MINTA & THE BROOK TROUT
When the end hits, with a heartfelt moment which eschews sentimentality by virtue of delivery and musicality, it's passed by almost too quickly for you to grasp. This is Minta & the Brook Trout's real gift -- giving the listener beautiful music ripe with the kind of emotionality which seems to slip easily between one's fingers. As "From the Ground" reminds us: "all the love you once felt, all the love that was gone / it comes up from the ground just to haunt you." This is true melancholia, a pervasive sense of self-realized nostalgia which comes from what we lack. It's Minta & the Brook Trout's native tongue.
The Tarnished Gold
Punk is not a sound; it's an ethos: a way of understanding the world. Patti Smith was one of the first who gave that way of seeing back to us, and she did it in her own way, by retracing who we are and what we knew over our own hearts. By making us believe in music, by casting over us, one by one, her own spell.
We shouldn't be nostalgic for days of yore or cry over boarded up all-ages venues. Bands like Egyptr show us why all that stuff was important in the first place. It's about the music. And, more importantly, the music where you're from. The delight (and trouble) these days is that with a click you can be from anywhere. So take a moment, be from Fayetteville, AR and let Egyptr pop your ear drums.
Clear Moon & Ocean Roar
White's never one to lose his head on this record, the genius of this album is in accurate placement of musical elements in a record which continually surprises and surpasses expectations. And, it's for this reason that the record is a fascinating and rewarding mix of cerebral blue-eyed soul. Not mimicking but reappropriating the soul genre into the 21st century, White manages to seemingly reinvent something by never straying far from it.
The slow churn of Nootropics intoxicates because it requires extended, attentive listening. As opposed to 60s and 70s psychedelia which was the hard charging product of drugs with orgasmic finishes and mind-expanding instrumentation, Lower Dens are crafting music which functions like a drug (or natural stimulant) by moving your mind to make musical connections.
Joy & Better Days
SHARON VAN ETTEN
Tramp is a coming of age for Van Etten. Musical complexity fuels her already unique voice and subtle musical understanding. There is a sense of self-proclamation, an assuredness to this record that all great albums have. Van Etten's got the authority of a master in Tramp. It's her most unflinching and strongest work to date. Ironically, it's also what makes Tramp seem like a continuation. Van Etten's been doing it all along. So, if there is a sonic shift in Tramp, it comes with the addition of Condon, the Dessners, et al. They augment, flesh out, and delve deeper into the personal than the personal which Van Etten had shown on her previous albums. The musical shift here is letting other people inside. Perhaps that's the wry irony of the title -- there are so many others in Van Etten's personal lyrics that she feels like a "tramp." Maybe she feels like she's still searching. Whichever way it goes, the ownership is what counts and what makes this record one of the most solid of the year.