Here is a batch of reviews I did for WRIR. The idea is to review the disc in a brief manner so it can be read in a flash and fit on the front of the CD.
Artist: Dag for Dag
Review: This brother sister duo delivers Raveonettes-esque rock without much of the chemistry. There are shades of early day Sonic Youth, a spacey Fiery Furnaces, and if you can imagine Interpol without any of the guitar charm. The album contains lots of tension and building but nothing great is ever built.
Recommended tracks: 4, 3, 5, 13
Artist: Okkervil River
Title: I am Very Far
Review: I read a quote from primary songwriter Will Sheff that he likes art that makes you feel a little worried. Worried in away that the tone set by the music is the audio equivalent of walking through a bad part of town and having to look over your shoulder and fear what might be around the corner. The result of this on I Am Very Far is a slimmer Arcade Fire (and Echo & the B on the ballads) type record hoping to be epic but it lands more at good Samaritan than heroic.
Recommended tracks: 5, 3, 1, 9
Artist: Buffalo Tom
Label: Scrawny Records
Review: I felt obligated to give this a serious listen because of how deeply I loved BT back in the early ‘90s but I don’t love what I have heard here. It sounds exactly like you would fear a band resting safely in middle age would sound like. Still rockin’ but minus the reckless. Even with the guest vocals of another college rock idol Tanya Donelly, this didn’t move me into the impressed column. These songs are the rock equivalent of rounded corners - safe.
Recommended tracks: 3,5,8,4, 11
Artist: The Joy Formidable
Title: The Big Roar
Review: It was only a matter of time before a major label picked up on this band. A variation of this long player was my favorite record of last year and I am happy to place this one among my top 10 this year again. This is the most energetic female fronted rock band since Yeah Yeahs Yeahs with a nod to shoegaze bands like MBV, The Cranes, and Lush. Gorgeous, shimmering, and with just the right punch. YOU WILL LOVE THIS.
Recommended tracks: 6, 4, 9, 5, 12
Artist: Keren Ann
Label: Blue Note
Review: Lounge-y, sexy, dark, breathy..sounding much like Isobel Campbell or a Serge Gainsbourg gal, I should in theory love this record but it left me bored and thinking this Leonard Cohen loving lady won’t even make it into my dinner music pile. There are too many better versions of this kind of record out there to focus on instead.
Recommended tracks: 2,1, 3,7
Title: This Happening
Review: And the pleasant surprise of the day award goes to this three piece girl band and their wonderful EP. It is noisy without being another Jesus and Mary Chain knock off. Its dynamic without being a Breeders clone. It’s dreamy without being dull. I can’t wait to hear more from these ladies.
Recommended tracks: 4,1,2
Artist: Times New Viking
Review: Now this is what I WISH the newest Vaselines record sounded like. This is tweaked twee at its best - something you might say could be the heir to the Beat Happening’s rock and droll crown. I know it is early to say it but as a fan of clumsy lo-fi rock, this is a contender to be a favorite record of the year for me. My early Guided By Voices have a new best friend!
Recommended tracks: 8, 4, 1, 2, 7,