costello, Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) and Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) to write music for those lyrics.  The musicians (calling themselves The New Basement Tapes) recorded an album in Los Angeles, and titled it Lost On The River.  The songs harken back to Dylan and The Band's storied Basement Tapes, but are also fascinating songs in their own right from this unique group.

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