Lindsey Stirling

Shatter Me Featuring Lzzy Hale

Score: 125
Played: 1649



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Which is harder to believe, that it's only July, or that it's already July?! Guess it depends on your perspective... All we know is that, as we're hit by record-high heats across North America, our summer jams are helping us through it. What better time than the halfway point of 2K14 to revisit the albums that made us rock out and rocked us to sleep, that moved us to tears and moved our asses across the dance floor, that had us singing into hairbrushes and brushing up against greatness? We got a bunch of our best and brightest (or at least verbosest) to lay it down for you so that next time you need tunes, you got 'em. Peep our picks below!Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues@NicoleWitte's PickTransgender Dysphoria Blues is Against Me!’s most combustible and illuminating song cycle yet. Newly-stripped of former producer Butch Vig’s pop sheen, it’s both more sonically raw and lyrically searing than AM!’s last couple of albums. By most standards, AM! is the most commercially viable rock band to explicitly and autobiographically address transgender experience, which is part of what makes this collection of singalongs so vital. It also serves as an excellent primer on how to reach the near-universal through the specific and personal. Almost anyone who has experienced depression will feel their heart seize as Grace sings the crushing truth:Even if your love was unconditional It still wouldn’t be enough to save meNo, this album is about the messy and difficult work of saving yourself in a hostile world full of terrible people pathologically invested in not letting you to be who you are. It’s an album full of difficult questions and horrible pain, as well as the sweetness of survivalAs if you were a kingmaker! As if as if as if!Grace taunts an asshole she’s cut loose from her life in a moment of especially gleeful catharsis As great as this album is, nothing beats the live renditions of these songs. I hope you will all get to witness a packed club full of (mostly cisgender) punk kids wailingDoes god bless your transsexual heart, true trans soul rebel?As if their lives depended on it!Coldplay - Ghost Stories@VerseChorusBridge's PickChris Martin, in an interview with Zane Lowe, described the band’s hauntingly beautiful sixth studio album, Ghost Stories, as "42 minutes on an emotional treadmill". There are no better words to describe this piece of uplifting beauty. A concept album fueled by pure emotions stemming from Martin’s falling relationship with then-wife Gwyneth Paltrow, Ghost Stories is a collection of philosophical and emotional ideas and feelings presented through the mind of a man who had lost his love. Affectionately strong in its ability to reach out to the listener, the album proves to be the band’s most lyrically powerful to date, with the band showing their softer, more vulnerable side, giving their audience a rare chance to connect with the themes and values that the album professes Ghost Stories not only hits the mark on an poetic and artistic standpoint, it’s musical soundscape, uplifted by the talent of producers Guy Berryman, Paul Epworth, Daniel Green and Rik Simpson with a little help from friends Jon Hopkins and Avicii, is yet again another reminder of Coldplay’s unique ability to transform themselves with each album. Even after five unique, bombastic and impressive studio albums, the band still manage to bust out a sound so alienatingly different from the rest, producing a somewhat chilling ambient atmosphere to compliment your 42-minute emotional treadmill session. While the album is less than a season old, the album still makes a massive short-term impact, and is, without second thought, my favourite album of 2014 thus far The Felice Brothers - Favorite Waitress @EwokABDevito's PickLegendary traveling band "The Felice Brothers" have produced a brand new, visceral-twisting, genre-bending album; "Favorite Waitress" Combining elements from their earlier more 'raw' material like "Through These Reigns And Gone" and innovative sound exploring albums like "Celebration, Florida", to frankenstein pure nostalgia wrapped in a blanket of modernity Some songs have a tragic folkish ring that spirals down your earholes and uses your heart for a trampoline, while others grab you by the seam of your pants and get you dancing in ways you didn't even know you could! The album is laden with all sorts of references across the artistic spectrum, showcasing the bands