Album Reviews

Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church had a chance meeting on a train in Canada when they were merely 18 years of age. Their fortuitous meet precipitated an eventual marriage and sparked the genesis of yet another creative relationship known as “Exitmusic.”

This now Brooklyn-based duo’s full LP, Passage, is an impressive set of dark-tinged-dream-pop which features stark but emotionally compelling songs. With dense layer arrangements, rumbling compromises, washed-out guitars, stately pianos, martial-like rhythms and lovelorn lyrics all sung by Aleksa Palladino’s haunting vocals, Passage is one endearing album with unforgettable peaks.

Can’t wait to see what more these guys have got to offer.

Album Rating: 8

Check out their single, Passage, here:



No one sets it off like this duo. The dream-pop band–my personal favorite–, Beach House, has finally released their fourth album Bloom. Aesthetically, the album seems to distinctly recognize the beauty of life’s riddles and woes through ten poetic tunes.

Well, having anticipated writing this post for such a while now, I really would like to first and foremost apologize for the delay and the blog’s hiatus.

Anyway, enough about me, back to Bloom:

I’d like to start off by saying that I truly don’t think I’ve heard a more prepossessing album than Bloom. The first dreamy-track on the 10-hit record is “Myth.” With its layers of echo surrounding Legrand’s voice while putting heavy emphasis on Alex Scally’s hazily-divine backbeat and heavenly guitar riffs, you know you’re stuck in momentary bliss. In “Myth,” Legrand’s beautifully-aching voice contemplates the meaning of made up realities which play and serve purpose to the meaning of everyday life.

With great similarity to Teen Dream, one would suppose that Bloom may seem like a carbon copy of the band’s junior album. Interestingly enough, Bloom plays almost as a sequel to Teen Dream. While Teen Dream chants heart-wrenching romance melodies and vocals, Bloom follows up with Legrand’s ethereal voice telling the expansive saga of life’s ever changing nature. Each song gracefully tells it’s own story; “Wild” is the clear depiction of teenage wasteland; “On The Sea” details the story of a girl who is coming of age; “Wishes” notes experiencing the pains of second thoughts; “Troublemaker” vocalizes haunting memory; “Irene” realizes finding peace and the lucidity of future recollections; and so on, and so forth, and so on. Admittedly, Legrand’s accompaniment of loose vocals and beautiful lyrics allows listeners to be fully-captivated and enchanted with every moment of Bloom. 

In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Beach House explained that their intent for this album was to explore deeper themes while still developing, rather than changing, their distinct roots. Alex Scally continued with saying  he “hate[s] it when bands change between records.” Incredibly, Beach House–unlike many, according to Scally– keeps it real and without ever changing their sound, they still manage to continuously improve with every album.

Audibly, Beach House never fails to amaze me. After seeing them play their last show of their US tour in 2010, the band truly convinced the audience that Teen Dream would be the remains of the band for a while. Gladly, we were played for fools. That said, I think Bloom is an album that the world should listen to because it’s crafting elegance is the epitome of the synth-pop genre and deserves to be applauded and enthralled by all.

So, I’m trying to stray away from album ratings, but..

Album Rating: 10

Listen to a personal favorite here:

Don’t forget to buy tickets to your local Beach House tour!

Province is a split LP from Russian producers OL and Vgtnike. There isn’t really much to say about this album. It is quite simply a solid collection of beats and tracks from each respected artist. It is not as cohesive as possible, and some of the tracks are not as high quality as others, but I enjoyed it pretty thoroughly. The album is currently on sale on their band-camp (below) for “name your price” (free).
Album rating: 7

If you don’t feel like checking out the whole album, listen to a soothing track by OL below.

Is it just me or do you not want to road trip to this album? The New Mexican founded band, The Shins, officially released their album, Port of Morrow, today. After being apart of the Sub-Pop record label since 2001, the band called it quits in January of 2008 to welcome the grand opening of their own label, Aural Apothecary. The label was initially created by Mercer to produce the band’s fourth and latest LP.

With so much hype and expectation from all indie-music listeners, this album had a lot to live up to. The result? Well worth the wait. While Mercer fully immersed himself in the Broken Bells project, some were worried that the band’s fourth LP would not at all convey the standard Shins sound. Well the wait has expired and there is absolutely no need to worry because the sound of the band has remained perfectly intact. Not to say that the new album sounds overly familiar, but from the start, the album makes you feel cozy once again. Although the band’s past is faultlessly hidden in the notes, Port of Morrow has an extraordinary freshness to it.

Two distinct ends of the spectrum lie in Port of Morrow. “Bait and Switch”, the third song off the album, sounds like the most traditional Shins sounding song, while the final and album titled song, “Port of Morrow” seems heavily influenced by Mercer’s Broken Bells project. Although, “Port of Morrow” is the “black sheep” of the album, it fits ever so beautifully and still retains a very intimate, organic quality that makes the band so powerful.

