two sentence reviews of new records i listened to in october

mandolin orange @ haw river ballroom

I listened to a lot of records in October.

Golden Gardens — How Brave The Hunted Wolves: dreamy indie pop from a Seattle duo, this sounds like wind chimes on a lonely porch at twilight. It’s sunrise after a thunderstorm on the beach, the closing credits of a horror movie with a happy ending, goosebumps on your arms from something terrifying and beautiful all at once.

Corin Tucker Band — Kill My Blues: kickass Corin Tucker songwriting, catchy tunes and choruses, and the power of “Groundhog Day”, an edgy, bitchy political anthem about women’s rights in modern America. Play it as loud as possible and sing along.

The Orwells — Remember When: I was turned on to the Orwells when I was in Minneapolis with the WWTF crew, who would request songs from the backseats of the ugly crew SUV by track number, and I’ve spent a ton of time with it this month, getting to know the track names, but basically, what you need to know is that it’s catchy-as-hell retro-pop-punk from a bunch of Chicago teenagers who can write the fuck out of a song and use the lo-fi sound of this record to their advantage. I need them to tour, I bet they’re a fucking party live.

The Amazing — Gentle Stream: if Neil Young was Swedish, and not old, he probably would have made this album; it has some very Young-like guitars and a strong, strong Crazy Horse feel to it. I first listened to it on a muggy, gloomy October morning, and it was somehow perfect for that mood, which is the best descriptor I can give you.

Lucy Rose — Like I Used To: based on the cover image, I expected some pretty solid girl-with-a-guitar alt country; what I got was something like Tift Merritt and Bjork in a blender. It’s part pop country, part complex electronica, and part Rose’s charming little girl voice and songwriting, and I’m still puzzling it out in a most enjoyable way. A complete surprise, this record, and I love that it was.

Invisible Hand — Aja: this EP is completely unclassifiable, and absolutely compelling; it’s part electro-pop, it’s part garage rock, it’s all melodic and hummable and intense and catchy and clever. They’re from Charlottesville, whose music scene I should apparently be paying way more attention to, and they cite the Kinks as a major influence — which I can hear, but Aja is just as much forcefully Invisible Hand’s as it is influenced by anything. (Is there where I admit I don’t like Steely Dan much? WHOOPS.)

Freelance Whales — diluvia: listening to this album, I thought that Freelance Whales’ name was apt; there’s something unearthly, like whale song, to the folky, shining indie pop of their songwriting. There’s a lurking darkenss to the record, under the shimmering surface, and the whole thing makes me feel like I’m looking at the ocean, straightforward and mysterious at the same time.

The Maldives — Muscle For The Wing: the Maldives are a Seattle band who are starting to make some noise with this, their second LP; it’s the sort of music that you listen to at sunrise after having stayed up all night with someone you love very much, all muted colors and shifting clouds and hazy guitar lines. It reminds me a little of early Neil Young, a little of Fleet Foxes, a lot of wandering around Portland by myself when I was there for Lirette’s wedding in 2005. It’s gorgeous.

Sea Wolf — Old School Romance:the other day I was listening to this record and I remembered that I got to see Alex Brown Church play the Nightlight back in 2009, which seems unfathomable to me. I also remembered that I have always felt like Sea Wolf should be way, way bigger a band than they are, because ABC is such a sharp and perceptive songwriter, such a wonderful lyricist, and has such an ear for orchestration, and this, his third full-length under the Sea Wolf name, is no exception: it’s late night slow dancing in a dimly lit kitchen, it’s love songs to love songs that have already been written.

The Demon Beat — Less Is Less: slammy, tasty, slightly-metal-influenced garage rock from this up and coming West Virginia trio; some gorgeous shining guitar lines, a lot of shouty vocals, and a record that should rival the Orwells’ for debut press but probably won’t, because the internet sucks. Internet, suck less! This record, despite its title, kicks rock and roll’s ass, and I’m really sorry I missed these guys in Raleigh a few weeks back.

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