Two sentence reviews, August, mix of local and non, etc etc etc:
The Light Pines — Into the Night: I’m not sure why Chapel Hill indie rockers the Light Pines are giving away their brand new 20 track album — of trippy electronic indie rock and distorted vocals and fucking amazing drumming — for free on Bandcamp, but seriously, along with Des Ark and Mount Moriah and the Cowboy’s band, the Triangle is going to make a pretty fierce stand in my end of the year top 25 list. Ooooh, this is good. (Get it here.)
Radiation City — The Hands That Take You: I am so in love with the return to ’60s pop sensibilities that indie bands are finding this year; this album is shiny, baby-doll-voiced Phil Spector wall of sound pop, except where it goes off the rails and shimmies and hand-claps its way right into wild garage rock and electronica territory. It’s a perfect example of if you know where you’re coming from, you can figure out where you’re going, especially when where you’re going is genre-bending pop songs like Radiation City makes. They’re at the Nightlight tonight, 8/30, 10pm-ish, and if you can go, you should.
BARRY — Yawnin’ At the Dawnin’ EP: a surprisingly diverse EP that shows the Barry brothers’ skill at songwriting and in mastering more than one sound; the title track opens the EP with a sound exactly like a sea shanty, and the rest of the EP goes on to span sharply unique country rock, gypsy swing, and good old fashioned twang. I’m always impressed when bands can play more than one genre and make the album sound cohesive, but BARRY manages exactly that, and with true mastery. If you’re in New York, check them out.
Archers of Loaf — Icky Mettle (Merge remaster): in case you didn’t know, this is just as fucking amazing now as it was 20 years ago. Maybe more. If you never listened to the kings (along with Superchunk) of the formative Chapel Hill indie rock scene, pick this up and get blown away. I missed them at the Cradle 20 years ago, and I missed them now; I am very sad about that, no lie.
Blitzen Trapper — American Goldwing: Blitzen Trapper doesn’t make bad albums, and this one definitely has a retro-funky Rolling Stones sort of feel to it — especially in the back half — which I dig hardcore, but Furr is still my favorite. I can’t help it, I love that title track like whoa. I bet this one is going to be on fire live, though, and the Triangle has the great chance to catch them at the Cradle with Dawes in September. Do it!
The Breedings — Laughing at Luck: purchased on a rec from capstaindead and a whim, this album is kind of like what would have happened if Titus Andronicus had written all the really good Fleetwood Mac songs. The Breedings are a brother and sister out of Nashville, and this is all full-voiced wailing desperate love songs backed by churning punk guitars, and holy crap, is it good.
Trent Dabbs — Southerner: think Neil Young-esque southern guitar rock; fans of Jason Isbell’s Truckers-era songwriting and Young will probably dig this, and not just because of the earworming track titled after Young himself. Great guitar work; bet he’d be fun live — the record has a real sense of humor and self-deprecating feel to it, in a good way.
Release the Sunbird — Come Back To Us: folky indie rock with gorgeous shivering harmonies; think, hmmmm, the sort of orchestration and vocals make me think Beirut if Zach Condon had grown up in the Midwest instead of the Southwest and was less obsessed with Jacques Brel. Plaintive and shaky vocals, but somehow pretty without being precious, and some of the songwriting — “Best Thing For Me” — is stellar.
Heirlooms of August — Forever the Moon: super creepy boy-girl harmony folk songs; kind of like the Breedings, if the album was entirely unplugged. I liked it, but it freaked me out a little, which maybe it’s supposed to.