When The Big Pink’s massive electro-rock sound arrived amidst the contrasting boom of smallscale bedroom acts in 2009, it was refreshing, or at least something to marvel at. On the strength of stadium-sized sing-alongs like “Velvet” and “Dominos“, the British duo experienced a pop-level breakthrough campaign for their debut LP A Brief History of Love, which found them opening arena shows for Muse, and also set themselves up for that near impossible to orchestrate correctly, follow-up album. If the MGMT route of experimental reinvention/fanbase redirection is one way to go about it, The Big Pink seem to have attempted the very opposite on Future This: broader, more accessible strokes of the same. This strategy might lose some critics but will no doubt keep their rise on pace; “Stay Gold” and “Hit The Ground (Superman)” will both make fine hits, even if they don’t improve on a formula.
[BoxTitle]Matthew Dear: Headcage EP[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://vimeo.com/33172690[/MusicVideo] [Listen menu="http://music.aol.com/new-releases-full-cds/spinner#/3,http://open.spotify.com/album/6HdNCrIrzuyw21Bm8JravG "]http://open.spotify.com/album/6HdNCrIrzuyw21Bm8JravG[/Listen] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/Headcage/dp/B006H3DQGE/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326749546&sr=1-1[/BuyNow]
Electronic journeyman Matthew Dear never leaves the cycle for too long; he seems to be a workaholic and also gets harder to classify with every release. 2010’s Black City offered up a starker and darker tone, and further embraced a shift towards putting his voice in the center of things. As a four track lead-up to a full length due later this year, Headcage adds a little pep to his latest step, and also introduces collaboration—Jonny Pierce of The Drums shows up on “In the Middle (I Met You There)”, along with some co-production help from Van Rivers and the Subliminal Kid on its title track.
[BoxTitle]Expensive Looks: Dark Matters[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://vimeo.com/31061066[/MusicVideo] [Listen]http://open.spotify.com/album/1pObz164vgCp8R99VTADQF[/Listen] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/Dark-Matters/dp/B006CQSXSC/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326749656&sr=1-1[/BuyNow]
After getting some 2010 buzz from a handful of bandcamp releases and remixes of Grizzly Bear and Dom, New York’s Alec Feld aka Expensive Looks let momentum slip a bit in the long wait between pulsing single “Vanishers” and his proper LP debut over a year later. As it tends to do, time sorts it all out though, as Dark Matters feels thorough, even if a bit past the height of rave-ready psych-pop. The rapid fire of beats, textures, and long-gone blasted vocals hit in a style that some folks may have already grown tired of, but nonetheless, they are reliably rhythmic, and worthy of the term, jams.
[BoxTitle]Howler: America Give Up[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/swg9X1LcXm8[/MusicVideo] [Listen]http://www.npr.org/2012/01/08/144623504/first-listen-howler-america-give-up,http://open.spotify.com/album/60NjGjqNovgK08eZq4FFjK[/Listen] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/America-Give-Up-Howler/dp/B0067F20CS/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1326749982&sr=1-1[/BuyNow]
Yes it seems the music world still searches for a band to call the next Strokes; we yearn for a return of fun guitar music and then when something come along that directly recalls it we generally call out ‘derivative’. Such may be the story for Howler, a young group of Minneapolis brats who make dangerously catchy power-pop, packaged in easy to digest, three minute doses. Take your pick of singles. America Give Up is not the least bit original but hey, it’s pretty enjoyable from a certain distance, so let’s just let these guys have their run.
[BoxTitle]Kathleen Edwards: Voyageur[/BoxTitle] [MusicVideo]http://youtu.be/LdTF_M-h1J4[/MusicVideo] [Listen menu="http://www.npr.org/2012/01/08/144623320/first-listen-kathleen-edwards-voyageur,http://open.spotify.com/album/2CjPZev1d4F9fVnRV4TcQh"]http://open.spotify.com/album/2CjPZev1d4F9fVnRV4TcQh[/Listen] [BuyNow]http://www.amazon.com/Voyageur-Kathleen-Edwards/dp/B005UNDSKQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326748260&sr=8-1[/BuyNow]
On her 4th album, Canadian alt-country underdog Kathleen Edwards comes out from her usual singer/songwriter shell to render something more direct and heartfelt, and also relevant, given the vocal back-up and production hand from her boyfriend, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. Simply put, Voyageur is a very pretty record with a lot of substance. It won’t convert fans too far outside of its folk-oriented niche, but there’s a lot of them out there, and it deserves their time.
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