Where is My Spaceship – Mostly Crocodile (self-released, 2015)

via mostly crocodile | where is my spaceship.

“I just want open arms forever.”

Let’s be honest: sometimes, life turns out to be not in the slightest like you would expect. Dreams aren’t quite as facile as you thought they were as a child. Instead, you’re thrust out into the world, forced to get by holding onto the past any way you can. In times like these, we can be thankful to have musicians like Joshua Evensen out in the world, and projects like Where is My Spaceship to escape into. Evensen heads the Hackensack folk-punk project, and has released music under this moniker since 2009. Latest release Mostly Crocodile showcases this unique cross-section of indie folk and pop-punk, recalling the brash energy of Against Me! and The Everymen on one end, along with the sparse, intimate aura and razor-sharp honesty of bedroom pop artists like Bellows and Elvis Depressedly on the other.

Right from Mostly Crocodile‘s album artwork, it is evident that Evensen is holding onto something distant. A drawing in homage to cult horror film Army of Darkness, Evensen seems to purport himself as the Ash to save the working man in distress. And that wouldn’t be further from the truth. Here are ten songs about flaws, broken dreams, breakups, growing up, and facing your darkest, innermost thoughts. “Sad Songs All Night” is a biting take on the end of a relationship, peppered with envy, yet sealed with resolved hate: “You can get lonely, and I won’t give a damn / Damns are for suckers.” “It Won’t Be Forever” is a haunting parable on how time-consuming a “temporary” work stint can actually be, and how it becomes your whole life. And “Anything” is a perfect, heartbreaking anthem instantly relatable for any nine-to-fiver out there toiling away the day. Evensen is a fascinating and brutally honest songwriter, one that I’m excited to hear more of in the future. He is just as inquisitive as the critical thinker he talks about on “Champion Swimmers”: “He doesn’t have answers/He just knows the question/And how to ask it/And that’s all that matters.” In a world as twisted and complicated as this one, speaking up from time to time is what makes all the difference. At the very least, to your own sanity.

Key Tracks: “Snake Juice Anthem”, “Sad Songs All Night”, “It Won’t Be Forever”, “Lemon Heart”, “Anything”, “Roll Away the Stone”

Where to Go from Here: The Front Bottoms – The Front Bottoms, Bellows – Blue Breath, The Dundees – Malice

Will Wood and the Tapeworms – Everything is a Lot (self-released, 2015)

via Will Wood.

There is a novelty embodied in the truly weird. Personally, there has always been this tendency to embrace and relish music that deviates from the mainstream, that will mostly certainly evoke disconcerted reactions from most people. This is why it is important to listen to all kinds of music, because each and every genre has its own quirks, motives, and characteristics that make it truly lovable. So when I received contact from Will Wood to review his debut LP Everything is a Lot, it seemed very happenstance. Wood has a piano-rock, honky-tonk bar crawl feel that tethers somewhere between the genuine yet sarcastic songwriting of Randy Newman, and the kooky yet honest sound of Tom Waits. As a debut record, Everything is a Lot, is a lot to take in, but like anything else, absolutely worth it.

For starters, this record is absolutely insane. It’s a bipolar mix of crazy carousel antics and dark, sobering piano pop. At times Everything is a Lot has a snarky tone, reminiscent of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade. Among this dark, circus-esque ride, there are some gorgeous indie pop melodies that recall the sound of Jon Brion. “Lysergide Daydream” is one standout that tackles dreams and getaways: “Ooh, I wanna be in a place I can call a place to get away from it all.” Wood also confronts the darkness underneath living, on “Jimmy Mushrooms’ Last Drink”. He best summarizes his life journey and remaining time in a succinct and affecting manner: “I might keep looking for nothing to find”. The title track is an incredible album closer, bringing to mind Randy Newman’s “Sail Away”, Jon Brion’s “Get What It’s About”, and Tom Waits’ “Lost in the Harbor”. Everything is a Lot is, most certainly, an impressive debut. It will undoubtedly turn some away, but if you are one of the lucky, patient listeners, you’ll be much the warmer, and the wiser. 

Key Tracks: “Skeleton Appreciation Day in Vestal, NY (Bones)”, “Thermodynamic Lawyer, esq, G.F.D”, “Lysergide Daydream”, “Jimmy Mushrooms’ Last Drink: Bedtime in Wayne, NJ”, “everything is a lot.”

