Music Reviews

Beyond Terror Beyond Grace
Street: 04.03
Beyond Terror Beyond Grace = Anaal Nathrakh + Portal + Neuraxis
Nadir is a creative conglomerate of death metal, black metal, grind and to some extent, a bit of post-metal. The feel of everything right out of the gates is that this is an album to be listened to in its entirety. Songs go from having little to no breathing room with beyond-intriguing tremolo-style death/black metal riffing. Think of what many modern black metal bands do, but with the bass increased and the main guitars down-tuned as hell, and you have an idea of the tones expressed here. The first four tracks are intensely heavy bleak and blackened in atmosphere, the biggest success of Nadir. The closing three tracks start to meander into post-metal realms “The Blood of Time” is a perfect example, with a more sedate atmosphere. Nadir is a weighted production, stark and enveloping—it’s enjoyable from the first second to the last meager moments on the basically ambient closer “Pathea.” This is an insufferable but transfixing record that plays well for the lurkers who yearn for something a bit different in extreme metal. –Bryer Wharton

Black Breath
Sentenced to Life
Southern Lord
Street: 03.27
Black Breath = Burning Love + Doomriders + Entombed
Faster. More solos. More blastbeasts. More gang vocals. More pissed. If this record doesn’t give you whiplash, then you’re listening to it wrong. These dudes got plenty of hype (and a fair share of hate) for their first album, which proudly wore its Swedish death n’roll influences on its sleeve. Sentenced to Life combines that swagger with the crusty Southern Lord style of hardcore, and it should deliver a swift boot to the face of the band’s naysayers. “Feast of the Damned,” “Sentenced to Life” and “Doomed” are sure to whip you into a caveman-like frenzy with their machine-gun drumbeats and hyper-speed solos, while the slower (but still awesome) sounds of “The Flame” and “Home of the Grave” will give your neck a well deserved break from all that headbanging you’ve been doing. If you’re not too busy lighting some shit on fire, throwing a spear at a mammoth or spitting on the cross, pick this one up. –Ricky Vigil

Black God
No Idea
Street: 03.20
Black God = Black Cross + Wipers + Killing Joke
I love being from Louisville. We make baseball bats, broadcast the most famous two minutes in equestrian entertainment and we’ve had incredible bands filter through our ranks (don’t hate). The sonic union of Rob Pennington and Ryan Patterson (Woah! Same initials!) birthed one of the most resonant bands in my showgoing career, Black Cross, and while Severance Pays was a stinker, Black God enlists more Derby City alumni, takes the reigns and more than makes up for it. Squeezing all the best elements of ’Cross (Pennington’s impassioned gospel shriek, Patterson’s incessant riffin’) and squirting the goo through a squallid psych/post punk lens, II presents all the sinewy trademarks of ‘90s post-core present on 2011’s debut with a squishier edge and some delicious wah-pedaling. “Cast You Out” rattles and moans like Greg Sage frontin’ Jehu and “Quit It” bubbles like molten tar from Planet Wyndorf. Six bangers, Maximum Louisville, highly recommended. –Dylan Chadwick

Bleeding Knees Club
Nothing to Do
Street: 04.17
Bleeding Knees Club = Black Lips + Wavves
Clocking in at under a half hour, this Australian-based teenage duo deliver short bursts of simple, sugary garage rock on their debut album. “Teenage Girls” opens Nothing to Do with punk rock drums and an infectious chorus “Teenage girls, you’re my world.”—The remaining 11 tracks fall in line in a similar fashion and reek of angst and teenage boredom. The music Bleeding Knees Club plays is nothing new—“Problem Child,” with its verse of “He’ll throw rocks at your car, he’s always drunk at the park, he’s always late to school,” sounds like a less-creative rip-off of Black Lips’ “Bad Kids.” They certainly aren’t reinventing the genre, but it’s difficult to write Bleeding Knees Club off because the music is so damn catchy. –Jeanette D. Moses

The Clearing
Dead Oceans
Street: 03.06
Bowerbirds = Grizzly Bear + The Avett Brothers
The Bowerbirds are no doubt, a talented trio. With their third release out, the Bowerbirds can feel good at having produced a euphonic album, but for me, it’s a bit too unoriginal. Phillip Moore and Beth Tacular's vocals complement the often fragile, haunting sounds dotting the album. Moore's vocals are akin to Seth Avett's husky, falsetto voice, and that ain't half bad. A fairly successful band for the genre, the Bowerbirds’ career is characterized by the vogue, stripped-down sound à la Bon Iver; however, The Clearing does occasionally venture outside the mold in comparison to their previous two albums. “Hush,” the strongest song of the bunch, is a fast-paced logorrheic conversation between a piano and some xylophones. The album is solid and has moments where it glistens, and fans will like it. For me, it was more of a rehash than a release. Yes, they sing about birds. Yes, they sing about tea kettles and sewing; another fuckin' folk album for sure. –Alex Cragun

Bright Moments
Luaka Bop
Street: 02.21
Bright Moments = Hey Marseilles + The Dodos + Andrew Bird
Dreamy instrumentals, layered with wavering vocals, populate this release from multi-instrumentalist Kelly Pratt, known for his trumpet work with the likes of Beirut, LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire. Whether cracking his wispy voice over Fleetwood Mac-evoking dance anthems like “Behind The Gun,” or going all Ben Gibbard on some slow and lazy piano ballads like “Drifters,” Pratt seems totally at home. Ethereal electro-pop meets lo-fi chamber-folk, and gets a big-band treatment via the range of this artist and his crew of recording compatriots on loan from bands he’s worked with. “Travelers” has an upbeat, drumroll-driven beat with a huge mariachi-influenced chorus, rich with horns, and deserves to be a single with its whistling hook. “Milwaukee,” however, has a strange combination of accordion and rock drums that makes it my favorite on the album. Natives is definitely worth checking out. –Rio Connelly

Fake Four Inc.
Street: 02.14
Busdriver = Outkast + Frank Zappa
There is not another artist like Busdriver. While he is generally classified as a hip hop musician, he dabbles in a plethora of other categories ranging from psychedelic to pop. Beaus$Eros is unpredictable and innovative, and at first listen, might come across as absolutely bizarre—but given a second chance, becomes more and more worthwhile. Using scattered beats, untraditional spacing and a range of intriguing sounds, Busdriver is able to create a cohesive feeling, despite the free form he implements. I dig the track ‘‘Kiss Me Back To Life,’’ which has a futuristic, drum-machine texture. Check Beaus$Eros out if you’re looking for something completely fresh.
–Kia McGinnis