ability to make any subject matter poetic to the highest degree. Most critics have been rather harsh of the vocals, yet their delivery is absolutely necessary to create the unique and heartwrenching sound that is "The Felice Brothers" The album is so diverse, I dare you to listen to "Hawthorne" and tell me that song doesn't have a "timeless" ring to it, As if it could have been written at any time within the last 45 years. "The Felice Brothers" have been on the scene for a good 9 years, Released 10 INCREDIBLE albums, and there's no sign of them stopping anytime soonThe Gloaming - The Gloaming@MattyEdgeworth's First PickThe Gloaming are virtuoso musicians comprising Iarla Ó Lionaird, the legendary fiddler Martin Hayes, violinist Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, plus American guitarist Dennis Cahill and, perhaps surprisingly, pianist Thomas Bartlett. This breathtaking album is nothing like the others on the list, it’s a hauntingly beautiful take on traditional Irish music that feels just as modern as it does a classical composition. The music soars and you clumsily fumble for the right words to describe it The language might be Irish, rather than English, but that is completely irrelevant, the emotion is universal.The vocals are delivered full of soul and feeling by Iarla Ó Lionaird in the Sean-nós tradition, which is a highly ornamented style of vocal in the beautiful language of Irish GaelicHeiruspecs - Night FallsHWULA's pickNight Falls is the first Heiruspecs album since 2008’s self-titled effort. With every project, Heiruspecs offer a lot of variety, and prove to be incredibly versatile; this LP is no different. They transition very well too, going from straight headbangers on “WATF (We Are The Future)” to the more introspective “Power” and “Herriors”. Midway Felix and Muad’Dib have both improved their flow, and are still as lyrically tuned as ever. The rhyme schemes are interesting, and Muad’Dib continues to ride the instrumentation as well as he did on 2004’s A Tiger Dancing. Felix still utilizes his motormouth flow, but often switches it up As for instrumentation, the band has broadened, and sounds incredibly seasoned. It feels more aggressive, rather than the (mostly) chilled and relaxing vibe from Heiruspecs. There are tracks with that laid-back sound, such as “Cruise Control” and “Been Around”. There are different sounds on this project, including a violin on “Cruise Control”, an 808 over the live drums and some staccato brass on “Drive Slow” and even, what sounds like experimentation with a turntable on the Chastity Brown-featured “On the Ground.” One of my favorite tracks, coming from someone who hasn’t seen an episode of Breaking Bad, is “Walter White”, the closer. Felix flows very nice over the acoustic guitar and live drums. The ahs and oos on the hook add to the chilling experience. It feels very atmospheric and dark There isn’t a dislikeable track on this whole LP. I definitely think this is one of the few albums to satisfy me this yearJack White - Lazaretto@Vesuvius's PickWhat do you do when you have perfected the sound that made you famous? Post-Achtung Baby, it seems the usual response is to radically change your sound, risking alienating your fans. Jack White’s far too savvy to fall into that trap though. Lazaretto is a natural evolution of the sound he’s been developing for fifteen years. Rather basing his songs around a synth, White seems to be being influenced more and more by the blues that he loves, as well as incorporating elements of country, bluegrass, hip hop, and even a little electronica. His characters are no longer the naïve young men of White Blood Cells, deep in adolescent infatuation and impossible not to sympathize with, but increasingly they’re bitter, cynical and dealing with the issues of middle age, only happy when singing about alcohol. The result is White’s most lyrically compelling album After twelve albums from White and his bands, it’s easy to take him for granted – but of all contemporary pop musicians, only Damon Albarn has been as consistently compelling for longer. Like Blunderbuss before it, Lazaretto deserves to be held in the same regard as White Blood Cells and ElephantLana Del Rey - Ultraviolence@BigBadBonj's PickAfter major label debut Born To Die, which followed a formula of sultry vocals of dark, hip-hop influenced production, many judged Lana Del Rey. Many critics and others branded her everything from a "fake" to simply discrediting her music and image. Ultraviolence is the largest message to these detractors — Lana Del Rey is here to