Midlake: The Courage of Others

I liked Midlake’s recent Antiphon album, but I love their 2010 release, The Courage of Others. Beautiful, lush, darkly poetic folk music somewhere between Simon & Garfunkel and “Stairway to Heaven” Led Zeppelin. Fave tracks “Acts of Man,” “Bring Down” and “The Horn,” but the whole album is spectacular.

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Midlake Official Site

when the acts of man
cause the ground to break open
oh, let me inside, let me inside, not to wake
great are the sounds of all that live
and all that man can hold

Lake Street Drive: Bad Self Portraits

Lake Street Drive’s new album, Bad Self Portraits, is an upbeat, unusual, funky, bluesy, jazz-influenced pop collection. Lead singer Rachael Price has some killer pipes. Fave tracks: “You Go Down Smooth” and “Just Ask.”

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Lake Street Drive Official Site

St. Vincent

Turns out the first single from St. Vincent’s self-titled release was very representative of the album’s overall sound. “Digital Witness” is the stand out track and one of my favorite songs of the year so far, but tracks like the opener “Rattlesnake” and “Regret” share the same kind of dissonant, off kilter, futuristic art-rock style. It’s perhaps the most cohesive collection by Annie Clark’s alter ego so far. After “Digital Witness,” my favorite track is the trippy “Prince Johnny.” You can download a free, legal mp3 of “Birth in Reverse” by signing up for the mailing list on St. Vincent’s Official Site.

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Pharrell: GIRL

Like most of the human population, we in the Muruch household love Pharrell’s cheery smash “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack. The irrepressibly upbeat, Oscar-nominated tune is also featured on former Neptunes and N.E.R.D. singer-producer Pharrell’s new sophomore solo album, GIRL.

From the Jackson meets Timberlake vibe of the opener “Marilyn Monroe” through the duet with Justin Timberlake himself “Brand New,” the album is brimming with the smooth falsetto and peppy electro-soul charm we’ve come to expect from any Pharrell song.

Happy” is by far the standout track, but “Hunter” is another catchy favorite.

The album isn’t without its flaws. The Daft Punk guest spot “Gust of Wind” is surprisingly forgettable and songs like “Little Queen” and the Reggae Lite duet with Alicia Keys, “Know Who You Are,” sound more like album filler than actual songs. But overall GIRL is an extremely enjoyable listen.

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Pharrell Official Site

A Great Big World: Is There Anybody Out There?

The hit heartbroken single “Say Something” is by far the standout track on A Great Big World’s Is there Anybody Out There? The album includes both the original, plaintive melody and the Christina Aguilera duet version. The rest of the album has a lot of warmth and charm – of the quirky, Ben Folds variety. Fave tracks: “Say Something,” “Land of Opportunity,” “I Don’t Want to Love Somebody Else” and “Cheer Up!”

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A Great Big World Official Site