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Album Picks: Kisses, Protomartyr, Alex G

Posted by Billy Gil, October 9, 2015 12:02pm | Post a Comment

KissesRest in Paradise

Kisses continue to make smart, chilled-out disco-pop on their third album, stripping back some of the atmospherics of previous releases and upping the grooves. Spareness reveals how lovely Jesse Kivel’s voice and melodies are on a song like “Sun,” as Kivel moves from singing over a solo beat into a falsetto over romantic synth touches. Freestyle and ’80s synth R&B inform tracks like “Control” without them being mere homages. Most of Rest in Paradise sits comfortably as headphone-friendly electro pop, but a track like “A Groove” also gets your blood pumping with its high-hats, rubbery bassline and pure disco strings and guitars. Rest in Paradise is perhaps the L.A. duo’s best and boldest album yet, building on their easy appeal while delivering the disco jammers in spades.

 

Protomartyr The Agent Intellect

Protomartyr make no-bullshit indie rock. Guitars are as in-tune as when they pick them up. Joe Casey’s vocals are declarative and fierce, eschewing melody in favor of direct emotion, spitting “I will make them feel the way I do” on surging opener “The Devil in His Youth.” This isn’t to say Protomartyr are sloppy. Everything on The Agent Intellect feels finely honed, drawing from bands like Husker Du, R.E.M. and Guided By Voices to distill bile-ridden diatribes into taut, nihilistic post-punk. Protomartyr’s tunneling rhythms and mangled notes aren’t particularly pretty, but The Agent Intellect feels true and cathartic. “Tell me how you really feel” might be one of the most annoying phrases in the English language. Protomartyr answer in kind.

 

Alex G - Beach Music

With ’90s alt-rock nostalgia played out, it was only a matter of time before we’d see acts inspired by the slowcore and math-rock sounds of the late ’90s and early ’00s. Enter Alex G, a bedroom pop wiz whose Beach Music is a loving throwback to that era. After a red herring of a noisy opening, G (stands for Giannascoli) delves right in with “Bug,” its lockstep arrangement and soft touch reminiscent of early aughts indie-pop stalwarts like American Analog Set, Pinback and the first few Death Cab For Cutie albums. This isn’t too say he’s not an original — Giannascoli possesses a wobbly tunefulness and experimental nature that’s his own, shifting gears for the jazzy fingerpicking of “Thorns”; weary, horn-laden piano ballad “In Love,” inspired by the likes of Tom Waits and Sparklehorse; or the loungey electronics of “Salt,” which makes him sound like a kinder cousin to Ariel Pink. Giannascoli’s fragile voice and proud gentleness helps his skipping melodies stick, while his unpredictability keeps you intrigued throughout Beach Music’s 13 tracks. If Giannascoli’s the new face of DIY indie pop, we say, bring it.

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Album Picks (146), New Albums (213), New Releases (214), Kisses (9), Protomartyr (2), Alex G (1)