Where to Go from Here: Shayfer James – Counterfeit Arcade, The Dresden Dolls – The Dresden Dolls, Randy Newman – Sail Away

Ben Seretan – Ben Seretan (Self-released/Hope for the Tape Deck, 2014)

via Ben Seretan.

“You will be stronger tomorrow, You will be wiser tonight,You will find new love without warning, You will find new joy with every breath”

It sometimes feels increasingly rare that I find an artist I am so captivated with. Yes, yes, there is a lot of talent out there. And, let’s face it, lots of musicians know how to write a good song, hook, riff, etc. Sometimes I’m drawn to an artist simply because of one track, but other times it’s an album. One heck of an album. The kind that, right from the start, you know you’re about to dive head first into another world, escaping the one you inhabit. You disconnect from the room and belongings around you, and let the symphony of sounds fill your ears. Before you know it, you are transported somewhere else entirely. On his self-titled record, musician Ben Seretan does just that. Avail your ears this gorgeous, sprawling, and epic journey through aural space.

Seretan sounds all at once like many artists and entirely his own. I hear notes of Dan Deacon in the electronic sound effects, the discordant guitar parts, and his tenor on opening track “Ticonderoga.” Lyrically, this first track consists solely of a repetition on the song title. I hear a sliver of Justin Vernon in his vocals and guitar parts on standout “Light Leaks.” There is a bit of Strand of Oaks in the vocal on “Meadowlark.” And the shimmering guitar picking on “Blues for Ian M. Colletti” recalls the introductory bars of Jeff Buckley’s “Mojo Pin.”

This is a record of redemption, of overcoming hardships. The blues influence on “Meadowlark” is clear and apparent. And the lyrics, while sparse and few, speak miles. Acting as a sort of comeback anthem (“You can have it all again/Surely rivers cut through stone/Put your might in something good/Sing out with the Meadowlark”), it is one of the clear standout tracks on this incredible release. There is a hefty amount of minimalism present, right from the repeated lines throughout each song. Each of the eight tracks here feels like a spiritual experience, something comparable to a meditation. Even though Ben Seretan clearly states he does not believe in God, Ben Seretan manages to be spiritual without being religious. These repeated guitar pickings weave fascinating, nostalgic sonic textures, ones that may transport you to your own childhood. And the chorus on “the Confused Sound of Blood in a Shining Person” is incredible. What a gorgeous moment. It all becomes interspersed with the almost comical twisting of Seretan’s vocal, like he’s putting on an impression. I also love the stuttering percussion that cuts through this entire track. The traditional spiritual “Swing Low” closes out the record, and Seretan’s full band take on it is an astounding, beautiful, and epic performance. From the liner notes, it’s clear that this record is a history of life itself. And like life, as we are well aware, it is full of its own ups and downs. Behold, this is a beautiful piece of art.

Key Tracks: “Light Leaks”, “Meadowlark”, “Blues for Ian M. Colletti”, “the Confused Sound of Blood in a Shining Person”, “My Lucky Stars”, “Swing Low”

Where to Go from Here: Strand of Oaks – Pope Killdragon, Phosphorescent – Pride, Justin Vernon – Hazeltons

Blahvocado – Suck Up All Your Guts (self-released, 2015)

via Suck Up All Your Guts | Blahvocado.

Matt Pignatore has to be one of the most prolific artists I’ve met as of late (full disclosure: I’ve known Pignatore since my college days, starting a club on campus for student musicians). As long as I can remember, he has been a person overflowing with ideas and potential. In his most recent singer-songwriter project Blahvocado, these ideas all take shape over the course of nine carefully crafted songs. Suck Up All Your Guts is his most cohesive work to date, a coming-of-age album from a young artist with a lot of promise.

Musically, there’s a certain playfulness that reigns throughout Suck Up All Your Guts. Between whooshing synthesizers, distorted kazoos, and overdubbed vocals, the feel is quirky, fun, and a bit aloof. Lyrically, however, there’s also something sincere. Pignatore takes the time to deliver frank, honest lyrics about relationships, both between others and within ourselves. Whether it is about how the rest of the world sees us on the title track (“Suck up all your guts/Blow em up, show you’re tough/Is that enough?”), or how we know ourselves to be despite the opinions of others on highlight “Moptop” (“Everybody says, ‘Cut your hair!’/But I don’t wanna be gold,”), Pignatore has a lot of personal insight. The playful ambiance is especially deceptive on “Cool” where, amid an upbeat kazoo melody and some mid-tempo guitar strums, there is an envious meditation: “What makes you so goddamn good?” One of the best numbers here, “Winner”, is a redemptive anthem for anyone finding themselves as their own worst enemies (“Gloom, let me know, He’ll let me go/When I show him I’m the kind of person that can win big”).

