AM/FM Dreams – This is Where You Belong

It’s no stretch to say AM/FM Dreams has released more solid RPM albums than any band in town — they haven’t missed a year since the start, and they release a great album every time. That’s enough output to warrant a 12 track Best Of record that would sell like hot cakes at Fred’s Records if they spun it at the store. Interestingly, and perhaps intentionally, there is — as always — a striking cohesion of sound and concept on This is Where You Belong, yet the songs manage to run the full gamut of tempo, genre, and experimentation. The banjo-driven album opener “Crow’s Nest,” embraces bluegrass, “Pyramids” flirts with calypso’s swagger, “In My Prime” roars like 90’s rock steeped in pop, and “Boomtown” is bursting with the kind of creativity that’s made artists like Tune-Yards famous.  The album closes with a quiet uke ballad for the aging musician, “Have I Forgotten How to Rock and Roll.” Here’s some sample lines, “punk rock groups grow up to be dads, find new reasons to scream and get mad. Riot grrrls chaperone the high school dance, trade their safety pins for true romance.” It’s a great song that any of us who grew up on mixed tapes and Kurt-and-Courtney will hold dearly in our iTunes collection. All in all, the album is a rollercoaster tour of this versatile band’s unique spin on so many genres. It holds your interest track to track on account of its diversity in sound, and it’s one of their finest offerings to date (notable since they have over 10 albums).

Download or stream it on Bandcamp.

Sample song, “Call the Doctor”

Mellyssa Vey – RPM 2015

Despite perceiving a little shyness on her end to share an album so hastily recorded for the RPM’s impossibly rushed deadline, Vey recorded some songs that command your attention — not by being loud and boisterous, but the very opposite. These are simple, stark recordings with great emotional pull: an important characteristic in making the mellow-end of the singer-songwriter genre engaging. The simple sincerity and calculated atmosphere of the songs punch through and pull you in. For many takers of the challenge, an RPM is merely intended to force a musician to write and record and get some demos down; songs they’ll maybe do more with down the road. If this album is just that – a promise of a record to come — the promise is quite strong. She has a voice you want to hear, and the music conjures a mood with uncommon talent.

Check out her RPM, or at least some of it, on Soundcloud.

The blurry under-water sound of the guitar tone on “Frame” totally suits the song. Check it out:

People on Pause – Elvi$

A nearly record-label-ready recording of rare musical originality. On Elvi$, People on Pause are pushing envelopes in all the right directions. And knocking down the walls that box in how we use instruments — vocals included, because you’ve got to check out the playful, song-making vocals on “Past Goes Fast.”

Download or stream the album on Bandcamp.

Sample song, “You Can’t Forget Me”

The Glowing Goldstones – The Afterglow

The Afterglow is an apt album title, for the sound Nick Hopkins crafts with his Glowing Goldstones project is as lush and ethereal as the northern lights. The spacey, spacious, flowing music he creates feels the way a daydream does: transporting, relaxing, meditative, and all consuming. What is going on in this man’s head, that this kind of music can pour out? It’s certainly not an album anyone but him could have recorded, and those are the most impressive of albums. It’s harder to be unique than good, though Hopkins is both.

Download or stream the album on Bandcamp.

Sample song, “The Afterglow,” very Explosions in the Sky

Repel Ghosts – Fiction & Falsehood

Every year, every genre is represented in the 100+ albums Elling Lien picks up at the finish line. Repel Ghosts submitted one of the strongest electonic albums this year.

Stream the album on Soundcloud.

Sample Song, “Lonely Rover”