Since his 2006 debut, Zach Condon has very much grown up in front of the indiephere’s eyes. His balkan influenced baroque folk came across impossibly seasoned and sincere for a teenage project from Santa Fe, making him something of a wonderboy, and instant royalty. 2007’s The Flying Club Cup proved it wasn’t a fluke, going for even grander arrangements—all sounding historically rich and worldly, as if recovered from some lost era. Next was a tinkering in electronic pastures (to mixed but still underrated effect), and now he’s returned to that familiar piano, ukulele, and trumpet—this time exercising a new-found restraint. While it’s his shortest LP, The Rip Tide contains some of Condon’s most patient ballads to date.
Brooklyn’s Widowspeak are by no means breaking new boundaries with their breathy, female-fronted downer pop. But they are writing exceptional songs that connect grunge-leaning angst with softer swooning. Their self titled debut deals mainly with heartache, and does so both intimately and at times, on a full 50s swing.
Sporting the sweetest pysch-hooks since early MGMT, last year’s Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP quickly put these Massachusetts brats on the map. It also put them in a studio for the next one, with surely their pick of production help—and Nicolas Vernhes (Björk, Animal Collective, Deerhunter) was it. Family of Love manages to preserve some of that experimental garage charm, while upgrading the straightforward synth-pop. It’s a harmlessly catchy EP and should keep these guys rising steadily.
Following a string of EPs and last year’s Beauregard, atmospheric folk-pop duo Pepper Rabbit return with a bigtime record on Kanine. While they now reside in LA, their New Orleans roots still shine through, as they call upon some 11 instruments in this spirited effort. Heavily layered and ever so sprawled, Red Velvet Snowball goes to uplifting highs and haunting lows, never quite settling in one place. Call it overactive, or immensely interesting, depending on your threshold for variety.
This previously unreleased set from a 1991 UK radio session collects 6 pristine tracks from the rock legend. Cleaner than bootlegs, less dependable than reissues, this is for ultimate fans (and those in search of a nice dad gift).