stay With the album’s title being a reference to classic novel A Clockwork Orange, this LP sees a change from its predecessor with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach producing dark and hazy songs navigated by lonely electric guitar riffs. From the outset, "Cruel World" introduces the dramatic tapestry which is Lana’s life. This very same imperfection — detailing flawed people and sordid acts — typifies its appeal. In the first half of the album, momentum flows freely, with its main highlights being slightly hipster-fueled "Brooklyn Baby" and surf-rock influenced "West Coast" The album closes with a cover of the classic Nina Simone song "The Other Woman," Lana gives another nod to her musical past. Nostalgic and chaotic at the same time, Ultraviolence is an ode to how Lana Del Rey is an old head on some young shouldersLindsey Sterling - Shatter Me@chihuahua0's PickShatter Me isn’t the easiest to annotate, due to being an instrumental album with only two full-vocal songs, but no one else does electronic violin music better than Lindsey. It lacks her debut’s fresh feel, but features more ambitious violin playing and diverse production from both Stirling and SILAS Songs like “Roundtable Rival” showcases the album’s talents, with Lindsey’s violin emulating a fiddle, and even a electric guitar. Meanwhile, “Take Flight” perfectly conveys its title, combining vivid strings, angelic vocalists, and Skrillex-y flairs. Her EDM is for the most part The lyrics might be straight-forward, but Lizzy Hale’s rock vocals provides a more progressive sound. Overall, Shatter Me is both suitable, and enjoyable, by all agesMØ - No Mythologies To Follow@saltkin's PickThe inspirations behind this album are myriad – Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Sonic Youth, the Spice Girls, Santigold, and Mo’s “fascination” with rap, crunk, and grunge. Instead of sounding like any one of those, however, NMTF uses futuristic Electronic production from Ronni Vindhal with R&B sounding beats to craft an album full of its own distinct sound. It has everything – electronic breakdowns, funky horn sections, fluid strings, gurgling bass lines, and clever, sample-worthy beats. The melodies and production aren’t the only reason this record is so good, though. MØ is dissatisfied with a lot of things about the world today, but never comes across as whiny. Instead, her eloquence adds a different voice to the perspective of disappointed youth. Between rising call to arms “Fire Rides” and emotional ballad “Gone and Found”, the sixteen tracks on this album have truly made my yearSay Anything- Hebrews@xWHALESHARQx's First PickHebrews is Say Anything’s Machina: The Machines of God, an album bigger and weirder and more intensely divisive than anything that came before it. Love what Say Anything is all about? Then you will love this album. Like Billy Corgan before him, Bemis doesn’t kowtow to the haters, but rips them a big ol’ new one, producing an album both hilarious and invigorating for its Larry-David-esque monologues on what it means to be both an ailing pop star and a new father. It amounts to nothing less than a complete re-evaluation of Say Anything’s discography in light of the redemption of making a family, complete with wife, child, and home (and even dogs) What’s more is that the album was recorded with no guitars (well, save for one solo on “Six Six Six” and light accompaniment on “Lost My Touch”), a suggestion of Tim O’Heir’s brought beautifully to life by one of rock’s great unsung session heroes, Jeremy Larson, who lays on the string parts written by Bemis as though he were a one-man orchestra. It’s as if “Do Better,” one of the better songs on 2009’s self-titled, were revisited and expanded into an entire record. Add in features from heavyweights like Blink 182 vocalist Tom Delonge and Sufi-poet-cum-coolest-guy-on-earth Aaron Weiss, and it’s a successful throwback to Say Anything’s glory days, all the while looking boldly towards an equally glorious futureScHoolboy Q - Oxymoron@noLxmits's PickAs the opening track begins, we get a snippet of Q’s young daughter speaking to the listener; the juxtaposition of an innocent girl narrating such a hood rap album is almost an oxymoron itself. The album starts out with a string of stand-out bangers, including “Los Awesome” and “Collard Greens”, which are well produced and feature fellow Black Hippies Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar. “Hell Of A Night” has, hands down, one of the dirtiest, grittiest hooks I’ve ever experienced, and equally beautiful