Dan Kane: Seven great new albums

Dan Kane

As good luck would have it, seven of my favorite bands have released new albums so far this year. (And yes, I still buy CDs retail.) Here are my musings on each.

GROOVE ARMADA: “Black Light.” Andy Cato and Tom Findley are a London-based duo who put together danceable electronic music using a changing cast of vocalists and musicians. This wondrous disc, filled with atmospheric, sublime and never cheesy dance music, has barely left my CD player since I picked it up. Check out: “Shameless” (vocal by Bryan Ferry),  “Paper Romance,” “History.”

SPOON: “Transference.” The seventh album from this Austin-based alt-rock quartet is infinitely listenable, filled with the same type of easygoing pop-rock gems fans have come to expect. There’s usually something rhythmic going on, with simply effective guitar and piano riffs. For me, bandleader Britt Daniels’ expressive vocals are the chief attraction. Check out: “The Mystery Zone,” “Written in Reverse,” “Who Makes Your Money.”

BLACK REBEL MOTORCYCLE CLUB: “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo.” Over the past few months, I have flipped for this L.A.-based trio, and their recent House of Blues show was a stunner. The music is dark, gritty, surging and mesmerizing garage-rock, a little sinister at times, with distinctive vocals and colorings of psychedelia, blues, industrial and Americana. Check out: “Conscience Killer,” “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo,” “Bad Blood.”

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: “Contra.” The sophomore release by these young Manhattan prepsters with world-music leanings (a la Paul Simon’s “Graceland”) offers more summer-fresh melodies, clever wordplay (“pincher crabs that pinch at your sandals”) and good-natured vocals, colored with exotic percussion, cellos and marimba. Check out: “Holiday,” “White Sky,” “Cousins.”

SADE: “Soldier of Love.” Anything but prolific, Sade has released just six studio albums in 26 years, but they are always worth the wait. Now 51, Sade Adu’s voice remains as smoky, understatedly emotional and engaging as ever. Like the albums that preceded it, “Soldier of Love” is sleek chill-out music of the highest caliber. Check out: “Soldier of Love,” “Bring Me Home,” “The Moon and the Sky.”

OK GO: “Of the Blue Colours of the Sky.” A band more famous for its elaborately choreographed YouTube music-video smashes, “Here We Go Again” and “A Million Ways,” than its music, OK GO’s first two albums were loaded with cheeky, hook-filled power pop. This so-so third disc shakes things up a bit. With its breathy vocals and funky guitar line, the album-opening “WTF?” is a virtual rewrite of Prince’s “Kiss”; “White Knuckles” and “End Love” also have that ‘80s Minneapolis vibe. Check out: “This Too Shall Pass,” “WTF?” “All is Not Lost.”

MASSIVE ATTACK: “Heligoland.” Brit collective Massive Attack’s first release since 2003 is languid, haunting, trippy mood music. As always, there’s a rotation of vocalists; returnees Martina Toley-Bird and Horace Andy are joined by, among others, Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star and Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz. It’s very hip and sophisticated background music, but a little more variety in tempo and atmosphere would be welcome. Check out: “Paradise Circus,” “Saturday Come Slow.

Dan Kane writes for The Repository in Canton, Ohio. Contact him at