The Belle Game’s Solid, Traditional Debut

courtesy of Yours Truly

Like many of you (or at least those who don’t have their ear to the ground in the Vancouver indie scene), my first exposure to The Belle Game came from indie-rock kingmakers Pitchfork, who named their single “River” as a Best New Track earlier this summer. They were right, but to call this band “new” isn’t entirely correct. After amassing much acclaim in Vancouver with two EPs over the course of four years, debut album Ritual Tradition Habit is a chance to cement The Belle Game as a new player in indie-rock (and another chance to prove the good ol’ Pitchfork effect). While it doesn’t quite follow through on the promise of that aforementioned revelation of a track, The Belle Game’s familiar sound lends itself to a solid debut.

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Neko Case Impresses on Stunning Return

A solo artist since the 90s and a core member of the Canadian supergroup The New Pornographers, Neko Case has worn many hats throughout her career.  But while her output has always been strong, her last release—2009’s “Middle Cyclone”—didn’t do much to push the envelope of Case’s sound, and it seemed as though we might’ve seen all she had to offer.  Fortunately, 20 years into her career, Case has crafted her most innovative and engaging album yet.

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No Doubt “Push and Shove” Their Way Back into the Spotlight

The last time No Doubt came out with an album, the year was 2001.  Modern staples like the iPhone and Facebook weren’t even ideas yet, Barack Obama was a virtually unknown name, and Justin Bieber had probably just lost his first tooth.

Needless to say, the culture in which No Doubt finds itself today is worlds away from the music scene they dominated in the 90s, which means the band needs some its strongest work yet to win over this new generation of listeners. It’s unfortunate then that Push and Shove, while a thoroughly pleasant listen, may not be the home-run they need to put them back on top.

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Animal Collective Return in Full, Freaky Force

Evaluating an Animal Collective album is a daunting task.  Whereas a couple of spins of most artists’ records will give you a good sense of their charms, hearing any of Animal Collective’s work just a few times is barely scratching the surface.  If first impressions hold true, however, the journey on which fans are about to embark with the band’s latest full length, Centipede Hz, stands to be as rewarding as any Animal Collective has sent them on before.

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