Owen Pallett
A Swedish Love Story EP
Domino
Street: 09.28
Owen Pallett = Final Fantasy + Parenthetical Girls + Andrew Bird
This first release since Pallett’s newest album got everyone all excited earlier this year. A Swedish Love Story is much more He Poos Clouds and much less Heartland. Pallett doesn’t rely too heavily on his Korg, going back to his violin and loop pedal instead to create lush orchestrations. Only the opening and closing tracks (“A Man With No Ankles” and “Don’t Stop,” respectively) have the upbeat synth and drumlines that Heartland got us accustomed to. The middle portion of the EP is catchy, well written, and heavily orchestrated, like the old Final Fantasy records I know and love. Like most of his early records, A Swedish Love Story plays through like a dramatic Victorian production. As always, Owen is a one-man string quartet. “Honour the Dead, or Else” is definitely the slowest point on the four-track EP, but other than that, this release is fairly exuberant and fun.­ –Cody Hudson


Salem
King Night
IAMSOUND
Street: 09.28
Salem = Hideous Men + Pictureplane + Telepathik Friend
For those of you not immersed in the careerist-music blogging Salem, and the genre tags connected to it (witch-house, goth-step), let’s play catch-up. The Traverse City electronic trio write exclusively bleak tomes to the night. Salem’s sound palate is informed by equal parts late 2000s goth, 90s shoegaze and the massive bottom end, squiggly synth lines, and microbreaks of hyphy and crunk. While poised to break in 2008, Salem took their time, watched the genre they supposedly started run laps around them, and then dropped an absolutely epic album that is as exhilarating as it is totally black. Like, evil … but totally gorgeous. Rapped ruminations on stalking and murder are chopped and screwed down to an unbelievably slow, 16-bar Lortab trudge through druggy atmospherics matching the sometimes-comatose BPM count that is the trademark of “witch house.” King Night is completely paranoid, malicious but incredibly beautiful. –Ryan Hall
 

Seven Saturdays
The Snowflakes that Hit Us Became Our Stars
Seven Saturdays
Street: 08.31
Seven Saturdays = Album Leaf + Sigur Rós + Air
The wonderful thing about playing this sort of qualifier-laden post-rock/classical music that composer Jonathan D. Haskell performs is that you can be as derivative as you want and still retain a massive amount of emotional heft to completely floor a listener. As easy it is to tack a line between Haskell’s influences (The Album Leaf, Balmorhea, Air) and the emotional response he is aiming for, his impressive command over cinematic timing never comes off as forced or labored. Heaven-bound bowed strings, classically informed piano lines, bellowing organs, a competent rhythm section, layered guitar drones and radio static create a completely arresting listen equally suitable for intense headphone sessions and nighttime drives. –Ryan Hall


Sisters
Ghosts Fits
Narnack
Street: 09.28
Sisters = Sonic Youth + Pavement + No Age
Aaron Pfannebecker and Matt Conboy make up this Brooklyn drums-and-guitar duo, Sisters. As soon as you listen to their debut album, Ghosts Fits, it’s clear the duo picked their name up from Sonic Youth’s fourth album. “The Curse” kicks off with skuzzy guitar and youthful drum patter. Ahh shit … I love a sharp-dressed band who wears their influences well. The forceful, up-tempo Pavement-esque “Glue” is the catchiest offering, propelled by a head-bobbing hook and dense cacophony. The distortion crashes in on “Synesthesia” and the duo briefly shows a quiet side with the stripped-down “Highway Scratch.” “Here It Comes” hits and I am blown away by the dizzying technical proficiency, so much noise coming from just two people. Ghosts Fits is a debut full of honest-to-goodness blistering guitar pop-rock, proving the ‘90s continue to live on. –Courtney Blair

Small Black
New Chain
Jagjaguwar
Street: 10.26
Small Black = Washed Out + Dom + Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Small Black’s earlier work suggests a band who played under the pall of lo-fidelity out of necessity, and not because their songs weren’t structurally sound enough to exist outside of ample heaps of analog tape hiss. Much like that EP, every track on New Chain is punctuated with more than its fair share of incredible pop hooks. While the duo has been rounded out to a quartet and the band had a sizable budget to record this, Small Black still work with submerged tones, choosing to bury their synth-pad electronic beats and lock-step bass work beneath a sea of vocal loops and a newly minted, shimmering mid-tone range. Ryan Heyner’s voice often steals the show. While oozing that disaffected coolness so associated with lo-fi pop bands of the past few years, Heyner sounds completely invested into his songs. His unnoticed vocal lilts turn catchy choruses into totally unforgettable moments. (Kilby: 11.12) –Ryan Hall