Album Picks: Mikal Cronin, Best Coast, Hiatus Kaiyote, Metz

Posted by Billy Gil, May 5, 2015 10:11am | Post a Comment

Mikal CroninMCIII

Power-pop wunderkind Mikal Cronin’s new album is a significant leap forward for the singer/songwriter. While just as hooky as its preceding albums, MCIII is more heartfelt and intricate, boasting a six-song suite that has some of the album’s best melodies. “Turn Around” starts the album out with a somber tune nestled amid a flurry of electric guitars, violins and pianos. “Made Up My Mind” blasts off with a rocketship riff, while Cronin’s voice breaks under the weight of a breakup. Flourishes like horns, strings and acoustic guitars help give the album a sense of unified orchestration, while dynamics in songs like “Say,” full of cool, bass-driven breakdowns, make each song stand out. But the suite that makes up the last half of the album is its masterstroke. It moves from the spare and aching “i) Alone” to the heavy guitars of “ii) Gold,” through its outro played on the Greek stringed tzouras and into punk and singer/songwriter territory. Each song moves into the next beautifully and makes MCIII feel like Cronin’s Abbey Road. We’ve known Cronin has chops since playing bass with Ty Segall and could entertain freely on his first two albums, but MCIII is his first that feels like his own classic. Watch the just-released "Turn Around" video below, starring comedians Kurt Braunohler and Kristen Schaal.


Best CoastCalifornia Nights

Best Coast have found the perfect balance between their scrappy roots and pop ambitions on their third album. After an awesome first album that perfectly captured early-’20s angst with confessional lyrics and simple, lo-fi arrangements, album No. 2 aimed for maturity and a cleaned-up sound, with mixed results. Their great Fade Away EP seemed to backpedal a bit, and now California Nights is just right, kicking out distortion-laden odes to getting older and trying to get it together. “Feeling Ok” sees Bethany Cosentino pulling herself up after hard times and saying things are OK for now, while her cohort Bobb Bruno supplies alternately jangling and crushing riffs. Cosentino’s lyrics fall somewhere between melancholia and acceptance this time around, telling herself (and, presumably, her leagues of followers) to stop chasing some boy around and be fine on your own on the KROQ-nostalgic “Fine Without You.” While much of California Nights has ’90s rock radio on its mind, the title track and “Heaven Sent” digs into British shoegaze bands like Lush and ’80s Paisley Underground bands like early Bangles. The album sounds bigger and fuller than anything they’ve done, but Cosentino thankfully hasn’t lost the ability to write straightforward, relatable lyrics that offer a slice of her life, exposing the loneliness behind something as mundane as picking up your phone and seeing zero texts, or sitting in silence next to your boyfriend while watching TV, on the superb, Weezer-esque “In My Eyes.” Cosentino is at her best when she’s down to Earth, rather than aiming for profundity outright (“What is life? What is love?” on the bubblegum of “So Unaware”). California Nights has enough of those times to even out the more anthemic moments, while the melodies have never been catchier, making California Nights a thoroughly entertaining listen.


Hiatus KaiyoteChoose Your Weapon

The Australian jazz/soul/indie hybrid band makes an epic second album that sounds like nothing else out there, like Flying Lotus jamming with Lauryn Hill and Jonny Greenwood. The songs on Choose Your Weapon are dizzyingly complex, but they’re also soulful and engaging, thanks to magnetic vocalist Nai Palm. Ideally, Choose Your Weapon will be the album that changes Hiatus Kaiyote from acclaimed up-and-comers to a well-known band that commands respect.



Canadian trio Metz dole out mangled post-hardcore riffs like candy on their second album. It’s really no less of a full-on assault than their first album, but everything sticks a little more this time around—the songs are tighter and catchier, and Alex Edkins’ more than ever channels a less-snotty but still angry Johnny Rotten, spitting his vocals like bile over songs that hit like quick jabs. Ugly/beautiful noise for a new generation.

See all of this week's new releases

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Album Picks (146), New Albums (213), New Releases (221), Mikal Cronin (17), Best Coast (43), Hiatus Kaiyote (5), Metz (3)