Archive for the ‘Albums in Brief’ Category

Released This Week: Veronica Falls, Twin Sister, Youth Lagoon

Another week, another chunk of albums released. Here are three that may have flown under your radar more than, say, new Bjork or Wilco. I’m sure, however, there’s plenty I’ve missed, so send it along!


Twin Sister — In Heaven

I first saw Twin Sister open for Beirut in Salt Lake City. Until I heard In Heaven in its entirety, my knowledge was limited to basically that. That this is their debut LP might be a little hard to believe — it’s mature, inviting and a nice electronic indie pop record.



Veronica Falls — Veronica Falls

Everybody needs some noisy C86-style indie pop once in a while. When you can’t be arsed to get out your tapes, try this debut LP from Veronica Falls. It’s two years in the making and well worth the wait. Need a track to start with? Try “Stephen.”



Youth Lagoon — The Year of Hibernation

No week would be quite right without a reverby pop mess of an album — especially when that album is actually pretty good despite it all. Youth Lagoon is more in that synthesized-but-lush vein and it’s well worth a listen.


Released This Week: Sept. 20

Right, here are three albums released this week that I thought were worth touching on. If I’ve missed something you really enjoyed, please, let me know. Preferably not by yelling, but do what you must.

Ivy — All Hours

Full album stream (Soundcloud)


Here’s some interesting indie pop that delves into the electronic side of things. If you like what you hear from a few tracks, you’ll probably like the whole thing, though personally the strict rhythmic nature gets a bit overbearing at times. If you listen to the full album stream, you can catch some interesting thoughts from French-born Dominique Durand on the album — and that might make the whole thing worth a listen. It disrupts the flow of the album, sure, but it’s fun. Why not?


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Hysterical

Full album stream (NPR)


To be completely honest, I never really cared about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Just one of those band names, you know? Something about that name doesn’t sit right with me. Who knows why. Anyway, I don’t hate the music, though if you only read the first line of that, you’d think I did, and that’s only my fault. Hysterical’s more of that energetic pop music you may or may not love (hopefully for better reasons than I.) Who knows, maybe this album will finally change my unjustified opinion. Hell, if it holds up after this good first listen, I’ll change opinion immediately. At any rate, my rambling says nothing about the album.

Jens Lekman — An Argument With Myself (EP)

Full album stream (Soundcloud)


We all love things that remind us of a surprisingly effective but sadly imaginary collaboration between The Smiths and Stephin Merritt, and An Argument With Myself (especially that title track!) fits that mold surprisingly precisely. If this is a precursor to a third full-length, count me among those who are now sold on it. You see, this EP is really, really good.

Released This Week: AA Bondy, Girls, Mates of State, Wild Flag

AA Bondy — Believers


Well, he’s done it. He’s gone and changed his signature style. You know the one: stripped-down recordings, acoustic guitars, that voice of his. Thankfully, the change really is quite good: Believers is lush, evocative, and most importantly, an enjoyable 40 minutes of great songwriting.

Girls — Father, Son, Holy Ghost


I reviewed this album last week because I’ve been consistently impressed by the band and thought the new album would probably be worth a go. I think that may be the understatement of the year (though perhaps that’s an overstatement). Anyway, the album’s quite good. I’d parrot a bit of my review, but why don’t you just read it? Girls — Father, Son, Holy Ghost review []

Mates of State — Mountaintops


If more husband-and-wife indie pop, male and female harmonies leading the way, is what you want, Mates of State have predictably done it again. By their seventh album, they’ve got a very clear idea about how to do this sort of thing, and they aren’t straying too far from the ground they helped to establish in the genre.

Wild Flag — Wild Flag


Wild Flag are sort of this indie rock female supergroup featuring some names you’ll probably recognize — and one you’ll most definitely recognize (apologies if you don’t recognize her name!): Carrie Brownstein, best known for her work in Sleater-Kinney — though her sketch comedy show Portlandia is certainly growing in name recognition as well. Anyway, this album’s really, really good. Listen to it.

Released this Week: Regina, The Rapture, The Horrible Crowes, Roberts & Lord

Every week, we’ll take a look at some new releases (not all of them, unfortunately!) and talk a little about them and give you a chance to listen. God bless Tuesdays!

Regina — Soita Mulle

While people in the U.S. are busy sleeping, Regina are busy making beautiful indie pop in Helsinki. Unless they record at night. That’s possible. Check out “Unessa” and “Haluan Sinut” from Soita Mulle, due out September 20 on Friendly Fire. They’ll be releasing the album in Finland tomorrow.


The Rapture — In the Grace Of Your Love

In The Grace Of Your Love: More dance rock from the band that helped kick off the post-punk revival in the early 2000s. Stream it right here and give it a listen while you make some food. Or, you know, something. Dance, maybe.


The Horrible Crowes — Elsie

The Horrible Crowes, Brian Fallon’s new project, ranges from moody to energetic, but it usually falls on the side of the former. The instrumentation’s solid if not stunning, and that’s probably enough motive to give it a listen. If you’re only up for one track, try “Sugar,” but the whole thing’s available on SoundCloud.


Roberts & Lord — Eponymous

Rafter Roberts & Simon Lord have produced an endearing debut on Asthmatic Kitty: Eponymous promises some vaguely unconventional instrumentation and a wonderful sense of timing. Listen to “Oblique” and “Windmill” below and try not to get sucked into the sound. Check out more from Roberts in his project Rafters and more from Lord in Simian.