There’s a space-y ambiance that runs throughout the record, like the hand-drawn album art. While it is as much the aural embodiment of Pignatore, there is a reverence to singer-songwriters past and present. “Lay of the Land,” an observation on a post-breakup (“It’s not like you’re dead to me/Clearly, you’re not dead to everybody else”) sounds like the perfect synthesis between Alex G and Elliott Smith. At times, Pignatore’s vocal delivery is reminiscent of Dave Benton (LVL UP, Trace Mountains, etc.), particularly on opening track “Ditchin You”. The guitar/bass arrangement on “Moptop” also feels incredibly familiar, almost like early Magnetic Fields. Altogether, Suck Up All Your Guts is an excellent addition to the growing library of DIY releases, and one that deserves many plays and replays.

Key Tracks: “Ditchin You”, “Cool”, “Suck Up All Your Guts”, “Winner”, “Lay of the Land”, “Moptop”

Where to Go from Here: Elliott Smith – Either/Or, Alex G – Trick, Chad VanGaalen – Shrink Dust

Mitski – Bury Me at Make Out Creek (Double Double Whammy, 2014)

via Mitski.

“aaaaaaaa”

There is a note of comfort in the sound of anguish. The moment Mitski Miyawaki’s distorted wail on “Drunk Walk Home” hits my ears, I’m in heaven. Not because it’s at her expense, but rather because I empathize deeply. I often find myself drawn to emotion captured in music, and that’s a key aspect of whatever I listen to. This is the kind of music that makes me so passionate about the subject in the first place, and so assured on my own path as a musician. That shriek is but one of many other brilliant moments on Mitski’s third record Bury Me at Make Out Creek (a nice nod to The Simpsons), easily the best from this SUNY Purchase artist.

Mitski’s music has remained as wholly beautiful, raw and vulnerable as it was on her last record, the brilliant Retired from Sad, New Career in Business. What has changed here is the aural dress she wears: now poppier, grungier, and rockier than before, as a reflection of this new partnership with the Double Double Whammy team. Mitski is a woman well aware of her emotions, and the strength of her desires, as she sings on “Townie”: “I want a love that falls as fast as a body from the balcony/I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground.” She is a woman who can sing about extremes, a woman caught between the throes of love and death. Maybe a death of a former self. But more importantly to prove the range of emotion that one can feel when falling in love, and the frustration of inaction and constancy. The song concludes on a beautifully brash epiphany, one that communicates a sense of self-reliance: “I’m gonna be what my body wants me to be.” In many ways, this is a coming-of-age record, mainly of coming into your twenties. “I was so young when I behaved 25/Yet now I find I’ve grown into a child,” Mitski states on single “First Love/Late Spring.” It’s a clever commentary on feeling more mature than your age when you’re younger, and suddenly not feeling mature enough when you get older.

There is a great range here, right from the delicate opening of “Texas Reznikoff” to the sheer noise that soon follows when the rest of the band kicks in. Mitski communicates a feral power on “Drunk Walk Home”, where her scream becomes digital noise, almost akin to the same noise that begins “Townie”. She has a knack for making the dark sound gorgeous. On album closer “Last Words of a Shooting Star,” she declares “And I am relieved that I left my room tidy/They’ll think of me kindly when they come for my things.” Sure, what she’s saying is heavy, but the way she sings it could easily deceive you.

This is an album of contrast, where beauty is found within anguish and darkness. All emotions are beautiful, and Bury Me at Make Out Creek proves that. With a voice that recalls the coos and warbles of Annie Clark and Angel Olsen, Mitski has become a recent favorite and a great inspiration to me. The woman who reminded me that “being an artist is putting your head down and doing the work,” that the whole point of being a creator is to create. True to her words, her next record will be released on Don Giovanni Records, and it will be eagerly anticipated.

Key tracks: “Texas Reznikoff”, “Townie”, “First Love/Late Spring”, “Drunk Walk Home”, “I Will”,
“Carry Me Out”

Where to Go from Here: Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness, St. Vincent – Marry Me, Sharon Van Etten – Tramp

Krill – A Distant Fist Unclenching (Exploding in Sound/Double Double Whammy, 2015)

via Krill.

