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Reviews

Owls
Two - POLYVINYL
FILTER Grade: 82%

By Jon Falcone on April 17, 2014

 

Owls

An Owls record really wasn’t expected, some 13 years after the Chicago legends’ debut. Born from the recent spat of reunion shows, in many ways an Owls album is a far sweeter end product than a Cap’n Jazz release, which would drown in expectation. Two rages in discord and arrhythmia; “Ancient Stars Seed” powers through rhythms whilst Tim Kinsella’s vocals fall apart with fidgety boredom. Two is more than a reminder—it’s a fresh thrash of emotion from a supremely talented, if dysfunctional, band.

Chet Faker
Built on Glass - DOWNTOWN/FUTURE CLASSIC
FILTER Grade: 81%

By Bailey Pennick on April 17, 2014

 

Chet Faker

Within the 12 tracks that make up his full-length debut, Chet Faker is the crooner (“Release Your Problems”), the DJ (“Cigarettes & Loneliness”), the innovator (“No Advice [Airport Version]”) and the best boyfriend you could possibly have (“Talk Is Cheap”). While the different factors might seem like Built on Glass is a broken pile of jagged shards, the album’s enthralling fusion of electronica and soul proves that Faker’s glass foundation is a prism showing his colorful range. 

Jessica Lea Mayfield
Make My Head Sing... - ATO
FILTER Grade: 81%

By Kyle Lemmon on April 17, 2014

 

Jessica Lea Mayfield

Jessica Lea Mayfield’s third studio album follows 2011’s Tell Me, which—like several of her earlier efforts—was produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. Instead of building off the country-rock grandeur of previous outings, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter goes Auerbach-less and takes a fearless detour into electronic pop and ’90s alternative rock. While the lovelorn energy of Mayfield’s country ballads are often obfuscated by guitar fuzz, the new crunch fits her nicely.

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks
Enter the Slasher House - DOMINO
FILTER Grade: 77%

By Breanna Murphy on April 16, 2014

 

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks

An eerie ode to the supernatural sides of Carpenter and Craven, Animal Collective’s Avey Tare proudly presents his Slasher Flicks, joined by fellow East–West Coast transplants Angel Deradoorian (Dirty Projectors) and Jeremy Hyman (Ponytail, Dan Deacon). A ghostly specter of their new LA neighbor (in name and, sometimes, style and sound) Ariel Pink, fans of Animal Collective may enter the Slasher House and revel in Tare’s fun-sized treats, but others might be too disappointed by the tricks, remaining contented with the Haunted Graffiti next door.

The Afghan Whigs
Do To the Beast - SUB POP
FILTER Grade: 81%

By Adam Pollock on April 16, 2014

 

The Afghan Whigs

Rock-and-roll timelines have turned in on themselves so completely since Little Richard kicked things off in the mid ’50s that it’s sometimes hard to remember what came first: Keith or the riff. That The Afghan Whigs are releasing a new album almost three decades since first forming seems unfathomable, yet here they are, and back on Sub Pop to boot. Longtime fans will relish the return as Greg Dulli’s voice—full of longing, sex and anger—has never sounded better; new listeners will marvel at the drama that was so prevalent in bands from the ’90s, and that can be so lacking now. 

Woods
With Light and With Love - WOODSIST
FILTER Grade: 83%

By Kyle MacKinnel on April 15, 2014

 

Woods

In 2014, Woods still stand tall, having morphed from a lo-fi weirdo electric folk band on their own fringe label into a veritable lighthouse on the now populous independent coast. Scratchy four-tracks and G. Lucas Crane’s tape manipulations in the decaying Rear House have been swapped out for Jarvis Taveniere’s very well-aging studio prowess and a pared down four-piece configuration. The thrust of this band begins and has always begun with Jeremy Earl’s mastery at cranking out tight songs, and With Light and With Love is chock full of ’em. Check “Moving To the Left,” “New Light” and “Leaves Like Glass.” In Woods, we have choice.

Liam Finn
The Nihlist - YEP ROC
FILTER Grade: 81%

By Daniel Kohn on April 9, 2014

 

Liam Finn

Unlike other children of famous rockers, the 30-year-old New Zealander Liam Finn has managed to make a career of constant exploration and reinvention of his sound. Hunkered down in Brooklyn, Finn combines lo-fi electronica and heavy, bass-y grooves with grungy indie rock, which when done incorrectly would be the musical equivalent of oil and water. But, ultimately, the singer’s delicately harmonious pipes shine above all, thus proving that following in your father’s footsteps isn’t as hard as advertised.

Manchester Orchestra
Cope - FAVORITE GENTLEMAN
FILTER Grade: 83%

By Mischa Pearlman on April 8, 2014

 

Manchester Orchestra

Atlanta five-piece Manchester Orchestra have been tackling heavy subject matter— life, death, faith and crisis thereof—since their 2006 debut. On this fourth full-length, their existential musings are bolder than ever, with layers of brooding guitar cranked up and pointed to the heavens. Just listen to the powerful strains of “Top Notch” and “The Mansion,” or the ominous chug of the title track, which closes the album in a burst of pure spiritual defiance. 

OFF!
Wasted Years - VICE
FILTER Grade: 80%

By Kurt Orzeck on April 8, 2014

 

OFF!

Punk would be neutered without anarchy, but there’s a comfort that comes with Keith Morris’s reliably taut and—dare we say it—structured crew. The band, which has featured 16 songs and Raymond Pettibon artwork on every album, managed to keep the self-recorded Wasted Years crisp and orderly without editing any of the performances. The clean sound is especially remarkable given that the sucker was documented live to eight-track half-inch tape. This shit is legit.

Band of Skulls
Himalayan - SHANGRI-LA
FILTER Grade: 81%

By Angela Ratzlaff on April 7, 2014

 

Band of Skulls

Band of Skulls’ third studio album, Himalayan, starts out strong. “Asleep at the Wheel” rides heavy bass riffs reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age’s desert rock. Echoed vocals soar through choruses and fuzzy guitar keeps the whole ship anchored. That thick, ’70s rock energy dies out a bit, however, when an onslaught of ballads lulls the record. Songs like “Cold Sweat” and “Toreador” force overly tweaked, retouched and obviously catchy hooks down our throats. Luckily, that buzzkill dissolves with the thumping psych-blues of “Brothers and Sisters,” fortifying Himalayan with a rock- solid foundation. 

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