In all, I have concluded that Port of Morrow is too utterly satisfying. The Shins at once hook listeners until the last few seconds of their record. With hidden morals and a hint of philosophical theory, Mercer’s words shine brighter than ever before. That said, I am too excited to receive the full lyric book to this album. I’ve been catching some beautiful snippets here and there: “Under my hat, I know the lines are all imagined,” “Life is death is life,” “Love is the ink in the well when her body writes,” I need more.

Port of Morrow is going to be one album that I’ll surely be listening to for a long time. Who knows if this will be the end for forty-one year old, Mercer. Either way, this album will be the talk of the indie-music hub for a while.

P.S. Does anyone else think that “For A Fool” sounds a bit like something off the Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost, album? Just putting that out there.

Anyway, listen to a personal favorite:

Album rating: 8.5

CoCo Beware is the debut LP from NYC quintet Caveman. Caveman has been gaining hype over the last year with the unveiling of a few tracks from the upcoming album. Light indie-pop tunes, drenched in vocal harmonies, with shimmering guitar and the occasional tribal beat round out CoCo   Beware. However, with a sound very very much likened to the sound of Grizzly Bear, The Dodos, and Local Natives, CoCo Beware feels almost too familiar at times

The opening track “A Country’s King of Dreams” is a thriller. Emotive percussion and guitars keep rhythm to a serene vocal melody. Sadly, this is the most exciting part of CoCo Beware. Most of the other tracks are either not near the quality of the opener or too similar to the sound of other bands for me to fully appreciate them. For instance, the track “My Time,” albeit a well structured song, sounds almost identical in melody to Local Natives’ “Camera Talk.” Its details like this that keep me from enjoying Caveman as much as they deserve. While there are a few standout tracks and it may be a fairly cohesive album, Caveman’s debut tastes a bit too much like pre-chewed food for me to love it.

Album rating: 6

Pond is the experimental side project of Australia’s Tame Impala. Having flown under the indie radar for quite sometime, Pond gained some hype with 2010’s Frond, following Tame Impala’s rapid rise to the forefront of modern psychedelic rock. While Frond had some of my favorite tracks of 2010, I felt like the album was lacking the details found in Tame Impala’s InnerSpeaker. That being said, I was ecstatic to hear what they had to offer on their recently released follow-up album.

With Beard, Wives, Denim, Pond brings a refined sound, new ideas, and much more of their neo-psych rock jams. The Cream-esque riff on “Moth Wings” is simply superb. The bass-line and breakdown on “Sun Sea And You” is like a strange, but palatable, combination of a Doors and Black Sabbath track. Pond even manages to throw in an extremely trippy Beatles homage with “Dig Brother.” The subtle details that Frond lacked are the shining stars on Pond’s latest release. This album is an excellent and refreshing modernization of the nostalgic sounds of the 60’s and 70’s. While the quality of the tracks may be mildly inconsistent, Pond’s haunting lyrics and groovy drawn-out jams make Beard, Wives, Denim a must listen for any psychedelic rock fan.

Album rating: 8

Check out “Moth Wings” below.

Grimes is the artistic outlet and moniker of Montrealer Claire Boucher. As blueprints, we like to call Montreal our creative home and source of inspiration, with that said, Grimes holds a very special place in our hearts. From the moment we first saw Grimes in concert, over a year ago, we knew that this girl was going places. Her beats, her melodies, her artistic aura, her voice(s), this girl had it all. It was no surprise that a few months later she caught the notice of major music blogs and paved her way to what seemed to be sure Internet stardom. Grimes still had much to prove, however, thriving almost entirely off her catchy-as-hell single “Venessa.” It is with out a doubt safe to say the Grimes has proved herself worthy of the praise with her most recent release Visions.

Visions starts off where Grimes left off with “Vanessa” at the incredibly catchy and rich pop tune “Genesis.” The subsequent track “Oblivion” begins the album’s journey into a moodier and darker space that Grimes has explored thoroughly in her previous albums Geidi Primes and Halafaxa. While the mood of the work takes a dramatic change, the quality and intelligence of the record continues to prosper. “Vowels = space and time” perfectly showcases Grimes’ vocal range and sampling talent, while tracks like “Skin” and “know the way” clearly express Grimes’ vision of a melancholic beauty.

Grimes really brings out all of her weapons towards the end of the record with “Nightmusic.” The track begins with a sliced up sample of what sounds like a baroque cantata, which immediately drops into a synth-laden pop beat. Grimes’ vocals float and wisp over the track, as more and more synths are layered upon one another. After reaching a nearly chaotic climax, the song reverts back to its simple pop beat, and ultimately melds into a new rework of the cantata, fading away into emptiness.

In its simplest form, Visions is a pop album. In reality, it is so much more than that. 80s and 90s dance and synth pop, along with euro-house, Asian folk, and experimental noise rock, show strong influence in this work.Visions is coequally garnished with hints of trance, RnB, goth, and even chamber music. From that description, one may think that this album has no structure, when in retrospect it is Grimes’ most cohesive, honest, and confident work to date.

One phrase description of Visions: Your darkest and most beautiful fantasy.
Album Rating: