Lars Gotrich

Bill MacKay's become a stealth fixture on the Chicago music scene over the last decade and change. The guitarist deftly glides through folk, experimental rock and jazz in his band Darts & Arrows and has worked with everyone from Fred Lonberg-Holm and members of Bitchin' Bajas to a blossoming creative partnership with with Ryley Walker — they released an album of guitar duets in 2015.

GAS isn't really meant for the club, but that's where I first heard it — a cavernous basement was hosting a night of experimental music, the definition of which was determined by the DJ. It sounded and felt like a symphony buried underground, beats programmed from a different galaxy. Pop didn't change the landscape of ambient music — it evolved its purpose, its tone, its movement.

Call it math-pop, technical sugar-pop, J-punk, jazzy post-rock — whatever it is, the Kyoto-based Tricot makes sophisticated music that's as sweet and bubbly as soda. The band has self-released two albums in Japan, but is now getting some stateside shine from Topshelf with the simply titled 3. Here's the closing track "Melon Soda" — it's a compact piece of pop wizardry that finds hooks in weird corners, and someone should sync it up to the fizzy lifting drink scene from Willy Wonka already.

Buildings' noise-rock is like a burrito supreme sprayed across the windshield: gross, hilarious, awesome. On its third album, You Are Not One Of Us, the Minneapolis trio has become far more adept at wrapping its angular riffs around punk, noise-rock and post-hardcore with a certain amount of dexterity. Buildings' have a bit of that Jesus Lizard nastiness, but with the determined backbone and heady chops of Dazzling Killmen.

Bands reunite and it's not really a big deal anymore. Pavement's done it, like, 12 times already. Chicago's Riot Fest has made a regular habit of bringing back the '80s and '90s year after year, and scored some nice coups (The Replacements, Glenn Danzig with Misfits, among them). But here's one that no one in the punk scene saw coming: Jawbreaker.

We often label new music "out-of-time" when its touchstones are from the past. But what does that time mean when it spans decades and cultures, swirled into nonlinear pop songs that glide the spaceways?

I may have screamed. Thankfully, I am surrounded by understanding and fellow Paramore fans in the office. Four long years after its genre-spanning pop album Paramore, the band is back with After Laughter, out May 12.

There is regular brains rock music and there is broken brains rock music. No slight against the former, but sometimes squares gotta be oblonged and thought patterns obliterated. Mark Feehan and Kilynn Lunsford both made a regular habit of scrambling brains with Harry Pussy and Little Claw, respectively, but with their new Philly-based band, they rock the body manic.

Katie Crutchfield has been nothing but honest as Waxahatchee. Her careful words carry keen insight — and she writes sharp songs to match. Waxahatchee's fourth album, Out In The Storm, takes a hard look not just at broken relationship, but also at the spiraling aftermath.

Bert Jansch's percussive fingerpicking was rooted in traditional folk music, but he swung around melodies like a jazz musician, the rhythms swaying in his Scottish soul. Turns out that even skilled guitarists who admired Jansch couldn't figure him out.

No label, no careShamir just gifted us with a new album and it's already making Monday a whole lot brighter.

Hope was recorded over the weekend, a whirlwind attempt for the unclassifiable pop star to fall in love with music all over again.

Tell me if you've heard this one before: Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie walk into a studio... and actually make a record together. Fleetwood Mac's drama-filled history is the stuff of a "great play," to say the least.

That bopping beat, that thick and wobbly synth bass, those voices — it's like I'm back at a middle school dance in the Atlanta suburbs, not knowing what to do with my hands.

Feist's first album in six years, Pleasure, comes out in just a couple weeks. We've only heard "Century" and the title track from it, so far, and today we get a visual companion for the latter.

When Mlny Parsonz rips into a phrase, you feel the wound. Over three albums, Royal Thunder's soulful hard-rock has very much been tied to a desperation to crawl out of darkness and find some kind of hope beyond. Over three albums, that drive has kept the Atlanta band hungry and humble. Its latest, Wick, is a sprawling account of a band still crawling.

The D.C. brewery Right Proper was like a cultural mullet during a recent visit: a posh baby shower in the front (complete with chocolate petit fours), a bunch of metal heads making beer in the back. Right Proper's head brewer, Nathan Zeender, was dumping a heaping spoonful of hop extract into a tank.

Frank Ocean's show on Beats 1, Blonded, has become a testing ground for new singles. First it was his collaboration with Calvin Harris and Migos, "Slide," then in mid-March, the gauzy "Chanel" rendered in several different versions throughout the set.

The history of '80s D.C. hardcore is extremely well documented; its importance doesn't need to be boot-stomped into the ground anymore. The '90s, less so, as the scene and Dischord Records, in particular, moved onto more melodic and angular ventures (see: Jawbox, Fugazi, Lungfish). But there were still those who held the torch for fast and unruly hardcore, and few ran with it as maniacally as Battery.

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