Author: Brinley Froelich

Simian Ghost

Youth

Playground Music

Street: 02.27.12

Simian Ghost = The Antlers + Here We Go Magic

Youth evokes, as the album title suggests, a nostalgic sound that takes me back to what I wish I could have played in my younger days. Started by singer Sebastian Arnström, this Swedish band hashes out old school (re: the ‘90s) indie pop sounds that revels in all that cutesy hand clapping and skipping around moods, yet with an integrity that avoids being too overwhelmingly upbeat. While the album comes across a bit juvenile, with vocals that could just as easily be voiced by Kermit the Frog, the production takes care for the details in a way that provokes a sound that can almost par with indie legends Broken Social Scene, the similarity most apparent during “Crystalline Lovers Mind.” After all, cheery sounds go well with a budding youth, so perhaps the formative sounds are to coincide with that invincible feeling of being young and so alive. –Brinley Froelich
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Yasmine Hamdan
Ya Nass
Crammed Disks
Street: 03.25
Yasmine Hamdan = Mirah + Yael Naim
While I can’t understand the lyrics of any of these songs, I can understand the sentiment and emotion behind them, which speaks to the universality of music. Hamdan’s elegant voice can take you to her dreamland fantasy, regardless of your knowledge of Arabic. “Shouei” stuck out most for me, evoking the sounds of staring out the window and watching the rain in your cozy setting of choice. The album sways gracefully between the nostalgic sounds, like in “Aleb,” to darker, tormented melodies, such as “Enta Fen, Again” and “La Mouch.” I won’t be surprised when I hear her more in the states, as she’s mastered her craft. –Brinley Froelich
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Benjamin Finger
Listen To My Nerves Hum
Time Released Sound
Street: 06.15
Benjamin Finger = Eluvium + Loscil
Equally as haunting as it is soothing, Listen To My Nerves Hum is perfect for any ambient lover with bipolar tendencies. While “Año Nuevo Acid Crackers,” with sound samples of fireworks, leaves you wishing you were on a blanket in the middle of a baseball field, “Sevilla on Tape” brings to the surface ghost-like chants that might make you wish you were curled under a blanket with a flashlight. Finger composes these piano tunes in a way that comes across as hypnotic, nostalgic and intimate, and is soothing enough to wind down a heated night. The limited edition of this set includes a 8.5"x5” box with a hanging bird mobile, created from parts of antique pianos, and is filled with unique collages and old musical strips, making this an album that pleases multiple layers of senses. –Brinley Froelich

 
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Lauren Mann & The Fairly Odd Folk
Over Land and Sea
Wanderer Records
Street: 04.13
Lauren Mann and the Fairly Odd Folk = Cotton Jones + The Watson Twins
Over Land and Sea starts out with a force that immediately captures your attention. The first song, “Fragile,” was stuck in my head for a solid two days. With the intensity that the album has, I can only imagine they can rock the fuck out during a live show, and with the amount of touring they do, I hope they continue to keep up the stamina. The Fairly Odd Folk use an ample amount of instruments aside from the typical drum and guitar setup, so bear with me while I name them off: OL&S includes a glockenspiel, trombone, flute, clarinet, bassoon, violin, viola, banjo, cello and trumpet. Far from sounding like a marching band, the production of these instruments combined is a blast. I especially enjoyed “The Weight of the World,” which I’m pretty sure had an old-school organ in it to add to the list. –Brinley Froelich

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DieAlps!
Self-Titled
New Granada Records
Street: 09.23
DieAlps! = Rachel Taylor Browns + The Cranberries

Taking classical waltz structures and applying them to a rock n’ roll setup, DieAlps! creates a retro, upbeat sound with lyrical compositions (by Cornelia “Connie” Calcaterra) that cover issues of loneliness and feeling left out. As she moved from Austria to America, Connie paired with husband and bandmate, Frank Calceterra (guitar and vocals), and added a full production that feels festival-worthy (albeit with Barnum and Bailey vibes) in an attempt to connect to her home and deal with the changes that come with moving to a new country. “Rules of Discipline,” with a steady, marching beat, felt like an elephant parade, while she repeats the phrase “No one can ever hurt me”—a nice sentiment, despite sounding like a kid trying to prove herself on the playground. The energy in her voice pars with the passion of Karen O, but I couldn’t quite connect with the pre-tantrum-sounding whines. –Brinley Froelich