Datter EP
Time No Place
Street: 02.07
CHLLNGR = How to Dress Well + Holy Other
With falsettos akin to How to Dress Well laid over more direct yet abstract beats, CHLLNGR has made an EP that is three-fourths perfect. The sole exception to the impeccable quality of this EP is the second track featuring Cherry B of De Tropix (also known for her work as a backing vocalist/hype woman for M.I.A.). The track in question is called “Desire” and probably has the most solid beat of the entire EP, but the addition of Cherry B’s vocals seem extremely out of place and almost awkward (she literally repeats one weak-ass line the entire time, in a voice unsuitable for the music). Other than that, the EP is great, with soft vocals slowly drifting over experimental and nearly dancey beats. It’s great chill-wave for the summertime. –Cody Hudson

Choir of Young Believers           
Rhine Gold
Ghostly International
Street: 03.20
Choir of Young Believers = Neil Young + Fleet Foxes + Bon Iver
Jannis Noya Makrigiannis has an amazingly smooth singing voice for a native of Denmark, and his collective band’s gorgeous second album extends their orchestral pop sound while it remains wisely cemented at the forefront of it. Layering beats, lush orchestrations, keys and random electronic elements, tracks like “The Third Time,” “Sedated” and “Nye Nummer Et” are fairly representative of their sound. The oddly short—by their standards, anyway—track, “Patricia’s Thirst,” is still lovely, while the experimentation and gelling of their various fusions culminate on the amazing “Paralyse,” which helps belie its true 10-minute-plus length. It isn’t surprising that Makrigiannis/COYB’s music has been featured on soundtracks, and perhaps nowhere else is this as evident than on the heavily orchestrated title cut. While majestic in its cinematic-like scope, if not a teeny bit overly sedated, Makrigiannis’ vocals remain as potently mesmerizing as ever. –Dean O Hillis

Craig Finn
Clear Heart Full Eyes
Street: 01.24
Craig Finn = Lifter Puller + The Hold Steady + Springsteen
Clear Heart Full Eyes is the first solo record by Brooklyn-by-way-of-Minneapolis singer-songwriter Craig Finn. This disc is vocally similar to Finn’s work with The Hold Steady, but it differs stylistically. It has a very roots-rock feel to it, skirting the line between some of the less flashy Bruce Springsteen narratives and the more typically pessimistic work of Leonard Cohen. Finn’s voice sounds exactly like it always does on this one—a fact that will either further endear it to you or make you want to turn it off. If it is possible, these solo songs are even more story-like than anything he’s recorded before—focusing on themes of solitude, displacement and uneasiness in one’s own skin. It is much less complicated musically than anything Finn has attempted before. And even though I would love to hear a few rocked-up Hold Steady versions of several of these tracks, I understand how far they stray from the overall optimism normally associated with Finn. This album is calm and quirky and even quiet—you have to listen really hard to it. It feels a little like a clearance sale at certain points, but if you care enough to give it a proper listen, you will not come away empty-handed. –James Bennett

Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands
Muses & Bones
Street: 03.27
Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands = Dresden Dolls + Beirut + Kate Bush
Dresden Dolls clone alert! This sextet from Greensboro, NC has the exact burlesque, circus-like sounds of the duo from Boston. I will give Bright massive credit for playing 11 instruments on Muses & Bones, if you discount the washing machine, which I didn’t seem to pinpoint on the 13-track CD. She has the accordion, piano, andugu, khaen, bombo, and copper pipes, among others under her belt. Her voice also sounds classically trained and goes into a lovely Kate Bush soprano trill once in a while. Muses & Bones would be a perfect soundtrack to the now-defunct HBO series Carnivale per se, however I had a hard time not finding much originality in Crystal Bright and The Silver Hands’ sophomore album. –Portia Early

Damien Jurado
Secretly Canadian
Street: 02.20
Damien Jurado = Sixto Diaz Rodriguez + Chris Bell
Though the music on Maraqopa is not necessarily “psychedelic,” it is most enjoyable when Richard Swift’s production leans in that direction. This record marks the second time Swift and Damien Jurado are working together, and the production is as much of a musical character here as Jurado’s performance. “Reel to Reel” is one of my favorite tracks on the album, featuring spidery, high-register backing melodies and whirring tape echo. “Nothing is the News” was the right choice as the album’s lead-in track. Building with overlapping guitar solos, and buried backing vocals awash in reverb, it is an ideal introduction for what is to come throughout the rest of the record. I had not heard any of Jurado’s music before Maraqopa. It is an excellent introduction. –Timo H.

Damon Moon and the Whispering Drifters
Lungs, Dirt and Dreams
Adair Park Recordings
Street: 02.21
Damon Moon and the Whispering Drifters = Iron & Wine + early Wilco
Ever dreamed of locking yourself in a cabin and writing music for an extended period of time? Me neither, but that’s what this band did. The result is a raspy yet supple Americana-rock album, with permeating lyrics and a far-away, somber texture. Pieces of the album have a psychedelic feel, such as the song “Robert Pirsig’s Blues,” which seems Dark Side of the Moon-inspired. Lungs, Dirt and Dreams is an album you would want to listen to from beginning to end in order to appreciate it fully. It weaves a story that seems easy to empathize with, because, let’s be honest, heartbreak is a fairly universal feeling. The time and ardor put into this music speaks for itself, and I would recommend it to the soft-spoken, sweater-wearing, coffee shop-dwelling type of person. –Kia McGinnis

Dandy Warhols
This Machine
The End Records
Street: 04.24
Dandy Warhols = Love & Rockets + Primal Scream
This Machine, the eighth studio album for the Portland-based group, The Dandy Warhols, is stuffed with heavily crafted junkie tunes. Since the release of 2009’s The Dandy Warhols are Sound, each member ventured in their own direction, exploring various projects, with lead man Courtney Taylor-Taylor creating a fictional Kraftwerk-like band, One Model Nation. The influence of this fictional band oozes slightly over the sludgy guitar and mechanical drums of album opener “Sad Vacation.” The stripped-down, hypnotic, acoustic-driven “The Autumn Carnival” is co-written by David J of Love & Rockets. Taylor-Taylor croons in the lower register on “Rest Your Head,” reminding me of the Crash Test Dummies, just replacing the “mmm’s” with “ahhh’s”. The two-minute Squawky cover of the country classic, “16 Tons,” is a strange, Morphine-and-Tom Waits love child. The album closes in classic Dandy fashion, with the intoxicating and spacious “Slide.” This Machine is a good progression in the Dandy catalog and accessible in all the right spots. –Courtney Blair

