SIDEBAR: If you have no idea what I’m referencing above, avail your eyes here.
A Buzz in My Ears has been going on a temporary hiatus at the moment, but I’m working to bring 3-5 posts to you weekly, starting with this one. I’m hoping to keep consistent posts on new releases, local releases, and albums I feel are important to indie, alt, and DIY spheres. Read on!
This is the Kit – Bashed Out (Brassland, released 4/7)
I’ve already covered this album in length here (or below, if you’re on the main page), but I will say that Kate Stables and company have crafted one of the most understated yet spirited records of the year thus far. Bashed Out is a sleepy, lilting folk record, peppered with fun melodic lines (“Spores All Settling”) and longing meditations (“Cold and Got Colder”). Definitely for fans of Daughter, Laura Marling, or Sharon Van Etten.
Key Tracks: “Silver John”, “Magic Spell”, “Bashed Out”, “Cold and Got Colder”
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp (Merge, released 4/7)
It would be remiss of me not to mention Katie Crutchfield’s latest release as Waxahatchee here: it’s arguably one of her best. After becoming one of my favorite current singer-songwriters with 2013’s triumphant, hollowed, and vulnerable Cerulean Salt, she returns to the scene sounding way more ebullient, excited, and exuding with energy than ever before. Ivy Tripp sounds like a college radio/indie pop classic already, so it’s fitting that it was released through stalwart indie label Merge. Fans of indie vets like The Magnetic Fields and Yo La Tengo would be wise to put this in their play.
Key tracks: “Breathless”, “Under a Rock”, “La Loose”, “The Dirt”, “Air”, “Summer of Love”, “Bonfire”
Young Fathers – White Men are Black Men Too (Big Dada, released 4/7)
Here is the most fun I’ve had with a pop record this month (and this year!) so far. Scottish trio Young Fathers make music that sounds like manic madness. White Men are Black Men Too is chock full of sudden bursts of energy, pings and pangs of sounds, and abstract vocals. At times the trio sound fairly furtive and dark (“Feasting” or “Old Rock n Roll”), but at other times they tend to be more straight ahead and rhythmic (“27” or “John Doe”). Altogether, this is the album to put the band on the map, and as experimental as it sounds, it is still lovely and beautiful. Definitely one for fans of TV on the Radio, Bloc Party, or Frank Ocean.
Key tracks: “Still Running”, “Shame”, “27”, “Sirens”, “John Doe”
Bop English – Constant Bop (Downtown, released 4/14)
White Denim frontman James Petralli takes it solo as Bop English, and his debut album Constant Bop is already one of the standouts in my mind as one of 2015’s best records. The entire album pays homage to the music of the 60s and 70s that Petralli came to know and love, and it is drenched in this classic, retro feel. There are plenty of good psychedelic pop moments, between the fuzzed out “Sentimental Wilderness”, the thumping “Struck Matches”, and the sweet “Falling at Your Feet”. At times I think of Cheap Trick, Donovan, or Electric Light Orchestra when I hear Constant Bop, but there is also a bit of modern indie pop dancing throughout. Later cut “The Hardest Way” has a vocal part that screams Kevin Drew’s Darlings, and that’s when you realize that Petralli is expertly melding pop tropes of past and present to craft a record that is truly universal and timeless, much like Natalie Prass’ self-titled effort from February. Definitely worth a listen if you dig retro indie acts like Dr. Dog, Mikal Cronin, and Foxygen.
Key Tracks: “Dani’s Blues (It Was Beyond Our Control)”, “Struck Matches”, “Fake Dog”, “Sentimental Wilderness”, “Falling at Your Feet”, “Long Distance Runner”
Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer (Carpark, released 4/21)
Wow. A “sophomore slump” this is not. Massachusetts rockers Speedy Ortiz have come back to us with a vengeance on Foil Deer. Early singles “Raising the Skate” and “The Graduates” were pure standouts on the record (the latter becoming one my favorite tracks of 2015 thus far), and the rest of the album holds up just as well. “Swell Content” surges along with this Saturday morning cartoon meets sitcom energy. The pleasant, sunny disposition apparent on the opening chords of “Zig” soon caves and gives way to a discordant, slithering, spidery melody that only Dupuis can authentically deliver. “Puffer” has a pleasant beat to it and a vocal that just slightly reminds me of Britney Spears (probably something to do with both this and “Work B***h” starting with “You want a…”), yet the entire thing is drenched in ominous atmosphere. “My Dead Girl” is a later standout, lined with 90s R&B melodies akin to those featured on 2014’s Real Hair. Definitely another favorite for 2015, and fans of Pavement or Sonic Youth who are still holding out should give this act a listen. They are, most certainly, the stuff of indie legends.
Key Tracks: “Raising the Skate”, “The Graduates”, “Dot X”, “Puffer”, “Zig”, “My Dead Girl”, “Mister Difficult”