The Pornographer doesn't fall far from the tree. To say that 'Shutdown the Streets,' the third solo record from New Pornographers frontman AC Newman, sounds like the Vancouver band's work is understatement -- yet at the same time, the album is thoroughly his own.
Mountain Goats records are more than collections of songs. They're tangles of short stories, as nerd-folk icon John Darnielle builds characters and moods with scatterings of words and chord progressions. He no longer records on a boombox -- here, the sound is rich with horns and bass -- but he remains as indie as it gets. On the 14th Mountain Goats album, ‘Transcendental Youth,’ he raises goosebumps with songs of yearning, fear, love and loss, adding a worthy entry to the project’s extensive catalog.
Green Day are in a weird place. Days before releasing the first of a trio of albums, Billie Joe Armstrong, the long-running band’s 40-year-old frontman, threw a fit when their iHeartRadio set was cut short. And Armstrong, who has been described as “eschewing drugs,” has just checked into a rehab clinic. Amid all of this comes an album with his face on the cover: ‘¡Uno!’
With arena-rock choruses and anthems as flashy as his hometown of Las Vegas, Killers frontman Brandon Flowers has fashioned himself to be something of a glam-pop Bruce Springsteen. In that way, ‘Battle Born,’ the first we’ve heard from the band in four years, is an epically masculine, unapologetically dramatic, thoroughly enjoyable listen -- if you can get over the fact that it’s really, really cheesy.
Family is strange. Anyone can tell you that. And so it follows that for artists, as they mature -- like, say, by the time they're making their fifth album -- they investigate their own. This is the overriding theme of ‘Moms,' the new record from Portland's Menomena. The title can be explained by the fact that Danny Seim's mother died when he was a teenager, while bandmate Justin Harris grew up with a single parent.
It's funny how catchy tunes get called "infectious," same as diseases, with the most infectious becoming a part of us.
Way back in the mid-2000s, Band of Horses emerged as purveyors of such songs. Their ‘Infinite Arms’ (2010) album became a part of listeners lives, and 'Funeral,' from their 2006 debut, was a particularly sweet virus. On subsequent efforts, they rehashed those highs without reinventing their sound, giving in to an underwhelming fit of inertia that ‘Mirage Rock’ has thankfully shifted.
Mixing ramshackle, Keruoac-style love yarns and soul-lovin’, blue-eyed, Southern-fried, god-bless-America bluegrass, the Avett Brothers return with 'The Carpenter,' another salve for the modern soul. When Scott Avett says, “If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die,” you know he's speaking truth.