Taking Back Sunday – Happiness Is (Hopeless Records; 2014)
Taking Back Sunday’s newest release, Happiness Is, is a reunion of sorts. The album marks the first time all five members who played on the group’s first record, Tell All Your Friends, have released an album together in over 12 years. Despite this throwback, the new songs have evolved musically. The album is distinctly less emo and, as a whole, manages to be an alternative rock album in the vein of 30 Seconds to Mars’ more recent releases. The vocal style of Adam Lazzara is much more mature than in previous albums and manages to sound less whiny. Overall, the album is an improvement, but no element of it stands out as particularly excellent. The lyrics are at times cliché and certain tracks, such as “We Were Younger Then,” have rather nonsensical lyrics that at first listen might appear to hold a deeper meaning, but ultimately do not. The musical landscape is at times repetitive but at least the album cover is styled in a visually attractive retro way.
Trial Track: “Stood a Chance”
Nick Waterhouse – Holly (Innovative Leisure; 2014)
Following the critical success of his 2012 debut Time’s All Gone, Los Angeles singer-songwriter Nick Waterhouse returns with a polished sophomore album that feels both contemporary yet classic. This loosely conceptual album about a fictional deceased twentysomething Los Angeles scenester, draws inspiration from the films Mulholland Drive and Chinatown and the atmosphere of Raymond Chandler novels. Holly is like a film noir: narrative, brisk, mysterious and fully satisfying.
In spite of its concept, Holly never feels pretentious or inaccessible. With its perfect fusion of garage rock, retro-soul R&B and even some surf-rock moments, the album has a strong pop-sensibility and is incredibly catchy and smooth.
In addition to some carefully injected covers by Ty Segall and Mose Allison, Holly offers a deeper narrative experience for listeners who dare venture into Waterhouse’s world.
Trial Track: “This Is a Game”
– Paul Traunero
Foster The People – Supermodel (Columbia;2014)
Foster the People’s new album Supermodel is not like their debut Torches. ‘Kicks’ will not be ‘pumped up’ as instantly as on their first record. The synthesizer beats are not as immediately infectious, the boyish squeal lead vocalist Mark Foster made us love isn’t as prominent. But don’t write off this supermodel as thin or shallow just yet. All 12 songs somehow sound bigger and deeper. High pitched anthems, of which there still are, give way to more grown up verses and acoustic riffs that showcase a range we had not yet seen from the L.A. based band. The lyrics are also more easily understandable and relatable, if you care about that sort of thing. It’s like Foster the People grew up; instead of X-Acto knife-ing straight to our hearts they decided to pound through our chest with a more blunt instrument. It takes more time to get there, but once you’re a couple listens deep, you can’t turn your back on this supermodel.
Trial Track:”The Angelic Welcome Of Mr. Jones”
High Klassified- Palindroma (Fool’s Gold Records; 2014)
High Klassified is an up-and-coming electronic artist from our very own home town. He has been working alongside some rather important producers this year, like Lunice, Kaytranada, and Tommy Kruize. Currently signed to Fool’s Gold Records, a local independent label owned by Montreal musician/producer A-trak, High Klassified released his debut EP on March 4. Palindroma is comprised of four original songs, and has a rather dark feeling to them. They paint abstract undertones with a lot of ambient background noises; it’s definitely an earthy and organic setlist. There are even some anime vocals in the background to give that “Naruto soundscape” final touch. All in all, High Klassified has truly outdone himself as the newest member of the Fool’s Gold family and we should absolutely expect more from this Montreal musician.
Trial Track: “Outro”