|Listing||Infinity Overhead|| |
|Minus the Bear|
|Good As New||Gone|| |
|One Woman Army||One Woman Army|| |
|Get Free (feat. Amber of Dirty Projectors)||Get Free|| |
|Lord Knows||End of Daze|| |
|Dum Dum Girls|
|Other People||Bloom|| |
|Nancy from Now On||Fear Fun|| |
|Father John Misty|
|I Still Believe||Last Minutes and Lost Evenings|| |
|Dead Pontoon||June 2009|| |
|Toro y Moi|
|Stay Useless||Attack On Memory|| |
|Do the Trick||Be the Void|| |
|Get Up And Go||Dept. Of Disappearance|| |
|The Rebound||Cedar + Gold|| |
|Mates of State|
|Fever||Beware and Be Grateful|| |
|Maps & Atlases|
|When I Was Young||The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy|| |
|La Grande||La Grande|| |
After the more laid-back, electronic-focused Omni, Minus the Bear return with a little more bite and purpose for their fifth album, Infinity Overhead. Where their last effort went for smoothness through layers of synthesizers, this album finds Minus the Bear falling back in love with their guitars, getting back to the intricate, mathy sound of their earlier work. "Toska" and "Cold Company" show off a return of the tapped-out guitar lines that helped to define their sound, with the latter featuring some truly dazzling flourishes. More impressive than the guitar work, however, is how casual the whole thing manages to sound. Whether they're firing off lightning-fast guitar licks or delivering something more languid and nuanced, like the plaintive and atmospheric "Heaven Is a Ghost Town," the effort level feels generally the same, with the band remaining in control. While this can sometimes cause the album's pace to feel a bit homogeneous, Minus the Bear's keen ear for layered melody provides a lot of depth for listeners to explore. Though Infinity Overhead isn't exactly a return to form for Minus the Bear, it does find them moving back toward what they do best, and is a step in a promising direction for fans hoping for the band to return to the more vigorous sound of Menos el Oso, and even though the album may lack a bit of fire, it feels like an olive branch to fans who may have been disappointed by Omni's more electronic sound.
Gregory Heaney, Rovi
End of Daze has all the hallmarks of a placeholder EP, a couple tracks recorded as B-sides, a cover, and a couple of new songs. Placeholder it may be, but it's also one of the best recordings Dum Dum Girls have done to date. It expands their sound, delves into some new sonic textures, and cements Dee Dee's place as one of the more interesting and expressive vocalists around. The first two tracks ("Mine Tonight" and "I Got Nothing") were recorded just after the sessions for Only in Dreams finished. They have the same polished and almost slick sound, but a bit more energy and punch than anything on that album. "Mine Tonight" is the closest Dum Dum Girls have come to sounding like producer Sune Rose Wagner's band the Raveonettes, sharing their girl-group-in-a-whirlwind aesthetic. "I Got Nothing" is a stripped-back, raging rocker with nice dynamics that would have been a high point of Only in Dreams. The cover of Strawberry Switchblade's "Trees and Flowers" is magical, featuring Dee Dee's heartbreaking vocals and swirling shoegaze guitars that sound like they were lifted off a Pale Saints album. Of the two newer songs, the straightforward ballad "Lord Knows" lacks something musically (a hook, maybe), but Dee Dee's vocal is enough to put the song over. "Season in Hell" is the EP's high point musically, adding a healthy dose of Echo & the Bunnymen-style atmosphere (and loud drums!) to the mix to go along with Dee Dee's dramatically pure vocals. The soaring chorus is the most open-hearted and optimistic-sounding music Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls have committed to tape, and shows that sadness isn't the only emotion they can convey.
Tim Sendra, Rovi
Bloom is the fourth studio album from Baltimore duo Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand who make up Beach House. The songs for the record were written during the downtime of touring 2010 release Teen Dream, when a collection of ideas were conceived on the road and during sound checks, before being fully formed in their Baltimore home. Bloom was recorded through the back end of 2011 at Sonic Ranch Studios, Texas, alongside Teen Dream co-producer Chris Coady (Gang Gang Dance, Zola Jesus, TV on the Radio) and first single “Myth” swells gently around Legrand’s vocals with familiar ease., Rovi
Calexico had intended to record the follow-up to 2008's gorgeous Carried to Dust somewhere in Europe, but when those plans fell through, they chose America's most European city, New Orleans, as their destination. The change of scenery is definitely felt in Algiers, named for the neighborhood in which they set up shop. While Joey Burns and John Convertino haven't suddenly thrown Cajun and zydeco into their repertoire, there's still a rich stew (or should that be gumbo?) of sounds here. Calexico are never obvious, and their homage to the Big Easy is neither grandiose nor simple; instead, they incorporate subtle hints of the city's rich musical heritage into their own distinctive style. Algiers is bookended by songs that allude to "The House of the Rising Sun" in their pedal steel melodies; Convertino emphasizes the jazz side of his formidable percussion skills; and "No Te Vayas" is a fitting, and dramatic, tribute to New Orleans' Latin and jazz musical roots. This time, however, Calexico's attitude, while not exactly boisterous, is a lot less studied and restrained than it has been in years, resulting in a more down-to-earth set of songs than they've delivered in quite a while. "Splitter"'s big brass and drums make it louder than the band's past few albums combined; "Sinner in the Sea" strikes sparks with its mix of blues and Latin rhythms, marking the first time in a long time that Burns' voice has risen above a whispery croon; and while "Maybe on Monday"'s bitter but ambiguous farewell to a lover may not be a true murder ballad, it has the sharp sting of one. However, the band still deals largely in shadows and echoes, and Algiers has plenty of those. "Puerto" and the title track feel like they could be a part of Calexico's catalog from way back when, while the single "Para" shows off their eerie, hypnotic side and the lovely Americana pop of "Fortune Teller" and "Hush" recalls Garden Ruin's folky idylls. While these tales of people trying to escape their pasts aren't quite as masterful as Carried to Dust, Algiers has some great songs and a vitality that Calexico should try to hang onto in the future.
