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.

Have you ever been in the car, scanning radio signals for signs of life, and thought about the stories behind the headlights passing on the highway? There's life in those spaces, in close quarters, alone or with friends, lovers, strangers. Then, windows down, you hear a pop song emanate from that beat-up sedan, that souped-up SUV, that pickup truck with the rusted tailgate. The song shifts the gears of your being, if only for a moment. With pop music's ability to transmute desire and despair into easily hummable enlightenment, it maybe even saves you.

Liminal space can be both a beginning and a transition — it's the threshold that floats between worlds. When you just need to drift into nothingness from the aches of daily life, that unending quality makes for good ambient music, no?

The band's name — The Dreebs — sounds like urban-dwelling forest trolls, slipping in and out of sewers and city-sanctioned parks in packs.

Violinist and vocalist Adam Markiewicz, guitarist Jordan Bernstein and drummer Shannon Sigley have all played in the equally twisted PC Worship, and were all, at some point, part of a commune-like space called Le Wallet that's fostered many musicians in the New York scene. After a few records and digital releases, Forest of a Crew mutates The Dreebs into a strange and beautiful creature.

New phases are the unseen forces of life. In persons, in movements, they are the quietly unfolding moments and soul detritus that build momentum over time, only revealed as a crescent of new being. That's the poetry of a new moon, a solar body that exists, but is invisible to the unaided eye, and only rarely illuminated by an eclipse.

Do yourself a favor: don't Google "Wand" and "Pure Romance" while at work, unless your place of business happens to be an adult toy store. Your browser history will thank you either way.

Lucky for you, you don't need to search for the Los Angeles psych-rock band's video for "Pure Romance." We're premiering it right here.

Erin Rae makes quiet music for the mind swept into a torrent. It'd be easy to call her sound escapist, as her gentle voice offers a balm over softly strummed guitar and brushed percussion. But Rae also unearths uneasy revelations with hard wisdom, in particular in Putting On Airs, her new album.

Pages