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The She’s

Dreamers

Riot Act

Street: 04.15

The She’s = The Blow + Baby Ghosts

Smack on some lip gloss, grab an ice cream cone and head down to the beach with Dreamers as your soundtrack. This three-piece gal band is perfect for summer tunes, with garage pop-punk melodies to get you bouncing as you skip around and smile about how great your life is. Deep with retro jingles and three-part harmonies, these gals feel straight up like a Hollywood-manufactured band (just listen to “Dream Girl” for a sample) and end up feeling a little commercial for my taste, but if you’re looking for a pick-me-up and you’re getting bored of Raffi, this could work. –Brinley Froelich
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CocoRosie
Tales of a Grass Widow
Self-Released
Street: 05.27
CocoRosie = TLC + Ariel Pink
I must confess, when I first listened to CocoRosie, I dug it. It didn’t sound like anything I had ever heard before, and at the time I valued unique experimentation over anything else. I continued to dig the weirdness, until something happen: over time, I grew sick of how forced their freak felt. Needless to say, I was hesitant to give CocoRosie another chance. I was pleasantly surprised, then, when I played Tales of a Grass Widow, and I found that initial attraction rekindled. The sister duo are still pretty unconventional, but Tales has more of a pop strangeness in the production, rather than being weird for the sake of weird. Listening to “End of Time” got me nostalgic for ‘90s-era pop divas, with mad hip hop beats that are hard to ignore. These beats are balanced out with slower ballads, as heard in "Tearz for Animals," with a predictable cameo from singer Antony Hegarty. "Gravedigress" highlights the overall feeling of Tales well, and fits the bill well as the lead single from the album. –Brinley Froelich
 
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Smoke Fairies
Blood Speaks
Year Seven Records
Street: 03.26
Smoke Fairies = Band of Horses + Heartless Bastards
Coming into this album, I had my doubts. "Blood Speaks" felt like a period anthem, with the lyrics, "Your blood is speaking, and mine is speaking,” set to a marching beat with a droney, chanting voice fit for a haunted church performance. Yeah, the sheddings of my uterine lining are speaking, too, and I’m still crampy. And yet, “Version of the Future” feels very apt for the times, and the duo of Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies address the contradictions of feeling alone even though you’re surrounded by people, and the like. These slow ballads had a hint of bluesy twang, but it translated as cheesy to me. I also found it strange that their Film Reel song is on the US album twice (this was previously released in the UK). Sure, the second time around it’s listed as a "Remix," but after listening to them side by side, the differences are so minute that it felt like posting the exact same picture that you just barely posted on Instagram, using a different filter for the “remix.”

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Bouquet
In a Dream
Ulrike Records
Street: 03.31
Bouquet = 
Melody’s Echo Chamber + Architecture in Helsinki

Take a dreamy interlude in your day and make In a Dream your escape. With instrumentals in line with the signature etherealness of Beach House, this duo’s soundscapes took me to a place where I could get carried away with cliché imagery of a sunny, carefree summer day. “In a Dream” starts out this quick EP with beats that immediately drew me in, while “Over Mountains” is a pop ballad that kept me hooked on Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs’ otherworldly vocals. 
–Brinley Froelich

 
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Night Wings – night wings

Night Wings
night wings
Self-Released
Street: 09.14
Night Wings = Owen Pallett + Emily Wells

Although this short release clocks out after around 20 minutes, soloist Alyssa Pyper has it packed with a potency that makes multiple listens a pleasure with an approaching release as something to look forward to. Starting with “Crooked Path,” looped samples and a majestic voice lured me in immediately and continued to hook throughout the EP. While it’s likely that Pyper has been classically trained, the songs flow effortlessly through melodies that leave a chilling effect with their simple beauty, avoiding the rigidness of similar orchestral works. Through only three songs, Pyper has earned a spot on my radar as a local artist to look out for. –Brinley Froelich

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