The North American summer solstice happens on Wednesday, ushering in the season of fun while reminding us that, sadly, it's all downhill from here. The days will now grow incrementally shorter, minute by painful minute. But there is one way to rage against the dying of the light: by listening to the freshest new music from the hottest established and emerging artists. We listened to scores of albums, discarding the clunkers to leave a tight collection of winners for your summer 2012 partying pleasure. Mix your margarita and hit play when you're ready.Read More »
While there are a slew of new albums from your favorite artists slated for spring releases, why not take a listen to a few new albums by groundbreaking up-and-comers? BlackBook has you covered with a run-down of this season's best sonic offerings.Read More »
The Magnetic Fields, Love at the Bottom of the Sea (Merge)
The Magnetic Fields bandleader Stephin Merritt, one of the great living American songwriters, has returned to indie label Merge, picked up his synthesizers, and released his strongest album in years. No concepts or overarching themes this time out, just a collection of 15 short, crafty pop songs (all under three minutes) from a master of the form. The song titles alone will elicit giddy grins from fans (“God Wants Us to Wait,” “All She Cares About Is Mariachi”). Merritt covers a fair amount of ground: clever synth-pop, of course (“The Machine in Your Hand” is about wanting to be a crush’s mobile device); a spurned lover’s revenge fantasy (“Your Girlfriend’s Face,” which the song’s protagonist has hired a hitman to, um, remove); country (“Going Back to the Country”); and Gary Numan–style ’80s new wave (“Infatuation [With Your Gyration]”). Almost every track’s a keeper, and the (very) few that miss their marks are over before they wear out their welcome. It’s the band’s most consistently entertaining album since 69 Love Songs, and that’s quite an accomplishment.