Rathborne – “Soft”Self-Released-out July 2 2 / 5 We’re not entirely sure where to classify Brooklyn, NY Luke Rathborne’s debut full-length, but we think we can safely place it somewhere between rock and pop. It’s very indie, certainly, and doesn’t conform to the rules of the 3-minute pop song. These almost dozen songs have all the weaknesses of each genre: pop’s simple structure, rock’s straightforward execution. The execution of the almost-dozen songs also falters: the drums are indeed rock drums, and very basic hits, and the musical voice Rathborne has developed is as bland as his actual voice. It’s easy to blame the young Rathborne forRead More →

Royal Canoe – “Today We’re Believers” Roll Call Records-out June 253.5 / 5 Take a sextet (tee hee) of Canadians, add strings and horns, and blend with pop until finely pureed: what do you get? Probably some sort of orchestral pop close to that of Royal Canoe. The Winnepeg, Manitobans have a winning combination on their debut full-length, one that combines deep, Megatron-like robotic voices, shouts, aforementioned strings and horns, claps, and just general joyousness; it’s not unlike that raucous, singing frat party next door, but far less obnoxious and far more cultured. They shine splendidly, they keep their cool, they groove like snow tires onRead More →

The Dave Nelligan Thing – “Dark Matters”Self-Released-out now2.5 / 5 The folk-pop that is the Dave Nelligan Thing reminds us of Chris Knox for some reason. The vocals are different, and Knox is a bit more outgoing in the instrumentals, but in both there is something organic, low-fi, self-described DIY, somehow. It’s playful, it’s unusual, it’s that strange kid in the back of class who draws pictures of chocolate tribbles because the idea amuses him. And that’s what we get from Dark Matters, the first album under The Dave Nelligan Thing from the Cork, Irelander. It’s an unusual journey, but not necessarily one worth repeating.Read More →

Treetop Flyers – “The Mountain Moves”Partisan Records-out June 253 / 5 We think Treetop Flyers wins the “sounds most like Fleet Foxes” award this year. It’s all about that opener for us, “Things Will Change,” with its cheery guitar and constrained harmonies, acoustic perfection. Where, then, have all the pieces gone after that song? That’s the question we’d like to put to the London quintet, because the rest of what they’ve presented here is merely average teetering on just above, passable but certainly not exceptional. They dropped the ball! And that’s dangerous to do from the treetops. To compare to the Foxes, both debuts useRead More →