4.5 out of 5 stars
For weeks I have bragged about the multitude of good new music that has arrived to the scene courtesy of our good friends across the pond, Great Britain.
There were the Arctic Monkeys, Elbow, Clearlake and Test Icicles (who ironically announced their breakup just last week: geez, that lasted long).
But now I bring you a band whose efforts might just overshadow the collected endeavors of all those bands I listed before, even the lauded Arctic Monkeys.
My friends, I bring you the Editors!
The Birmingham, United Kingdom foursome have crafted a sound that parallels the dark, brooding resonance of Interpol and mixes it with the post-punk brash impetuousness of groups like Echo & The Bunnymen and VHS or Beta while often remaining danceable like early Radio 4 (Whew! That’s a mouthful).
Tom Smith’s vocals soar over the intense, driving rhythms and sear themselves into your head. The guitar melodies contain absolutely massive hooks that you’ll not soon forget.
It might seem like I’m gushing a bit, and maybe I am. But start to finish, this is as close to a perfect record as I’ve heard in quite some time.
Editors, I tip my cap to you: well done.
Key Tracks: “Munich,” “Blood,” “Fingers in the Factories”
4 out of 5 stars
I was surprised to see a new Josh Rouse album so soon. After all, his last record “Nashville” (one I highly recommend) came out just last February.
The inspiration for this album came shortly after his recent move to a small town in Spain. As a result, there are some Spanish influences, but not a ton of them.
Rouse is a singer/songwriter unlike those who achieve great commercial success, a la John Mayer, Ryan Cabrera and Howie Day.
In contrast to their straightforward, get-to-the-hook style of songwriting, Rouse creates sophisticated pop songs that often build upon themselves before breaking out in an explosion of melody.
This type of song structure works well with his smooth, low-key vocal style, especially on this album.
After several listens, this album has grown on me.
Rouse has employed different sounds in the past, from retro 1970s-style pop to country, but this album feels like the combination of all of them. It may be his most understated record in years, but it just feels right.
Rouse is one of the most talented singer/songwriters out there, and this album only reaffirms that.
Key Tracks: “It Looks Like Love,” “His Majesty Rides,” “Givin’ It Up”
“Fab Four Suture”
3 out of 5 stars
Stereolab is one of those bands that you can call “quintessential.” After 15 years and now 10 studio LPs, it would be daft to call it anything else.
Spin magazine declared it one of the 50 most influential pop bands a few years ago, a justified ranking.
But this is not your run-of-the-mill pop band: droning, hypnotic rhythms with analog synthesizers and electronics, jangly guitars, mesmerizing vocals often sung in French and lyrics that often touch on Marxist politics (if you can decipher them).
The group’s 10th album does more of the same. It is the band’s first album since Elektra Records dropped it, along with 70-odd other groups, when Elektra was bought by Atlantic Records.
There are still plenty of droning rhythms and electronics and guitars and French vocals on this one, but the songs do not feel as strong as they did on their last album, “Margerine Eclipse.”
It’s a solid album overall, just not their best.
Key Tracks: “Visionary Road Maps,” “Interlock,” “Vodiak”
“Dying To Say This To You”
3 out of 5 stars
Whether you realize it, you have probably heard the Sounds before, at least once.
Anyone who has watched VH1 or MTV has heard the ultracatchy dance pop track “Dance With Me,” which was released on its debut album, “Living in America,” in 2003.
More than two years later, the band’s follow-up record finds the Swedish rockers creating more danceable, electronic-tinged pop rock.
Lead singer Maja Ivarsson once again displays her unforgettable vocal style, which borrows elements from bands like the Donnas and Blondie.
The album is catchy and certain to succeed, even though they don’t seem to bring anything new to the table.
The album feels more like a sidestep than a step forward. It’s still plenty catchy though.
Key Tracks: “Queen of Apology,” “Painted by Numbers,” “Much Too Long Now”