David Russell
The Grandeur of the Baroque
Street: 02.12
David Russell = beautifully recorded guitar + Scottish Segovia Award Winner = “Ah, Bach!”
I thought I didn’t like classical guitar music—it’s an entire song from one wooden box, and not a novelty. Listening to it, I usually would start looking at my phone, and then at the exit. Now hearing David Russell, I feel differently. The handsome 59-year-old Scottish guitarist plays with effortless grace, wide dynamics and color.He traverses some familiar names—Bach and Handel—and some more obscure—Couperin and Weiss—all from the middle of the 18th century, in this selection of Baroque suites and inventions.Music for the air, rather than for the headphones, it’s perfect for the bath or around the house; music as incense, or flowers on wallpaper. The playing here is lively and the recordings, pristine and emotional. It’s music that sets a cinematic atmosphere for winter reverie or summer food-sharing. Everything is a game of chess, a ploy for some small victory when the mathematical but human music of Bach and Handel play. –Scott Farley

Diamond Rugs
Partisan Records
Street: 04.24
Diamond Rugs = Deer Tick + Black Lips + Los Lobos
Featuring Deer Tick frontman John McCauley, Deer Tick keyboardist Robbie Crowell, Black Lips guitarist Ian Saint Pé and additional members from Los Lobos, Dead Confederate and Six Finger Satellite, it’s apt to call Diamond Rugs the indie super-group of 2012. “Gimme a Beer” and “Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant”—tracks which the band released as singles earlier in the year and prominently feature McCauley’s signature, nasally vocals—both make appearances on the album, but are some of the least impressive songs on it. Singing duties seem to be passed between a few members of the band, which keeps things interesting and keeps the songs from sounding too much like Deer Tick. The appearance of Saint Pe’s Southern drawl on the album opener, “Hightail,” makes for one of my favorite tracks. The influence from the members’ other bands is always apparent, but never overwhelming—which is what makes the Diamond Rugs so fun to listen to. I wouldn’t claim that the Diamond Rugs’ outcome is greater than the sum of its parts, but I wouldn’t mind if any of the members’ main projects were briefly put on hold to explore what else the Diamond Rugs can churn out. –Jeanette D. Moses

Dirty Three
Toward The Low Sun
Drag City
Street: 02.28
Dirty Three = The Nels Cline Singers + Nick Cave & Warren Ellis: White Lunar
As a fan of Warren Ellis’ work in The Bad Seeds and Grinderman, I tend to associate The Dirty Three with him more readily than with the group’s other musicians. This is unfair, as each member of the trio is an equally valuable asset to the group. Drummer Jim White and guitarist Mick Turner’s free yet tastefully considered performances create a musically and tonally warm bed for Ellis’ violin, which is often the lead instrument in much of the band’s catalog. “That Was Was” provides a good example of the record’s musical aesthetic and direction, but Toward the Low Sun is certainly worth hearing in its entirety. I was curious as to how Warren Ellis’ time in Grinderman might have affected the sound on The Dirty Three’s new release. As is the case with that band, the record’s events of masterfully rendered chaos are my favorites. –Timo H.

And the Tears Washed Me, Wave After Cowardly Wave
Graveface Records
Street: 02.28
Dreamend = Neutral Milk Hotel + Kid Dakota + Appleseed Cast
And the Tears Washed Me… is Black Moth Super Rainbow bandleader Ryan Graveface’s sequel to 2010’s excellent So I Ate Myself, Bite by Bite and cements Dreamend’s move from folk-tinged post-rock to sweeping, agitated, multi-instrumental compositions. Like SIAMBbB, Graveface’s lyrical inspiration on And the Tears… is drawn from a serial killer’s diary Graveface found at a rummage sale. Where SIAMBbB focused on the process of turning inward impulses into violent acts, And the Tears… starts in medias res of a violent crime and then moves to the protagonist looking back on his victims with equal parts pathos-filled regret and detachment. The album ends with his death. This is an album full of ghosts. Graveface played all the instruments on the album, ranging from the standard rockist setup to banjo, organ and synthesizers. Like all Dreamend albums, this one comes in incredible packaging and artwork by Will Schaff. And the Tears is highly recommended. –Ryan Hall

DZ Deathrays
No Sleep
Street: 03.06
DZ Deathrays = Bass Drum of Death + The Stitches + Les Savy Fav + Death From Above 1979
DZ Deathrays take the en-vogue garage sound that has flooded the indie sound waves and mainlines some ’77 punk snottiness into the mix of this five-song EP. In opener “No Sleep,” vocalist Shane Parsons hawks out, “No sleep till you pass out, you gotta/Motherfuckers say I don’t want it back now,” which sets the cheap-liquor candor of his vocals atop the fuzzed-out, rock n’ roll guitar. “Gebbie Street” is a dance rock number, reminiscent of La Vida Bohème, and “Teeth” follows suit in more of a tonal sense—its noise-tinged blaring and erratic bass rhythm generate an electro feel to the track, even though the beat isn’t a standard four-on-the-floor—yet it still retains its punked-out flippancy. “The Mess Up” balances out the speed with a NOBUNNY-esque vocal restraint. DZ kicks out a straight-up punk jam in “Blue Blood,” which will have you screaming with them about poison. Like fun? Get this. –Alexander Ortega

Raise Up the Sheets
Bat Rabies Alert/The End
Street: 03.13
Freshkills = At The Drive In + Fugazi
This Brooklyn five-piece rolls up their sleeves with their post-punk, post-hardcore, post-cool sophomore full-length Raise Up The Sheets. Singer Zachary Lipez croons and wails his sardonic poetry lamenting the everyday horrors of love, sex, relationships and death as the machine-precise band swells from minimal beat and melody to fist-swinging muscle and noise. Lipez often sounds like Jello Biafra and David Byrne as he half-seriously says things such as, “Thought we’d grow up to be pirates. Instead we grew up to be graphic designers. Now what are we to do with all these ridiculous tattoos?” and makes references to novelist Martin Amis and possibly Chris Farley. The record closes on a somehow happily pessimistic note with “New Folksongs For New Buildings,” the best-sounding song on the album. Also included is a bonus track—a weird, noisy dance remix of Freshkills’ “Revelations” by Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Give Raise Up the Sheets a few listens—it’ll grow on you. –Cody Kirkland

