Sea Lions – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask

Slumberland Records seems intent on making up for lost time as long as the underground continues to generate top-notch slabs of their brand of crash pop. Their seal of approval remains a reliable signifier. Continuing the resurgent Slumberland parade is the more standard-issue but still appealing Sea Lions, who move the rapid-strum guitars back to… Continue reading Sea Lions – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask

Future Islands – On the Water

Last year’s In Evening Air captured Future Islands’ frontman Samuel T. Herring in the ranting throes of a devastating breakup. On the Water doesn’t find Herring much happier, but he’s now pensively assessing the wreckage from a safer distance. On the Water is a less challenging record but it’s a more approachable one, and nearly… Continue reading Future Islands – On the Water

Comet Gain

Comet Gain Still Believes In The Dream: The Music Will Save You The fit is so perfect that if it weren’t true, he’d probably have to invent the tale. David Feck, leader of outsider culture-obsessed (“Jack Nance Hair,” anyone?) indie heroes Comet Gain, scratches out a living managing a shop that sells magazines and movie… Continue reading Comet Gain

EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

Hype is a bitch. For some time I found myself actively resisting the EMA album – maybe it was the overly stylized photos of Erika M. Anderson, her eyes obscured behind bleached blonde hair, the bling screaming her initials. Even the positive press notices failed to convey a sense of the music that piqued my… Continue reading EMA – Past Life Martyred Saints

tUnE-yArDs

tUnE-yArDs, photo from Beggars Group press site

Merrill Garbus: Nobody’s Puppet tUnE-yArDs’ Uncompromising Vision Becomes the Perfect Vehicle My month-long pursuit of Merrill Garbus comes to a happy conclusion at the Oakland DMV. The woman behind the wildly inventive and borderline indescribable tUnE-yArDs moved to the Bay Area about 18 months ago, and recently learned that “apparently this means that for a… Continue reading tUnE-yArDs

Superchunk

Here’s To Staying Loud! Superchunk Reclaim Their Youthful Vigor While Acting Their Age Most folks probably chalk up the nine-year gap between Superchunk albums to the changing lifestyles of the quartet’s most recognizable members, Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance – each is now raising a family, and has shepherded the Merge label they co-own through… Continue reading Superchunk

Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle

July’s three-night sold-out run at the EARL is ample proof that the time is ripe for an Archers of Loaf reunion. Not every town will respond so rabidly – it doesn’t hurt that half of the band’s Chapel Hill fanbase has likely relocated to ATL since graduation and is now feeling the peak of mid-thirties… Continue reading Archers of Loaf – Icky Mettle

Army Navy – The Last Place

I’m not really buying the talking points behind Army Navy’s sophomore disc. The tale frontman Justin Kennedy has shared in interviews is a bit too perfect: up-and-coming bandleader carries on torrid six-month affair with married Tinseltown ingénue of nominal renown, then writes album in a cathartic outpouring after having his heart shattered. It’s an ideal… Continue reading Army Navy – The Last Place

Ponytail – Do Whatever You Want All the Time

Do Whatever You Want All the Time has led me to question what I want from a Ponytail album. More to the point, it may cause Ponytail to exclaim, “What do you want from us?!” It’s the art-noise quartet’s most listenable disc, and the first not to wear out its welcome before the finish. Yet… Continue reading Ponytail – Do Whatever You Want All the Time

Times New Viking – Dancer Equired

Times New Viking seems intent on avoiding a long-term lease in the lo-fi ghetto. The primary talking point for Dancer Equired, their fifth full-length, is that the trio finally deigned to enter a proper recording studio. Trust me, the sonic shift is overplayed – and that’s good news, because there’s precious little in the band’s… Continue reading Times New Viking – Dancer Equired

Eleventh Dream Day – Riot Now!

The cover of Eleventh Dream Day’s tenth album features a cartoonish image of aging punks standing in line at a grocery store.  Depending on one’s perspective, it may look either pathetic or endearing. The same could be said of this long-running Chicago band’s stubborn persistence – but my money’s on the latter. The quartet’s heart… Continue reading Eleventh Dream Day – Riot Now!

Savage Republic – Procession: An Aural History 1981-2010

Savage Republic is the rare band whose art school pretensions were additive to the overall package, rather than an annoying distraction from the music. Emerging from Los Angeles’ heady late ’70s experimental music scene, the group took the DIY aesthetic to new extremes. Despite its unique sound, the constantly changing collective is perhaps best remembered… Continue reading Savage Republic – Procession: An Aural History 1981-2010

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have suddenly assumed the role of Vampire Weekend’s doppelganger. It’s a weird analogy, but stick with me. Both New York City bands rode a blog-fueled frenzy to quick fame. And both use that platform to reach for the brass ring on album #2, without straying too far from… Continue reading The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

The Rural Alberta Advantage’s 2008 debut Hometowns was a rare out-of-nowhere surprise – a self-released gem that slowly, organically found its audience. Fans will find plenty to love in follow-up Departing as well – provided that the trio’s ragged charm wasn’t their only appeal. Frontman Nils Edenloff shoulders an even greater share of the load… Continue reading The Rural Alberta Advantage – Departing

The Radio Dept. – Passive Aggressive: The Singles 2002-2010

Call them the Kings of Inconvenience. Sweden’s Radio Dept. spent the past decade building a formidable catalog of mesmerizing, beat-heavy indie pop that flew below most radar. Apparently receiving its big break on the Marie Antoinette soundtrack in 2006, the band responded by moving further underground, shedding members, cancelling tours and slowing its release schedule… Continue reading The Radio Dept. – Passive Aggressive: The Singles 2002-2010

Gang of Four – Content

It was hardly a safe bet that the new Gang of Four album would yield much Entertainment, let alone Solid Gold. After all, we’re talking about a band nearly three decades removed from its landmark releases, with two forgettable comeback attempts already dotting the discography (anyone pulled out their copy of Mall recently?) The return… Continue reading Gang of Four – Content

Girl Talk

Get Ur Freak On: Girl Talk Parlays the Mash-Up Into an Extended Hiatus From the Cubicle I was expecting Gregg Gillis to be a bit of a dick. It seemed almost inevitable – after all, ever since Girl Talk’s Night Ripper blew up in 2006 the Pittsburgh native has essentially been throwing a non-stop party,… Continue reading Girl Talk

Sharon Van Etten

Lived To Tell: Sharon Van Etten Steps Out of the Basement and Finds Her Voice Sharon Van Etten is on the prowl for zinc. The soft-spoken singer is wrapping up her first mini-tour with a backing band, and the unfamiliar strain of projecting her voice nightly over an amplified rhythm section has begun to take… Continue reading Sharon Van Etten

Sleigh Bells

Shred For America: Sleigh Bells Bring The Noise – And The Sweetness The high tech world has been governed for years by Moore’s Law, the notion that engineering advancements will allow circuit power, and therefore computing speed, to double every 18-24 months. Our newfangled music era is ready for a corollary, measuring the speed of… Continue reading Sleigh Bells

Savages

This Is Not A Love Song (well, actually it is….): Savages Find Something to be Said About Slowing Down the World The night of Savages’ only Atlanta performance to date remains seared into my memory. Which is unfortunate, because I wasn’t at the show. Arriving on a delayed flight back into Atlanta I immediately texted… Continue reading Savages