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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

Lykke Li – I Never Learn

May 6th, 2014
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The Soundtrack to Your Break Up

When Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li burst into the American music scene in 2008 with her debut LP Youth Novels, she seemed like the next up-and-coming Scandinavian pop star—quirky and individualistic, with an album full of songs produced by Björn Yttling, one-third of the hip trio Peter, Björn, and John. But on I Never Learn, Li’s compact third album, there’s little upbeat pop to be found. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews ,

Pixies – Indie Cindy

April 29th, 2014
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Don’t Call It a Comeback

The Pixies are a band with a huge, looming reputation—they’re one of the most loved bands to come out of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s—and their fans await their work with equally huge expectations, especially since they haven’t released a full-length record since 1991’s Trompe le Monde. But even considering this album isolated from the Pixies’ previous material, as its own product of a new decade and a new lineup (as the band is now minus former bassist Kim Deal and plus Paz Lenchantin), it sadly disappoints. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews , , ,

TEEN – The Way and Color

April 23rd, 2014
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Chilled Out

On their second full-length album The Way and Color, Brooklyn quartet TEEN delve deep into the realm of psychedelia-influenced pop, infusing their songs with winding, colorful melodies that will leave you wishing for a real modern day Woodstock, headbands and peace signs (and maybe some glow sticks) and all. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews ,

The Both – The Both

April 15th, 2014
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A Happy, Harmonious Union

Ted Leo (of Ted Leo and the Pharmacists) and singer-songwriter Aimee Mann might not seem like the most obvious match, but the pair formed a fast friendship after touring together last year and decided to cement their newfound camaraderie with a collaboration called The Both. Leo and Mann release their self-titled debut as The Both this week on Mann’s own SuperEgo Record. Despite the seeming disparity between their styles and previous work, this is a sweet, incredibly harmonious union of two of today’s veteran musicians that pushes their talents in a new direction. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews , , ,

EMA – The Future’s Void

April 9th, 2014
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Dark and Powerful

Enigmatic electronic artist EMA (Erika M. Anderson) has a knack for choosing strikingly appropriate titles for her songs and albums. The Future’s Void, her third album, teeters on the edge of a syntactical abyss: it’s either a depressingly cynical statement (the future is void), or a possessive, a taking hold and a staking out of unexplored, unknowable territory (the void of the future). It seems she chooses the latter, filling the void of the unknown with a haunting, memorable soundtrack sure to plague your dreams. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in High Fidelity, Reviews ,

Kevin Drew – Darlings

March 19th, 2014
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Effortless Cool

Darlings seems like just the right name for Kevin Drew’s second solo album. The Canadian musician and former Broken Social Scene co-founder released his first solo effort, Spirit If… in 2007, which included original material that reflected the experimental, eclectic, slightly rough around the edges sound that Broken Social Scene listeners would recognize and love. And it wasn’t surprising, given that the album cover read, “Broken Social Scene Presents: Kevin Drew,” situating him under the band’s umbrella even as he was venturing out on his own. But on Darlings, Drew takes a few steps further away, crafting a sound that’s more uniquely his own. Instead of the somewhat scruffy, intensely earnest music of BSS and his solo debut, now Drew comes off as mellowed-out and effortlessly cool, an indie darling who’s traded a sometimes muddled baroque sound for super chill synth-pop. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews ,

Elbow – The Take Off and Landing of Everything

March 12th, 2014
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This Flight is Grounded

The Take Off and Landing of Everything, the new album from English rockers Elbow, follows in the wake of the band’s success with 2011’s Build A Rocket Boys!, which, like almost everything the band has done, earned them a spot high on the billboard charts. And while there’s something to be said for consistency and for longevity—this is the band’s sixth studio album since 2001—The Take Off and Landing of Everything falls short of the kind of epic gesture that even its name aims to achieve. Read more…

By Charlee Redman Posted in Reviews

Bryce Dessner – St. Carolyn by the Sea / Jonny Greenwood – Suite from “There Will Be Blood”

March 8th, 2014
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The New Classical

It’s not too often that rock musicians delve into the realm of classical music, but The National’s guitarist Bryce Dessner and Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood do just that on their new split EP, St. Carolyn by the Sea / Suite from “There Will Be Blood,” out this week on Deutsche Grammophon. Both musicians have composition chops—Dessner has worked with the Kronos Quartet and Philip Glass and released his solo compositional debut Aheym in 2013, and Greenwood has composed scores for several films in addition to There Will Be Blood, including Norwegian Wood in 2010 and, more recently, The Master in 2012. Read more…

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