1) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Days of Abandon
"Days of Abandon" is the third album from Brooklyn based band the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The album -- consisting of 10 songs -- was recorded in a month and produced by Andy Savours, who also worked on My Bloody Valentine's "MBV." The album is less a wall of sound, and more emotional, complex and nuanced. The band's lyrics, which previously blended into the music, are now more of a stand-out, highlighting the voices of songwriter Kip Berman and Jen Goma. "Days of Abandon" is a lovely album, personal, well-made and packed with emotion.
2) The Black Keys - Turn Blue
"Turn Blue" is the latest album in the Black Key's long repertoire — eight albums in total, spanning back to 2002. For those who long for the gritty, rocking blues albums (anything before "Brothers"), you might not be too amped by "Turn Blue." It is no "Thickfreakness." However, just because the album is in the vein of "El Camino," doesn't mean there aren't positives to their growing sound. This album is bigger, sexier and more polished. Though it lacks a clear hit like "Howlin' for You," their single "Fevers" is a stand-out track. The duo still knows how to let off a guitar riff, and produce solid, soulful sound.
3) Chromeo - White Women
"White Women," named after fashion photographer Helmut Newton's 1976 book, is an album about heartbreak, insecurity and romance disguised in sexy, funky disco beats. It's no major departure from previous albums by the Canadian duo, but it certainly solidifies what they do best -- fold emotional topics into impossible-to-not-dance-to tunes. Tunes like "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" are poised to be fun summer dance-floor tracks. Because that's where Chromeo does best: live in an energy-packed venue, blasted in a crowded bar -- or at the very least, powering your sunny walk through the city.
4) Swans - To Be Kind
The latest album from legendary band Swans continues their streak of incredible and inventive music. "To Be Kind" wastes no time shocking and stirring the atmosphere and then swallowing you whole. This is not the album you put on in the background while you work -- the industrial sound reverberates, the lyrics command and, in the shocking near silence between songs, you hold your breath waiting for the next. It is nearly impossible to have superfluous thoughts while enveloped in the brilliant, dark, intense two hours, one minute and sixteen seconds of this album. Stream the entire album at NPR First Listen.
5) La Sera - Hour of the Dawn
"Hour of the Dawn" is the third album from the former Vivian Girl, Katy Goodman, who records under the moniker La Sera. The album is, in a word, happy. The perky surf-punk evokes rays of easy California sunshine in the lyrics, every round reverberation of the guitar and steady percussive beat. The record, for the most part, is warm, interesting and infused with a carefree bliss, and Goodman's full voice fits well with the lolling guitar riffs. Stand-out tracks include "10 Headed Goat Wizard" and "Hour of the Dawn."