Two sentence reviews of new albums I listened to in June, now 100% more Pam-approved.
Okkervil River — I Am Very Far: plenty of people who have never compared bands to salad dressing have already written about this album, but you guys know me, I’ve got to get my 15 cents in, and Okkervil is a band I’ve loved a very, very long time. This album is … well, it’s something. It’s strange and complex and certainly not at all what I was expecting after the straightforward sadness and beauty of The Stage Names/The Stand Ins. But I like it, I think? I’m fascinated by it, for sure, particularly after seeing them live at the beginning of the month.
Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr — It’s A Corporate World: discordant and harmonized, this is catchy and hard to grasp, gorgeous and noisy all at once. There’s something compelling about the electronica that they scatter over their sad indie boy songs, something that makes them better than just sad indie boys; I can’t stop listening to this one.
Holy Fiction — self-titled EP: there’s something layered and vocally reminiscent in this of early, good Sting records, and it’s a driving, churning sort of indie rock, with wailing background female harmonizing and lots of cymbals. I think it’s good, but I can’t decide if I like it.
Mischief Brew — The Stone Operation: if you put Holy Ghost Tent Revival and the Pogues into a blender with a hardcore band and some Eastern European traditional instruments, you might get the Mischief Brew out as the product; this album is both tuneful and noisy, catchy and driving, in a way that most bands can’t manage — as equally comfortable with acoustic tracks and rough voiced harmonies as they are with crashingly loud garage rock, none of this should work and somehow it does. Somehow it manages to be incredibly compelling, too.
Old Man Markley — Guts ‘n’ Teeth: the world needs more punk bluegrass, or banjo-pickin’ punks, and that’s a need that Old Man Markley are filling; like so many of my beloved thrashgrass bands here in the NC, they’re playing traditional music with a punk sensibility and fierceness, and every minute of this album is catchy, toe-tapping, and clever.
The Rosebuds — Loud Planes Fly Low: sad, gorgeous, intimate and huge, this is the Rosebuds’ trademark brand of slick and complex electro-indie-power-pop, and Ivan and Kelly’s songwriting is even more sharp and perceptive (about life, love, loud planes) than it has been in the past. A powerhouse of a local release for me, and Lord, I’d nearly forgotten how much I love them. This album is a strong contender for top ten of the year.
Sam Roberts — Collider: this might be your standard stoner alt-rock, except that Roberts has taken horns and a wind ensemble to back up his chanting choruses, and it ends up sounding somewhere between Toronto (Roberts is Canadian) and Detroit, the kind of thing that you might listen to lying on your back on the living room floor at 4 am on a Saturday morning, smoking dope and trying to come down enough to go to bed.