St. Vincent – “Strange Mercy”4ad Records-out today4.5 / 5 We’re not going to say that “Strange Mercy” is a whole step up from 2009’s “Actor.” We’re also not going to say St. Vincent is a modern female Brian Eno. But what we will say is, this album rocks, in the bizarre, angular-electronic way that Annie Clark is getting known for. Add to that a pop sensibility, and you get the knock-out single “Cruel,” which, if you could comprehend the strange lyrics, would make you sing along soulfully. The heart of this album is that it doesn’t rest after that second track, and that Miss VincentRead More →

Sondre Lerche – “Sondre Lerche”Mona Records-out now4 / 5 Sondre Lerche’s songs are, in a word, addictive. The Norwegian has a natural talent for pop that swims about into different-Okay, metaphor on hold, we’ve just got to get this out first: “Private Caller” is the pop song of the year. Just laying it out there.Yeah, that pretty much describes how we feel about the Norwegian’s self-titled. That metaphor up there was going to describe something about his penchant for taking his listeners on a pop mini-journey, taking the opener “Ricochet” and “Go Right Ahead” as prime examples of his brilliant sense of diverse songcraft. ButRead More →

Gillian Welch – “The Harrow and the Harvest”Acony Records-out today4 / 5 Eight long years. Almost a decade, if you’ve been keeping track since her last solo release, “Soul Journey.” The traditional folk duo of Welch and David Rawlings release a spare, bare-bones treasure trove of below-the-dixon-line croons, and if you’re a fan of banjo and whiskey in the moonlight, then it’s safe to say this album should be in your collection. There are several reasons, not the least of which are the haunted “Tennessee” and the sheer drive of “The Way It Goes”; we might site the clarity of the hard-luck images, the easeRead More →

White Denim – “D”Downtown-out now4 / 5 We never realized how much we loved White Denim’s previous “Fits”; their wild, rambunctious sense of punk and pop ignites like a wildfire. And here, on D, there is a sense that some of the fire has died down a bit: no worries, though, because the wild half-yelling has been replaced with thoroughly impressive instrumentals. Think of it more as an exchange: the jarring punk aspects have matured into a more melodic, more assured sense of song structure. You will like this album, that much is sure; but will you love it, will you devote your waking momentsRead More →