Blink, Blink
Street: 04.2012
FROGG = Santogold + Blaqstarr + Flosstradamus + M.I.A.
Blink, Blink is a pleasantly surprising debut from this Berlin-based trio, which capitalizes on the new electro-pop dance scene. Louise Mills’ smooth delivery is slightly dirty and soulfully appealing in a come-hither sultry flair, rolling over party breaks of a couple of dudes from Berlin’s dub kings Seeeds. It’s not flawless, however. Towards the end of the album, the music starts to feel overplayed, just like all the shit on the Top 40 stations nowadays (LMFAO, anyone?). The first couple songs are good enough to hook in the listener, but it’s not interesting enough to keep them engaged, and it starts to feel half-assed. Still, there is a lot of potential here, so I’ll keep them in my mental archives and hopefully they’ll get their shit together a little more. And since I am being a petty snob, I will also take this opportunity to say that I don’t like the name, either, but hey, maybe Germany loves it. –Mary Houdini

Graf Orlock
Los Angeles EP
Street: 04.10
Graf Orlock = Converge + Black Flag + Owen Hart
Graf Orlock are a valuable commodity with a slew of releases going back to 2004. The four-piece continue their disastrously punishing and continuously building legacy with their Los Angeles EP. “Quick on the Trigger” slays, burns and desecrates corpses in so many ways it’s beyond ridiculous. The addition of sampled movie gunfire in the track isn’t a new idea, but damn, the way these distorters of noise do it makes you feel as if you’re in the middle of a battle zone. The group’s love or disdain for Hollywood continues as we get a slap of a bunch of Robert DeNiro sound-bytes, most coming from the glorious film Heat. Aside from the aforementioned track, which clocks in at a few clicks over four minutes, this EP flies fast, with only three other songs not even touching the three-minute mark. A fine ability of this EP is its “holy-shit,” thought-inspiring tempo changes—in the course of 120 seconds, you get grind-styled riffing and drumming, D-beat face punches and dirge screams. “Violent and unapologetic” is an understatement here. If you haven’t had a reason to hear these guys, chalk this album up as the number one reason. –Bryer Wharton

The Howling Hex
Wilson Semiconductors
Drag City
Street: 12.06.11
The Howling Hex = Royal Trux + Pussy Galore
This is an interesting EP; it has a great deal of energy, and seemingly grand intentions, but doesn’t ever seem to get there, and often meanders off on uninteresting jam band tirades. When Neal Hagerty (of Royal Trux) isn’t trying to musically portray an acid trip, the songs are incredibly tight (which is surprising, as they are a three-piece with no drummer) and catchy. I feel like if this EP could stop pandering to hippies, it would actually accomplish something. All that aside, it actually fits in nicely amongst the rest of the canon (of Howling Hex and even earlier Royal Trux work), so if you’re a fan, you should definitely pick it up. –Cody Hudson

Life Somewhere Else
Communicating Vessels
Street: 02.21
Isidore = The Church + Love And Rockets + Echo and the Bunnymen + Dr. Seuss
On Life Somewhere Else, Steve Kilbey, lead singer for Australian rock band The Church, has gone over the top with his rhyming tomfoolery. Isidore is a collaboration by Kilbey and Remy Zero’s guitarist Jeffrey Cain. The music is ’80s electronic-goth and dream-like. However, I can’t get over lyrics like, “Jesus sometimes you scare me/I’m looking for trouble, you double dare me/I’m lookin’ for truth, but I’m too aloof/I wasted my youth lookin’ for proof.” Track number 9, “Just Dust,” sounds exactly like Love And Rockets with Kilbey doing his finest Daniel Ash impersonation, which could be worth checking out for a giggle. Each song opens to a promising, beautiful, hypnotizing experience; then the lyrics kill the mood. Life Somewhere Else just can’t be taken seriously with too many sing-songy lyrics. –Portia Early

JD McPherson
Signs & Signifiers
Street: 04.17
JD McPherson = Sam Cooke + Wynonie Harris + Big Joe Turner
Every once in a while, a record comes along and twists your brain in a knot, leaving you pondering if anything else will ever be this good. Igniting a fire with the rhythm and blues of the late ‘40s to the soul music of the early ‘60s, McPherson’s voice breathes red-hot flames into his well crafted songs. The record begins with “North Side Gal,” a jumping tune that captures that all-too-brief moment where R&B and rock n’ roll were pretty much the same thing. It’s all killer and no filler with this record, but one noticeable standout is the dark and emotional “A Gentle Awakening,” with a beautiful string arrangement and the lonely icy notes of piano: This song is heart-wrenching. These boys have meticulously constructed a record that consists entirely of vintage music, but never sounds tired or old. There’s something entrancing about this music and McPherson himself––its originality is firmly rooted in the amazing music that came before it, an honestly rare thing. –James Orme

John Wesley Coleman III
The Last Donkey Show
Goner Records
Street: 02.21
John Wesley Coleman = Jay Reatard + Violent Femmes
Judging by the drawings and barely legible handwritten track listing inside the album cover, John Wesley Coleman is undoubtedly insane. This air of weirdness permeates the latest record from this Texan garage-rock balladeer. The Last Donkey Show, a rock n’ roll cowboy carnival released on Memphis garage juggernaut Goner Records, still channels a low-fi garage attitude, but shows off Coleman’s musical dexterity as he strays from the raucous insanity of his previous work on solo projects and Austin group Golden Boys. Musically, the album is all over the place—frantic garage-punk songs with absurd lyrics about clowns giving away babies are mixed with vintage pop and sincere country love songs. Coleman makes it work, achieving a perfect balance of off-kilter imagery and pop sensibility that sounds both timeless and totally unique. The Last Donkey Show has an easily accessible sound and is still interesting after a dozen listens. It is a madman’s masterpiece, bound to see heavy rotation among fans of Coleman’s labelmates Ty Segall and Nobunny. –Cody Kirkland

