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Recent album releases revamp spring playlists 

The arrival of a new season calls for fresh songs and sounds to sing along with, ranging from indie-pop to rambunctious rock

TEGAN AND SARA
Heartthrob

[flickr id="8473068932" thumbnail="small" overlay="true" size="large" group="" align="left"] R.I.P. singer-songwriter duo Tegan and Sara. Instead, say hello to the fully recognized pop act of Tegan and Sara. After a slow transition, the twin sisters hit their stride with the release of Heartthrob. The album solidifies that they can make pop music catchier than Katy Perry but retain lyrical content worthy of their emotional indie roots.

The album is far more produced than past albums, with new producer Greg Kurstin adding an electronic new wave feel to the album. The short album will have you bopping around the room to 80s-style songs like “Goodbye, Goodbye.” Breakout single “Closer” just begs to be sung along to and has influences of modern EDM on its wings. The lyrics, which at times can be contextually soul crushing, ground the songs from becoming more than sugary pop fluff.

The best moment for me was after a sea of fantastic pop singles, the album hits a somber wall in the form of a ballad called “I Was a Fool.” That sort of dip in energy shows that Tegan and Sara’s artistic genius is in having their track arrangement fit the concept of the album. The album is conceptually about how puppy love causes somebody to become disillusioned. It’s fantastic for fans of 80s pop, Tegan and Sara or solid and heartfelt indie music.

 

Unknown Mortal Orchestra
No Need For a Leader

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No Need for a Leader is the second album from psychedelic garage rock band, Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Before writing this review I had never heard of this band, so I was expecting another indie foray into emotional, drug-induced music in the stylings of Lemon Jelly or Crystal Castles.

The record surprised me by presenting an interesting take on lo-fi records that transport me back to the 1960s. The perfect fuzz level on the guitar tracks helped add that signature “twang” that records from that time period coined. The entire album is a feel-good romp with enough musicianship and quality lyrical content to take this unknown indie band to the mainstream.

Standout song is “Faded in the Morning,” with its vocal progression reminiscent of Janis Joplin’s signature screeches and a funky backtrack that just begs to be pounded out on tabletops.

No Need For A Leader is a stellar album for anybody that enjoys feel good music, classic rock, or looking to broaden their musical horizons. Unknown Mortal Orchestra will be performing at the Beauty Bar on Feb. 16.

 

SILVERSTEIN
This is How the Wind Shifts

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Silverstein is back again to bring both feelings of nostalgia and their unique brand of post-hardcore punk. This is How the Wind Shifts is a very standardly executed post-hardcore record; so standard, in fact, that the songs feel almost uninspired.

The guitar riffs lack any flair, jumping either from over distorted, basic chord progressions or open triplets on the low “E” string during the breakdowns. After about three songs, the listener feels like they possess the formula for making a hit Silverstein record.

The album has mixing issues, too. None of the songs have a low end, which makes a vast majority of their music feel washed out. Breakdowns, which utilize low bass strings to add heaviness and emphasize rhythm, feel laughable and unmemorable. The singer’s voice could have used some boosting in the final mix; it seemed to blend into the background noise. The album does, however, stand as Silverstein’s most lyrically-accomplished album. Delivering emotional messages that look introspectively at the effects of death, loss and art, the band shows a hint of maturity through their lyrics. Longtime fans will find This Is How The Wind Shifts fantastic, but anyone that stopped listening to Silverstein in high school should stay away.

 

COHEED AND CAMBRIA
The Afterman: Descension

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Coheed and Cambria’s newest release, The Afterman, is a two-disc romp through the entire gamut of songwriting the band has to offer.

After Ascension was heralded as the best Coheed and Cambria album to date, I was apprehensive that the February release of Descension would be an utter letdown. Descension proves to keep both the musical genius fans have come to love from Coheed while injecting enough catchy pop hooks to have you trying to emulate singer Claudio’s high falsetto.

The album ranges entire musical genres with forays into metal on “The Hard Sell,” ballads on “Away We Go,” and even emulates The Cure on “Sentry the Defiant.”

The album solidifies that the band’s biggest asset is its singer Claudio Sanchez. Sanchez is in perfect form on this record, pulling droll musical numbers and ascending them to the sublime. It’s certainly worth a look for long time fans and anybody who wants a solid album.

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