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Maria Taylor
Saddle Creek

With a distinct, raw sound in mind, Maria Taylor self-produced for the first time and called upon friend and neighbor Lester Nuby III (Verbena, Vulture Whale) to engineer Overlook. She sought to capture the sound of the South, of Alabama and its music scene, enlisting a host of Birmingham-based musicians to flesh out the album and lend their personalities to the songs. The sessions ran loose and easy, with family and friends often stopping in and spending time as she recorded. Taylor even hired LA-based but Birmingham-native Daniel Farris to mix the album. Gorgeous.
Robert Earl Keen
Ready for Confetti
Lost Highway Records

Robert Earl Keen is a songwriter's songwriter, who skillfully blends elements of folk, jazz, country, blues, rock, Texas swing and spoken word with his wry wit and penchant for satire. His songs make people laugh, cry, dance, sing and most importantly, think. On any given night, the audience at a Robert Earl Keen show can be a mix of blue collar, white collar, young, middle aged, academic, honky tonk, hipster, city slicker, collegiate, socially conscious or socially inept. Ready For Confetti is the 16th release in a celebrated career that spans 30+ years, and shows no signs of slowing down. Produced by the legendary Lloyd Maines.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
It's A Corporate World
Warner Bros.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is a project started by two professional men of music and leisure from Detroit, MI (Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott). Embracing many fringe musical styles while still maintaining an emphasis on quality songwriting, Epstein and Zott built from the ground up, recording in a basement without the benefit of expensive microphones or big-name producers. At the same time, they worked from the top down using drum machines and samplers - keeping the music danceable, interesting, and unique while not distracting. A harmonious collision, one might say. Having taken the time to fully piece together a dozen carefully crafted tracks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. barrels into its first full-length album, It's a Corporate World like Bobby Allison into a wall – and like that great driver, they’ve lived to tell the tale.
Patti Smith
Outside Society

Patti Smith is considered a poet whose energy and vision found its voice in the most powerful medium of our culture, music. As one of the early pioneers of New York City’s dynamic punk scene, she has been creating her unique blend of poetic rock and roll for over 35 years. Outside Society contains 18 signature songs, remastered from all ten of Smith's studio albums. The chronologically arranged tracks move from her masterful 1975 debut, Horses ("Gloria", "Free Money"), through her last release in 2007, Twelve ("Smells Like Teen Spirit"). The liner notes features brief recollections of each song written by Patti, who personally supervised the song choices. Also available as a 2 LP set (180 gram vinyl).
It’s often said that the most subversive pop music – from the Shangri Las to Rihanna – is that which wraps sinister tales within a sugarcoated shell. If so, then it’s hard to imagine a band pushing that manifesto further than Cults. On the surface they could be sickly sweet – a smitten duo called Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin who spin gorgeous melodies across their girl group-inspired bedroom pop. But dig deeper and a whole new world opens up, one that contains songs about apprehension, substance abuse and the pain of moving from adolescence into adulthood. And as for why the band chose the name Cults: “A lot of our songs are about what we’re going through right now – the fear of growing up and facing adult responsibility,” says Brian. “And in a way that fear is what makes people join cults in the first place – wanting to escape competition and success and be a part of something bigger.”
Gary Clark Jr.
Bright Lights EP
Warner Bros. Records
Rarely does an artist explode onto the music scene with the force and impact of a comet. But when it does happen — as it did when 26-year-old singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. delivered an incendiary debut performance of his song “Bright Lights” at Eric Clapton's 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival last June — the result is magical. Funky, hip, and badass, Gary Clark Jr. is a rocking soul man for a new generation. Born in Austin, TX and weaned on John Lee Hooker, Lightnin Hopkins, and T-Bone Walker, Clark fuses his deep blues influence with a love of classic hip-hop and contemporary soul. His voice weaves between a melodic lilt and a seasoned blues howl with his guitar licks dancing and dodging between and behind the beat as if the essence of Snoop and Dre loom in his head by way of the Mississippi Delta. You need to hear it to believe it.
Samba Toure
Crocodile Blues
World Music Network