The Kentucky Bridgeburners
Hail Jesus
Slinging Pig
Street: 12.10.11
The Kentucky Bridge Burners = Mojo Nixon + Dead Boys + Johnny Cash’s gospel recordings
When it comes to getting credit for the creation of rock n’ roll, the genre that is most often left out in the cold is gospel. Yet Elvis, Little Richard and so many others had gospel in their soul and repertoire. So, it’s no surprise that Blaine Cartwright (Nashville Pussy) has always dreamed of a record that mixes gospel, punk, and rock n’ roll, so when his side band Nine Pound Hammer dissolved, he was able to pick up the remaining members and bring his dream to life and it is glorious! Hail Jesus is nothing short of an inspiration. Like Blaine himself exclaims, “I need to testify with rock n’ roll.” My favorite song has to be “They Laid Jesus Christ in His Grave,” which examines Jesus not so much as a savior, but more as a folk hero. The tunes are all blues guitar-based, which is played pretty masterfully. The religious message is pretty loose and with the song “We All Know What Jesus Did,” they even look at Christians who think that going to church will save them, and not actually doing good in the world. After a few tracks, it’s apparent that the record is a brilliant concept carried out splendidly, almost as if they had help from a higher power. –James Orme

Lee Fields
Faithful Man
Truth & Soul
Street: 03.13
Lee Fields = Otis Redding + Charles Bradley
During the past 40 years, North Carolina native Lee Fields has become a funk and soul phenomenon. Thanks to the latest revival of soul, the seasoned master saw a second career comeback in 2009 with the release of My World. On his follow-up, Faithful Man, Fields continues to pack a wallop of emotion in his voice, focusing again on deep soul ballads, leaving the funk on the sidelines. One thing immediately noticeable is the strong backing female vocalist––whoever she is, she’s a perfect match. There’s a nice balance of originals and covers, including a smooth version of “Moonlight Mile.” Lee shows off his swagger on the lead single, “You’re the Kind of Girl,” while his voice hits like thunder on “Wish You Were Here,” belting out, “It’s just not fair, wish you were here/Spend all my days, wasting way.” Fields promises us he’s a Faithful Man, but at the end of this 40-minute time capsule, our heart is broken as he cries out “I played with your heart far too long” on the emotional “Walk On Through That Door.” Prepare yourselves, people, you won’t just hear this album, you’ll feel it. –Courtney Blair

Little Hurricane
Unknown Breakthrough
Street: 05.01
Little Hurricane = Nickelback + Ha Ha Tonka + Black Keys
If Dan Auerbach’s guitar playing and singing is too edgy and overwhelming for you, then Little Hurricane is the perfect band for you. The San Diego duo’s debut album offers 40 minutes of water-downed blues, mixed together with the sound of a commercial-rock band. Although lead singer/guitarist Tone, sings in a generic rock voice without any soul, the other half of the band, drummer CC, instantly transforms the entire sound of the music into more of an indie-rock sound with her pleasant voice. Unfortunately, you only hear her voice on a few of the tunes. Of the 12 tracks, “Crocodile Tears” really stood out among the rest, as it reminded me of Elbow, but mostly due to the fact that CC sings for a large portion of the song. I know I probably made this album sound like it’s completely shitty, but it’s not. Only the names of the band members are. Tone and CC? Really? Overall, it’s just a mediocre listen, bogged down by Tone’s voice and uninspiring guitar playing. –Jory Carroll

The Lovely Bad Things
New Ghost/Old Waves
Volcom Entertainment
Street: 03.13
The Lovely Bad Things = Dick Dale + Loom + B-52’s
The Lovely Bad Things is a So-Cal co-ed harmonizing garage band who tugs you with a sock-hop sound while slamming you with forceful The Pixies-esque vocals. It’s garage music. It’s surfer music. I wanted more, for the trip to the beach is too long for this EP. “I Just Want You to Go Away” sounds like a rejected dance ballad from Grease. I especially like the gritty, head-thrashing-while-sticking-your-feet-out-of-the-woody-station wagon-induced “Old Ghost,” where rockabilly-meets-punk in this fast, danceable track. Utah summers don’t start until July, but it seems like this CD will definitely help it come faster. Do you wanna mosh or surf? Now you can do both! I just wished it were a full-length. They should have doubled all the songs. Just kidding. Maybe. –Portia Early

We Are Not the Same
Street: 04.03
Lux = Jesus and Mary Chain x (Material Issue + The Primitives)
Can there be such a thing as dreary pop? Apparently, because Lux embodies it. Restrained yet somehow upbeat, with psychedelic atmospherics and an electroclash sensibility, the tracks here could have been college chart hits in 1987 … or 1994 … or last year. With track titles like “A Study in Apathy (Drugs, etc.)” and “Coroner’s Office,” Lux can’t be taking itself too seriously. Formed in L.A. by two Seattleites, David Chandler and Leah Rosen, there’s more Pacific Northwest rain than fun-in-the-California sun here by far, but something in the arrangements recalls 1960s girl bands. Standout tracks include “Little Cripple,” “Out of Love,” and the strangely electronic “The Window,” but really, there’s not a bad song here. A gorgeous album from a band that might really go places, if they can just get around to playing live.
–Madelyn Boudreaux

MaLLy & the Sundance Kid
Free on the 15th EP
Street: 03.15.11
MaLLy & the Sundance Kid = Evidence + an aspiring Dialated Peoples
MaLLy & the Sundance Kid come from Minneapolis, where the Rhymesayers label is stationed and hails such hip-hop kings as Atmosphere and Brother Ali, so they have some serious local competition. While it’s admirable that a little fish would try to make it in a big-ass rapper ocean, this EP lacks innovation and comes off as egotistical. The lyrics are forgettable and so are the beats. The track “Once We’re Kings” is the most appealing of the nine tracks, as it has a slightly funky feel and a more defined sense of style than the rest. I find it a bit humorous that the producer calls himself the “Sundance Kid,” as his music is more cocky than Wild West gangster. These dudes have potential, but if they want to be in the running with their hometown legends, the first step will be getting over themselves. –Kia McGinnis

Mark Stewart
The Politics of Envy
Future Noise Music
Street: 03.26
Mark Stewart: PiL (Skinny Puppy - N.I.N.) + a little Shaun Ryder + “basshead and sheet metal”
It confuses me when an artist’s album can result in little-to-no commercial success, yet the lineup that participates is one of the utmost high caliber and reference. Choose instead to think about it this way: Mark Stewart is a well-kept gem of a secret, with a rabidly loyal fan base and critically acclaimed, humble beginnings that have built respect rather than chasing paper. With an album that is highly political, Stewart’s punk roots and activism seem to coincide with some of most memorable world affairs of our lifetime. His sing-spit-speak delivery is often at the forefront, but he enlists a diverse smattering of other well-respected members of legendary bands, like The Slits, The Raincoats, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Primal Scream, CRASS and Massive Attack, to tell you in a nutshell that this world is fucked up and it’s time to blow shit up. However, he will do it in the most interesting soundscape possible, mixing dark dub with electro-punk and industrial funk with straight-up pop, bucolic synths and dubstep drops. It sounds like an insane mixing of genres, and it kind of is, but it’s also really fucking impressive. –Mary Houdini

