it’s taken me a while, but by the time psych-folkers akron/family rolled around their fifth album, i had to pay attention. i’m glad i did. akron/family II: the cosmic birth and journey of shinju TNT is an honest-to-god masterpiece that hits hard in all the right places. while the guys are still best at anthemic experimental rock jams, the album’s got no shortage of quieter moments too, and it’s these that add the final missing element to akron/family’s addicting grooves. album opener “silly bears” has a video below, and it’s a freak-folk stomper that makes you want to roll E, smoke W, or whatever else you do to have fun. drugged-up but not creeped-out, fun-loving but not forceful, “silly bears” is, well, silly – but extremely well-crafted, the harbinger of an album that’s neck-and-neck with starfucker‘s reptilians with best of 2011: so far.
akron/family II: the cosmic birth and journey of shinju TNT is out now on dead oceans.
tv on the radio has never really appealed to me, although i can see how their aesthetic is objectively really good. despite constant listening to 2008’s dear science, the record never really gelled with me. that all changed with their new single, “will do,” a neo-futuristic blues rock slow-jam that grooves in all the right places. i have no idea how old fans will react to this track, seeing as how it’s pretty different from their previous output, but i absolutely love it. video below.
nine types of light is out 4/12 on interscope.
it’s finally here! well, kind of. the pains of being pure at heart have released their sophomore album for free streaming on their website, so you can listen to it as many times as you want! but you have to be on your computer. boooooo! at the very least, this might convince you few holdouts that the pains aren’t a one-trick pony. belong is a delicate and engaging work on par with their self-titled in terms of fully-realized genius. intact are their trademark twee vocals and furiously 80s riffs, this time with some more well-rounded production that smooths out the rough without completely losing the edge. but don’t take my word for it: head on over to their site to hear the entire album, as many times as you want. for a taste, below you can stream the fantastic lead single “heart in your heartbreak.” if you’re like me, christmas just came a little early today.
belong is out 3/29 on slumberland.
robin pecknold is the frontman of seattle’s favorite folk-rock collective fleet foxes, and while the foxes aren’t set to drop their sophomore lp until may, robin’s recently released a three-song acoustic ep entitled “three songs” for free via the fleet foxes twitter account. the lead-off, “i’m losing myself,” features a duet between pecknold and grizzly bear leader ed droste. their vocal harmonies weave together to form one of the more beautiful tracks pecknold’s ever done, lush and weathered over tender acoustic picking. stream and download all three tracks after the jump.
okkervil river’s particular brand of melancholy indie pop has gained them a sizable cult following, but they’ve yet to break into the mainstream. will scheff’s liberal use of literary songwriting may have been a factor, but in recent interview’s he’s stated that with the band’s forthcoming release, he aims to retreat from the cerebral and aim more towards the emotional. judging by single “mermaid,” it’s a good move – the tune tugs at the heartstrings without falling into introspective or clichéd territory. even his pained vocals sound more genuine than on the band’s fantastic (if depressing) the stage names. backed by what seems at times to be a full orchestra, piano, and choir, “mermaid” appears a proclamation of things to come. it’s not an unfamiliar sound, but lyrically it’s a welcome change from the sometimes heady songwriting of albums past.
okkervil river – i am very far is out may 10th on jagjaguwar.
there wasn’t a band as divisive in 2009 as the pains of being pure at heart. either you immediately fell in love with their 80s pastiche or took one look at their name and let out a groan. i landed into the former category, hard, and spent the next two years listening to their self-titled debut on repeat while anxiously combing the wire for news on a follow-up. after releasing a pair of stellar 7″s (“say no to love” and “heart in your heartbreak,” respectively), the pains have finally announced their sophomore lp, belong. the title track is a mixture of crunchy yet swirling guitar riffs and the pains’ trademark twee vocals. it’s a heavier-sounding outing than their last; probably a result of producer flood (of smashing pumpkins) and mixer alan moulding (of my bloody valentine). but beneath the waves of distortion are still the unquenchable optimistic, summer vibes of yesteryear.
the pains of being pure at heart – belong is out march 15th on slumberland.
noah and the whale’s debut peaceful, the world lays me down was a mixed bag with spots of brilliance. favorites like “jocasta” and “5 years time” overshadowed the album’s weaker points, and showed potential for the english indie poppers. following frontman charlie fink’s painful breakup with then-bandmate laura marling, they released the drab the first days of spring. fans feared the worst; where had the joy gone? but with their newest single “l.i.f.e.g.o.e.s.o.n.” noah and the whale is back on the forefront of happy-go-lucky orchestral indie pop. it’s everything wonderful about the wes anderson-inspired band: a chanted, chirpy chorus, orchestral flourish, and maybe most of all, optimism and hope.
noah and the whale – last night on earth is out march 7th on mercury records.