Boston’s Krill used to sound juvenile (remember when they wrote a song called “Turd”?), but they always had a knack for grabbing your attention. Between pummeling percussion, cracking voices, and changing time signatures, there is a lot to take in that can’t possibly be absorbed upon first listen. New record A Distant Fist Unclenching is their most exciting and mature output to date. Dealing with difficult topics ranging from death to mental illness, it feels wise and wonderful.

“Phantom” begins describing a seemingly commonplace situation (“You warm a glass of milk but forget it in the microwave”) that later compounds into an existential crisis (“What is the proper orientation of the world to me?”). Some of the guitar tones are straight out of Grizzly Bear’s “While You Wait for the Others” and much of the record feels like it is caught within those four-and-a-half minutes of elegant, dark pop. “Torturer” feels like a more traditional embodiment of Krill. The constant switching time is irregular, and an aural puzzle any musician will be looking to solve. “Tiger” has an exotic feel right from the opening guitar tones and harmonics, evoking the setting of a jungle. This is actually a seven-minute meditation on life and death, where the album’s title comes to lyrical significance: “In the distance, there is a fist unclenching/To hand down the judgment, but withhold the sentence.” Later on, a “well-liked” villager is killed by a tiger (who liked him as much as friends and family, apparently). It’s a bit exhausting, not only because of the subject matter, but also because of how sprawling A Distant Fist Unclenching is in length. Many of the songs are well past the five-minute mark, making this a challenging listen, but one that is nevertheless well worth the reward. The dreamy D Major 7 vamping that closes out “Tiger” is one of the best moments on this record. The moving bass line juxtaposed between the constant drum and guitar vamping speaks, to some degree, to the nature of the song. That some things never change, and some things do. This fantastic musical moment drives home the emotion and effect that we experience in the first six minutes of “Tiger”. “Brain Problem” is a later standout on the record, where a furious full band moment meets the ranting vocal line, “God grant me the strength to know what is a brain problem, and what is just me.” And oddly enough, nothing else on the record compares to captivating closer “It Ends.” This is a story that begins where the singer, presented with a fallen peach (yet allergic to peaches), “wanted to set the pit free.” Sometimes our wants are not what is best for us, and become our own vices. There has not been a band to have this successful an arc towards maturity in their career since Cymbals Eat Guitars. The album closes with the repeated statement, “It ends the same way it begins.” No longer juvenile, these men sound wise beyond their years.

Key Tracks: “Phantom”, “Torturer”, “Tiger”, “Brain Problem”, “It Ends”

Where to Go from Here: Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest, Pile – Dripping, Kal Marks – Life is Murder

Adventures – Supersonic Home (Run for Cover, 2015)

via ▶ Supersonic Home | Adventures.

Sometimes, when life gets to be too much, it is comforting to know we can take solace in music. I’m happy to say that Supersonic Home is an album that does just that: bringing comfort through sadness. The debut full-length from Pittsburgh band Adventures, Home is a 31-minute trip through 90’s-influenced indie emo, well-versed in the tones and tropes of that era. From the playful shifting time changes found on opener “Dream Blue Haze,” all the way to “My Marble Hole,” Supersonic Home is an excellent debut, bringing a new face to an old group.

“Dream Blue Haze” embodies the sentiment and theme of Supersonic Home. It’s sort of like the comfort the past brings, even though as human beings, we know we need to stay grounded in the present, and always be moving forward. “An image in my memory through every passing moment/But I step to the door, it’s only natural/This is where I should be.” “Heavenly” brings up some intriguing commentary, all the while picking you up with an evocative, cathartic chorus: “Slow down and see the green/There’s much more here to see than you think.” Things come to a head when singer Reba has a sudden revelation about the idol perched above her: “It’s a chore to be the ground for you”. This embodies the frustration of not being on a mutual level of understanding in a relationship. It doesn’t take much time to fall into the blue tones of standout “Your Sweetness”. This cut has an incredible, angsty, youthful chorus that throws me right back to my teenage days (some may say I haven’t escaped!): “The way things start always feels so inviting/But growth brings out the worst in me.” “Your Sweetness,” along with much of Supersonic Home, tackles the toxicity another breeds. Here “growth” is something to be feared, whether it takes form as change, development, or any sort of movement forward. It’s about someone who, quite literally, sucks the life right out of you: “Peel the color away from me.” This lyrical theme is continued on lyrical sister “Pure”, where the toxic relationship is too much, and there needs to be an escape: “If this is eternal, then convince me to let go/Nothing is worth the time of day/But you have the worth and you have the face.”

