This CD cover image released by Parlophone Records shows "Ghost Stories," by Coldplay.
This CD cover image released by Parlophone Records shows "Ghost Stories," by Coldplay. (AP Photo/Parlophone Records)

Coldplay — “Ghost Stories”

“Ghost Stories” opens and closes with what an angelic choir of voices — ghosts from beyond the void, presumably, or the spirits of a relationship now in the past. But despite all the emotional gravitas and metaphysical significance Coldplay wishes to impart with this album, the tunes are too flat to hit home at their best and perilously teetering over the edge of plagiarism at their worst. At least once upon a time there was a sense that Coldplay's “borrowing” from other musicians had the noble purpose of crafting a unique sonic. But the only ghosts on “Ghost Stories” are the ones of a band that's now left the building. — Brice Ezell

Jolie Holland — “Wine Dark Sea”

Produced by Holland, “Wine Dark Sea” is a triumph of artistic growth and ambition. Its players both complement and compete with Holland and one another. Afforded both the space and license to come and go at will, such fearlessness on the part of Holland is the album's greatest asset. Such an endeavor in lesser hands would be a cobbled patchwork of styles rather than a keen fusion of disparate forms. With “Wine Dark Sea” Holland has put her own enduring stamp on American music. — Eric Risch

Conor Oberst — “Upside Down Mountain”

Bright Eye's frontman Conor Oberst's “Upside Down Mountain” doesn't take too many chances and, while I'm usually all for evolution, this is a good thing for Conor Oberst. He's seemed a little off course lately … and revisiting the past is never a bad choice when searching for answers. Especially when it feels like such an effortless transition. — Scott Recker

Oasis — “Definitely Maybe (Remastered Deluxe Edition)”

Released four months after Blur's “Parklife,” Oasis' “Definitely Maybe” is an album that is built almost entirely on swagger. As one of the most memorable opening salvos in rock history, “Rock ‘n' Roll Star” simultaneously served as the group's manifesto as well as an oracle of things to come: The group actually became rock stars in part due to that song. While Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker were dissecting different parts of British class structure with sharp insight and wit, Noel Gallagher espoused the virtues of sex, booze, and rock ‘n' roll. — Evan Sawdey

Other notable releases this week:

Archie Bronson Outfit — “Wild Crush”

Syd Arthur — “Sound Mirror”

Haley Bonar — “Last War”

Chatham County Line — “Tightrope”

The Flaming Lips — “7 Skies H3”

Billy Joel — “A Matter of Trust – The Bridge to Russia”

LCD Soundsystem — “The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden”

Mr. Scruff — “Friendly Bacteria”

Plaid — “Reachy Prints”

Gruff Rhys — “American Interior”

Yann Tiersen — “8”

Trans Am — “Volume X”



Lonesome Shack — “More Primitive” (album stream)

Seattle's Lonesome Shack return with more down home bluesy sounds on their new LP, “More Primitive.” Lonesome Shack may be from the Pacific Northwest, but they sound like a great swamp blues band from the Southern regions of the US. The grooves are relaxed as are the vocals, suggesting the soundtrack to a lazy, hot summer day with just a little angst in the air, lingering a little beyond reach. It's a great sound that, in places, recalls some of Lynyrd Skynyrd's more stripped down, rootsy recordings. Singer / songwriter Ben Todd tells us that, ““More Primitive” was recorded and mixed by our friend Johnny Goss in his home studio, Dandelion Gold, with a live first-take approach. Johnny captured our sound with more clarity and depth than we've had on our previous, self-produced recordings.” — Sarah Zupko


The Everymen — ‘Givin' Up on Free Jazz' (album stream)

This is as populist as a rock party gets, and yet despite the common tropes the band visits (and revisits), the emotions still feel specific and dig almost as deep as the hooks do. Expanding from a core pairing of Mike Venutolo-Mantovani and Catherine Herrick to a full-on nine-piece act, the Everymen's latest effort runs the gamut of retro-y rock styles, with a good humored camaraderie that they're enjoying what they do holding it all together. — Arnold Pan




Rebirth Brass Band — “Rebirth Groove” (audio)

