Daniel Pimentel = Modest Mouse x Blitzen Trapper + Ben Gibbard
Opening with various voicemails about overdue library books and deeply personal fights with friends, Selfish Songs offers a detailed look inside Daniel Pimentel’s life right from the get-go. The album continues to follow this pattern with each song exploring different sounds and themes—see folk-rock tendencies on “Wanderlust” versus the soul-searching contemplativeness of “Alleluia” to the piano-pop ditty in “Light Blues.” Normally, I shy away from artists that attempt such a vast variety of sound, but here it actually works. Each song is a natural progression of the one before it, creating a moderate balance across alternating genres. Definitely worth picking up. –Allison Shephard
Yellow K Records
New God = Elliott Smith x Birds of Tokyo + Mac DeMarco
Streaming sounds that are equal parts Appalachian folk, Native American chanting, modern World elements and varying degrees of electronic fuzziness, New God lives up to its dramatic and commanding name. The perfect levels of vocal harmonization are so sublime and angelic that they make The Beach Boys look like amateurs. While the majority of the album is set to a fairly slow pace, “Summer Girl” keeps true to its name by adding a fluffy, upbeat, indie-pop California anthem. Vibe out to the mellow, lo-fi sounds on the title track, “I Know Something About You” and “More” when you’re driving home at night, and lose yourself in a retro, blissed-out musical vortex blurred by light pollution and the hot wind hitting your face. It’s a perfect album for night driving, and you don’t even have to make a playlist.
Don’t Weigh Down the Light
Meg Baird = Dolores O’Riordan + Mariee Sioux
Combining crisp Celtic vocals with precise, finger-picked guitars, Meg Baird takes us on a highly controlled yet surprisingly fluid journey through feelings of displacement and wandering. Moving from Philadelphia to San Francisco, it is clear that—although meditatively so—Baird has experienced a distinct sense of loss (see “Even the Walls Don’t Want You to Go” and “Past Houses”). Even though the subject matter isn’t particularly uplifting, Don’t Weigh Down the Light never drags or feels too repetitive—each song is perfectly crafted with a soft lightness that keeps it all from getting too humdrum. What’s interesting is that melodies and vocals are often recycled throughout the songs, but as each portion is reused, new elements can be detected. This is perfect for Sunday afternoons and late-night decompressing. –Allison Shephard