Out This Week 3/6

March roars in like a lion with this week’s release by Ceremony — yeah, there are like two or three bands with that name, but this is the thrashy hard-core one, rather than the mopey shoegazy one. On their fourth album, produced by Seattle’s own John Goodmanson, this California band evolves into what our Music Director, Don Yates, calls “an intense and expansive blend of classic ‘70s punk and bristling ‘80s post-punk, with bands like Wire, Mission of Burma and the Sex Pistols being major touchstones on this consistently stellar set of songs ranging from explosive punk ragers to atmospheric, tension-filled mood-pieces.” Also extending their hard rocking sound is Brooklyn band The Men, whose latest “finds them continuing to stretch out their scuzzy post-hardcore sound, incorporating elements of power pop, country, surf, psych-rock, German prog and more while still bringing plenty of righteous rock aggression and noise.” Out today on Sacred Bones Records, Open Your Heart, is hitting all the right marks on critics’ checklists, and Pitchfork, A.V. Club, NME and others giving it rave reviews. By the way, you can listen to The Men live on KEXP next week when they perform live during our SXSW broadcast from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin. Find out more about it here.

With less roar but no less bite, Stephin Merritt’s bitter if not lovelorn, heartbreakingly droll project The Magnetic Fields returns with their 10th album, on which “strange-sounding synths inject some raw, off-kilter energy to these quirky and concise electro-pop tunes.” Merritt is as darkly funny and clever as always, and if you’re a fan, you’ve already picked this up, but if you haven’t yet submerged into the world of The Magnetic Fields, Love at the Bottom of the Sea is as good a place as any to start.

Also out this week is the latest from Chicago-based songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and master whistler Andrew Bird, whose sixth studio album (not counting his bonus discs and soundtracks), Break It Yourself, is typically idiosyncratic, clever and wistful; a rustic, rousing, somewhat experimental new album by Bruce Springsteen, who channels his inner Guthrie while laying a two-ton wrecking ball into the walls holding us back from realizing the dream of unity and fairness; and a debut from Seattle band Eighteen Individual Eyes, whose album “is a promising set of dark, moody indie-rock layered with churning guitar riffs and angular rhythms accompanying Irene Barber’s crystalline vocals and emotionally charged lyrics.”

Other new releases you’ll want to check out come from LA’s Ramona Gonzalez (aka Nite Jewel), whose latest “finds her forcefully moving away from her lo-fi roots with this polished outing of sleek synth-pop, featuring a crisp and spacious sound that’s rooted in sophisticated early ’80s R&B”; Pond, a Perth, Australia band featuring members of Tame Impala who sound “like a less expansive but more heavy and irreverent version of Tame Impala with a trippy, well-crafted blend of Beatlesque psych-pop, ‘70s glam-funk and riff-heavy stoner-rock”; Brooklyn band White Rabbits, whose third album “is another intricately sculpted set of dark indie-pop that’s reminiscent at times of Spoon, with consistently well-crafted songs featuring adventurous arrangements with a variety of unusual textures, hypnotic rhythms, smooth vocals and subtly addictive melodies”; and bedroom project turned full-fledged band Yellow Ostrich, whose new members “bring some welcome energy, instrumental color and musical edge to Schaaf’s confessional lyrics and winsome pop melodies.” Israeli group Balkan Beat Box, Seattleite turned Austinite Jack Wilson, NC folk-pop group Bowerbirds, and gentle indie poppers Crushed Stars also have new albums you’ll want to hear. So give a listen to the many songs gathered here and stalk them out at your local record stores today.

Ava Luna – Ice Level (MP3)
from Ice Level on Ba Da Bing

Baby Eagle & the Proud Mothers – Brave Women (MP3)
from Bone Soldiers on You’ve Changed Records

Balkan Beat Box – Part Of The Glory
from Give on Nat Geo

Bensh – How Come Nao (MP3)
from Clues on Odd One In Records

Andrew Bird – Eyeoneye (MP3)
from Break It Yourself on Mom + Pop

Bowerbirds – Tuck the Darkness In (MP3)
from The Clearing on Dead Oceans

Ceremony – Hysteria (MP3)
from Zoo on Matador Records

Eric Chenaux – Amazing Backgrounds (MP3)
from Guitar & Voice on Constellation Records

Crushed Stars – Brighter Now
from In The Bright Rain on Simulacra Records

Dinowalrus – What Now (MP3)
from Best Behavior on Old Flame Records

Eighteen Individual Eyes – Four Poses (MP3)
from Unnovae Nights (self-released)

Good Old War – Calling Me Names (MP3)
from Come Back As Rain on Sargent House

The Magnetic Fields – Andrew In Drag
from Love at the Bottom of the Sea on Merge Records

Scott Matthew – Sinking (MP3)
from Gallantry’s Favorite Son on Riot Bear Recording Co.

The Men – Open Your Heart
from Open Your Heart on Sacred Bones Records

Miniature Tigers – Female Doctor
from Mia Pharaoh on Modern Art

Nite Jewel – One Second of Love
from One Second of Love on Secretly Canadian

Now, Now – Dead Oaks (MP3)
from Threads on Trans Records

Nu Sensae – Gumbo (MP3)
from Tea Swamp Park on Suicide Squeeze

Pond – Mystery (MP3)
from Beard, Wives, Denim on Modular

Said the Whale – Heavy Ceiling (MP3)
from Little Mountain on Hidden Pony

Jonathan Segal – (Ever and) Always (MP3)
from All Attractions (self-released)

Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care Of Our Own
from Wrecking Ball on Columbia

Uncle Roman’s Jetboat – Floodlights in the Sunlight (MP3)
from Floodlights in the Sunlight on Don’t Be a Lout Music

White Rabbits – Temporary (MP3)
from Milk Famous on TBD Records

Jack Wilson – Valhalla (MP3)
from Jack Wilson on Fluff & Gravy Records

Denison Witmer – Brooklyn (MP3)
from The Ones Who Wait on Asthmatic Kitty Records

Xiu Xiu – Hi (MP3)
from Always on Polyvinyl Records

Yellow Ostrich – Marathon Runner (MP3)
from Strange Land on Barsuk

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