**Alexander [Edward Sharpe, Ima Robot] _ Alexander
Alex Ebert plays more of the upbeat folk that saw his last record as Edward Sharpe take off. See "In The Twilight."
Mark Ballas _ HurtLoveBox
Cheesey pop attempts to channel Timberlake, Maroon 5.
Beady Eye [Oasis] _ Different Gear, Still Speeding
Oasis minus Noel return with a rock album.
Davila 66 _ Tan Bajo
Interesting Beach Boys-esque indie-pop by way of San Juan.
**DeVotchKa _ 100 Lovers (1.28)
The masterful band plays their signature brand of nostalgic, operatic neo-folk.
Dropkick Murphys _ Going Out In Style
Quincy, MA rockers play their widely popular Irish-punk.
Linda Eder _ Now
Streisand disciple sings show tunes.
Eisley _ The Valley
Texas girls still feature unique vocals and rich harmonies but lose some of their indie appeal with big production.
Everyone Dies in Utah _ Seeing Clearly
Super melodic screamo act borrow inspiration from Underoath.
Forever the Sickest Kids _ Forever the Sickest Kids
Gen Y pop-punk features nasal vox, slick production, even synths!
Go Radio _ Lucky Street
Emo lives on Fearless records.
Kopek _ White Collar Lies
Agro/hard rock by way of Dublin.
Lewis, Aaron [Staind] _ Town Line
Remember "It's Been Awhile(ft Fred Durst)"? Want More?
Lykke Li _ Wounded Rhymes
Sweedish songstress is on a major label but retains warm, artful production.
**Middle Brother _ Middle Brother
Debut from supergroup featuring frontmen of Deer Tick, Delta Spirit, and Dawwes manage to equal the sum of their parts.
Papercuts _ Fading Parade
Popper, John [Blues Traveler] _ And the Duskray Troubadours
Warm, familiar roots-pop.
Rural Alberta Advantage _ Departing
Faced paced roots-folk similar to Mumford & Sons.
Ron Sexsmith _ Long Player Late Bloomer
Well established Canadian plays smooth, soft rock.
**Those Dancing Days _ Daydreamers and Nightmares
Dense up-beat pop tunes from female fronted act by way of Nacka, Sweden. See "Reaching Forward," "Help Me Close My Eyes."
Watt, Mike _ Hyphenated-Man
Career bass player makes predictably weird record of 15 tracks under 2:04 in length.
**Williams, Lucinda _ Blessed
Strong folk rock from one of America's top songwriters.
Papercuts _ Fading Parade (2.0/5.0)
For Papercuts mastermind Jason Quever the challenge isn't making pleasant music. as he's repeatedly demonstrated his capabilities on 2007's Can't Go Back, and 2009's You Can Get What You Want. The challenge now becomes about keeping a coherent narrative and maintaining interest through ten-tracks of his hazy guitar driven "dream pop." The band's success in doing this on their Sub Pop debut is debatable.
The opener "Do You Really Wanna Know" is a promising beginning, featuring a strong vocal melody and bright instrumentation. Comparisons to the spaced-out guitar pop of the Shins will abound, and the lead single "Do What You Will" continues in the same vein. Unfortunately it's almost all downhill from here as the band's reverb soaked instrumentation and songs begin to run together in a forgettable melange. "I'll See You Later I Guess" plods along in a slow drone for nearly five minutes, and "Chills" borrows an Eliot Smith melody that doesn't feel quite right. The sludge-fest is continued with "The Messenger" which while 100% pleasant has shockingly little in the way of melodic interest, offering little more then a repetitive four word/note refrain.
Melody returns with "White Are the Waves" which might be the strongest track on the record, differentiated with a strong upright piano melody and interesting vocal line. "Wait Till I'm Dead" is another sleeper, built on a pretty chord structure but the vocals feel weak and anemic, guiding the song halfheartedly. The album ends with some of the record's strongest tracks; "Marie Says You've Changed" is by far the most upbeat track (but still lacks a clear hook), and "Winter Daze" and "Charades" finds the bands dream-pop march at it's most effective as the drums over echoing keys and guitars.
This record is totally listenable and could initially make it past the undiscerning ears of hipsters from Portland to Williamsburg, but the lack of substance will leave a limited population returning for repeat listens. In a music world saturated with indie/art/dream rock listeners will have to decide for themselves if hazy styling and carefully calibrated reverb can make up for a serious lack of substance.
Highlights: "White are The Waves," "Winter Daze," "Charades"
Looking forward to a spring of good new music - a few records we’re looking forward to getting our hands on:
Raekwon _ Shaolin vs Wu-Tang (3.8)
Wye Oak _ Civilian (3.8) (streaming free @npr.org!)
The Strokes _ Angels (3.22)
Panda Bear _ Tomboy (4.12)
Radiohead _ King of Limbs (5.9)
Okkervil River _ I Am Very Far (5.10)
Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi _ Rome (5.17)