Cage the Elephant
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising at this point, but it still feels surprising… Cage the Elephant have really turned out to be a treat among the hit-or-miss indie rock scene. Even if their stuff is a bit sugary at times, the band’s latest album delivers the savvy grooves that first surfaced throughout their debut and truly blossomed around the time “Shake Me Down” started rippling across college radio. “Hypocrite” is a certain highlight on this new one; dig the laid-back charm of the guitars and Matthew Shultz’s lyrics.
Essentially dropping the Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City of 2013, Danny Brown certainly cemented his status as a contemporary rapper worth keeping on your radar. Dropping (some of) the dick jokes from his earlier work, Brown approaches Old with a measure of clarity and maturity (kinda). “Lonely” is a high-water mark here, given Brown’s balancing act of rendering a slick, autobiographical rap over the most sublime beat he’s ever thrown down. This is an album about Brown’s life. At times it’s harrowing; elsewhere it’s jubilant and hilarious. Dig in.
Blowing up the blogosphere more than any the album this month (save for Danny Brown’s latest, perhaps), Haim’s electro-sweet debut does what it sets out to do with aplomb. Infectious hooks do not make an album excellent on their own, but Haim’s dexterity on the synth boards shines through so brightly, it’s just impossible to ignore the goods.
The Dismemberment Plan
Tremendously hyped on personal levels, The Dismemberment Plan’s first album in more than a decade is more than a bit shaky. But Uncanney Valley earns a spot on this month’s list for its revival of Travis Morrison’s much-needed input on modern society. Whereas his mid-20s angst filled in desperate voids as the new millennium ticked into uneasy existence, Morrison’s more mature - and maybe contented - perspective on life might help usher even the most detached souls into a new future. “Daddy Was a Real Good Dancer” stands out for its lyrical cream, while "No One's Saying Nothing" gets in the goofball humor Morrison has always been known for (though it may be a bit less witty these days...).