The second side of Supersonic Home is just as downbeat and longing, yet musically it doesn’t feel that way. On “Absolution, Warmth Requited,” there is a longing for something more in this partnership: “devotion doesn’t treat me, and to be loved is really something.” The longing goes on to be one for basic connection, as seen on “Tension”: “In the way that he comforts you, in the way that she listens to you.” There’s a moment of reflection on “Longhair,” where even though this person strays from the pack and isn’t like anybody else, it isn’t enough: “They want you to be seamless, to be a short hair/To feel it, but you’re a longhair/And a good one, you give me your love/But I think I’ve lost it, I don’t feel it.” The album concludes on title track “Supersonic Home,” which returns us to our ready, lonesome state: “Letting go of the feeling inside/feels good and bad at the same time.” This simultaneous feeling puts you in a blank space, both numb and neutral. But sometimes that’s what you need most at the end of a relationship, in order to truly move forward.

There is beauty in the desolation of Supersonic Home. This music is lovelorn and broken down, but somehow optimistic. If you find yourself particularly scab-flecked, your wounds will be licked clean by this record. It is best listened to when particularly overwhelmed with sadness. It is a testament to the fact that sometimes, the best cure to your woes is music. Like a rush of cold water you just have to immerse yourself in. In that case, let this record be your Supersonic Home.

Key Tracks: “Dream Blue Haze”, “Heavenly”, “Your Sweetness”, “My Marble Hole”, “Absolution, Warmth Requited”, “Tension”, “Supersonic Home”

Where to go from Here: Pity Sex – Feast of Love, The Hotelier – Home, Like Noplace is There, Say Anything – …is a real boy

Band Practice – Make Nice (Chill Mega Chill, 2014)

via ▶ band practice.

“I don’t know how to make nice.”

Jeanette Wall and Ben Bondy create indie pop that exists in the bedroom, but inhabits so much more room than that. As Band Practice, “jeanette plays some shit and ben plays some other shit.” A quick scan through their Twitter feed reveals everything you would typically expect from a DIY band today, from shameless self-promotion (“come to the effing rock show tonight”) to cultural jokes (“no band practice this week because they put friends on netflix”). This is a band, that, aside from gaining accolades from various music sources, brandishes the tagline “can’t practice today ate too much arby’s”. So why does Make Nice manage to charm and captivate me as a listener? At first listen it may sound close to the output of other bands today, but within its nine songs lie gentle imperfections, disconnected harmonies, and introspective commentary about human condition that just about anyone can connect with. This is a record of flaws and mistakes, but it feels lovable.

“Band Practice Theme Song” kicks the record off strong, right from Wall’s opening declaration: “I am an artist and I have been drinking/I am a showgirl, I’m alone on the weekend.” As “Theme Song” continues on, it feels more and more meta: “This is the song, and these are the words/It’s why we are friends, or that’s what I heard?” The song made my Roundup back in January, and it’s clear why. Between the jangling guitar, acoustic drum blasts, and Wall’s careful, inward, and self-referential words, this thing is completely infectious. And thankfully, it’s only the first track.There is an interesting internal monologue from Wall on “Bartending at Silent Barn.” Between a single palm-muted guitar progression and lyrics stressing different social anxieties (“Nobody at this show likes me,” and “Sorry I got weird,” for example), the opening two thirds feel insular. And no line better communicates the isolation of introspection than “Nobody in my head likes me/So sometimes I get lonely.” After the line “You say, you say, things will change”, almost prophetically, things do. Following a playful laugh, the rest of the band kicks in, and things lighten up. The woozy chorus of non-syllabic vocals feels affirmative, like despite this whole internal monologue, the thoughts Wall has aren’t hers alone.

Wall wrote most of the songs on this record (except “Magic!”, which she co-wrote with Bondy), and her writing feels confessional. The frank, honest lyrics on “Put Up a Fight” are beautiful, discussing potential promises on intangible things, whether to “fall in love,” or “put up a fight.” Themes of loneliness and connection pervade Make Nice. Wall and Bondy confront the fear of being by yourself, and the desire to be seen by someone else. The fear that, even if you make a mistake, “there’s no one to see it” (“Magic!”). Sometimes that desire to connect with another person borders on danger, and even outweighs the agency of solitude, as seen on “Freddy” (“Knives for fingers, let them linger”). Sometimes you have to know when to let go (“Spare Parts”). The denouement of this particular arc takes place over the last few tracks, culminating on closer “Room”, where Wall has a moment to reflect: “See your face sometimes in pictures/Other times, it’s just a face that I know.”

