The sound of the Corner Laughers is, as its name implies, the sound of pure delight: quirky but focused harmonies, frenetic rhythms, plinking glockenspiel and lyrics that inspire like that first burst of cheery sunshine you've been missing all winterlong.
The simple tones that open "Every Drop" are signifiers of the aesthetic purity that Thad Kopec yearns for -- and finds in this warmly unfolding, deceptively lush, acoustic-electronic song.
Call the sound fuzz-rock, call it post-rock, just don't call it a paint-by-numbers cover of the beloved Joy Division. Brooklyn, New York's Lightouts have clearly put their snarling, noisy stamp on "Interzone."
If the crushing wash of guitars and tense rhythmic drive didn't make it clear, then the personal story Lilly Hiatt unfolds on "Get This Right" really should. The new music Hiatt is making draws on her love for post-punk and alternative rock, while still remaining true to her honest, daring way with complex themes of love and understanding. "Are we ever gonna get this right?" she asks. Musically, the answer is yes.
Hailing from Festus, Missouri, the Langaleers may make music in the shadow of fellow Festusians the Bottle Rockets, but their frenetic garage-rock sound, while echoing with a bit of Midwestern twang here and there, has an often crunchy, sometimes mathy drive that complements singer and songwriter Kory Meyer's raspy snarl.
The Blank Tapes have released their latest album "Geodesic Dome Piece" on both vinyl and cassette. They should really consider an 8-track version, as the sound of "Way Too Stoned" seems to come straight out of an endlessly looping cartridge dubbed with classic, late '60s psychedelic rock.
Emerging from the gorgoues beachside town of Byron Bay, Australia, Kyle Lionhart's music, as heard on the track "On My Own," fits snuggly between the falsetto-rich harmonies of Bon Iver and the folk-pop reveries of City and Colour.
The new track "Dog Named Bart" finds San Francisco duo Tidelands (Gabriel Montana Leis and Mie Araki) enlisting the help of John Vanderslice and Debbie Neigher, as well as Magik*Magik Orchestra, for a sound that's orchestral, folkloric and uplifting.
Swedish band Blind Lake is Lotta Wenglén (guitar, bass, keyboards, drums, vocals) and Måns Wieslander (guitar, drums, bass, vocals), a duo who, on the new track "Walk Beside Me," seems less interested in making synth-pop singles than in making psychedelic, ambient and, yes, synth-pop soundtracks for contemporay film noirs that exist only in their and their listeners minds.
The brash and funky rock of "Miracle" by Los Angeles band Island Apollo seems tailor-made for the festival circuit -- but the dynamic production and arrangement -- shuffling between horn charts and lo-fi acoustic interludes -- also sounds great on headphones.