Cults – Static (Columbia Records; 2013)
Following the end of the duo’s four-year romantic relationship, singer Madeline Follin and multi-instrumentalist Brian Oblivion decided that Cults should not suffer due to the split. Instead, the ex-lovers channeled the tension to create their sophomore album, Static.
Despite co-producers, Shane Stoneback (Vampire Weekend) and Ben Allen (Gnarls Barkley) overlooking the production, Static lives up to its name. Though Follin’s vocals are more confident and the overall sound is bigger and more layered, the band relies too heavily on the same retro ‘60s power-pop influence introduced in their 2011 self-titled debut. Unfortunately, unlike their debut, this album lacks a standout hit-single like “Go Outside” to support it.
More was expected from this lovelorn New York retro-pop duo. Ultimately, Static lazily suffocates itself in the mid-tempo, neo-psychedelic haze that it creates.
Trial Track: “I Can Hardly Make You Mine”
– Paul Traunero
Chevalier Avant Garde – Resurrection Machine (Fixture Records; 2013)
Dreamy and synth heavy, Montreal-based duo Chevalier Avant Garde dropped their second full-length album Resurrection Machine on Sept. 10. From the peppy indie-pop synth beats of opener “Nowhere,” to the ominous sounds of “Temenos,” the whole album has an abstract feel to it.
Resurrection Machine is dripping with shadowy reverberations and ghost-like vocals; on tracks like “It Was Me,” the vocals are detached, hazing into another astral plane. Chevalier Avant Garde layer guitarwork over their signature ethereal vocals in tracks like “It Makes Me Crawl” and “When We Meet.” With their official album launch at this year’s edition of POP Montreal, Resurrection Machine proves to be an altogether melodic and celestial experience.
Trial Track: “Return”
Black Milk – No Poison, No Paradise (Computer Ugly Records; 2013)
Black Milk’s music has always been pretty serious and No Poison, No Paradise is no different. Definitely a very personal album, Black Milk moves in a different direction this time after his previous album — aptly named Album of the Year — by leaving his partying days behind. Confronting his heavily religious upbringing and desires for a different lifestyle, each track is packed with reflection and frustration. Melodically, the album is amazing and complex. He doesn’t fall back on beats, but instead bends and twists new ones keeping his usual soulful organ and choir, while throwing in a couple heavy beats and contrasting floaty synth lines. No Poison, No Paradise is definitely an album worth playing more than once: the more you listen, the more you get out of it.
Trial Track- “Monday’s Worst”
Rating : 8.5/10
The Avett Brothers – The Magpie and the Dandelion (Republic Records; 2013)
After teasing fans with the single “Another is Waiting,” released this past August, the Avett Brothers finally dished out their latest album, The Magpie and the Dandelion on Oct. 15. Striking while the iron is still hot—barely a year has passed since their previous album The Carpenter hit store shelves—the group emerges with a noticeably evolved sound. Boasting a more ballad-riddled track list, the collective exhibits a more subdued, mature style, reflecting on their growing seniority as a tried-and-true folk-rock band.
In opting for “swoon” over “stomp,” The Avetts convey an impressive degree of reflective intimacy, backed by a consistent stream of quotably clever lyrics. While The Magpie and the Dandelion possesses the usual eclectic bevy of musical styles notorious to the group, the tracks are blanketed by an all-encompassing folky maudlin vibe. In short, while the album isn’t likely to boost anyone’s morale, it fits the autumn mood like a trusty oversized sweater.
Trial Track: “Good To You”