Album Reviews: Destroyer, The Head & the Heart, Shearwater

Five Spanish Songs

Destroyer- Five Spanish Songs EP

Grade: B+
Release Date: 11/29/2013

Five Spanish Songs doesn’t contain any new Destroyer songs, rather it’s entirely composed of covers of a spanish artist named Sr. Chinarro. The purpose of the EP is to be a gesture of respect and market Sr. Chinarro’s music to an audience who otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to them in likelihood, and it proves to indeed be very fun and melodic. The opener “Maria de las Nieves” is a soft and paced track which showcases extremely calm, narrative vocals by Dan Bejar (a member of the New Pornographers, it often gets forgotten in the U.S. how successful these musicians are outside of the supergroup). “El Rito” is the most fun and danceable one on the EP and a personal favorite, and the closer “Bye Bye” is a slower, soft and thoughtful track. Of course all of this is solely based off of the sound of the music and the manner in which the lyrics are stated because by all accounts the spanish courses I attended during schooling were unsuccessful in creating a fluent speaker out of me, and the title of this EP isn’t just an homage to what was translated. That’s probably for the better as some songs can lose their beauty in the process of translation (and some can become hysterical, like “Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand“), but it’s still frustrating to listen to a line and only be able to recognize the words “Franz Kafka”. Still, this is a very good listen that I recommend listening to even if you don’t understand the lyrics, because good music can be universal.

Track Pick: “El Rito”

Let's Be Still

The Head and the Heart- Let’s Be Still

Grade: C+

Release Date: 10/15/2013

The main word that come to mind is generic. Folk rock seems like a plague in the modern music scene with artists like Mumford & Sons (now on hiatus) and Of Monsters & Men actually rising to national attention with it. I don’t intend to point to those two as examples of poor artists, but I’m a believer that they are artists who got over glorified for an enjoyable but unspectacular sound. The Head and the Heart struggle on this album struggle to bring up interesting topics and consistently seem to end up writing about clichés over basic rhythms. Simplicity can be beautiful in music when used correctly, but we’re at the point where it’s the last thing which there’s a need for within the genre, and it would be sad to see folk rock become redefined in the same unfortunate way that country music has grown to be.

Track Pick: “Homecoming Heroes”

Fellow Travelers
Shearwater- Fellow Travelers

Grade: B-
Release Date: 10/08/2013

The second release in this batch of reviews which is composed of covers, with Fellow Travelers it’s difficult to even tell though. The band set their eyes on songs by Xiu Xiu, Coldplay, St. Vincent and Wye Oak among others, but they don’t really bring the band to a place where they’re easy to relate to at any point. There’s a level of respect from me for the band’s continued attempt to be meaningful and write sadder, softer songs, but the songs have to differ more than they do. This seemed like a prime opportunity to do that with the range of artists they covered, but they all still ultimately blend into each other within the same Shearwater sound that’s been frustrating myself and other listeners on their recent releases. You can sense the talent of people in the project, but I would say they’d be better off separated from each other so that they could try to find other artists to work with, ones who would do a better job of highlighting their strengths and hiding their weaknesses.

Track Pick: “Tomorrow”

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