bombaybicycleclubUK based band Bombay Bicycle Club is the sort of shape shifting band that’s been characterizing a good portion of the modern rock released so far this first decade of the 21st century. Their sound on I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose is a frequently inspired collision between late 70’s and early 80’s New Wave guitar rock (Joy Division, early Sonic Youth), some 90’s rock and pop (The Beautiful South) and freak folk (Devendra Banhart), with a bit of ska and electronica thrown in as well. If I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose doesn’t always sound cohesive, it still does have some good tunes, tracks like “Evening/Morning,” “Dust On The Ground,” “Magnet” and “What If.” Bombay Bicycle Club may not yet have their own distinctive sound, but they borrow from some good sources, and the result is an appealing, listenable debut.

veckimestBrooklyn based band Grizzly Bear’s third album, Veckatimest, is a complex, often astonishing fusion of indie and psychedelic rock with folk and experimental pop, that starts out with an engaging beauty (“Southern Point” and “Two Weeks”) and climaxes in musical and emotional dissonance (“I Live With You”). Despite its esoteric nature, or perhaps, more accurately, because of that nature, Veckatimest is a highly listenable record, a self consciously arty album that also affords the simple pleasure of hearing music well played. It’s by no means difficult listening, at any rate, though it’s unlikely that single run through of Veckatimest will be enough to fully appreciate everything that’s been poured into it; the latter quality actually makes it a bit fun, though it’s a complicated sort of fun, to be sure. Not all of the album worked for me, i.e. the aforementioned “I Live With You,” which I found myself admiring more than liking, but in general, Veckatimest is an album indie rock and pop fans shouldn’t miss. Standout cuts: “Southern Point,” “Two Weeks,” “Cheerleader” and “While You Wait For The Others.”

Gomez – A New Tide

April 1, 2009

anewtideIf there could be a perfect embodiment of what Gomez fans like about their music, it may well be their latest album, A New Tide, their sixth album since their 1998 debut. Their often brilliant and influential fusion of blues, psychedelia, explosive roots rock and electronica along with what would come to be known as freak folk is showcased fully here, rather like a greatest hits album, albeit with all new material. The eleven tracks are an ideal mix of off-kilter beauty and rough edges, the epic and the intimate, with some tracks containing all those elements at once. The material on A New Tide isn’t quite familiar enough to qualify as “Gomez product,” but it does work as a pleasing summation of a decade-plus long career, like a gift to long time fans, and an excellent case for new ones. Standout cuts: “Mix,” “Little Pieces,” “Win Park Slope” and “Airstream Driver.”

Vetiver – Tight Knit

February 26, 2009

vetiverSinger/songwriter Andy Cabic’s band Vetiver makes the kind of sudden leap forward that Okkervil River made with their dual release, The Stage Names and The Stand Ins: From the opening notes of the gorgeous opener, “Rolling Sea,” to the moody closer, “To The Forest Edge,” their fourth album Tight Knit is so focused, assured and just plain inspired that it has the makings of a future classic. The ten songs are a seamless mix of folk, country, psychedelic rock, blues with a bit of soul thrown in, with echoes of Bob Dylan, the Band, the Grateful Dead and contemporaries Son Volt and the Brian Jonestown Massacre, among other influences. Though easygoing folk rock takes up most of the album, there are a couple of nicely timed rock numbers, “Everyday” and “More Of This,” and one slow burning blues funk influenced number, “Another Reason To Go,” to change things up a bit. An early highlight of 2009, Tight Knit is a career best for Vetiver, and it’s definitely recommended listening. Standout cuts: “Rolling Sea,” “Everyday,” “More Of This” and “Strictly Rule.”