Author Archive

The Rentals – Lost in Alphaville

August 28th, 2014
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In Limbo

The Rentals have always been an amalgamation: a band cobbled together from members of other bands, with a lineup that changed with each album, centered around frontman Matt Sharp, formerly the bassist of Weezer in their earlier days. Sharp left Weezer after Pinkerton (1996), and focused on the Rentals, releasing first Return of the Rentals (1995), and then 1999’s Seven More Minutes, which was about time he spent in Spain with a significant other. But the Rentals dissipated for several years after that album, coming back together in 2005 to release some smaller projects, like the multimedia Songs About Time (2009). Lost in Alphaville is the band’s third album and the first full-length since 1999, and it’s got a shiny new lineup to match: Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, Ryen Slegr of Ozma, Lauren Chipman of Section Quartet, and Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius on vocals. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews , , , , , , , , , ,

Jenny Hval and Susanna – Meshes of Voice

August 23rd, 2014
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A Journey into the Surreal

The very appropriately titled Meshes of Voice brings together two rather different Norwegian artists, Jenny Hval and Susanna Wallumrød, on an album ensnared in the influences of surrealism and mythology, like the neo-gothic modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí and Maya Deren’s 1943 film Meshes of the Afternoon. Written for 2009’s Ladyfest, a global music and arts festival for women and feminist artists, Meshes of Voice expertly combines Hval and Wallumrød’s talents in an uncanny, phantasmagorical journey into the psyche. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews , ,

Spoon – They Want My Soul

August 6th, 2014
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A Musical Crossroads

Though it may sound like the title of a low-budget horror movie, They Want My Soul, the eighth album from Austin’s Spoon, steers clear of anything remotely terrifying in the traditional sense of the word, though frontman Britt Daniel does urge listeners to “run run run run run” on “Rainy Taxi,” whose minor-tinged melodies give it a slightly ominous feel, and the creepy, shivering synths that end “Do You” are also surprisingly hair-raising, especially after such a radio-ready, bland track. On this, their first release since 2010’s Transference and their first release on their own label Loma Vista Recordings (and their first release with keyboardist Alex Fischel), Spoon seem to be indulging at times in a bit of an existential crisis. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews

The Muffs – Whoop Dee Doo

July 30th, 2014
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Back with a Vengeance

The title of the Muffs’ first album in a decade, Whoop Dee Doo, implies a certain kind of carefree, dismissive, easygoing, throw-your-hands-up attitude, maybe with a hint of sarcasm and derision. And that’s exactly what the album provides. This is the band’s first release since 2004’s Really Really Happy, and despite the time that has passed since then, the Muffs still sound like they’re back in the ‘90s or early 2000s, jamming youthfully away in a garage with their amps turned up loud. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews ,

Got A Girl – I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now

July 24th, 2014
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A Dramatic Duet

Enter an unlikely duo: first, Dan the Automator (Daniel Nakamura), who has produced hip-hop and alternative albums by Kool Keith, DJ Shadow, Head Automatica, Kasabian and the first Gorillaz record, among others. Then enter actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, the brunette who stole Michael Cera’s heart in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, who’s appeared in a smattering of big-name films like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Live Free or Die Hard, and Final Destination 3. The two met on the set of Scott Pilgrim, where Dan was working on the score and Winstead was the leading lady, and apparently hit it off enough to want to write a record together under the name Got A Girl. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews , ,

Woman’s Hour – Conversations

July 16th, 2014
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The Art of Subtlety

Don’t confuse Woman’s Hour, a four-piece group of Cumbria natives based in London, with the BBC radio program of the same name. While the band might have lifted their moniker from the radio show, the similarities stop there. Though frontwoman and vocalist Fiona Burgess has a background in drama studies, with Woman’s Hour she channels her acting expertise into the band’s music, crafting swooning, often dreamy electropop with hints of New Wave that has earned comparisons to the likes of The xx and Beach House. On Conversations, the band’s debut album out this week on Secretly Canadian, Woman’s Hour invite listeners to sit and stay a while, and listen. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews

How To Dress Well – “What Is This Heart?”

June 24th, 2014
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Stylish and Suave

How To Dress Well (AKA the sensitive songwriter and philosopher-in-training Tom Krell) poses a question on his third album—he explores a new, tentative reach toward something that sounds suspiciously like happiness, like pop. Leaving behind the ambient, atmospheric electronica of his critically acclaimed sophomore album Total Loss (2012), Krell ventures softly in a different direction. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews ,

The Antlers – Familiars

June 19th, 2014
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Ultimate Chill

Brooklyn-based croonsters The Antlers release their fifth full-length album, Familiars, this week—and it certainly provides a familiar, recognizable sound. The Antlers have developed a reputation for creating sweet indie tunes replete with lush orchestration, and Familiars doesn’t disappoint. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews

Howling Bells – Heartstrings

June 11th, 2014
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Country, Blues, Rock, and Gloom

Howling Bells is a strangely apt name for this Australian quartet, who released their fourth album Heartstrings this week: take the pealing of bells, a sound that connotes sweetness, or maybe urgency, but in either case a smooth, clear and ringing note. Smash it against “howling,” and you’ve got the sometimes gritty, almost always melodic sound of Howling Bells. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews

Sharon Van Etten – Are We There

May 29th, 2014
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State of Transition

With Are We There, Sharon Van Etten has four studio albums under her belt—no small feat. The New Jersey native turned Brooklynite singer-songwriter released her debut album in 2009 (titled Because I Was In Love), but it was with 2012’s Tramp that she really caught the music world’s attention. Tramp had an indie all-star cast: it was produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, with contributions from Dessner’s twin Bryce (also of The National), Zach Condon (Beirut), Julianna Barwick, Matt Barrick (Walkmen), and Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner, among others. But on Are We There, produced by Stewart Lerman (who’s worked with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent and Regina Spektor), Van Etten moves away from the guitar-driven tunes on her previous releases, transitioning toward something a little more her own. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews