Norwegian Arms' debut album is freak-folk at its best. Sounding like an acoustic, less experimental Animal Collective, Wolf Like a Stray Dog is a fun, upbeat album that packs a punch. Norwegian Arms consists of Brenden Mulvihill and Dr. Dog's Eric Slick. Beginning with dreamy mandolin strums, this album starts with a full folk-rock feel, but quickly moves on to become an upbeat psych-folk journey. 'Soviet Bicycle' is very reminiscent of 'Who Could Win a Rabbit' by AnCo, while the other tracks sound like tUnE-yArDs meets Fleet Foxes. Give it a listen if you're looking for something new!
Play: 2, 4, 6, 10
RIYL: tUnE-yArDs, Django Django, Animal Collective
Aussie punks UV Race make simple punk songs, but their strength is in the diversity of sound from track to track. Tracks such as "Raw Balls" and "Nuclear Family" go into hardcore, and "Life Park" gets more melodic. They hold on to the classic angst and let it out in bounding base lines, yelping strained vocals, and easy going dums. The tracks never get too quick, so they rely on the fierce vocals and heavy instrumentation to let out their angst. UV Race sound like they wan't to make pop songs, but they're too rowdy, so they play punk.
RIYL: Circle Pit, Dick Diver
Charming local lo-fi. Distorted ukulele and minimalist percussion. Silly lyrical narratives, fearlessly random and beautifully informal. Bang! captures the essence of lo-fi music, expression without expectation. This tape succeeds in all the places that Best Coast's latest effort failed.
RILY: early Best Coast, Spaceman Saturday Night, Cloud Nothings
PLAY: 2, 5, 6
For some reason, high-energy indie pop lends itself perfectly to the seemingly boundless reserves of youth that are only found in little kids during second grade recess. Play Nice is slumber party dance music for nostalgic teens trying to live out their Lizzy Maguire fantasies. Okay-- It's fun to listen to, and, if no one else is around, to jump on your bed to, but at its core, the EP is straight out of a 90's vacation movie soundtrack. It's only recommended if you're particularly thrilled to be alive.
RIYL: Skybox, MIKA, Lykke Li, Dum Dum Girls
Play: 2, 4
Mac Demarcos 2 is a laid-backed, slacker-rock album you wouldn't expect from a guy living in Montreal. Formerly known as Makeout Videotape, Demarco released this second album under his real name on Captured Tracks, and it's pretty rad. Demarcos music style fits well with his personality, reminding you of that crazy, goofy friend you cant help but love. Each song on 2 tells a story fitting for the flowing, beachy tunes. Demarco manages to sing a song about cigarettes on Viceroy and makes it sound like a dreamy tune dedicated to a girl he loves. Simple lyrics and mellow guitar riffs give this album a nostalgic feel. Stand out tracks, Cooking Up Something Good and Freaking Out the Neighborhood have perfected that feeling, making real life feel like a dream. Ending the album with Demarco sweetly talking to someone named KiKi leaves it feeling like a personal trip down memory lane you cant help but smile about.
Play: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 ALL!
RIYL: Real Estate, Makeout Videotape, Woods, Lotus Plaza
Play: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8 ALL!
Jose James' third release, No Beginning No End, is a soulful, intoxicating blend of jazz, r&b, hip-hop, and electronic sounds. Previously known for his jazz music, James tries a new style for this album, funking it up and adding urban elements to his beloved jazz style. By incorporating supporting artists and a mix of instruments, James creates a good-feel album that is almost impossible to place in a single genre. A few tracks stand out, such as 'Do You Feel', with its lengthy piano solo, 'Bird of Space' with its funky bass and James' deep voice revealing personal lyrics appropriate for a love song, and 'No Beginning No End' described as the "baby-maker" song by James himself. Give this album a listen if you're in a smoothed-out r&b, jazz kind of mood.
Play: 1, 3, 5, 8, 9, 10
RIYL: Miguel, Frank Ocean
These are compositions for multiple guitars grounded in various traditions and inspirations. Tres Pieza draws its inspiration from Argentinian dances, I Sentieri del Sogno (The Paths of Dreams) from a book, Su Bento (Sardinian dialect referring to the wind) from the wind, and Triste, Solitario y Final (Sad, Lonely and Final) from another book read while on tour. These performances are engaging and evocative and display classical guitar at its best.