Author: Courtney Blair

See the Forest, See the Trees
Bloodshot Records
Street: 05.14

Kazyak =  Sufjan Stevens + Bon Iver
Peter Frey is the main man behind the adventurous chamber-pop band, Kazyak. The gentle finger-picking intro on “Pieces of My Map” immediately recalls the talents of Andrew Bird. Atmospheric sounds create an intimate space on “To The Manner Born,” while swooping strings and shuttering drums create a rustic texture over “Part I: Rabbiting Fox.” The arrangements of the orchestration and the delicate nuances Frey has put together is absolutely mesmerizing—it’s just a shame he stopped at Song Six. Kazyak will fit nicely next any other indie sweetheart band out there. –Courtney Blair


White Girl Records
Street: 05.16
Decades = Catherine Wheel + Editors + The Veils
On their self-titled debut full length, Toronto four-piece Decades deliver bursts of ‘80s Brit-pop through echoey shards of shoegaze. The band enlisted the production work of Alex Bonenfant (Crystal Castles, Metz) to make the transition from their previous post-punk and garage sound, found on earlier EPs. Mike Kaminski’s rich, emotive vocals travel from monotone to a downright fascinating scream. Pulse-pounding opener “Tonight Again” dazzles in a thick black of distortion and ghostly growls, while there’s an air of atmospheric mystery found on “Any Wonder.” Spacey electro and The Cure-like guitar riffs line the soulful, edged “In Sequins.” Decades is the second release for the newly formed Canadian label White Girl Records, but it’s clear they made a good choice adding Decades to the roster. –Courtney Blair


DJ Koze
Pampa Records
Street: 03.22
DJ Koze = Ellen Allien + Audion
Minus a single here and there, Amygdala is the first full-length album from the German DJ and producer DJ Koze in eight years. The album title references a part of the brain where memory and learning develop. It’s clear DJ Koze has not forgotten how to stay relevant within the techno genre. Guest Dan Snaith and his Caribou-produced layers create warm and minimal bliss on opener “Track ID Anyone?” Matthew Dear’s vocals subtly chime in on the lush chords and melodic flourishes of “Magical Boy.” The poppiest moment shines on the Kings Of Convenience cover “Homesick,” with the addition of Ada’s intoxicating vocals. Amygdala is 78 minutes of colorful, out-of-focus, gorgeous perfection. –Courtney Blair


Langsom Dans

Modern Outsider Records
Street: 01.22
Gliss = Blonde Redhead + Beach House + Depeche Mode

Langsom Dans is Danish for slow dance, and slow is the common thread throughout the third full-length from the Danish/American trio, Gliss.This album is whispery, moody, and perfectly suited for an icy winter. Boisterous drums make a great sidekick to the atmospheric echoing of “A To B.” The word lush doesn’t quite capture the fluttering whirls and dreamscape of “Into The Water,” and the richness of the string instrumentation on “Waves” sweeps you into a sea of emotion, which leads into the inviting, upbeat melodies of “Sea Tonight.” Delicate guitars, ghostly vocals and sonic beats echo and fade on “In Heaven.” The songs on Langsom Dans are lyrically abstract, artistically beautiful and rich with genuine emotion. –Courtney Blair

Ulrich Schnauss
A Long Way To Fall
Street: 02.12
Ulrich Schnauss = Keep Shelly In Athens + Boards of Canada + Tycho
A Long Way To Fall is the fourth studio release from German producer Ulrich Schnauss. This time around, Schnauss dropped the synthesized shoegaze and embraced new age. The album concentrates on delicate, ethereal melodies that weave in and out of human subconscious. Distorted swirls dissolve into darkness on the ambient “I Take Comfort In Your Ignorance.” “The Weight of Darkening Skies” offers a pleasant progression of sweeping atmospheric synthesizers and evocative beats. Unique, organic textures line the industrial album closer, “A Ritual in Time and Death.” A Long Way To Fall is a subtle album—expect no instant gratifications or adrenaline rushes. –Courtney Blair


JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound 


Bloodshot Records

Street: 05.21

JC Brooks = Sam Cooke + Sharon Jones

You know, I’m a fan of groups that have a “throwback” or “revivalists” label, I just beg that the product you serve up stands tall and offers something stellar. Howl, the third album from Chicago soul revivalists, JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound, however, does not. Brooks voice at times sounds awkward and forced, most notably the higher pitch points. The best track is found when they depart from the soul and venture into indie territory on the Twin Shadow-esque “Security”. Overall, Howl is nothing to shout about—more like a halfhearted “meh.” –Courtney Blair