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Album Picks: Alvvays, La Roux, Common, White Fence, The Raveonettes

Posted by Billy Gil, July 22, 2014 09:40am | Post a Comment

Alvvays - Alvvays (LP, CD)

alvvays lpSomewhere between the sunny melancholia of Best Coast, earnest alt-rock of The Cranberries and the college rock of bands like Talulah Gosh lie Toronto's Alvvays. Their debut record is a delight of heartfelt naivete spun out in catchy indie-pop nuggets. Molly Rankin's lovably untrained voice pleads irresistibly on the charming "Archie, Marry Me" amid a four-chord, minor-key jangle. "Don't leave ... we can find comfort in debauchery" Rankin sings with the requisite mix of winking irony and legitimate feeling; taken with the songs lovely synth strings and gently rambling nature, it comes off like future nostalgia for a time that's currently being experienced. Youth may be wasted on the young, but Alvvays make young sadness sound pure and sweet on their debut.

 

La Roux - Trouble In Paradise (LP, CD)

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Album Picks: Morrissey and Jungle

Posted by Billy Gil, July 15, 2014 10:48am | Post a Comment

Morrissey - World Peace Is None Of Your Business (LP, CD)

morrissey world peace is none of your business lpWorld Peace Is None of Your Business might be Moz’s angriest album yet. Full of bitter political cynicism and social commentary, the album has the feel of a knowing screed by someone who’s seen it all and whose attitude mostly feels justified. Whether he’s detailing the death of a beat poet (“Neal Cassady Drop Dead’s” “everyone has babies, babies full of rabies” line is priceless) or bemoaning the futility of human connection (“you fail as a woman and you lose as a man” he sings in “Earth Is the Loneliest Planet”), Morrissey’s in classic sardonic mode, while musically the band lays on touches of flamenco guitar, a digitized beat here and a harp there, to form a more lush version of the hard-hitting rock sound he’s employed for the latter half of his career. I can't say that I love the title tracks, in which Morrisey's frustration is understood, but its “each time you vote you support the process” seems insensitive to the places and people that have fought long and hard for this right. Still, it’s hard to resist when he’s in his finest form, on tracks like the extended “I’m Not a Man,” in which Morrissey places his militant vegetarianism and pacificism front-and-center as a new form of manhood, reminiscent of his classic line “it takes strength to be gentle and kind,” (from The Smiths’ “I Know It’s Over”) amid glittering synthesizers and glam stomp. For anyone who’s unfairly labeled Morrissey a miserablist in the past, World Peace shows Moz as an elder statesman with his fists clenched and plenty of piss ‘n’ vinegar left in his system. Also, don't forget—Morrissey just had one of his best albums, Vauxhall & I, re-released last month, get that shit.

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Album Picks: The Proper Ornaments, The Skygreen Leopards, Matthewdavid

Posted by Billy Gil, July 8, 2014 10:43am | Post a Comment

The Proper OrnamentsWooden Head (CD, Download)

the proper ornaments wooden head cdThe latest by London’s Proper Ornaments mines melodic gold out of tautly constructed little indie rock songs. Think of the dark corners of Velvet Underground songs or early Pavement given a little shoegaze shine, and you’re close. And if you think it's unfair to compare them to ’90s bands, they have a great krautrocker called “Stereolab.” But really, the band’s sly hooks stand on their own, especially on songs like the twangy “Now I Understand” and slinky British Invasion-inspired “Don’t You Want to Know (What You’re Going to Be).”

 

The Skygreen Leopards Family Crimes (CD)

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Album Picks: Beverly, Brian Eno & Karl Hyde

Posted by Billy Gil, July 1, 2014 08:34am | Post a Comment

Beverly - Careers (LP, CD)

beverly careers lpFizzy, alt-rock distortion, cooing, girlish vocals and surf-pop melodies make up this duo’s incredibly likable debut record. With Frankie Rose (of solo, Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts fame) on board, Drew Citron’s delicate songs get just the right amount of rhythmic punch and fuzzy bite. The songs range from sweet and easy (“Honey Do”) to kind of creepy and menacing (“Planet Birthday”) in a quiet girl in the back of the class kind of way. It’s not the most original thing you’ve ever heard—you can easily pick out the Pixies/Breeders references on songs like “Madora”—but that shouldn’t curb your enjoyment, as these two are far from the first to pull from that well. They’re even better on songs like “All the Things,” which build from that mold but stretch into strange ways, blending melodies and chords into the grays in between the bright color bands. And the production is pure ’80s college rock heaven, sounding like remastered C86 tracks or early Rough Trade songs that hadn’t seen the light of day before. So, you may know what you’re getting with Beverly, but in the capable hands of these two, that proves to be a very good thing.

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Album Picks: A Sunny Day in Glasgow, How to Dress Well, Kitten, Robyn & Royksopp, The Cleaners From Venus, Slint

Posted by Billy Gil, June 24, 2014 10:36am | Post a Comment

A Sunny Day in GlasgowSea When Absent (LP, CD)

a sunny day in glasgow lpOne of my favorite bands of the past few years makes their “breakthrough” record, moving the vocals to the forefront, dialing back some of the dairy farm’s worth of milky reverb and cutting some of the more atmospheric pieces in favor of straight dream pop, though newcomers to the band may still feel plenty disoriented. This is dream pop in the truest sense, moving in unexpected and imaginatibe directions, with only the minimally required regard to typical pop song structure. On songs like “Byebye, Big Ocean (The End)” and “In Love With the Useless (The Timeless Geometry in the Tradition of Passing),” ASDIG mastermind Ben Daniels builds towers of seafoam guitars and Annie Fredrickson and Jen Goma’s strung-together vocals, ebbing and flowing and wafting into the background before surrounding and overwhelming you once again. It’s a wonderful experience getting lost in the album’s twists and turns—you come away half-remembering melodies and bits of guitar like some amazing dream you can’t describe, though this time the songs themselves are more concrete, easing new listeners’ entry into the band’s strange soundworld. It’s their strongest album yet, and surely one of the year’s best.

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