Mackenzie Scott is an exemplar of the Nashville music scene. Her voice warbles with the sincerest emotion–verging on despair–and her lyricism is an incredible force with which to be reckoned. The first two tracks (“Mother Earth, Father God” and “Honey”) are beautiful and, while it is a tad lengthy, “November Baby” serves to showcase her vocal range and songwriting abilities. Overall, Scott is a formidable musician and would pair very well with Austra, Beach House, and Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton. -H. McKee, 28. Aug, 13
Austra absolutely kills it on this album. As a long time fan, perhaps I am biased in favor of Katie Stelmanis’s ethereal vocals and the almost unintelligible lyrics, but this album has a transcendent quality that is nearly intoxicating. “Painful Like” and “Sleep” are gorgeous wails of abstraction, while “Home” soars with searing catharsis. The entire album is an overwhelming crescendo of emotion–perfectly tempered by Stelmanis’s incredible vocal range. Literally any track would be perfectly paired with most tracks from The xx’s Coexist or The Knife’s Deep Cuts. -H. McKee, 28. Aug, 2013
Frank Turner’s fifth album is a thing of raw, pathetic beauty stemming from a devastating heartbreak and a harrowing descent into addiction. The tracks have a bit of a formulaic feel to them–each beginning with soft, self-deprecation and then crescendoing into unadulterated rage. Turner captured the anger and bitterness of the punk genre and has produced a very listenable album. My favorite track (“Plain Sailing Weather”) is, unfortunately not FCC-sanctioned, but it is the perfect rage jam. “Recovery” and “Four Simple Words” are both highly energetic and laden with self-loathing–perfect for a breakup playlist. Overall, this album makes me want to give Frank a big hug. – H. McKee, 26. Aug, 2013
This is one of the seminal indie album of the past 15 years. It’s influence is everywhere: The Postal Service led the charge of proto-chillwave, bringing back 80s synths and simple structures into both pop and indie. So with all that added weight, does Give Up hold up well after 10 years?
Yes. Everything is exactly as good as it was when I first heard this album 8 years ago. “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” is one of the greatest tracks of 2000s. “Such Great Heights” is the song everyone knows. “Clark Gable” and “Brand New Colony” are great radio cuts. Everything but “This Place Is A Prison” is, actually– although “Natural Anthem” works best as an affecting, poignant closing song for a show. “We Will Become Silhouettes” still might be the best co-track (tied with “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”), all shimmering synths and chiming guitars while Ben Gibbard evocatively describes apocalypse. Gibbard tends to be a ham-fisted lyricist with Death Cab for Cutie; here he perfectly balances his romanticism with Jimmy Tamborello’s emotionally distant beats. The effect is striking. Even after 10 years, Give Up still has it; this is one of the greatest albums of the past decade.
The first two tracks are new! Both the new songs are different from Give Up, but good when you adjust your expectations. “Turn Around” is darker, “A Tattered Line of String” is more radio-friendly. Still, neither are as euphoric or transcendent as anything on the original Give Up, but they’re still really good tracks. The third track through the seventh track were previously released on EPs and sound more like what you’d expect. “Be Still My Heart” is great. The Shins’ cover, “We Will Become Silhouettes”, is fantastic! Cannot reccommend it enough. Breezy and jangly, early Shins fun. I’ve never liked Iron & Wine’s version of “Such Great Heights”; personally I find him overly morose and self-indulgently sad-sacky, but your mileage may vary. Some of the remixes are interesting (the eighth track to the twelfth track), but nothing special. The live version of “Recycled Air” is beautiful and all acoustic like “Such Great Heights”, but far better. It’s a radio recording, so it doesn’t sound live. Highly recommended.
Promises is comprised of solid, laid-back indie electro-rock. Extremely catchy, a little predictable, but very good stuff. Fits well into any indie-sound show, very radio friendly.
K. Koschewa, 8/24/13