Youth Lagoon - Wondrous Bughouse: I was pretty ambivalent about this one before listening; did we actually need to hear anything more from Trevor Powers after The Year of Hibernation's claustrophobic bedroom pop? I wasn't sure if the Youth Lagoon aesthetic could translate to a larger studio setting without losing its tenderness and intimacy, and to some extent I was right. But inWondrous Bughouse we see songwriting that has evolved in both composition and scope; the sound is bigger in service of providing an emotional wallop that was only hinted at previously. Powers toys with unnerving sound collages and noise throughout the record (see opener "Through Mind and Back" that wouldn't feel out of place on a Grimmrobe Incantations or Monstrous Wickedness playlist), pairing it with his unerring melodic sense. Check out that epic guitar line on the back half of "Mute": with just a handful of notes, Powers conveys that sense of earnestness and longing that is central to Youth Lagoon. The fact that it's done on such a grand scale indicates a remarkable artistic advancement - check this one out even if you weren't so fond of The Year of Hibernation. ZN
Recommended Tracks: "Mute", "Pelican Man", "Raspberry Cane"
The Men - New Moon: The Men’s New Moon’s album finds itself nestled in pop-punk, folk, and a classic rock sound. New Moon’s warm sound is country-infused with a little bit of the blues. The Men’s latest release something that provides a different with it’s country rock style songs. It’s raw sound, and country-rock style gives justice to how good a guitar, drum, and bass can sound without electronic layering. New Moon carries an energy that translates the group’s homage style rock. JH
Recommended Tracks: "Open the Door", "The Seeds", "High and Lonesome"
Chelsea Light Moving - Chelsea Light Moving: At age 54, Thurston Moore is still angsty. And right now he is taking it out on Chelsea... Chelsea Light Moving, that is; his latest project alongside three fellow New York rabble rousers (significantly younger ones, might I add). Perhaps this new lineup’s youthful energy has reinvigorated Thurston, as their self-titled eight song set boasts some of the fiercest and most anxious riffs he’s crafted in recent memory. Followers of Moore’s solo career (and “other projects”) will recognize the familiar chiming guitars, hypnotic drones, and all-around frenetic songwriting he’s become known for. Even though Sonic Youth might be dead in the water (but to quote the great poet Bieber, “never say never!”), it has become increasingly apparent throughout Thurston’s career that he truly was the hands and heart of the band that pioneered underground and indie rock. So, in conclusion: it’s not Sonic Youth... BUT IT’S GOOD ENOUGH! (and what more can you ask for?) NA
PS: Catch CLM at the Echoplex this spring break (3/19) with Waxahatchee!
Recommended Tracks: "Empires of Time", "Alighted", "Frank O'Hara Hit"
Blue Hawaii - Untogether: Nestled somewhere between the singsongy pop of Grimes, the pulsating grooves of The Knife, and the ethereal vocal layering of Julianna Barwick lies Blue Hawaii, a promising Montreal duo that will be playing several SXSW showcases. Although Untogether is the pair's debut album, they already display a remarkable ability to craft tunes fit for headphones and the dancefloor alike. My favorite cut from the record, "In Two", begins with rich and dreamy harmonies from Raphaelle Standell-Preston (of Braids) before settling into a skittering house groove as Raphaelle's voice is manipulated beyond recognition. The track becomes "In Two II" (a separate track on the CD) at 3:25, transitioning into driving techno heavy on atmospherics, punctuated by a beautiful vocal hook from Raphaelle that closes out one of my favorite songs of the year so far. You'll be hearing a lot more about Blue Hawaii in the next few months, so get on this early. ZN
Recommended Tracks: "In Two", "Yours to Keep", "Follow"
Suuns - Images du Futur: Suuns' second full-length release is crafted with hard, structural and muddy sounds. Fuzzy noise induced and pedal heavy backgrounds are undrlayed to pitchy melodies that makes for an interesting sound. The album is equal parts electronic with in its repetitive, hypnotic structures, this is added to equal parts indie rock with its heavy, yet mellow guitars and energetic drums. Images Du Futur’s sound is a familiar one, Suun’s heavy layering of sounds and effects gives for a new approach to indie. JH
Recommended Tracks: "Powers of Ten", "2020", "Bambi"