Wolf Parade, At Mount Zoomer. At first listen, only three or four songs off Wolf Parade’s second album sound like they would be right at home on the band’s 2005 debut Apologies to the Queen Mary, a snarling, off-the-cuff blast of rock ebulliance that was easy to love. The obvious comparison for Wolf Parade, given its geography, is to fellow Montrealites Arcade Fire; part of At Mount Zoomer was recorded at Arcade Fire’s church studio, and Wolf Parade used to open for them. But with Zoomer, they approximate a more eclectic (“disjointed” would be the less favorable adjective) sound somewhere between The New Pornographers, Destroyer and Modest Mouse. Kudos to WP for making a challenging album that layers in more synthesizer, adds a ballad or two, and stretches its sound in new directions, but it certainly makes for a less cohesive disc. Songs like “Soldier’s Grin” and “An Animal in Your Care” deliver the rock, but nothing comes within spitting distance of “Shine a Light.” Critics have been swooning over the eleven minute prog-rock closer “Kissing the Beehive,” but “California Dreamer” fits more punch into half the time frame.
Sigur Ros, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust (“With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly”). Moving in the other direction is Sigur Ros, which has made its poppiest, most accessible album yet. All but three of the songs clock in under six minutes! “Gobbledigook” and the sublime “Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur” are infectiously cheerful. The epic “Festival” serves as the album’s fulcrum, transitioning into the disc’s more traditional second half when things get quieter, sparser and weirder. Fact: “Festival” makes Matthew Leathers weep like a newborn.
Coldplay, Viva La Vida or Death and His Friends. Has Chris Martin always looked like such a freaky dude? Or did he just take it up a notch since X&Y? Will anything we say here remotely affect what everyone else already thinks about Coldplay, or the fact that eight million people will buy/have already bought this CD? No and no.
Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Lie Down in the Light. We’ve already sung the virtues of this one here.
Teitur, The Singer. We bought this album on the strength of one song, “We Still Drink the Same Water,” which we heard Teitur play at The Basement in Nashville and which nearly out-Bonnie “Prince” Billys BPB himself. (But can Teitur act?) It’s a gorgeous song, though even better live.
Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes. Our good friend Dusty hooked us up with this one (but we bought the rest at Everybody’s Records! Honest!). We agree with him: Two and ten are really good.
My Morning Jacket, Evil Urges. What’s wrong with us that we don’t love My Morning Jacket? Is it acceptable just to think the band is good but not great? Should we be swooning over Jim James sounding like Prince? Or the reverb giving way to a little R&B? And just how many rhetorical questions do we plan to fit into this little blurb?
Nicolai Dunger, Here’s My Song, You Can Have It … I Don’t Want It Anymore / Yours 4-Ever, Nicolai Dunger. We’re suckers for the Swedes. Dunger is another artist featured on the Vore’s wedding favor CD “Lovesick.” Copies still available! We’ll ship it free of charge, because we love you!
Coming soon: A pro and con review from the Vores on The Hold Steady’s Stay Positive! Note: One of the reviewers won’t even bother listening to the album! Will the marriage survive??