Heather Phares, Rovi
Despite the kill-the-past title Attack on Memory, Cloud Nothings' second album conjures up the ghosts of bands such as Nirvana, Unwound, and Fugazi -- acts whose heydays occurred when Dylan Baldi was a tyke, and all of them far heavier than his previous work. In that sense, Attack on Memory is a break with Cloud Nothings' past, and one they're not shy about advertising; the album's first two songs are so different than what came before, they're almost unrecognizable. "No Future/No Past" builds from a hypnotic dirge into scorched-earth screaming that echoes In Utero's bleakest moments, while "Wasted Days"' nearly nine-minute excursion into self-loathing and band interplay is an even bigger departure. That Cloud Nothings pull off such big changes so well can be chalked up partly to Baldi's evolution as a songwriter, but also to the fact that this is the first album his live band has played on with him (and Steve Albini's production gives added impact to their blows). With this extra firepower, Baldi dives headlong into songs that capture those moments when ripping it up and starting again is the only choice, whether it's the caustic "No Sentiment" or "Our Plans"' more tuneful desperation. As strong as Attack on Memory's forays into heavier territory are, Cloud Nothings still sound more natural, and more versatile, when they serve up the fuzzed-out pop Baldi developed on his singles and first album. He sounds downright innocent on "Stay Useless"' pleas for breathing room, and anything but on "Cut You," where a singsong melody only slightly sweetens the curdled jealousy of lyrics like "Can he be as mean as me?/Can he cut you in your sleep?" At some point, it might do Cloud Nothings good to take stock of just how far they've come with every release, but Attack on Memory is another fine snapshot of a band that is growing and playing as fast as it can.
Heather Phares, Rovi
If Tristan Prettyman's 2008 release Hello...x was somewhat inspired by her split with fellow singer/songwriter Jason Mraz, then her intimate, musically varied 2012 effort Cedar + Gold, recorded after the couple reunited, got engaged, and then broke it off again, is Prettyman's definitive breakup record. Produced by Greg Wells, Cedar + Gold continues the more instrumentally fleshed-out electric and electronic sound that the largely acoustic-oriented Prettyman explored on Hello...x. This newfound musical maturity also extends into her songwriting, as Cedar + Gold features some of the most introspective, self-examinational, and emotionally raw songs of her career. In that sense, such tracks as the passionate "Second Chance" and the rambling country-blues-inflected "My Oh My," with their anthemic, soulful melodies and dancey percussion, bring to mind such similarly inclined contemporaries as Colbie Caillat, Mat Kearney, and even the operatic uplift of Florence + the Machine. As Prettyman and Mraz's relationship was a public one, with the couple often performing together on tour, it's fairly clear what such songs as "Second Chance," "Quit You," and, most obviously, "I Was Gonna Marry You," are about. But rather than coming off as mere diary entries set to music, Prettyman displays a true craftsman's touch. The cuts on Cedar + Gold are both personal and universally relatable, with melodies that stick in your head and tug at your heart.
Matt Collar, Rovi
New York indie rock veterans Nada Surf mark their 20th year in existence with the release of The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, their seventh studio album. Recorded with a view to re-creating their energy and sound from live shows, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy has a more raucous sound than 2010’s If I Had a Hi-Fi and features “When I Was Young.”
Daniel Clancy, Rovi
Aside from a stray 2010 covers album, Mates of State have been quiet for some time. Of course, raising kids can do that, but Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel sound ready to burst on “Palomino,” the first song on Mountaintops. The tock of a drum machine gets washed away by a sumptuous blast of “oooh-ooohs” and the propulsion of Hammel’s snare. It’s as heady as any pop rush the couple has concocted, and the duo are clearly trying to reclaim the breakout indie-sweetheart mantel from Matt and Kim, the other couple of keyboard-mashers and drum-bangers.
Andy Beta, Google Play