Lordi – Scare Force One

AFM Rec, 2014

Just in time for Halloween, Finnish shock metal veterans return with a more experimental affair while keeping their stadium-sized choruses and mammoth riffs alive. Though frontman Mr. Lordi often sounds like his vocal chords were run through a blender with shards of glass, the music contains plenty of powerful hooks, eerie keys and thundering anthems, providing a tuneful backdrop to dark, pummeling hard rock.

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The Gromble – The Gromble

Self-released, 2014

For an EP recorded at the drummer’s mum’s house, the 20ish minute debut from Californian quintet The Gromble – who are named after a terrifying monster – is an impressively slick affair, delivering its indie-pop hooks with dreamy surety. There’s hints at laid back Vampire Weekend one moment (‘Slam’), then Smashing Pumpkins the next (‘Don’t Stand A Chance’); diversity is consequently a strength, aided by the synths, strings, horns, harmonies, and retro influences ranging from ’90s alt-rock to ’60s psychedelia.

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Tour De Force – Battle Cry Remixed

Dub-Stuy, 2014

Artists from across the globe join together to remix Tour de Force’s essential dub album from this year, bringing a grab bag of styles and sounds across 15 interpretations. While the dub duo’s original songs with reggae and island vibes are kept as a template, these new visions bring larger doses of synth, volume and playful extensions into electronica, world fusion and dance rock. This double disc packages comes with the original album as disc 1, and the reworkings of 8 tunes from the original (many are redone 2-3 times) as disc 2.

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Christian Lopez Band – Pilot

Blaster, 2014

At just 19, Lopez is a product of his surroundings and influences, as he channels the warm folksy Americana sounds of his mountainous region with the rootsy rock infiltration of indie-rock today. Primarily using banjos, guitars and pretty vocal melodies, Lopez and company can navigate their way around a raw, rustic, alt-country tune, resulting in a glowing debut. This is a great EP, and the future LP should be fantastic.

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Dálava – Dálava

Sanasar, 2014

Dálava is Julia Ulehla and Aram Bajakian, whose Moravian folk songs were transcribed by Dr. Vladimr Ulehla for this extremely stirring, avant garde and ambient look into global sounds. Though matching violins and glockenspiels with distorted guitars may seem like two opposing ideas, the pair not only make that seem graceful but place blues and surf-rock ideas amid traditional Eastern Europe sounds that are 100 years old.

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Rich Hopkins And The Luminarios – Tombstone

San Jacinto, 2014

The always prolific Hopkins returns with a career highlight of contagious hooks and driving guitar work that fits equally between classic rock, folk rock and the sort of power pop that would make anyone want to pick up a guitar and start wailing. Though his arid, dusty Southwestern roots are all over this, the fuzzy guitars, soaring harmonies and powerful anthems will appeal to anyone impressed with the Tom Petty/Neil Young influence in today’s music.

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