production Other tracks detail Q’s life and upbringing. “Hoover Street” was one of the tracks that you could tell Q put a lot of his past into, where he explains his early life where they had a housing situation due to his uncle’s wife leaving him. On “Prescription/Oxymoron”, Q first spits about his addiction to prescription medicines, and how he would doze off even when his daughter needed some attention, then the track transitions to Q selling Oxycontin pills, instead of crack. “Blind Threats” and “Break The Bank” pull the listener into the life of a hood drug distributor. “His & Her Fiend” is a track that Q raps from the point of view from an Oxycontin pill, “every drug addict’s friend” This album surpasses Q’s last two albums, and really put him up there with some of the best in his label TDE. Even though this album has its flaws, the good definitely outweighs the bad. All in all, the album is really well put together, and is worth properly checking outSleeping At Last - Atlas: Year One@xWHALESHARQx's Second PickMaybe I just have a thing for ridiculously expansive high-concept albums, but when an artist releases an album that spans across six discs, so large it needs a clothbound box to house it all in, and the album is gorgeous post-rock, folk, pop, and emo, all mashed together, I tend to go in for that sort of thing. When they announce that it's only part one of (at least) two planned parts, I go apeshit! I spent the better part of 2014 not only listening to but experiencing this music. Because of SAL's business model (you subscribe to the album and get a new disc every few months), I was like a kid in a candy store every time I went to the post office. My favourite disc? Space 2, home to the shimmering arena-rock keys of "Pluto," the (ironically) saturnine bass of "Neptune," the orchestral grandeur of "Jupiter." Where was this guy when they were scoring Cosmos? Ryan O'Neill is an artist quietly at the peak of his form, comfortable in the blanket of his niche and going where the wind takes him. I, for one, am following!St. Vincent - St. Vincent@TheRaconteur's PickThe first time I heard St. Vincent I was taken aback by how the howls of her guitar would clash with the angelic tones of her voice. What vivid dissonance her music held. It’s something Annie Clark had long mastered; she does best when her guitar crackles out her fits of pain. And still, her newest, the self-titled St. Vincent is perhaps her boldest as she opens the door to some of her warmest sounds yet. It’s not just her guitar now. It’s in her voice. Amongst the rockingly delicious cacophonies, Clark is pushing towards her emotions. It’s her very own version of In Rainbows: a warmer, more human affair Her music still growls to the notes of the avant-garde but there are dances to be had here. These songs make your bones move while contemplating the tattered emotions lying underneath. It’s this balance that other artists would struggle with but Clark sparks with such newfound confidence, it’s mesmerizing. Special mention must go to “I Prefer Your Love," a lush fragile lullaby for her mother. Never before has Clark reached such stark intimacy. From the cult thumps of “Digital Witness” to the wails of “Regret”, you can hear it. Unfiltered emotion. With every record, Clark manages to continue to evolve and now she’s officially graduated from indie sainthood to rock divinity. AmenSun Kil Moon - Benji@nietzsche's PickTo read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s section on authenticity while listening to Sun Kil Moon’s latest album Benji is an exercise in experiencing the motion of words. Every definition, every description of an authentic life and action that is read simultaneously becomes manifested in your ears while listening to the impossibly minimalist meta masterpiece Mark Kozelek bestowed unto us. We, as a society, seem to clamor for grief porn, for the admiration of the small-town, middle-class aesthetic while simultaneously desiring to observe it all from a safe distance. We require grand caricatures or populist relatability, yet without ever running the background checks, the results of which we know and want to shield ourselves from. We desire the concept of authenticity, but only when employed under the pretenses of bad faith. In a world where lengthy essays and reviews contribute to the justifications of the aforementioned bad faith, to seek to add auxiliary words to what Kozelek wrote is to tarnish the authentic purity of the album. Sure, we have all experienced similar emotions and scenarios that are conceptualized on Benji, but