Beach House – Thank Your Lucky Stars

The best way to describe the beginning of this Baltimore duo’s sixth album, Thank Your Lucky Stars, is ethereal. The first couple of songs are very light and refined, and the band is obviously trying to repress their full sound at the beginning. The great thing about this album is that it focuses more on the tone of Victoria’s vocals than the actual lyrics.  As soon as you hear the bass and drums in the song “One Thing”, you know that the album is about to transition into a different sound. And that’s exBeachhouse_thankyourluckystarsactly what happens in the next song, “Common Girl”, which centers mainly on the organ. It borders an amost monotonous sound, which makes sense with the message of the song. “Nobody special done a good thing for somebody else, taking advantage of that good thing for nobody else.” This contrasts with the last song on the album, “Somewhere Tonight”, wich evokes the feeling of a beach, similar to the band’s name. Instead of ending the album with a bang, Beach House decides to end the album wrapped in a little bow.

Thank Your Lucky Stars is a good album, but it kind of stays in its comfort zone. Most of the songs are very similar, and even though they’re good, they fail to fully grasp the listeners’ attention. It is obvious that Beach House is a very strong band considering they’ve been together for over ten years, I would just like to see them branch out a little bit more with their sound.

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Futurebirds – Hotel Parties

“Aren’t you tired of all the voices going through your head?” is from the album Hotel Parties by the elusive Georgia-based band, Futurebirds. Their sound is considered psychedelic country, and while most of their music is upbeat and carefree, their lyrics are surprisingly deep. “And I’m turning twenty-seven soon, I never thought I’d still be shooting for the man on the moon.” Each song seems to focus on a different instrument as well, which is a great way to showcase everyones talent. Whereas the first few songs of the album have a 60s country vibe, the fourth song, “Xmas Drags”, is more modern. It also shifts to a more tropical sound at times, futurebirds-560x560-560x560with the blend of harmonies and acoustic guitar.

The sixth song on the album, “Rodeo”, changes vocalists and focuses solely on the band’s country sound. It’s satirical of the country genre with lyrics like “Lassoed my heart and give me rug burn, ’cause we’ve turned our love into a rodeo.” In contrast, the last song, “Hard as You Like”, focuses more on their psychedelic sound, with dreamy sounding vocals  powerful instrumental, and country undertones.

Hotel Parties doesn’t really experiment with any new sound, but it isn’t supposed to. It’s more focused on bringing a 60s sound back to modern music, and it does this very well. Although Futurebirds have released several albums, they are still relatively unknown, which is a shame because they are very talented, and they’ll continue to keep making great music.

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Julia Holter – Have You In My Wilderness

Julia Holter

Julia Holter is not one to shy away from experimenting with the sound of her music, and she continues to show this in her fourth album, Have You In My Wilderness. This album samples multiple different ideas and instruments into an interesting blend of jazz, classical, indie, and pop. The album starts out with a few upbeat, coffeshop-esque songs that meld Holter’s voice with the primarily stringed accompaniment. The lyrics are pretty nonsensical, but that only puts more focus on the amazing instrumentals. The third song on the album, “How Long?”, takes a very dark turn, with Holter’s voice turning into a deep velvety alto evocative to Adele. This is the only song on the album in this style, and although it has an odd placement that doesn’t flow with the tone of the album, it is still very enjoyable.

The next few songs of the album seems heavily inspired by Feist. Holter makes her voice light and airy, and the instrumental is simplistic, but the lyrics in contrast are very sad. “What did I do to make you feel so bad? What did I do that you would make me feel so bad?” This provides a sharp contrast with the next song, “Everytime Boots”, which is buoyant and carefree. “I’ll take my time here, there’s no reason to rush. I’d even let the cattle ride away- I wouldn’t blink an eye.” The last few songs in Have You in my Wilderness aren’t the best, being lengthy and a bit plain compared to the rest of the album. Otherwise this album is a thought-provoking blend of different genres of music, and I can’t wait to see what Julia Holter does next.

Watch the video for the lead single “Feel You” below:

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The Oh Hello’s – Dear Wormwood

1445103940_coverThe first time I heard a song by the Oh Hellos, my first thought was “Wow. where have these guys been all of my life?” Their newest album, Dear Wormwood, certainly reminded me just how much I missed them since their last album’s release in 2012. This Texan duo is currently one of the most lively and interesting faces of the the indie-folk scene. With thoughtful, yet energetic lyrics, this group’s sound is relatively easy to pick out once you’ve listened to them once or twice.

Dear Wormwood certainly follows this group’s formula for an album. It begins with Prelude, which gets the ball rolling with a subtle medley for melodies from their last album, Through the Deep, Dark Valley. This then carries into the first single off of the album, Bitter Water, which sounds like your typical, harmonious Oh Hellos song.

As they typically do with their music, The Oh Hellos incorporate subtle scriptural references within this album. The tracks Bitter Water, along with the track for which the album was named, Dear Wormwood make references to the book of Revelations in which Wormwood, a star that falls from the sky, turns waters of the earth bitter.
This album was exactly what I expected from The Oh Hellos. With a combination of eerie and fast-paced songs, it makes up a solid album overall. However, it is very similar to their a lot of their other stuff, so a listener who’s not engulfed in the indie-folk scene may think that a lot of the songs sound similar. In the most loving way possible, I think that a lot of these songs sound like they could be heard at a Renaissance festival. I personally loved listening to Dear Wormwood, and would recommend The Oh Hellos to anyone who likes Bear’s Den, Noah Gundersen, The Head and the Heart, or The Civil Wars.



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