Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Before Today”4ad Records-out now!4 / 5 Nah nah naaaah naaah… so sorry, we’ve just been grooving to Ariel Pink’s latest retro-80s offering. The LA-based group mashes together all the 70s funk bass and falsetto you can take on a platter of 80s synth-pop (with just a dash of surf-music harmonies), and the result is…well, far less confusing than that sentence. Like a mad scientist shooting his creation with electricity, Ariel Pink’s album jazzes and boogies to life; if you doubt us, go ahead and check out “Round and Round,” the best thing to hit late-night driving since the invention ofRead More →

School of Seven Bells – “Disconnect from Desire”Vagrant Records-out July 134 / 5 When dream-pop trio School of Seven Bells mix fluid beats with ethereal vocals from twin sisters Alejandra and Claudia Deheza, the result is the easily accessible “Disconnect from Desire,” their second full-length attempt. The group has a natural way about establishing flow, utilizing synth effectively to the backdrop of guitar and percussion, and while easy to pick up, there’s no reason to assume that this album is simple. “Dust Devil” helps to highlight the careful layering of effects, not drowning the listener in an overabundance of sounds, but filling the sound withRead More →

Deer Tick – The Black Dirt SessionsPartisan Records-out June 85 / 5 Neil Diamond. Mark Russel. John Joseph McCauley III. Three musicians you don’t want to meet solo in front of a piano. And yet, that’s the risk Providence, RI’s Deer Tick takes on their third studio album in as many years, “The Black Dirt Sessions.” It is, in short, a beautiful album; painstakingly crafted and executed gorgeously, these are among the finest performances the band has offered to date. McCauley here mellows out the tone of his voice, loosening some of the aggravation in his two earlier releases, and when paired with a mostlyRead More →

Tift Merrit – “See You on the Moon”Fantasy-out June 1; UK May 244 / 5 It’s strange that such an unusual song as “Mixtape” – with its staggered, clustered vocals and soft, intimate lyrics – would be so effective to open Tift Merritt’s fourth solo studio. In stark contrast to her “Another Country,” which at times plays by the book, the Houston-born singer-songwriter ventures into different musical flavors, darker hues of orchestration, violins, slower tempos, piano and acoustic guitar. Fans here will find a slight shift in color, but will rejoice with the title track and the trembling cover of “Danny’s Song”; those unfamiliar withRead More →