Chris Martins



  • Tricky, 'Mixed Race' (Domino)

    It seems odd that Tricky's self-professed "gangster album" may go down as the polyglot producer's most bland offering yet. Especially considering Mixed Race follows one of his best, 2008's Knowle West Boy. But what that album had in abundance -- loud guitars, noisy electronics, new ideas -- this comparatively minimal one lacks. So whether he's trying on New Orleans jazz ("Early Bird"), spare blues ("Every Day"), boy-girl vamps ("Come to Me"), or Bobby Gillespie's husky vocals ("Really Real"), Tricky sounds vanilla, not the colorful beacon his titular heritage suggests. BUY: Amazon

  • Glasser, 'Ring' (True Panther Sounds/Matador)

    Somewhere, druids are dancing around a circle of stones. That's probably not the ring Glasser, a.k.a. Los Angeles' Cameron Mesirow, had in mind when she titled her debut album, but there's something elemental about her brooding electronic folk. It's in the sharp yelps and clanging drums of "Apply," the Far East chanting and strings heard on "Glad," and the Fever Ray–checking pagan pulse of "Mirrorage." It's also in those nature-obsessed lyrics, delivered in tones so dulcet and hypnotic that the inclination to don a robe and commune with Vespertine-era Björk is overwhelming. BUY: Amazon

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    Breaking Out: Local Natives

    Local Natives keyboardist Ryan Hahn has something to confess about the strange jeers that kick off his eclectic indie-pop band's earworm of a single, "Airplanes," an otherwise bright slice of folksy melody and drumline effervescence. "We give him a hard time a lot," explains Hahn, 24, referring to lead singer Kelcey Ayer, 25, who wrote the song. "When we started working on it, we thought it was gonna be this sentimental, Coldplay-ish thing." So he and his bandmates would boo Ayer during practice, and even snuck into the studio to add their groans to the track. Hahn laughs: "Kelcey's going to kill me for telling you that." By now, the Natives are used to each other's jibes.

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    Queens of the Stone Age Return at L.A. Benefit

    Metal heads, stoners, and hard rock aficionados turned out in droves for the intimate show at Club Nokia in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday night, a benefit for cancer-stricken Eagles of Death Metal bassist Brian O'Connor, which boasted the first Queens of the Stone Age gig in the U.S. since 2008. Jesse Hughes, the mulleted and mustachioed frontman for Eagles of Death Metal, strutted the stage, wearing a gold cape over his a tuxedo T-shirt, sunglasses propped on top of his head, and worked the packed crowd -- reminding everyone of the night's purpose. "We are gonna call upon the power and fury of rock and roll to heal our friend!" he declared with all the bravado of James Brown getting his funky preacher on. "Can you dig it?" Ticket prices ranged from $50 to $250, with all proceeds going O'Connor's recovery via the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund.

  • Terrible Things, 'Terrible Things' (Universal Motown)

    For Terrible Things, former Taking Back Sunday member Fred Mascherino rallies an ex–Coheed and Cambria guitarist and a Hot Rod Circuit alum around a song cycle about the deadly arsons that plagued his Pennsylvania hometown last year. It's ripe subject matter for a proper emo album, and that's mostly what the trio deliver -- the kind of raw, damaged stuff that Jimmy Eat World and Dashboard Confessional traded in before bands like, ahem, TBS came on the scene. It's hardly perfect (see the slick and silly "Conspiracy"), but shredder "Not Alone" approaches Sunny Day territory -- an admirable rollback better suited for these leaner times. BUY: iTunesAmazon

  • Sea of Bees, 'Songs for the Ravens' (Crossbill)

    Multi-instrumentalist Julie Baenziger hails from Grandaddy's stomping grounds, California's Central Valley, and like her onetime neighbors, she has an impeccable knack for infusing despair with charm. Her pain is the loveless kind, and she conveys it in a voice equal parts twang and coo, backed by lush country-folk and gossamer bedroom haze. "Skinnybone" sounds like it takes place inside of a music box; "Marmalade" in dense woods on a moonless night. A quick dip into glitch seems like a novice move, but all that slide guitar and glockenspiel give Sea of Bees a seasoned sorrow. BUY:Amazon

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    EXCLUSIVE: New Mayer Hawthorne Video

    L.A.'s leading pale-faced soulster Mayer Hawthorne plays the majority of instruments on his 2009 self-produced debut, A Strange Arrangement, which helps explain why his throwback R&B is still holding listeners' attentions a year later. Also responsible are the songs' playful videos, like the just-released clip for "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin.'" Watch it below. "It's all one shot, no cuts whatsoever," says co-director Henry DeMaio, who has helmed three other videos for Hawthorne. "We had this concept of a Bob Fosse-style dance number and we started building from there. We did around 15 takes, and the last one is actually the one you see." The clip shows a troupe of swim-suited ladies dancing circles around Hawthorne, who sports a sharp gray suit and sneakers by a pool in the lush hills of L.A. 'burb Alta Dena.

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    Release Party: TVOTR's Dave Sitek as Maximum Balloon

    Monday night, the swanky new Los Angeles installation of NYC's Soho House social club played host to an intimate listening party for the self-titled debut solo album of TV on the Radio guitarist-producer Dave Sitek, aka Maximum Balloon. Sitek, also known for his production work with Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Scarlett Johansson, was in attendance, having moved west recently. But rather than lord over the ceremony from the comfort of one of the ultra-luxe leather seats, he floated within the crowd, mingling while his new album played in the background. Okay, "background" might be the wrong word.

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    Stevie Wonder Plays the Classics -- and Talks Politics

    Stevie Wonder promised the Bonnaroo crowd "some song-travelin" Saturday night and that's exactly what they got. The legendary R&B singer's two-hour set offered a trip through four Wonder-full decades (the '90s were conspicuously skipped) with the occasional detour for politics. "Let's keep it real," said Wonder as the 13-piece backing band played the opening notes of "Living for the City," his seminal 1973 narrative on race relations. "We can never let no one ever get us back to a place like this again. Never. No Tea Party -- I don't care. You want to be a supremacist? Then be the supreme of getting people together." He also had some advice for anyone confronted with racist talk. "You say, 'Hey what's that smell?

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    Flaming Lips Wow with 'Dark Side' at Bonnaroo!

    "This is the greatest fucking audience any band will get to play for, ever," said Wayne Coyne, beaming out into the crowd from Bonnaroo's Which Stage at two in the morning on Saturday. He probably says at every show, but he almost certainly means it every time. Festival-goers were treated to a double-wide set from the Oklahoma psych-pop giants in a night that combined ritual, spectacle, and tribute to dazzling effect. The Lips first played an hour or so of their own songs, then, with assistance from Coyne's nephew's band Stardeath and White Dwarfs, performed Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon from start to finish. The audience truly did give its all for the interactive first half, following Coyne's lead in a round of shout-and-response that the singer conducted from the shoulders of a man in a bear suit, then punctuating "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt.

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