This might be the best Sonny & the Sunsets album yet. A simple collection of groovin' tunes, Antenna to the Afterworld has a kind of optimistic, underdog vibe to it that makes me feel warm and fuzzy and instills a desperate urge to dance The Hunch. The vocals are laid-back in the same way critics describe Kurt Vile's singing, and there's every reason to recommend this record to Kurt Vile fans. Sonny & the Sunsets aren't as complex, but they would make a great opening act for Kurt Vile & the Violators—which is fortunate for all since that's the lineup at Sister this Friday, Aug. 23. Be there or be square. (Geoffrey Plant)
Listen up to Willis Earl Beal. Whether delving into his debut, Acousmatic Sorcery, reading the former Burqueño's literature or admiring his artwork—his early posters adorn a couple Alibi offices—this is the record Beal wants you to hear. He considers it his first official release. Nobody knows. finds the man/myth/legend in a more ominous but authentic state. Regardless of production value, this is still the same guy who sat in his bedroom, tinkering with instruments to achieve a specific, soulful sound. That fellow is still here, but now he's experimenting in a studio. While some tracks seem almost naïve as Beal sings over noises (“What's The Deal”), others show a more impassioned, actualized sound (“Blue Escape” and “Coming Through,” the latter of which features Cat Power). It's not earth-shattering, but if you like good vox and stark sounds, you'll dig it. (Mark Lopez)
Ambient electro-pop: That's the genre that comes to mind in the opening strains of Emilíana Torrini's latest release, Tookah. The Icelandic singer/songwriter has been around for a minute—this is her fourth album—but it was my introduction to her work. I normally steer clear of electronic music, but there's a vibrant sincerity outlining this record. You really are interested in the poetry moving languidly above the compositions. “Autumn Sun” features acoustic picking and Torrini's beautiful voice echoing the loveliness of nature as it relates to art and the beauty of humanity. It takes you over. Other notable tracks include “Home” and “Speed of Dark.” (Mark Lopez)
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-