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ABJECTSNever Give Up(Yippee Ki Yay)   For a jolt of straightforward garage-punk, Abjects has your number. With band members hailing from Spain, Japan, and Italy, the group began in London in 2013 where it began mixing driven, occasionally thrashy classic punk with glints of J-Pop sensibilities, and three-part harmonies as rallying cries. The pacing on the Spanish-language procrastination track “Mañana” nods enthusiastically to the Monks. Elsewhere, buzzing, tense riffs are reminiscent of the Cramps with pleasing chord progressions by way of the Buzzcocks. “Dream Song” shines with...
  Passover starts tonight, and you can kick off the celebrations like The Shondes do in their music video for “True North,” from the band’s 2016 album, Brighton. Formed in 2006 by best friends Louisa Rachel Solomon and Elijah Oberman, the Brooklyn-based feminist rock band are known for their gritty, riot grrrl sound, Jewish influences, and political activism. The video smoothly weaves themes of peace, liberation, acceptance, and identity with Passover traditions. Shots of the band (featuring Solomon on vocals/bass, Oberman on violin, Courtney Robbins on guitar,...
  STEALING SHEEP Big Wows (Heavenly Recordings)    On Big Wows, Stealing Sheep departs from the familiar, exploring life with technology in the digital age. The band excels both instrumentally and lyrically, building neon pop with drum machines, synthesizers, and sequencers. There is serious storytelling here that plays between optimistic and cynical, with a conversational bend that makes each track easy to hang onto. “Girl” gives a percussive nod to Oingo Boingo, while “Just Dreaming” turns inward. The single, “Jokin’ Me,” best exemplifies what this...

SUNFLOWER BEAN King of the Dudes (Mom + Pop)    On Sunflower Bean’s new EP, King of the Dudes, the New York trio abandons some of the gloom of its debut EP, Show Me Your Seven Secrets, and strikes out toward something that sounds a lot more like fun. “King of the Dudes” is a ’70s-tinged kiss-off anthem, “Fear City” burbles over with one of the best melodic hooks the band has ever produced, and “Come For Me” features bolts of four-on-the-floor guitar that sound like (dare I...
  MERCURY REVThe Delta Sweete Revisited (Partisan Records/BellaUnion) In 1967, Bobbie Gentry released her epic “Ode To Billy Joe,” and quickly became a star. Gentry’s follow-up album, 1968’s The Delta Sweete, was a sophisticated, swampy, country-rock opera about life in the Deep South. Now, 50 years later, indie band Mercury Rev and an all-star cast of musicians has resurrected the often-overlooked collection. There are several standout vocal performances here, including Hope Sandoval’s “Big Boss Man,” Lætitia Sadier’s “Mornin’ Glory,” Marissa Nadler’s “Refractions,” Norah Jones’ “Okolona River...
PRIESTS The Seduction of Kansas(Sister Polygon) Though Priests has been playing seething, smart post-punk since 2011, it was 2017’s Nothing Feels Natural that proved the band is making the most interesting political music around. The Seduction of Kansas ups the ante with dizzying guitar work and a critical, smirking outlook, examining artifacts of Americana that distort as you get close. Opening banger “Jesus’ Son” proclaims, “I’m young and dumb and full of come...I think I’m gonna hurt someone.” The poppy title track swishes with a...
CHAKA KHANHello Happiness(Diary Records/Island Records) It’s been over a decade since the legendary Chaka Khan released a solo album. She returns with Hello Happiness, a project that blends her inimitably classic vocals with modern-day soundscapes. The title track features soul, funk, and synths, while “Like a Lady” brings a retro-meets-futuristic vibe. The distortions on “Don’t Cha Know” and “Too Hot” are nothing short of masterful. Other songs like the intoxicating “Like Sugar” and the smooth “Ladylike” prove Khan hasn’t lost her touch. Hello Happiness welcomes...
  THE WILD REEDSCheers(Dualtone Records)      The Wild Reeds sound like sunshine. Even Cheers’ most haunting moments have something of the California sky in them: airy guitars, warm harmonies, and a beach-town pace. But this third album—the band’s first since 2017’s blindingly good The World We Built—uses those Pacific Coast Highway soundscapes to unlock a totally fresh perspective. From salt-air anthems like “Moving Target” to slow-and-low ballads like “Don’t Pretend,” members Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe, and Sharon Silva lean wholeheartedly into their stylistic differences here, winking...

Ex Hex were in fine form Thursday night when they blew the roof off of The Bowery Ballroom in NYC.  Performing songs from their first album Rips as well as from their new release It’s Real on Merge Records (see BUST's review in our March/April 2019 print edition). The band’s members, Mary Timony on guitar and lead vocals, Betsy Wright, guitar and vocals, and drummer, Laura Harris, played an electric, high energy show. Songs like ‘Tough Enough,’ ‘Another Dimension,’ and their new single ‘Rainbow Shiner’ rocked the very appreciative,...
  Gary Clark Jr. is a tall, quiet, mesmerizing drink of water with the handshake of a man who uses his hands for a living. Years of playing guitar have led to the singer/songwriter’s thrilling third album, This Land, a new blues-rock collection that forces listeners to confront the harsh realities of living in America. An Austin native, the 34-year-old pushes past the boundaries of what people think he should be to create a sound all his own.  Barack Obama once called Clark “the future of music,”...