Miike Snow
Happy to You
Downtown Records
Street: 03.26
Miike Snow = Bloodshy & Avant + Air + Animal Collective
This album is the happy clashing of dance pop and the group’s old “underground” sound they cultivated. We’re not sure if the band is big enough to already be eschewed by its cooler fans, but even they will closet-ly accept the solid pop-electro on this sophomore release, as long as it’s not in a public manner. Every track is bound for glory, much like their self-titled album. Though the intro track strays slightly from their first release’s style, they jump right back into what they’re known for with track two, “The Wave,” and my new Miike Snow favorite, “Archipelago”—think of it as this summer’s “Girls” (Animal Collective)—infectious, hook-heavy and dream-layered). Here, more than ever, they rely on solid French electro-predecessors’ super producers like Air, with a dash of The Beatles. That’s right, I just compared them to The Beatles, Miike Snow is taking more than a hint from Lennon’s inflections this go-round, and they’ve begun to embody their contagious spirit, too. –JP

Mike Park
Asian Man Records
Street: 08.09.11
Mike Park = The Aquabats + The Suicide Machines + Peter Paul & Mary
Mike Park has spent some time in the throngs of the ska and punk scene as a member of Skankin’ Pickle and starting his own label, Asian Man Records, which has released the likes of Alkaline Trio, Smoking Popes, The Queers, and The Lawrence Arms. Now that Park is a dad, he has released his debut children’s album. As it turns out, punk translates very easily into rock for kids. Park’s songs bounce between light-hearted punk and ska, all with positive messages and upbeat tunes telling stories that remind me of Peter, Paul, and Mary’s “Puff The Magic Dragon.” Before I had my own daughter, I swore off the made-for-kids albums, this was before I knew that there was good, independently produced music by decent musicians. My daughter is dancing to the album as I write this review, and I’m not the least bit tempted to bang my head against the wall. Fellow parents, you all know the weight this carries. –Ben Trentelman

Nite Jewel
One Second of Love
Secretly Canadian
Street: 03.06
Nite Jewel = Lana Del Rey sings The Cybill Shepherd Songbook
Is it their families or friends that convince people they can sing or more importantly, that they should be sharing their “talent” with the world? California native Ramona Gonzalez isn’t the worst singer ever, but she’s far from palatable. Being compared to a Eurythmics-era Annie Lennox and—even more head-scratching—Sade and Tracey Thorn should mean something, but nary a single note on this recalls any of those great vocalists. Lead single “One Second of Love” is at least ’80s drone-like, but is ravaged by Gonzalez’s weak vocal style. Collaborating with Cole M.G.N. makes the music interesting, but it is greatly marred by teenager-lite lyrics and a plaintive, unoriginal delivery. When she lamely sing-speaks “I’m a broken record and you have heard this before” on opener “This Story,” actually, no, we haven’t, Ramona Del Shepherd, and, um, not quite like this! –Dean O Hillis

The Plimsouls
Beach Town Confidential
Alive Naturalsound
Street: 02.07
The Plimsouls = The Kinks + Buzzcocks
This live album is a 29-year-late release of The Plimsouls’ 1983 performance at Huntington Beach’s Golden Bear club during the apex of the power pop outfit’s popularity in the LA club scene. Mixing no-frills rock n’ roll with a taste of punk and white-boy soul, The Plimsouls play a solid 17-song set featuring previously unreleased tracks and semi-famous songs such as “Zero Hour” and “A Million Miles Away.” Released to drum up nostalgia in anticipation of frontman Peter Case and Nerves-bandmate Paul Collins’ 2012 reunion tour, this snapshot of the eighties sounds great for a live recording and makes The Plimsouls seem way cooler than they looked in that Valley Girls movie. Although I prefer Peter Case’s more recent blues/country solo work and his pre-Plimsouls band, The Nerves, Beach Town Confidential is a fun, catchy, hook-laden record that rocks, plain and simple. –Cody Kirkland

Give You the Ghost
Totally Gross National Product
Street: 02.14
Polica = Bon Iver + Spoon + GAYNGS
It’s clear after a few spins that Polica vocalist Channy Casselle (GAYNGS) emerges as an auto-tuned goddess on this sublime, lilting and mellow LP. I usually hate the electronic fabrication of tuning, but somehow it works here as she collaborates with other GAYNGS member Ryan Olson. I have no idea how this concept would transfer to live performances, though. I might feel as if T-Pain had decided to hop onstage dressed as a really hot lady, although the pedigree of this group means (to some) that Polica can do whatever the fuck they want, with guests like Bon Iver’s Mike Noyce on vocals and Jim Eno (Spoon) as the mixer. It’s really delightful stuff, and instead of turning the music into a disgusting pop mess, the auto-tune imbues a haunting texture to the LP. This is worth a listen, if just for a lesson on how to use auto-tune. –JP

Poor Moon
Illusion EP
Sub Pop Records
Street: 03.27
Poor Moon = Fleet Foxes + Crystal Skulls
The thing that sucks about Illusions is that it’s an EP and therefore, only five songs long, leaving me desirous for a full-fledged album. Poor Moon is a super group of sorts, consisting of members from Fleet Foxes, Crystal Skulls and The Christmas Cards, initially created as a side project. Illusions was recorded mostly in bedrooms and practice spaces, which creates an intimate, organic sound. Implementing subtle drums and muted electric guitar, a slightly jazzy feel is woven in, the highlight for me being the vocals, which are smooth and smart. Illusions reminds me of a blustery autumn day, and I don’t think you can go wrong with this little piece of goodness. However, of the five tracks, try out ‘‘People In Her Mind’’ for the best combination of talent and style from the bands represented. –Kia McGinnis