there isn’t a moment on this magnum opus where anybody but Mark can enter the album. And that, that is what exalts Benji and will forever keep it as a record of asylum; our friend Mark’s been through it already, and he’s turned out quite wellTemples - Sun Structures@MattyEdgeworth's Second PickThe debut album from neo-psychedelic rock band Temples is a mesmerizing piece of music. In some ways, it’s entirely unoriginal, given how heavily it recalls the original psychedelic experiments of the late 60s, but that is what is also so good about it. Of all the psychedelic bands that have appeared in recent years, Temples are one of those that sounds most similar to the original thing. There are a good mixture of jangly, Byrdsian tunes and more atmospheric tracks. It really does sound like it could have come out during the ‘60s and nobody would have blinked Yes, there are very clear influences here, but Temples manage to weave them together to create something that still sounds unique enough to remain interesting. Think something along the lines of The Beatles' Revolver crossed with The Zombies and The Byrds, with a touch of T-Rex for good measure. AwesometUnE yArDs - Nikki Nack@saltkin's Second PickFor the last two tUnE-yArDs albums, Merril Garbus has kept their ethos or spirit intact while transporting it to a new sound, new lyrical point, and more advanced production. Instead of giving up their distinct outlet in favour of selling out, however, Merrill and co. have managed to make another brilliant album, this time focusing on – of all things – writer’s block Of course, the album takes us for a ride of discontent all over the socio-political map, but Merrill’s struggle with and ultimate trial over her demons is the uniting thread of the record. From the hyper, neo-dirge "Water Fountain" and surreal interlude "Why Must We Dine on the Tots" to the depressed and thoughtful "Wait for a Minute" and funky "Manchild," Merrill – with co-conspirators and producers Malay and John Hill close behind – has proven her talent once again, and managed once again to make music that really doesn’t sound like anything elseThe War On Drugs - Lost In The DreamBen Swanson's PickMaking the connection between The War on Drugs and '80s heartland rock (namely Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, and Bob Dylan) is almost too obvious to make but one that inevitably will be drawn. Classic rock tropes appear frequently on this ten track journey. The synth on "Burning" feels like a natural progression from "Born to Run" and "Eyes to the Wind" feels like it could have been leftover from Wildflowers. Like former band member Kurt Vile, the songs here noodle along centered around a main riff that slowly builds a hazy wall of sound around it. Also, like Vile, frontman Adam Granduciel lets loose an occasional “Whoo!” with a simple chord change that send the songs into new dimensions and transcend the simple structures The titles of the tracks here would suggest a rather dreary affair but the songs never get weighed down in their own sorrow. Rather, it seems as if Granduciel was working himself through depression with these, at times, triumphant songs to pull himself out of it and making discoveries about himself within the music. "Red Eyes" is one of the best songs of the year, despite the fact that the lyrics are nearly indecipherable. On first listen, "Suffering" is quite a downer after the triumphant "Red Eyes" and it took several listens to start to understand the sequencing. Granduciel leads the listener through the ups and downs that he was going through and as you open yourself up to the music, the music opens up to youWe Are The In Crowd - Weird Kids@primusliber's PickWe Are the In Crowd’s new album was one of the most anticipated records in the pop punk scene in 2014, following the band’s growing success in the previous years. Weird Kids showed that the band wasn’t just a meteor in the scene, and proved to be one of the catchiest releases in the first half of the year. Led by the single “The Best Thing (That Never Happened)”, with its alternative rock-sound reminiscent of the Brand New Eyes-era Paramore, the album clocks in at little more than 30 minutes, and includes some slower songs like “Come Back Home” and “Windows in Heaven” that do not kill the energy of the whole but instead result in the best tracks in the CD. This album is a step forward for the band in terms of catchiness, of lyrics and of overall variety, and if WATIC continue on this way, we can surely expect some amazing new music in the next few years by them