Foals – Holy Fire ( Transgressive Records; 2013)
Lead singer Yannis Philippakis told NME that the album’s sound would be “heavier” and “dirtier” and although this is true for songs like “Providence” and “Inhaler,” Holy Fire is slightly reminiscent of the Antidotes and Total Life Forever days with songs that are unabashedly very pop, like the fun and catchy “My Number” and some strikingly melancholic tunes like “Late Night” and “Moon.”
True fans will instantly latch on to Philippakis’ distinctive vocals and his universally appealing ambiguous lyrics on love, breakups and relationships. The band’s signature mix of rock and electronica is ever-present on their third album and will have fans both dancing and rocking out to this musical gem.
Trial track: “Late Night”
Local Natives – Hummingbird (2013; French Kiss)
Teamed with producer Aaron Dessner (who was responsible for last year’s Sharon Van Etten album, Tramp), Local Natives are releasing their sophomore effort entitled Hummingbird. Following the critically-acclaimed success of their debut, Gorilla Manor, and touring with Arcade Fire, Local Natives have crafted a decidedly more thoughtful album, though less immediately accessible than their debut.
While still heavily influenced by contemporaries such as Fleet Foxes, Animal Collective and The National, Hummingbird does not wear its influences on its sleeve. Local Natives are forging their own brand of sophisticated indie rock.
The album aims to find emotional healing after loss, as “Colombia” was written about the passing of lead vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s mother during the recording.
Enjoyable from start to finish, Hummingbird‘s strength is the overall quality and confidence of the material. It may be slightly early to make this prediction, but I foresee this album on many prominent “top ten” lists for 2013.
Trail track: “Colombia”
– Paul Traunero
Buke & Gase – General Dome (2013; Brassland Records)
The Brooklyn-based band is made up of Aron Sanchez and Arone Dyer, who both play unusual, self-created instruments, with Sanchez rocking on the “gase” (a hybrid creation of both bass and guitar) and Dyer a baritone ukulele. The “toe-bourine” has also been sprinkled in for good measure.
Don’t let the homemade instruments and effects deter you — this duo has nowhere to go but up. The sound is reminiscent of the now-defunct White Stripes: raw, uninhibited and daring. You don’t always know where the song structure is going and that’s okay.
It’s the kind of record that you could play both loud and soft. But the number on the volume knob will never match the number of spins this record will have in your rock playlist.
Rating: 9.1 / 10
Trial Track: “Hiccup”