"Every Now & Then" by Jagwar Ma
"Every Now & Then" by Jagwar Ma (Courtesy photo)

It has been a rough year.

David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Phife Dawg and many others have left their corporeal forms for a better time at the great gig in the sky. The sixth and final record from A Tribe Called Quest is one thing keeping me sane during the long study sessions, late nights and dark days. "We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" was released at just the right time. If you've never loved A Tribe Called Quest before, it's definitely time to check them out. The new record shows MCs Phife Dawg and Q-tip in peak form, and it serves as a perfect eulogy to Phife's untimely death earlier this year. Tribe is back with their signature jazzy beats and intelligent flow. With them, they bring a host of features including Andre 3000, Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli and Busta Rhymes.

"Slugger" by Sad13
"Slugger" by Sad13 (Courtesy photo)

The songs on "We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" are in the same vein of A Tribe Called Quest's 1991 classic "The Low End Theory." Every track is good enough to be a banger, but Tribe is more concerned with crafting a cohesive piece of art than pandering to the hip hop charts. After the particularly disappointing return of De La Soul with "and the Anonymous Nobody..." I was concerned about A Tribe Called Quest's new record. It would be a major misstep if one of hip-hop's legendary crews returned with a lackluster release. However, my concerns were immediately dismissed by excellent tracks like "The Space Program," "Dis Generation," "Black Spasmodic" and "Conrad Tokyo." "We Got It From Here...


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Thank You 4 Your Service" is our December CD of the month, so tune into 98.9 FM in Boulder or 1190 AM in Denver to hear one of 2016's best releases.

Speedy Ortiz quickly became one of indie rock's darling bands. With '90s swagger and an angular sound, the band took over college radio and toured extensively. Sadie Dupuis is the lead singer for Speedy Ortiz, and she just released a solo record, "Slugger," under the alias Sad13. The release is a firm departure from Speedy Ortiz. On this release, Dupuis favors weirdo-pop sounds (a la Grimes) over guitar-centered '90s rock. Sadie Dupuis has been quite vocal throughout her career about feminism, LGBTQ rights and social justice issues. "Slugger" tackles these topics more directly than Speedy Ortiz but discusses them through a bright pop lens. If you're a fan of Speedy Ortiz and want to hear something a little different, "Slugger" from Sad13 is an interesting release that might surprise you.

"Howlin," from Jagwar Ma, was a huge indie dance hit in 2013. Their follow-up, "Every Now & Then," expands their already-diverse sound into new arenas. Howlin was obsessed with a vibe — the vocals were buried underneath layers of synths, and the mix felt retro and psychedelic. Their new record is quite a bit poppier, with acid-inspired drum work and huge choruses. Jagwar Ma always reminded me of Primal Scream, and "Every Now & Then" sounds even more like "Screamadelic" than Howlin. For fans of Django Django or Hot Chip, "Every Now & Then" flies in just under the wire for year-end consideration. It's dancy, fast and groovy, and it might be what keeps you motivated this week. To hear these three records and even more great new music, be sure to tune into Radio 1190 this week.

Jarocki is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: coloradodaily.com/columnists