Omaha, Nebraska-based See Through Dresses is about to take the leap from ’80s- and ’90s-informed rock to a cleaner, synth-driven sound with its upcoming record.

On Pinegrove’s latest album, Cardinal, Evan Stephens Hall shows a knack for speaking in an accessible and unpretentious way about the struggles many people face. His lyrics read like people in their 20s actually talk.

The core of the Mexican-music-influenced folk outfit David Wax Museum is the husband-and-wife duo of David Wax and Suz Slezak, and they were becoming a father-and-mother duo as their fifth album was being written.

Shawn Holt would regularly ask his father – the Chicago-blues legend Magic Slim – when he could become a member of his backing band, the Teardrops.

When he began working on his latest album, singer/songwriter Dylan LeBlanc became interested in how people act a certain way.

The debut album from the Quad Cities instrumental ensemble The Low Down, 7 has a clearly defined sound with its jazzy funk, bright keyboards, and concisely well-spoken guitar against the busy percussion patterns. Fans of Carlos Santana’s distinctive fusion will feel right at home in the record’s smooth, comforting stew.

In a way, C.W. Stoneking’s Gon Boogaloo brings the Australian singer/songwriter/guitarist back to his childhood.

Har Mar Superstar’s latest album, Best Summer Ever, doesn’t always have the fun vibes one would expect given the title. Listen to “How Did I Get Through the Day,” a ballad that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on AM radio 60 years ago, for example. “I’m all alone, watching the phone,” sings Sean Tillman, who performs under the name Har Mar Superstar. “But you ain’t coming home.”

The song’s longing feels perfectly at home on Best Summer Ever. Many of the tracks focus on departures and yearning, such as closing track “Confidence” and the synthesizer-driven version of Bobby Charles’ “I Hope.”

Yet maybe these songs aren’t in conflict with the album’s title. Summertime is fleeting, as is the youth with which summer fun is most commonly associated.

Tillman explained the name of the sixth Har Mar Superstar record, which was released last month, in a phone interview ahead of his May 15 appearance at Daytrotter’s Davenport venue. “It’s something I say when people ask me to take photos with a group of friends, or if people are toasting,” he said. “No matter what time of year, I always say, ‘Best summer ever.’”

There’s more to the title than just being a goofy refrain Tillman uses with friends: “Since the album’s also kind of melancholy at a lot of points, I think that it’s got a nice kind of haunting, weird, sad vibe as well.”

When area blues-rock vocalist Alan Sweet, aided by numerous musician friends, prepared to launch the tribute project All Sweat Productions – performing a beloved album, in its entirety, in a live concert – he knew exactly which band, and which specific release, he wanted to honor first.

Abbey Road is probably on the top of my list of albums I’ve listened to more than any other music,” says Sweet, who has served as lead vocalist for the Candymakers for the past four years. “It’s my favorite Beatles album. It’s easily on my top five of favorite albums ever. And when I decided that that was the one I wanted to do as a live show, there was this outcry of people wanting to play on it. Everybody I got a hold of was just like, ‘Yes. Yes!’”

But while one of Sweet’s stated goals with All Sweat is to “re-create the live-show sound,” he and his musical collaborators immediately realized, as every Beatles fan knows, that there was a catch to their playing Abbey Road in concert the way its creators did.

“The Beatles weren’t performing live then,” says Sweet, referencing the 1969 release of Abbey Road. “When Bret [Dale] and I were first talking about how to play songs from the album, we were like, ‘Well, we’ll just see how the Beatles played it and do it like that. And then we’d remember: ‘They never played this song live! We’re screwed!’”

When Blue Grass, Iowa’s David G. Smith recorded his last studio album, he actually cut enough material for two records. Given the consistently topical/political nature of 2014’s One House, a listener might expect the leftovers to taste a little like ... leftovers.

As the singer/songwriter/guitarist said in an interview last week – in advance of the local album-release show for First Love – “This one covers quite a bit of territory. ... This record is a little bit more on the softer side of things, maybe a little more introspective. It’s funny how a group of songs can seem to fit together.”

Indeed, it’s easy to hear that the record is bound in sorrow; half of the songs deal with lives and loves lost.

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