The Glad Version
“Lights Out North Star”
3.5 out of 5 stars
Sometimes you see a video or hear a song from a new band that makes you ask yourself one question: how on earth did they get signed?
Conversely, you sometimes come across an album from a band and you’re forced to ask yourself a different question: why on earth are these guys not signed?
Minneapolis-based The Glad Version is a band that inspires the second of those two questions.
The band’s second album is self-released like its first one, meaning that it lacks a record label’s support in getting the word out. It is a shame, because the band has done a good job with this album.
Traditionally, indie-pop is a genre filled with a few good bands and a bunch of mediocre ones. There is no denying that Glad Version is one of the good ones.
Bouncy rhythms, strong-yet-pleasant vocal harmonies, lyrics that stick in your head and catchy melodies throughout make this an album that anyone can enjoy.
On “Beautiful Skeleton,” the band sings “I just can’t wait till we are perfect / heaven knows that we deserve it.” In truth, it doesn’t have to wait, because there are several times on this album when it is just that.
Key Tracks: “North Star,” “Beautiful Skeleton,” “Shenandoah”
3.5 out of 5 stars
Centro-Matic is one of those bands that have been a college radio staple for almost a decade, yet most people outside of the college radio scene have never heard of them.
The impact the band has left on the music industry, however, is very noticeable. Drive-By Truckers’ head honcho, Patterson Hood, declared Centro-Matic his favorite band today. Death Cab for Cutie/Postal Service lead singer, Ben Gibbard, has said that C-M lyricist Will Johnson is his favorite songwriter.
Praise from critics and colleagues aside, the band’s music speaks for itself. The combination of Southern-style rock with hazy indie-rock and smart songwriting is a winning formula, which makes the music sound a bit like Drive-By Truckers meets My Morning Jacket.
A strong rhythm section and fuzzy electric guitars complement Johnson’s voice as he alternately growls and soars his way through thought-provoking verses and choruses.
There are a small number of bands who could put this whole package together for even a couple of songs, but Centro-Matic has been accomplishing this for its entire career.
Key Tracks: “Calling Thermatico,” “Triggers and Trash Heaps,” “Covered Up in Mines”
The Rogers Sisters
“The Invisible Deck”
3 out of 5 stars
Before we go any further, there actually is a pair of sisters in this band whose last name is Rogers.
Siblings Laura and Jennifer Rogers formed the band with musician Miyuki Furtado back in 1999 in the rampant indie-rock scene that is Brooklyn, N.Y.
Seven years later, the third full-length from the group, “The Invisible Deck,” has landed.
Over the years, the band has done opening slots for bands like the Kills and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Jennifer Rogers’s vocal style resembles that of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Karen O, while the music itself is raw and high
energy, somewhat reminiscent of bands like the Hives or Mission of Burma.
The album itself is solid, but what is more encouraging is the fact that the Rogers Sisters have gotten better with each album they have released.
Not all the songs on here work, but the ones that do are very catchy, making listening worthwhile.
Key Tracks: “Never Learn to Cry,” “The Light,” “You Undecided”
3 out of 5 stars
There are some comparisons that I do not like to make, for obvious reasons. It is with great hesitation that I make this one, since I know some people will be angered, possibly screaming “How dare you?”
But, in all honesty, there are times on this album that Black sounds like Jeff Buckley. Black’s soft, soaring vocal stylings recall some of Buckley’s lighter moments, while at other times his delivery is reminiscent of Pete Yorn.
“Autumn Days,” Black’s fourth album, is a simple affair consisting mostly of acoustic guitars and introspective lyrics over simple musical backdrops.
While some people might be turned off by the simplicity of the music, the stripped-down arrangements add a special kind of elegance to the songs and help to accentuate Black’s lyrics.
When everything has been said and done, this is a versatile album.
Key Tracks: “Trillion Things,” “Fire Escape,” “Long Beach (It’s A Miracle)”