We're back in our favorite American locale, with NOLA brass band kings Rebirth Brass Band and their new tune “Rebirth Groove” from the upcoming “Move Your Body” releasing June 24. This is NOLA at its best: soulful, jazzy, bangin' horns, delicious syncopation, infectious spirit and grooves that you'd like to go on for days. Just from this track alone, “Move Your Body” is sounding like the band's best ever and the rest of the album is just as great. Time for some real funky stew ... dig in with a huge spoon and enjoy. — SZ


Half-handed Cloud — “Festus, I Am Not Out of My Mind” (audio)

On June 10, Half-handed Cloud, aka Berkeley-based pop eccentric John Ringhofer, will be releasing its sixth album, “Flying Scroll Flight Control,” on Asthmatic Kitty. Premiering here, the compact ditty “Festus, I Am Not Out of My Mind” is a nice teaser of the Sufjan Stevens-aided album, a slice of idiosyncratic pop on which sun-kissed melodies and Ringhofer's falsetto vocals stand out as much as the quirky instrumentation. — AP


Wet Leather — “Secret Preference” (audio)

“Everybody's got a secret preference,” Wet Leather vocalist Matthew Bernstein repeats on the Brooklyn five-piece's new single. His penchant for the wide-open hallmarks of mid-'80s synth-pop and disco are hardly so well concealed. “Secret Preference” is all big boom-clap drums, silky falsetto, and funk bass — clinically tested summer music, in other words, with a chorus that's only obvious enough to work. Long live 1985. The release comes with two remixes of debut single “Stop Me If I'm Doing It Wrong” — one by StaG, one by Frugal Father, both dreamy — which is also available on the group's BandCamp. “Lyrically these songs have more in common with the neurotic world of Philip Roth than Prince,” Bernstein says, though you need not notice. — Zach Schonfeld




Fire and the Romance — “She's a Devil” (video)

Fire and the Romance is the new band fronted by South African singer/songwriter Dion Roy. He was on a solo tour in Europe when he had a vision for a larger scale band, which led to the formation of Fire and the Romance. The alt-pop group's impending debut EP, “Adaptations,” was written around the world in locations from Los Angeles to New York to France, and is set for release this June. “She's a Devil” is the band's second video and features charismatic cosplay star and alternative model Alexa Poletti, also well known in Japanese street fashion. The song blends modern pop with sonic flavors from the soul and alternative genres for a more experimental sound that makes Fire and the Romance a band to watch in 2014. — Greg M. Schwartz


Battle Flags — “Lost Boys (Alex Winters Is My Hero)” (video)

Battle Flags is the project of singer/songwriter/producer Jack Budd, a Brooklynite via Richmond, Virginia. He describes his sound as “a sonic pop patchwork of bike rides, spray paint, social change, drunken camaraderie, and hope.” This translates into lyrical vocals, heavy rhythms, guitar riffs, and bright synths. His newest EP “Color Engine II” contains his best songs to date. Budd stepped his production game up big time with this EP while still keeping the homegrown feel of those previous recordings, which garnered him a loyal following around the blogosphere.


Rig 1 — “Duality” (video)

On “Duality,” Rig 1 — aka Ian McElroy of Desaparecidos — not only shows off his vocal range, but also his versatile production skills. Rig 1 is the rap-minded project of Ian McElroy, which might seem incongruous if you know him as the keyboardist of Conor Oberst's post-hardcore act Desaparecidos. But on “Duality,” which comes from Rig 1's just released album “North of Maple,” McElroy not only shows off his vocal range as he runs from metaphysical spoken word-like tones to syncopated rhyming, but also his versatile production skills. — AP


Ray and Remora — “Feel the Pain” Dinosaur Jr. cover (video)

Ray and Remora is the new duo of Dan Crane (Nous Non Plus) and singer Amanda Walker and their new album “1994” celebrates the great indie rock of the ‘90s. Crane wanted to revisit the music of his 20s by covering tunes from the albums that influenced him most as a young musician. Ironically, his musical partner Amanda Walker is exactly 20 years younger than him, so this music is somewhat new to her, allowing for a fresh take on indie rock cornerstones. — SZ



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