As promised, I'm back to the usual format with a fresh crop of album reviews. The albums on this week's list are the records I mentioned last time as needing a few more listens. Recently I've been so impressed with a bunch of albums, some from bands I'm just discovering and others from bands I've known. Not that there is ever a lack of great music to explore, but sometimes the hunting is more rewarding than others. Right now I'm on a bit of winning streak, so enjoy.
Alberta Cross - Broken Side of Time: A few weeks back, I reviewed this Brooklyn band's new album and raved about it. I went back and found this, their 2009 debut the other week and I'm equally in love with it. They are similar to bands like The Rosewood Theives and The Stands, bands that are able to use Dylan folk elements with Beatles song structure to create perfect indie rock that feels new and modern. Definitely a band I'll be watching closely from now on.
Big Blood - Big Blood & The Wicked Hex: Over the last few years, Big Blood has become one of my favorite bands. The Portland, Maine band plays an original blend of freak folk that soars into spacy beauty and fantastical arrangements accompanied by spooky lyrics. Released in 2011, after over a dozen previous albums, the band remains fresh here. The opening track, "Run" is one of their best. They have an album out this year as well which I hope to review very soon.
Grimus - Egretta: This indie rock band hails from Romania, but they sing in English. This 2011 album is their second album and I've been enjoying it a lot. They are heavily influenced by British and Scandinavian bands, creating a big moody songs. They remind me a bit of early Muse, but far less pretentious. They also remind me of a band called Medal, which was sadly under-heard. Though not revolutionary by any means, this is a really solid album.
Mount Eerie - Ocean Roar: This is Phil Elverum's second album to be released this year under the band name Mount Eerie, following spring's Clear Moon. Dating back to his time with The Microphones, Elverum has consistently produced epic folk albums that create beautiful dreamlike worlds within the albums. Ocean Roar is no different. As the title suggest, this album feels like a dark night in the open sea when the water is unsettled and secrets are slipping to the surface, shown best in the two violent tracks, both titled "instrumental." Then there are the softer moments like "I Walked Home Beholding," which really complete the album's overall feel.
Aimee Mann - Charmer: It's been four years since the iconic indie singer songwriter released her last album, but thankfully not too much has changed. Charmer is another solidly good album. It's very much in line with the sunshiny indie pop of Smilers, and also reminds me of 2002's Lost in Space. Aimee has a gift for telling stories in her songs, often stories of desperation that are hidden in these upbeat and beautiful songs. "Disappeared," "Soon Enough," and the title track are among my favorites on an album full of good tunes.
Yeasayer - Frangrant World: The Brooklyn psychedelic indie pop band returns with their third full length album. Their 2007 debut, All Hour Cymbals was a refreshing wonder when it came it out, and 2010's Odd Blood saw them move more into the electronic pop field covered by other NYC bands like The Rapture. Two years later, they are making the same kind of sound, and are just as hard to pin down, sounding like Portugal. The Man. on one track and Erasure the next. I like this album, and the songs I really like, such as "Fingers Never Bleed" and "Longevity," are amazing. But the songs that I don't enjoy, the Erasure-esque songs, are definite skip songs for me--except the wonderful "Reagan's Skeleton." Others will enjoy those more though, of that I'm sure of.
Right Away, Great Captain! - The Bitter End: This is the 2006 debut from Andy Hull's (of Manchester Orchestra) solo side project. Released the same year as the band's debut, there is a lot of overlap in styles and themes. The main difference, besides the bigger sound a band can produce, is the quietness of this acoustic album. Andy Hull typically uses the soft/loud approach to songs, but on here, the 'loud' parts are significantly subdued. The result is a very moving record. He's released two other albums, including one recently this year under the Right Away, Great Captain! name. I look forward to hearing them.