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One obvious question arises when hearing a name like Jukestone Paradise, the new LP by the Brooklyn funk/soul outfit Pimps of Joytime: “What is a ‘jukestone paradise’, anyhow?” As frontman Brian J told L4LM, it’s “It’s kind of like a science fiction kind of place that I created in my mind.” Although the album may have begun in the mind, now that it’s finished and ready for the world to hear—which you can do below—the immediate impression of this eminently danceable music is that it’s visceral in all of the best ways possible. Grooves like these by their nature get the feet moving, and the convivial atmosphere of the band itself only adds to this. That’s not to say the cerebral has entirely left the building, however; as the guitar chops on tracks like “Heart is Wild” evince, these folks know a thing or two on the technical end as well. Simply put, this is party music that knows how to appeal to both the head and the heart.

Country Sleep, the debut full-length by Night Beds, was one of the under-the-radar stunners of 2013, a collection of ten sorrow-drenched tunes that showcase frontman Winston Yellen’s incredible voice. However, in contrast to the folk and country leanings of that LP, “Me, Liquor, & God”, a track dropped by Night Beds last December, reveals a new side to Yellen’s songwriting, one that brings electronics to the fore.

The same holds true for the just-released tune “Tide Teeth”, which finds Yellen’s voice soaring powerfully over layers of synths. When the beat kicks in halfway through the song, things get amped up to an even greater intensity. “Tide Teeth”‘s enveloping nocturnal ambiance bodes quite well for the next Night Beds release.

In case the title doesn’t make it a dead giveaway, Miskatonic Graffiti, the newest LP by the neo-classic rock outfit Casablanca, is a concept album. Not only that, the band describes it as “Ziggy Stardust meets H.P. Lovecraft in Twin Peaks.” If one is expecting grandiloquent, noodly prog, she would be well within reason; however, one spin of the album cut “My Shadow Out of Time” will dispel any such notion. Casablanca’s mindset on Miskatonic Graffiti is indeed cosmic, but their musical tastes are far more visceral than cerebral. Melding together the influences of ‘70s classic rock and ‘80s heavy metal, the group crafts a blissfully retro rocker in “My Shadow Out of Time”, with an energy to match the eccentric vision of Miskatonic Graffiti.

With a Brian Setzer-esque inflection in the guitar tone and jazzy minor chords that bring the world of film noir to mind, the tune “My Hometown” is an intriguing homage by singer/songwriter Eilen Jewell. On the one hand, there’s a lovingness here as Jewell pays her respects to her hometown: “If sweetness had a sound / It’d sound like my hometown,” she sings. On the other hand, the desert noir mood evoked by the patient, legato strums of clean-toned electric guitar gives the titular town a strong sense of mystery. These two elements—tenderness and mystique—serve as a reminder that no matter how much we love the places we call home, there’s always a magic ambiance to them that prevents us from being able to fully put into words what makes them so special. A phrase like “If sweetness had a sound” is both evocative and vague; in this way, Jewell invites the listener in to experience her understanding of her hometown whilst simultaneously conveying its ineffability. That paradox, when combined with “My Hometown”‘s lovelily lonely sound, makes this tune a gem.

With the release of “Ship to Wreck”, the art-pop outfit Florence and the Machine, helmed by chanteuse extraordinaire Florence Welch, have given the public a first taste of their forthcoming album How Big How Blue How Beautiful. This follows 2011’s Ceremonials which placed at number 25 on PopMattersBest Albums list of that year. In his 8 out of 10 review of Ceremonials for PopMatters, Arnold Pan writes, “Elevating their idiosyncratic style to an even grander scale, Ceremonials makes Florence and the Machine’s captivating debut Lungs seem quaint and charming in comparison.”

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