by: Matt Buga
James Husband- A Parallax I [Polyvinyl]
Did you used to listen to Of Montreal way back when? Stripped down 60s influenced indie pop/Cherry Peel-era? Well boy have we got a treat for you/me. This album is a collection of recordings by James Huggins, long-term core member of Of Montreal, from the past 12 years. Electric and acoustic and keyboard all over this 70s pop influenced gem. In case you're skeptical about this album, its worth mentioning that this album is more progressive/less retro-worship than the run-of-the-mill Elephant Six collective he was a part of!
Grooms- Rejoicer [Death By Audio]
Art-damaged pop rock that sort of hearkens back to early-mid 90s emo ala Cap'n Jazz. Twinkly guitars, melodic but complimented with slightly dissonant chords in a Beefheart sort of way, plus loud blasts of guitar-walls occasionally. Pleasant for the most part, so don't be intimidated in case I made it sound too rough!
Thomas Function- In the Valley of Sickness [Fat Possum Records]
Yeeeeesssss. Easy-going mildly Southern rock influenced garage rock (yeah its pretty mildly influenced) topped off with nasally vocals makin' an album more than just verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. Rather than being balls-out-rock-n-roll, its a little more fun and easy to listen to instead. Thumbs up dudes. Good use of keyboard/organ too!
Lake- Let's Build a Roof [K Records]
Legit pop music by a core group of 6 musicians. Very nice and poppy, sort of has a 70s pop sound. A lot of varied instrumentation (the saxophone is a nice touch) which gives a minor prog sound sometimes, as well as a good variety of musical styles.
Atlas Sound- Logos [Kranky]
A solo album from Deerhunter frontman, Bradford Cox. A lot of multi-layered pop songs that would be folk if it wasn't for the wide instrumentation and unique production values. A dreamy and clean album.
Kurt Vile - Childish Prodigy [Matador]
This partly reminds of the James Husband add this week, but without as much 70s pop influence and maybe a little more range while still maintaining a no-frills approach that shows off a fantastic ear for melody. Its got a raw rocker or two, some acoustic ballads, and no inauthentic "I'm a real gritty 70s dude" aesthetic. You can hear the influence of some classics, but Kurt Vile honestly ain't rehashing or gimmicking. I swear.
Thao With The Get Down Stay Down- Know Better Learn Faster [Kill Rock Stars]
Just well written tunes here. No fancy production tricks here, the upbeat song-writing stands up for itself. Has guest spots from Andrew Bird, Blitzentrapper, and the Tune-Yards!
Do Make Say Think- Other Truths [Constellation Records]
Bands like this and Tortoise set the bar for instrumental lyric-less rock. Each song keeps on evolving, well-structured to avoid becoming stale. Each of the four long tracks balance an atmospheric quality while still demanding your attention.
The Shot Heard Around The World - Felluponstone [Mountain Landis]
Excellent quirky guitar-work/interplay inspired by The Byrds might be the initial defining factor of this one, and it definitely grows on you. Don't worry, they don't noodle too much on the guitars, its a very sincere sounding album that should hit your heart somewhere. Somewhere in between the Byrds and the Meat Puppets, but closer to the Byrds.
The Aliens- Luna [Birdman Records]
Featuring three members of the Beta Band, these guys are reppin' psychedelic pop progressive rock pretty well. Good complex songs, and way inspired by Dark Side of the Moon.
Old Canes- Feral Harmonic [Saddle Creek]
A folk-rock project from the front man of the Appleseed Cast. But just because I say folk does NOT mean this is slow and relaxed or whatever. The fierce backing drums on this album really give this album a strong push. Very energetic.
The Mountain Goats- The Life of the World to Come [4AD]
Another addition to the already gigantic discography of the Mountain Goats! Lyric-focused folk, this time immersing itself in Biblical poetry and imagery as noticeable in the track listing. Not necessarily professing religious faith, but more inspired and aesthetically influenced by it.
Zoos of Berlin - Taxis [Self-released]
This four-piece has that sleek indie pop sound. Like keyboards, those cool calm vocals, and some pretty fantastic tones on the keyboard and guitars I must say. Upbeat, fast, melodic, and dance-able too if the mood strikes.
King Kong Ding Dong- Youth Culture Index [self released]
That organic tribal psychedelic pop sound! Built around samples, reverb, pulsing percussion, and other wacky sounds. If you liked the Magic Fingers add a little while back you'll dig this too!
The Heavy- The House That Dirt Built [Counter]
Way soulful blues/rnb/garage! The singer is really belting out his lungs here, and is good at it too. If you like King Khan and the Shrines, you will really like this. And I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I might say you might like these guys better.
Har Mar Superstar- Dark Touches [Dilettante]
Everyone's favorite soulful funky trashy rpm groove-meister. Inappropriate lyrics coupled with fat beats are the name of the game. For fans of Peaches.
White Rainbow- New Clouds [Kranky]
Now this is what I call psychedelic ambient drone pop! Four long expansive tracks, layered with simple world-inspired beats, guitar washes, fuzzy ambient sheets, echo-ing guitar, and some more layers to make thick complex ambient pop soundscapes. Fantastic.
Wrnlrd- Myrmidon [Flingco Sound System]
Blackened experimental doom metal! Or make that doom'd experimental black metal actually. Definitely got the signature thin black metal guitar sound, usually slow or mid-tempo, weird noise thrown in, some operatic vocals, growls, and the last track sort of sounds like Nurse With Wound. If you like Menace Ruine and Sunn 0))) and/or lo-fi black metal, this is directly for you.