Brief: David Bazan’s latest showcases efficiency, secularism

Strange Negotiations

When an artist “goes solo,” does the sophomore album rule of thumb still apply? No matter, David Bazan’s avoided that particular pitfall with the solid Strange Negotiations with — not grace, but something like it. He’s never been a particularly graceful artist, and it’s one of his enviable strengths.

When he was fronting Pedro the Lion, Bazan was clumsy, awkward even, but he was ruthlessly efficient. That’s continued into his solo career: Bazan doesn’t just throw ideas into a song; he molds and crafts them to a point that the music almost seems secondary — not an ignored secondary aspect, and one that’s not given short shrift. by David Bazan

…This is an album that’s more lyrically subtle than Curse Your Branches, and in that same way, it’s sounds a deal less angry. Of course, we still have lines like, “Wake up in the morning / Check your revelation / Make sure you know it as well as you can,” in Level With Yourself. It’s clear that Strange Negotiations is not a wholly secular piece, but Bazan is clearly moving in that direction.

Read the entirety of this review written by Matthew Montgomery at No Ripcord.

(from No Ripcord)

January shapes up exciting 2011 music scene

Here's where I destroy the mystery of what I've pegged as number one for January.

January brought with it some stunners. I won’t bore you with exposition; let’s just get to the music.

5. Braids — Native Speaker
Native Speaker is mysterious and draws a bit long. It’s even kind of clumsy. Somehow, though, Native Speaker is satisfying — invigorating, even.

Braids — “Lemonade”
[audio:|titles=Braids – Lemonade]

Read my review at No Ripcord.

4. Robert Pollard — Space City Kicks
I worry sometimes when I talk about music from Robert Pollard. He’s sort of a demigod in the indie rock world, having been in the driving seat for many years with the inimitable GBV. Thankfully, Space City Kicks sees him to return to parsimonious songwriting again, and there are some really memorable tracks here.

Read my review at No Ripcord.

3. Ensemble — Excerpts
This is future chamber pop. Really, I think some French-speaking space aliens swooped down in a time travelling spaceship, dropped this indie pop at the band’s door, and it’s hit the world.

Ensemble – “Things I Forget”
[audio:|titles=Ensemble – “Things I Forget”]

Read my review at No Ripcord.

2. Smith Westerns — Dye it Blonde
Smith Westerns have taken their fragmented, noisy approach and spiffed it up. Dye it Blonde is fuzzy, exciting power pop. It ventures into euphoria sometimes. Yum.

Read my review at No Ripcord.

1. Destroyer — Kaputt
Destroyer, that brilliant man. Or Dan Bejar, that brilliant man. Something like that. He can hardly do wrong. Kaputt is everything done correctly. As a result, this is an early contender for album of the year — when the end comes, don’t forget about this January masterpiece.

Destroyer – “Chinatown”
[audio:|titles=Destroyer – “Chinatown”]

Read my review at No Ripcord.

And if you’re looking for more to check out:
• The Decemberists — The King is Dead. Good stuff, that. It’s the same band doing something different again. Keep it at, Meloy.
The Beets — Stay Home. Fuzzy, lo-fi, but some fine songwriting beneath it all.
Minks — By the Hedge. Hazy, noisy pop, but it’s got some good moments.
Oh No Oh My — People Problems. Refined, not brilliant. Not so sugary. I don’t mind.

And just wait for February:
• Esben and the Witch — Violet Cries. This is great stuff — brooding, mysterious, engaging wrapped in a very strange package. First listen was not great, but now I can’t get enough.
• Bright Eyes — The People’s Key. Conor Oberst as Bright Eyes: He’s back!
• Mogwai — Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. Post-rock goodness from part of the ruling class.
• James Blake — James Blake. Interesting Brit dubstep. Not my favorite of February so far, but I’ve set it as my alarm album a couple times to good effect. A little too dreamy to wake up to, but it’s fun.
• Asobi Seksu — Flourescence. I’ve not listened to this yet, but I have some high expectations. Not too high, but high.

Damn, I love Dreamend

Ryan Graveface, the man behind Dreamend, has had my ear for a number of years now. He first landed on my radar when I, on a bit of a whim, bought As If By Ghosts. I was, I think, duly impressed, and I’ve since paid some attention to Graveface, his label. Some of what’s released by the man is brilliant.

Maybe We’re Making God Sad and Lonely is no exception. This is a delectable mix of post-rock and pop; the swells, the drops, the hesitant approach and the glorious return: It’s all here, and it’s all masterfully done. This LP is among my favorite in my collection.

Listen to “New Zealand” below.

Latest from Aloha, Home Acres, blasts indie prog into perspective

The latest effort from American indie outfit Aloha is bold and refreshing: While not necessarily the pinnacle of progressive indie rock from Aloha, it’s 1) something new, and 2) something good. How many other indie rock bands are out using marimbas and bells? Home Acres features plenty of their musical trademark, but we get some delicious additions. The guitars are  magnanimous in their distorted quality, and I think at one point, we may hear an idiophone with gourds — maybe the balafon — resonating and buzzing away. Home Acres hits shelves tomorrow.

Purchase Home Acres