New at Southwest Sound, May 11

by Cooper Stapleton

May 11Arctic Monkeys, “Tranquility Base and Casino”It has somehow already been five years since “AM,” a record that did its job to further cement the legacy of the English rock band Arctic Monkeys as one of the best and hardest working groups out there. Following in the footsteps of genre chameleons like John Lennon and David Bowie, the Arctic Monkeys have subverted any rock-based expectations that came from the wondrous “AM,” writing the majority of the songs with a piano as the centerpiece instead. The record has an almost sleazy-jazz-lounge-meets-drugged-out-surf-rock vibe. Through the newness of the sound, the true colors of the Arctic Monkeys continue to shine, and their songwriting chops never slouch for a second, even while floating in the new sea of piano-based timbres. So, expect a good record, but that should be the extent of the preconceived notions brought to the party. This record will surprise you in a truly wonderful way.

The Body, “I Have Fought Against It But I Can’t Any Longer”A few years ago, I went to the most intense concert I have ever been to with my dear friend and bandmate Evergreen. It was Southwest Terror Fest in Tuscon, AZ, and one of the higher-billed bands was one I had dabbled in for a while, but had never quite made it to the deep dive. That band was The Body, and I knew I was in for a treat when they wheeled out their drum set, which had floor toms that funneled the battering beats into the faces of the audience. The Body recently unveiled their seventh studio album ,“I Have Fought Against It But I Can’t Any Longer,” and it is a doozy. Imagine Edith Piaf worshipping at the altar of Southern Lord records, and gorgeous female vocals atop horrifying and beautiful soundscapes. If you are familiar with their work at all, most of the songs on “I Have Fought…” will not surprise you, but some moments, like “Blessed, Alone,” are absolutely paramount in their discography, and a wonderful indicator of where their sound will be going in the future.

Beach House, “7”“7” is the most alive Beach House has ever sounded. On “7,” they brought their live drummer into the recording studio with them, in lieu of the drum machine-focused tracks from “Thank Your Lucky Stars.” But do not fret. Just because the sound is more alive doesn’t mean that the dream in Beach House’s dream pop has died. If anything, the more varied percussive backbone has let the band stretch their sound even further into the stratosphere. The guitar strums and synth whirls swirl in a psychedelic smorgasbord, perfect for these warm days where it is easy to fall asleep outside. This also allows vocalist Victoria Legrand to stand tall in the mix. In previous records, her voice tended to be so drowned in effects and the “dream” reverb of the dream-pop that, to me at least, most of the lyrics were fairly unintelligible. That is not the case on “7,” and the record is all the more powerful for it.

Other new releases include albums from Ry Cooder, Charlie Puth, Sevendust, Skinless, Strung Out, Marian Hill, and more.

Cooper Stapleton

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