Tomorrows Tulips – When (Burger Records, 2014)
by Mia Pearson
These fair-haired California boys have kicked-out more dreamy and listless tunes to spin on repeat. Their new songs still roll slowly as if wonderfully warped, but When doesn’t pull from Velvet Underground’s sound as closely as their previous albums. The bob-cut beach beauties have found their own breezy breath, especially on “Glued to You” where Alex Knost sings softly — almost whispering — while the bass line thumps languidly, until the songs cuts off abruptly. The sweet side of nostalgia oozes from the album, but is captured precisely and undefinably in the guitar riff on “Laying In The Sun.”
Water drops are heard at the beginning of “Favorite episode,” and limping guitar strumming carries the song along until it splats into a brief rock wall of sound. “Down Turned Self Pity” is so raw you can hear the warm fuzz buzz throughout — kind of like the sound of crashing ocean waves. While listening to the album over and over, I think: wouldn’t When sound so good while layin’ in the sun?
Trial Track: “Glued to you”
The Barr Brothers- Sleeping Operator (Secret City Records;2014)
by Jessica Romera
For their sophomore effort, Montreal folk quartet, The Barr Brothers, composed primarily of the eponymous musicians, Brad and Andrew Barr, released Sleeping Operator in early October. Following up their 2011 Polaris Prize-nominated self-titled debut album, Sleeping Operator veers slightly away from their signature folk sound to include different types of instrumentation, including the popular West African string instrument, the ngoni. Sleeping Operator’s crown jewel and first single, “Half Crazy,” is a carefully orchestrated hazy and smokey blues track, embodying the warmth and maturity of the album. Other songs like “Little Lover” and “Even The Darkness Has Arms,” showcase the group’s innate folk sound with familiar string orchestration, acoustic guitar playing, and ethereal harp plucking. The album is like an oversized knit sweater during the month of October: it’s cozy, comfortable, and exactly what you need.
Trial Track: “Half Crazy”
Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (Warp ; 2014)
by Paul Traunero
Disenchanted with, as he calls it, “Starbucks jazz shit,” Los Angeles-based producer/musician/rapper, Flying Lotus (A.K.A. Steven Ellison), decided that he wanted to create something that pushes jazz music in a modern direction with his fifth studio album.
Paying tribute to the improvisational spirit and ecstatic energy of hard bop jazz, with Ellison’s signature blend of ambient electronica and hip hop hooks, You’re Dead! transports the listener on a twitchy, psychedelic journey, full of surprises and chaos. With so much content crammed into the 19-track, 38 minute running time, the album is an intense experience and best consumed as a whole.
It is clear that You’re Dead! is aware of death’s unavoidable reality, yet stands as a statement of creative rebirth and a testament to Flying Lotus’ innovation and creativity as an artist.
Trial Track: “Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)”
Caribou – Our Love (City Slang; 2014)
by Steven Nadeau
Caribou brought us his new album, Our Love, on Oct. 7, 2014, which seems to be a slightly more mature version of its predecessor, Swim. The album carries its familiar electronic chillwave vibes, and does so in way that makes it more ambient than excitement-driven. Yet, Our Love, seems like a second half to the earlier album. Growing on Swim’s success, Dan Snaith recaptures the familiar whispering echoes and reverberations, graduating from his older, more psychedelic sounding beats. He rakes in new listeners through the synth pop-style repetition, featuring laid back tunes like “Silver,” and showcases a more eccentric side with the use of a flute in “Mars”. Overall, it’s a pretty decent album, although it didn’t really bring anything new or exciting to the table – and perhaps it might be better that way.
Trial Track: Dive