Lars Gotrich

Material Girls' glam-soaked, goth-smeared rock and roll struts and stumbles like a fish-netted pair of legs breaking in new heels. The punk ensemble from Atlanta released a promising EP last year via Henry Owings' venerable Chunklet label housing four songs dripping in danger and sweat, like a whiskey-swigging Nick Cave partying with Captain Beefheart.

Sometimes your dreams are bigger than originally imagined. After a successful crowdfunding effort, Cumulus was one day from pressing its debut album in 2013 when the band got an email from Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla. Walla not only wanted to work with the Seattle band, but also sign it to his label Trans- Records (also home to Now, Now).

There's more to quiet music than diminutive volume. It's an intent laid bare in arrangement and emotion with space for sound and feeling to grow outward to the listener. For the last five years or so, Katie Bennett has quickly — and quietly, of course — become one of indie pop's most thoughtful songwriters as Free Cake For Every Creature.

Summer comes in shades of life: nightclubbing with besties, poolside with neighborhood children, backyard grilling, making out at parties, hitting the gym grind, hitting the work grind, quietly sobbing to Stevie Nicks-level heartbreak, living whatever version of your best life fills out the hot and sticky days of your hot and sticky mess of a life. It's a seasonal equalizer, the heat making our clothes a little brighter and easier to breathe in, and perhaps resetting our psyches to do the same.

Matty Healy can't help stepping all over himself to explain away his millennial ennui. It's the ultimately charming feature, not the bug, of The 1975 — his British pop band is perfectly attuned to the hyper-aware environment of this over-connected age.

The Schneider family is full of nerds. If you were wondering whatever happened to The Apples In Stereo, well — its frontman Robert Schneider has spent the last five years getting his Ph.D in mathematics. No, really, he teaches and studies math at Emory University.

The penumbra is the shadow beyond the shadow, its light only partially blocked by an object. Think of an eclipse, but only being able to experience the edge of it. Tsembla's "Penumbra" achieves a similar effect, its sound sources familiar, but obscured by some very chill electronic rhythms.

Björk doesn't so much perform on a stage — she inhabits a space.

The only antidote for the hell-in-a-handbasket blues is the stankiest of funks, and no one makes it stankier than George Clinton. The good doctor is here to prescribe Medicaid Fraud Dogg, the first album in 38 years from Parliament, the P-Funk empire's more soulful outfit.

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