Carved into Stone
Long Branch
Street: 04.24
Prong = Pantera + Helmet (old) + Fear Factory
With the first spin and instantaneous head-banging that occurred while blasting the new offering from Prong, I wondered if the nostalgia factor was at play. Prong was one of my high school bands—badass memories populate my brain from the frequent blasting of Cleansing and Prove You Wrong as loud as possible in my ’84 Buick Skylark. To my dismay, Prong broke up pretty much at the same I discovered them. When Tommy Victor, the main man of Prong, regrouped his band in 2002, I had low expectations but was excited. However, the albums Scorpio Rising and Power of the Damager were trepid and bumbling attempts at the former glory of Prong. Carved into Stone is the record that should put Victor and Prong back in the spotlight. This is a bastard riff machine record; it kicks your ass to a black and blue slurry. Expect some powerful grooves that bring back thoughts of ’90s to ’80s-era Prong as well as the thrash elements that Prong held dear during that time. This isn’t all sucker-punching beefy riffs, either—Victor’s guitar work wallops with mesmerizing and brilliantly catchy leads and soloing. Victor’s vocal performance elevates the record and gives Prong that edge, because really, nobody sounds like Victor. I don’t care what genre of metal is your favorite, this is the best metal record of 2012, and anything that may be able to trump it, please go ahead and try. –Bryer Wharton

PS I Love You
Death Dreams
Paper Bag Records
Street: 03.08
PS I Love You = Silversun Pickups x Cap’n Jazz
PS I Love You made their mark with a gonzo LP that brought to mind J. Mascis on acid (or on more acid). Frontman Paul Saulnier has kept his distinctly erratic vocal style intact, but where their debut came close to the edge of schtick, Death Dreams present songs that are more fully formed and feel more justified in their idiosyncrasy. “Don’t Go” even backs the amps down from 11, showing a band that can remain fascinating through other means than screaming guitar hooks. I don’t know if maturation is exactly the right word for it, or something that the band was looking to achieve, but their second LP is a step forward for an already compelling band. –Nate Housley

Soft Swells
Modern Outsider
Street: 02.28
Soft Swells = Telekinesis + MGMT before Congratulations
Notwithstanding the oceanic name and the infectious synthpop tracks, which are laden with subtle ties to the recent garage-surf revival, everything about Soft Swells presumably screams West Coast. On this self-titled EP, Tim Williams belts flutteringly atmospheric vocals reminiscent of Telekinesis’s Michael Benjamin Lerner as Matt Walsh steadily builds crescendos via ebbs of positively unpredictable yet controlled club-pop textures, shown in the easily addicting “Put It On The Line,” as well as “Lifeboats.” The album doesn’t go deeper than melodic ear candy as far as cerebral accommodations go, but given the album’s manpower (two dudes) and man hours (approximately a week), Soft Swells EP is quite the tour de force for a freshman effort. Fans of new wave synthpop who feel left in the dark from previous rank holders (MGMT went on to “sell art” and Phoenix went on to sell Cadillacs) can count this record as a capable fix. –Gregory Gerulat

Spectral Tombs
Street: 01.19
Spectral Tombs = Deathspell Omega + Liturgy + Twilight
If you find yourself enabled with that gracious virtue called patience, Portland’s Spectral Tombs’ grim and entrancing debut full-length, Carrion, succeeds at capturing an audience’s attention and is worth its time. Carrion doesn’t ask any unanswered questions or tread new waters, but for a self-released album, its production speaks volumes in regards to its motives. It’s one of those clean yet dirty records, and it’s loud, boasting a heavy crust background with equally weighed, pure riffing and gooey, tar-thick atmosphere. The best quality here is easily the bass tone, and the volume it’s presented at makes everything else sound like a hammer to hot steel on an anvil. Leave your pretensions or elitism for the folks that do nothing but find fault in everything, and you can discover things many people stare straight in the face and miss. –Bryer Wharton

St. Lucia             
St. Lucia EP
Neon Gold/Columbia
Street: 03.06
St. Lucia = New Order + Chicane
Virtual one-man band and Johannesburg native Jean-Philip Grobler’s joyous self-titled EP is something of a small marvel. Following a relatively simple formula of classic beats, infectious melody and a positive vibe presently missing on most radio these days, he has crafted a group of six tracks that are both pleasant and refreshingly memorable. There isn’t a bad song here, including “The Old House Is Gone,” with its nice disco-y vibe and “Before The Dive,” where he sounds like he’s channeling happier-era New Order. Even his ballads “All Eyes On You” and “Paper Heart” stick to the formula, which just goes to show what a big difference it is having an element of positivity to one’s sound; it can make it pleasant, listenable and perhaps most important, lasting and memorable. The ’80s-sounding “Closer Than This” hints at the promise of a storming full-length, presently rumored for fall. –Dean O Hillis

Standard Fare
Out of Sight, Out of Town
Bar/None Records
Street: 12.12.11
Standard Fare = Vivian Girls + Los Campesinos
Alas, I tend to find Brit indie pop highly saturated and rarely unique enough to hold my attention, Standard Fare being a prime example of this. While there is nothing bad about their catchy hooks and rambunctious sound, there is nothing especially captivating about it, either. These cats made it to SXSW in 2010 and have managed to stand out amongst a sea of similar artists; however, I can’t seem to figure out what makes them so deserving. Perhaps it’s the vocals by Emma Kupa, which are a tiny bit Nico-esque and yeah, pretty fucking cute, but nothing I haven’t heard a billion times before. The best tracks of the album have a jamboree feel and have violin, such as ''05 11 07.'' Out of Sight, Out of Town is objectively solid, but not my cup of tea as far as originality goes. –Kia McGinnis

Terry Malts
Killing Time
Street: 02.21
Terry Malts = Ramones + Blank Dogs + (Devo - synthesizers)
A definite crush on Joey Ramone shines through with this release’s vocals, but Killing Time definitely has its charm. “Something About You” is a cute little ditty of an opener that recounts that little itch at the back of your mind when you get a little crush. Killing Time bounces along with straightforward rock beats up through “Waiting Room,” which exhibits drawn-out singing over staccato chords with lilting sets of lyrics that follow. The real downfall of this album, though, is that the songs don’t stand out from each other. Three-chord punk rock is all well and good, but the reverbed-out choruses with only one vocalist who employs the same types of stresses over indiscernible power chords makes the release bleed together. Terry Malts would benefit from having a high-voiced female share the vocals to enhance the sense of “chainsaw pop” that Terry Malts is going for—but, for what it is, Killing Time is solid. –Alexander Ortega

