Sounds


Sounds

 

ALMOST UNPLUGGED

THE AVETT BROTHERS — Magpie and the Dandelion
THE GOOD: North Carolina folk rockers Avett Brothers are back with a varied third.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Magpie was recorded during the same sessions as 2012’s The Carpenter; Rick Rubin producing both albums. But one shouldn’t consider this a “leftovers” collection. Magpie stands on its own as a consummate set of folk and alt-country flavored roots rock; the harmonies sparkling, the backdrops warm and rustic. Banjos and electric guitars co-exist. Rock-solid backbeats and honky-tonk swaggers get along. Southern heartbreak and a touch of West Coast polish intertwine.
All told, this is typical Avett Brothers, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. “Another is Waiting” and “Skin and Bones” are prime examples of the boys’ assured indie pop. “Open Ended Life” and “Good to You” demonstrate their ability to mesh rock and country on equal terms; one genre not overpowering the other. “Souls Like The Wheels” is an intimate live performance captured without frills.
BUY IT?: Yes.

EC16SOUNDS_2_WEBNOAH AND THE WHALE — Heart of Nowhere
THE GOOD: English indie pop collective Noah and the Whale return with their fourth.
THE BAD: There are no GREAT Noah albums, but there are “pretty good” ones. Nowhere isn’t disagreeable.
THE NITTY GRITTY: When the band debuted in 2008, they were riding the “new folk” wave, bringing in non-traditional acoustic instrumentation, rousing boy/girl campfire sing-a-long’s, and a homespun hippy-dippy vibe that was charming in small doses. Over the past couple of albums though, there’s been a shift in style. Maybe the crew feels it can’t keep up with Mumford and Sons?
The Whale have been trading in their banjos and ukuleles for electric guitars and small string sections, becoming a little more twee and a little less folksy. And the tunes thankfully support this change. Even though the album has its melancholy bits, Nowhere is a mostly upbeat affair; songs like “Lifetime” and “Still, After All These Years” making the concept of lost love surprisingly bouncy and quite enjoyable.
BUY IT?: Sure.

CAGE THE ELEPHANT — Melophobia
THE GOOD: Kentucky indie rockers Cage the Elephant further develop on their third.
EC16SOUNDS_1_WEBTHE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Melophobia means “fear of music” (that more direct title claimed by Talking Heads back in 1979). Frontman Matt Schultz and his crew supposedly shut themselves off from as much recorded music as possible while making the album, in an attempt to distance themselves from direct influences, or at least bands they’ve been compared to in the past.
I’m not sure if the process worked but it did give CTE their most accomplished set yet; these guys coming a long way since the “poor man’s Beck” tune “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked.” Melophobia further proves the boys are capable of smart tight rockers (“Come A Little Closer”), more sensitive and somewhat fragile stuff (“Telescope”) , and the occasional burst of avant-garde noise to keep the mind from wandering too far (“Teeth”). The unpredictability of it all keeps you coming back.
BUY IT?: Yep.