Samba Touré is the Malian guitarist, vocalist and composer whose African blues style invokes the spirit of the legendary Ali Farka Touré. Recorded in Bamako, Crocodile Blues is Samba Touré's second international release and a giant leap forward for the Malian bluesman. Featuring guest vocalist and global superstar Oumou Sangaré, Crocodile Blues harmonious blend of African blues, traditional themes and western influences. The new rising star of Malian music, Samba Touré is keeping the legacy of the desert blues alive.
To those who don’t follow underground hip hop, Tyler, The Creator (ringleader of the rap collective known as Odd Future) seemingly appeared fully formed in a dervish of hype and nasty tweets when, in fact, this laboriously titled group of hip hop deviants had been releasing crazy-ass mixtapes on their own for a couple of years. So now we arrive at Goblin. The album's production came almost entirely from Tyler himself, along with contributions from fellow OFWGKTA member Left Brain. Without a doubt Goblin is meant to shock, but have no doubt that it’s the work of a mad genius. If you can separate yourself from the hype then it’s easy to see what all the uproar is about.

Tyler, The Creator -

Beggars Group
There are a handful of things about Viva Voce that lend themselves to a just-the-facts presentation: This songwriting team —Kevin and Anita Robinson – met and married in rural Alabama over a decade ago and made their first four-track demo as Viva Voce in 1998. As for describing the music the Robinsons make—Says Anita, “Basically, with each record we’re just trying to find a way to create the music that’s been living in our heads since the last one.” Written, performed, produced and mixed entirely by the duo at their Portland home studio, The Future Will Destroy You unquestionably serves as a showcase for Anita’s post-psychedelic guitar heroics—check out “Analog Woodland Song” and “The Wondering Soul” for some of the finest quiet-loud eruptions since the Pixies’ heyday. But the disc also emphasizes the Robinsons’ sense of songcraft like never before: You might not hear a ballad this year lovelier (or spookier) than “No Ship Coming In,” in which Anita’s vocals glide over a pool of shimmering space-roots atmospherics. And the apocalyptic title track? Let’s just say nobody’s ever made the end of civilization sound like such an appealing prospect.

The Future Will Destroy You

Most of us know Brian Fallon as the frontman for the Gaslight Anthem, an act who started out in Jersey basements and slowly built their way up to headlining New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Despite the success Fallon has had with his main band he’s always loved darker acts like the Afghan Whigs and Tom Waits. The Horrible Crowes — his new side-project alongside longtime friend Ian Perkins — is his tip of the hat to the acts who have shaped another side of his musical vision. Sonically Elsie sees Fallon stretching out musically in ways that might surprise longtime fans of his writing. Elsie is also the most personal release of Fallon’s career and while the Gaslight Anthem’s music is loaded with characters and iconography, this album sees Fallon stripping back the metaphors to put it all on the line. “There’s only one character here and it’s about me.” While drug addictions, ex-girlfriends and religion all creep their way into these songs, Elsie isn’t a linear album as much as it is a catalog of experiences that are conveyed in a way that was equally as cathartic for Fallon to create as it will inevitably be for his listeners to hear.
The Horrible Crowes -

Side One Dummy
It’s been a long time since we’ve heard from Primus – 8 long years in fact. In that time Les Claypool and company have sailed the Seas of Cheese to various side projects, novel writing, soundtracks and other non-rockist pursuits. But then drummer Jay Lane, who was not only in the band briefly back in 1988 and has played with Claypool on his various side projects, came into the fold and injected new life into the band. But though Green Naugahyde, the latest Primus album, is new there is an energy whose only analogue is the sound of primal Primus. “From a sonic perspective,” says Claypool, “it definitely isreminiscent of Frizzle Fry in many ways, because of Jay coming back into the fold. The rhythmic feel of it is very similar. But it's also got 20 years of life experience on it – from many different angles. A song like ‘Jilly's on Smack’ just wouldn't have been written in the early Nineties, because we hadn't lost a friend to heroin addiction. A song like ‘Lee Van Cleef’ which is reflective of my youth just wouldn't have been written back then. So there's a lot of salt to it, yet there is this vigor of Jay's very rhythmic playing.” So there you have it. What’s old is new... But Green Naugahyde will never go out of style.

Primus -
Green Naugahyde

ATO Records

The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. CIMS was founded in 1995; its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 47 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support.

Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in its community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.

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