Beyond the themes of isolation and relationships, Make Nice is also about capturing a feeling. There’s a moment that comes as a blessing in disguise on “Shawn Perry.” After an uncomfortable encounter with Perry, Wall and Bondy have a lax meditation: “We’ve got nothing to do.” This repeats as a sort of mantra, one that seems to perfectly sum up a generation living in the moment. Whether it is our fleeting youth, our desire to connect with others, or the sad realization that sometimes, we’re on our own, Make Nice succeeds in capturing ourselves in a big ol’ bear hug. The next time you find yourself by your lonesome, put this on for some much needed warmth.

Key Tracks: “Band Practice Theme Song”, “Bartending at Silent Barn”, “Put Up a Fight”, “Magic!”, “Shawn Perry”, “Freddy”, “Room”

Where to Go from Here: Hospitality – Hospitality, Ida Maria – Fortress ‘Round My Heart, LVL UP – Hoodwink’d

All Sensory Void – Secret Truth of the Universe (Sniffling Indie Kids, 2015)

via ▶ All Sensory Void.

Every Thursday, I’ll be reviewing one local artist/release that I believe deserves recognition. This week: All Sensory Void – Secret Truth of the Universe

Eric Goldberg has had quite a history with the NJ/NY music scene. From his days in the 90s-tinged “last wave rock” band The Nico Blues, to his current indie rock experiment All Sensory Void, Goldberg delves into different sonic explorations, whether straight-ahead or ambient. His latest effort, Secret Truth of the Universe, is no exception, and shows just how far Goldberg burrows into a universe of exquisite sound.

Secret Truth of the Universe feels more expansive than previous All Sensory Void releases. Goldberg has this knack for writing songs that are simultaneously accessible and obscure. The record often teeters between these two extremes, with standout dance-floor number “Feeling for You” hovering at one end, and the title track floating at the other. There’s a range of sounds and feelings here, from upbeat and poppy, to dismal and foggy. “New Year” is an especially spacey number, drenched in a plethora of ambiance, be it chorus and/or reverb. Much like the photograph in the album cover, this music feels like it’s from a distant time. Some of that can be attributed to the 90’s influence I hear in Goldberg’s music, and some of it is the effect-ridden fog that drenches these eight tracks. Either way, it’s a testament to the meaning an album can have as time captured in sound.

Favorite Tracks: “Feeling for You”, “A Day in a Daydream”, “New Year”, “Within You, I’m Without”

Where to Go from Here: Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lenses Alien, Beat Radio – Safe Inside the Sound, …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead – Madonna

Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else (Carpark/Mom & Pop, 2014)

Let’s just admit this: Dylan Baldi is a man who knows how to dress a perfectly crafted pop song in fatigue, distress, anger, rage, and even sheer terror. At 31 minutes, Here and Nowhere Else largely captures this synthesis of spectacular songwriting and raw emotion. Despite losing one lead guitarist, the band sounds brighter and fuller than ever.

Much of the intensity of this now 3-piece can be attributed to drummer Jayson Gerycz, easily one of my favorite drummers to hear to date. Every song here rips, and quite possibly satisfies every grungy itch you’ve ever had. The feeling I get at the chorus of “Quieter Today” is akin to that of a kid having the first bite of what is to become his all-time favorite cereal. Some may have enjoyed their fair share of Rice Krispie Treats cereal, though I was a Reese’s Puffs man, through and through. Yet I digress.

As I’ve said, the drums on this record will tear through you. The tempo change on “Psychic Trauma” alone is enough to leave the hairs on the back of your neck grayed and standing on end. On top of that, “I’m Not Part of Me” may be the single best pop song to hit the indie sphere since Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness is the Move”. Even though much of the matter is dark and murky, the catchy melodies, driving drumbeats, and overall effervescent energy will leave you believing otherwise.

Key tracks: “Now Hear In”, “Quieter Today”, “Psychic Trauma”, “Giving Into Seeing”, “I’m Not Part of Me”

Where to Go from Here: Japandroids – Post-Nothing, No Age – Everything in Between, Pity Sex – Feast of Love