After going on a brief hiatus and putting down his guitar for the first time in 15 years, Horse Feathers' lead singer Justin Ringle realized he desperately needed to have more fun with music. The group's new album, "So It Is With Us" is Ringle's transition from sad and quiet to upbeat and spirited. The album is unlike any of their previous releases; it features stronger drums and bass, powerful violins and climactic tempos with intros that build energy.
"I hope you know this song is all I've got left," sings Matthew Squires on "Echo," and you almost believe him. "It's the final thread tying down my mind." But the song, while serious about the meaning of music, is also relentlessly giddy, even silly, with the quirkily rhythmic sound of his band the Learning Disorders suggesting that if this tune really is the end, they'll all go down smiling.
Distilling their earlier indie sound through a mild synth-pop filter, TV on the Radio release "Seeds," an album full of intricate and catchy tracks that have the face of radio-friendly indie pop and the heart of TV on the Radio.
While "This Is All Yours" is most notable for its standout tracks -- "Every Other Freckle," "Hunger of the Pine" and "Left Hand Free" -- the rest of alt-J's latest effort is much more than filler to round out the radio-friendly tunes. Rather, "This Is All Yours" is a slow-paced album of well-constructed, meditative synth-pop, punctuated by three standout tracks.
With layers of acoustic and electric guitars, Boston's Sleepyhead invokes classic guitar-chime bands like R.E.M. and twee-pop groups like Camera Obscura, but with a distinctively arch tone. "Liberation Theology" testifies to the band's melodic ambitions and lightly-worn influences.
With winter rapidly approaching, Allo Darlin's new album is a welcomed warmth. "We Come From the Same Place" is quiet, tender pop music, easy to overlook at first. Although the album is not a big production, it is both comforting and compelling.
The Swedish duo of Ola Frick and Carina Johansson, who've been making music together since the late '90s as Moonbabies, have decisively departed from their shoegazy origins with the beautifully-tailored, incessantly-pulsing pop of their latest single "Chorus."
The minimalist multi-synth-pop approach of "Heart Explodes" reflects, perhaps, the loss of band members even as it was recorded. But somehow UK band Coves & Caves sound all the assured of their emotional direction.
The music of Dolly Spectra is cabaretesque art-rock of the strangest order. On "Moving Circles," singer and composer Dani Ashjian wails and wanders through a surreal but somehow still emotional landscape.