Staff Picks for June 2024

Brown Street
June 21, 2024
Recorded live at his Vienna club, the composer - pianist revisits his Weather Report repertoire courtesy of Vince Mendoza's new big band charts and a riveting, muscular performance by WDR Big Band of Cologne.
- Thom Jurek
Before the Flood
June 20, 2024
Celebrating its 50th anniversary today, Dylan reworks, rearranges, reinterprets these songs in ways that are still disarming, years after its initial release. He could only have performed interpretations this radical with a group as sympathetic, knowing of his traits as the band, whose own recordings here are respites from the storm.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Beautiful Noise
June 19, 2024
Neil Diamond's 11th studio album in the ten years since he emerged with his first chart single, "Solitary Man," announces its ambitions on its cover, which displays the skyline of Manhattan under a red horizon and a black sky, overlaid with the words "Produced by Robbie Robertson." With Robertson's help (and that of many other musicians), Beautiful Noise is certainly the best-sounding and most consistently engaging album of Diamond's career up to 1976.
- William Ruhlmann
June 18, 2024
With Mark Robinson as a guiding hand, comparisons to Unrest are inevitable, but certainly not an insult as both bands handcraft their sweet, earnest pop music and deliver it to the listener personally.
- Zac Johnson
Elis & Tom
June 17, 2024
Released 50 years ago today, this beautiful -- and now legendary -- recording date between iconic Brazilian vocalist Elis Regina and composer, conductor, and arranger Tom Jobim is widely regarded as one of the greatest Brazilian pop recordings.
- Thom Jurek
Into the Gap
June 16, 2024
A new wave pop classic, this fourth studio LP by the Sheffield trio represents their commercial peak: it topped the U.K. chart and was their only album to reach the Top Ten in the U.S. and Canada. Hits like "Hold Me Now" -- ubiquitous in 1984 -- "You Take Me Up" and "Doctor! Doctor!" kept them in rotation on MTV, Top 40 radio, and club dancefloors alike. Nearly 30 years after the band folded, Tom Bailey performed the entire album live for the first time at a sold-out Aylesbury Waterside Theatre in 2022.
- Marcy Donelson
The White Stripes
June 15, 2024
The White Stripes' debut, released 25 years ago today, sounds like arena rock as hand-crafted in the attic. Singer/guitarist Jack White's voice is a singular, evocative combination of punk, metal, blues, and backwoods while his guitar work is grand and banging with just enough lyrical touches of slide and subtle solo work to let you know he means to use the metal-blues riff collisions just so.
- Chris Handyside
The Horrible Truth About Burma
June 14, 2024
Posthumous live album from this Boston-based post punk band was recorded on five dates of their final tour in 1983 and released two years later. Though not as clean and streamlined as their studio work, the album highlights the wilder, more experimental side of their sound that often came out in the live setting.
- Fred Thomas
June 13, 2024
The solo debut from the leader of Tangerine Dream, released 50 years ago this month, is a set of four synthesizer pieces, free-form and pastoral. The lengthy title track is quite naturalistic, organized around a series of synth bubbles and water sounds, while "NGC 891" reflects Froese's interest in space rock.
- John Bush
Bavarian Fruit Bread
June 12, 2024
Like the warmest dream you've ever had, Hope Sandoval takes the soothing sounds of Mazzy Star and doubles down on the gossamer side of those '90s favorites on this project with My Bloody Valentine's Colm O'Ciosoig. Float away into the blissful ether with gems like "Feeling of Gaze" and "On the Low," which should please fans of acoustic folk, trip-hop, and Lana Del Rey, who owes a lot more to Hope than the public might recognize.
- Neil Z. Yeung
Wondrous Love
June 11, 2024
Pure and honest, reverent and welcoming, bright and rollicking, clear and convicted, Blue Highway have continued their winning streak of terrific albums by picking a theme close to their hearts and making it available to everyone who will listen.
- Zac Johnson
Ghosts of Hallelujah
June 10, 2024
Texas alt-country outsiders the Gourds reached a creative peak on 1999's Ghosts of Hallelujah, an album that collated their eclectic and occasionally brilliant songwriting into something more focused than their first two outings.
- Timothy Monger
Golden Age
June 9, 2024
Debut by the New York-based jazz-rock guitarist is self-composed and produced; it features a first-rate jazz ensemble to ask the question: What is the golden age? Does it exist? Will it ever? Did it pass us by?
- Thom Jurek
Terror Twilight
June 8, 2024
Though it's hard not to miss the gloriously messy sprawl of Pavement at their peak, this carefully crafted, languid recasting of their signature sound, released 25 years ago today, is effective and winds up as a fitting, bittersweet farewell for the best band of the '90s.
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine
How I'm Feeling Now
June 7, 2024
Made during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Charli XCX's hyperpop power feels especially vulnerable on How I'm Feeling Now. It's a party for one beaming out into the void from a lonely bedroom, full of longing and barely-hidden anxieties that hide behind Charli's reflexively celebratory rallying calls.
- Fred Thomas
Preacher's Daughter
June 6, 2024
Hayden Anhedönia dons the persona of Ethel Cain to tell a Southern Gothic story about religion, trauma, family, and love. From the poppy commentary of “American Teenager” to her tortured screams in “Ptolemaea”, haunting vocals and fuzzy instrumental encapsulate the complex, and at times horrific, experiences of American womanhood.
- Hannah Schwartz
Sad Wings of Destiny
June 5, 2024
Judas Priest's sophomore effort simultaneously took heavy metal to new depths of darkness and heights of technical precision. Building on the hard prog of bands like Queen and Wishbone Ash, plus the twin-guitar innovations of the latter and Thin Lizzy, Sad Wings fused these new influences with the gothic doom of Black Sabbath, the classical precision of Deep Purple, and the tight riffery of the more compact Led Zeppelin tunes.
- Steve Huey
Hopes and Fears
June 4, 2024
What could have been just another overearnest, post-Coldplay collection that fell to the wayside like so many others, this debut is a stone-cold 2000s classic. Celebrating 20 years of era anthems "Somewhere Only We Know" and "Everybody's Changing," this set is a no-skips, perfect ten of piano-backed, soaring pop-rock, elevated by Tom Chaplin's distinctive vocals and unabashed big feelings. Check out "Bedshaped" if you need to tap into that well of said emotions.
- Neil Z. Yeung
June 3, 2024
Consisting of modular synthesizer operator Matt Carlson and bass clarinetist Jonathan Sieflaff, this experimental/post-rock project already stands apart with instrumentation even before they impress with their improvisational, motif-based compositions. Their ninth album overall and third for the Thrill Jockey label finds them collaborating with a chamber ensemble including pipe organ on select tracks.
- Marcy Donelson
Drums Are Dangerous
June 2, 2024
As club culture started to go overground and DJs were on their way to becoming the new rock stars, the Drum Club made progressive house in the spirit of the free festival circuit. Their second album, Drums Are Dangerous, is an ecstatic yet accessible effort which stands among the best ambient techno releases of its era. Guests include Maxine Harvey (the KLF), Kirsty Hawkshaw (Opus III), and Saffron (later of Republica).
- Paul Simpson
A Truckload of Trouble: 1986-1993
June 1, 2024
Collecting most of the singles the Pastels released on Fire, A Truckload of Trouble: 1986-1993 is a fine introduction to any newcomer and a vital piece of any fan's collection. These songs see the Pastels at their shambolic best, whining guitars blazing and ringing, alternating slurred and dreamy vocals punctuating the finest ever C-86 tunes, and blending pop and punk in the most aesthetically sublime way.
- Tim DiGravina