May 22, 2012
Editor’s Note: Matt (on behalf of musicforants.com) contributed this post to Nerve.com’s Five Albums series this week. Check out his list / remarks below!
Allo Darlin’ – Europe
At first, Allo Darlin’ seem like any number of cloying indie-pop bands, good for a few spins until the next identical thing comes along to fill the girl-playing-ukulele void. But throughout Europe, Allo Darlin’ rises above those cutesy trappings and displays the kind of pathos often lacking in their peers. These are songs of love and friends, both found and lost, but with the melancholy that comes with a few more years. And that added experience goes a long way; these are songs where things don’t always work out, but still end up OK.
Bowerbirds – The Clearing
The Clearing is a good album. Obviously this is the case or it wouldn’t be on this list, but it’s not the kind of good that makes you jump on your social media network of choice and exclaim its goodness to all your friends. No, The Clearing is the kind of good that takes a few listens to sink in, the kind that can get lost in the now-ness of blog shuffle. It’s carefully constructed folk music, packed with interesting flourishes and graceful melodies. Just be patient with it.
Chairlift – Something
“I Belong in Your Arms” is a monster of a song, and on any other album it would tower above all the others. Fortunately for Chairlift, Something isn’t any other album. While “I Belong in Your Arms” is certainly a highlight, the other songs here keep pace with it just fine. Something harkens back to those early days of synthpop, when artists were having a blast discovering the possibilities of new technology. It’s that same sense of wonder and excitement that makes Something worth coming back to.
Gentleman Jesse – Leaving Atlanta
Created in the wake of some hard times, Leaving Atlanta does what all good power pop music does and hides its troubles under a layer of bubblegum. Jesse Smith has a way with hooks, and every song is overflowing with bits that will keep you humming for days. And while it all seems like freewheeling fun, there’s still enough of an edge to hint at the sorrow below the surface.
Screaming Females – Ugly
Screaming Females slay, destroy, wail, and whatever other buzzwords you want to throw at them. Frontwoman Marissa Paternoster is better at playing guitar than most of us are at breathing, and these songs are packed with as many tricks and solos as she can tease out of the instrument. But you’re only as good as the band behind you, and together Screaming Females create a raucous blast of noisy rock.