Taketh Away
Background Noise
Street: 01.27
T.Q.D. = Blueprint + Roch + Pigeon John + Eyedea
The Quiet Dude lives up to his name on his third solo release. The beats are often contemplative and dusty—string and drum affairs made to be played under rain and bad weather. The mood of the lyrics is the same: a frank examination of personal vulnerability and tough decisions. Over it all, this emcee maintains an almost shy delivery, astute in his rhyme and rhythm, but without some of the vamping, hollering and ego-padding of many others. This works both for and against him. On depressing, quiet songs, he’s reminiscent of Atmosphere, with a certain gritty emotional quality, but on more upbeat jams, I wish he had some of Slug’s battle-ready, “fuck you” mentality. High notes include the amazing beats on “Belonging” and “Grown Man,” which each feature excellent verses as well. This is good stuff, but I think T.Q.D. needs a little more to really set himself apart. –Rio Connelly

Various Artists
We are the Works in Progress
Asa Wa Kuru
Street: 02.07
We Are The Works In Progress = hipper than the hippest of all hip Fabric series
We Are the Works in Progress is a collection of artists from disparate disciplines whose contributions to this Blonde Redhead-curated benefit compilation for Japanese tsunami relief sounds incredibly cohesive. This is quite possibly the hippest album that will come out this year. We Are the Works in Progress contains unreleased material from Four Tet, Pantha Du Prince, Nosaj Thing, Deerhunter and a posthumous Broadcast song. It also contains tracks by revered minimalist giants Terry Riley and John Roberts. 2011 breakout artist John Maus’ contribution, “Castles in the Grave,” is particularly stunning. While all the artists find common ground in minimalism, it is the collaborations, however, that steal the show. While a Liars/Blonde Redhead and Ryuichi Sakamoto/David Sylvain (Japan) combo sound anachronistic on paper, they work surprisingly well. Cop this, support a worthy cause and be treated to an hour and a half of unrelenting bliss. –Ryan Hall

Waco Brothers & Paul Burch
Great Chicago Fire
Street: 04.24
Waco Brothers & Paul Burch = 16 Horsepower + Richard Hell + Exene Cervenka
When working-class rockers the Waco Brothers and alt-country writer and Nashville native Paul Burch threw in together to make this record, it was pretty apparent that even though they were considered to be from different genres, they were on the same page on another level—internally, you could say. While plenty of country and folk roots are touched on here, the vigor and rowdy spirit is always looming, but never gets too intense, which works well, and allows both driving forces of the project to be heard. This is just evidence of a metric ton of talent. Upon each listen, I zero in on a new song, a different voice, a different guitar lick. ”Cannonball” is a pretty consistent favorite, with its soothing female backing vocals by Burch delivering lyrics thoughtfully and poignantly over a proficiently played assortment of instruments, such as an accordion and tremolo guitar. Hopefully this isn’t the last time these boys get together, because they’ve left me wanting more. –James Orme

We Have Band
Street: 02.28
We Have Band = Friendly Fires + The Rapture + Human League
The word Ternion means a set of three, it is also the title of the sophomore album by Manchester’s We Have Band. The band themselves are a set of three, with each member playing an equal and necessary role delivering this infectious blend of intelligent dance-punk songs of love and isolation. Each intricate layer on album opener “After All” has been chopped, sliced and diced over rich, fuzzed-out rhythms. The pounding array of percussive beats on “Rivers of Blood” warm you up for the artful, edgy New Order-esque “Visionary.” “Shift” and “Pressure On” are the only moments of weakness ... wait, scratch that … these two songs are strategically placed for you to catch a breath. Ternion is a polished party album proving that three really is good company. –Courtney Blair

Hollows and Rounds
Street: 04.03
Whitejacket = Lennon/McCartney + Love Language + Broken Bells
Looking at the track listing, I was a bit worried at first, as the vast majority of the songs on this album are under three minutes, with a few even under two—but don’t let the short tunes fool you. This is good shit. Several times I felt as though I was listening to The Beatles, such as during numbers like “Single Seagull.” At other points in the album, I drew comparisons to Pink Floyd’s masterpiece Atom Heart Mother, thanks to a four-piece horn section playing along with the band in multiple tracks, like “Inside Out.” Led by Chris McDuffie, the 10-piece band delivers beautiful harmonies and mellow soundscapes that will take you back in time. Because of the relatively short length of each tune, this album is a quick listen. Even though there are 13 tracks, they only amount to 35 minutes of playing time. It’s one of those albums that you wish lasted longer, but instead, leaves you saying, “What the fuck? Is that all?” At which point, you can just listen to it again. –Jory Carroll

Young Magic
Carpark Records
Street: 02.14
Young Magic = King Krule + Salem
Young Magic might be a bit more Fleet Foxes than King Krule in the vocal department at times, but it still makes for an interesting listen. With erratic and often hard-to-identify African percussion over ever-changing and extremely lush synth lines, it does tend to drone on at times (like the self-titled Here We Go Magic album). However, it also sounds a bit like a Salem and Animal Collective collaboration, and people went batshit for the newer electro Animal Collective, so that is probably a good thing. Young Magic have crafted an album full of lush, sparkling soundscapes, and some of the songs might be 4-minute-long loops, but you probably won’t get tired of it. –Cody Hudson

Young Prisms
In Between
Kanine Records
Street: 03.27
Young Prisms = My Bloody Valentine + Best Coast
Even in the throes of a shoegaze revival at its apparent peak, I haven’t heard buzzing, swooning guitars so closely resemble Kevin Shields as those on Young Prism’s sophomore LP. Impressive in its own right, but what sets apart these Loveless worshippers is the amount of heart that cuts through the reverb. The album’s best moments, like in the song “Four Hours (Away),” are made of a simple guitar line or melody. What makes it so effective is that Young Prisms know just when to turn up the right amount of lovesickness. –Nate Housley

House of Baasa
Kanine Records
Street: 04.10
Zambri = Grimes + Hooray for Earth + St. Vincent
This first album from New York’s Zambri sisters surprises while it noises its way into your brain. On songs like “All You Maybes” and “Places,” they seem to tap into the NY mood that Hooray for Earth channeled on their latest album, True Loves—which means they layer guitar over synth with ethereal vocals floating above it all. I never really pondered what Hooray For Earth might sound like with female vocals, but this album answers that. It’s not a complete lifting of material, and I don’t imply it is, it’s just a really great vibe they pull off. I’d love to see this group live. Hooray for Earth pulls it off—and with just three guys, last I saw—how do the Zambri sisters? –JP