Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull (RCA; 2013)
Kings Of Leon emerged in 2003 as four shaggy-haired brothers — and cousins — eager to play their grimy Southern sounds. A decade later, the Nashville natives have evolved into fully formed, mature musicians and lyricists with their sixth studio album Mechanical Bull. Fans might not necessarily hear Caleb Followill’s raw vocals and gritty guitar riffs found in the band’s earlier work, but tracks like the album’s first single “Supersoaker” or “Coming Back Again” sound like they may have been plucked off their 2007 release Because Of The Times.
Mechanical Bull shows the band’s ability to take a smorgasbord of genres and pair them with honest lyrics to create a cohesively fluid album. “On The Chin” is fueled with country twangs, while “Wait For Me” tugs at the heartstrings of the most cynical of cynics in this anthemic arena-rock ballad. Kings Of Leon prove with Mechanical Bull that they have not lost their ability to pump out stellar tracks and stay true to their Southern roots-rock sound.
Trial Track: “Coming Back Again”
Basia Bulat – Tall, Tall Shadow (Secret City Records; 2013)
Basia Bulat packs an intense emotional punch in her latest album Tall, Tall Shadows. The album is the Canadian folk-singer and songstress’ third studio release and her first since 2010. Tall, Tall Shadow showcases Bulat’s ability to branch out from purely folk towards a more pop-infused sound. The album showcases her signature autoharp sound intertwined seamlessly with piano and percussion.
“It Can’t Be You” features a mystical sounding autoharp and Bulat’s honest and at times softly broken vocals, reminiscent of indie-folk queen Florence Welch from Florence + The Machine. “The City With No Rivers” is unquestionably an eerily beautiful gem with its haunting opening autoharp chords and steady drumming throughout. Bulat’s latest release is a perfect blend of folk and pop explores her depth as not only a folk-singer, but as a multi-talented musician.
Trial Track: “It Can’t Be You”
Mazzy Star – Seasons of Your Day (Rhymes of An Hour Records; 2013)
Fans have been waiting 17 years for a new release from Mazzy Star. Fortunately the band’s fourth studio album continues where 1996’s Among My Swan left off. Equal parts nostalgia and maturation, Hope Sandoval and David Roback quickly prove that they are more than simply a ‘90s comeback. Their trademark dream-pop and psychedelic folk sound has influenced contemporary acts like Beach House, Frankie Rose and even Lana Del Rey, affirming the fact that Mazzy Star’s presence in the current music scene is more relevant than ever.
Though Seasons of Your Day does not boast any catchy singles or infectious hooks, the overall ambiance and songwriting are its real strengths. The album succeeds in creating a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere that expands upon, yet transcends the bands previous work.
Triall Track: “California”