The Civil Wars – Barton HollowSensibility Music-out now4 / 5 There is little as refreshing as an intimate male/female duet; Swell Season knows it, and Fleetwood Mac certainly knew it. Joy Williams and John Paul White must sense something special in their debut studio LP, because without flash and without pomp, we can say “Barton Hollow” is a delightful, gorgeous slice of Americana. Their romantic tracks here are pared down, sporting rhythmic guitar and sometimes banjo/piano, because who wants to hear anything else when the vocals are so soothing and beautiful? We dig the title track especially, but there’s nary a weak one here, whichRead More →

Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues”Sub Pop -out May 34.5 / 5 As one of the most anticipated albums of the (indie) year, the Fleet Foxes have their work cut out for them. Having delayed the release of Helplessness Blues since announcing the sophomore album last year, critics and fans alike have been wondering: is this second release going to be as brilliant and polished pop-perfect as their self-titled debut? The answer to that question, is this: Helplessness Blues is good. Quite good. Rife with their celestial male harmonies (which are most of the show) and clean, classic guitar, Helplessness Blues will repay fans itching forRead More →

Panda Bear – “Tomboy”Paw Tracks-out tomorrow4 / 5 It’s here. It’s finally here. After Animal Collective’s incredible Merriweather Post Pavilion, the much awaited solo album from AC frontmant Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox) has finally come to the masses. If you’ve kept up with the creation of Tomboy, the tracks here have been released on separate singles, though this LP offers different versions of the tracks. First impression: this is going to take some getting used to. Just like MPP, the denseness of this album is something of an acquired taste, and P Bear doesn’t give much ground. Around listen 3-4 is when you finallyRead More →

Middle Brother – “Middle Brother”Partisan Records-out tomorrow4 / 5 We make it little secret here that John Joseph McCauley III is, indeed, absolutely fawned upon. With Middle Brother, the Deer Tick frontman joins with Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes and Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit to produce some inspired country (not “inspired” inspired, no). Starting with the takeout single, “Me Me Me,” which rockabillies all the way to Tennessee, you have to notice that there is some serious jam in these guys; so much so that one must wonder how McCauley can maintain so many projects over these past couple years. Nonetheless, “Middle Brother” isn’t aRead More →