The Hold Steady- Teeth Dreams
Release Date: 03/25/2014
One of the most impressive aspects of The Hold Steady’s discography is how their songs have shown a wide variation of sound while the band aged, a sound which has shifted from album to album despite being, for the lack of a better word, formulaic. The appeal of The Hold Steady which has garnered them an impressively dedicated crowd comes from the ‘live’ aspect of their sound which translates into the recorded product, and the energy which accompanies this alongside lead singer Craig Finn’s eloquently vague lyricism. The issue here is that Teeth Dreams is missing the keys that made Boys and Girls in America a joy to laughingly dance to back in 2006 because of the recent departure of Franz Nicolay, and it also doesn’t pack nearly the punch which carried either Separation Sunday or Almost Killed Me did in their most ambitious moments. And so it’s safe to say that this album isn’t the band at it’s best, but an album which continues and perhaps even intensifies the issues of it’s mediocre predecessor Heaven is Whenever in 2010. The music world is in Hold Steady purgatory at the moment where everything that will likely define the band’s career has passed by now, and the rest of what we hear is more similar to an extended farewell tour then a band worthy of releasing new material. All this being said, it would still be a fun farewell show to see.
Top Tracks: “Spinners”, “Almost Everything”
Release Date: 03/10/2014
The Primary impression of Love Letters was that it might have been the unexpected gem album of the year, as the beautifully patient pop track “The Upsetter” opens up the album to grand expectation. It doest die down quickly afterwards, but by the time that the end of the album arrives you realize that the sound has only been descending, or perhaps from an optimistic viewpoint ‘plateauing’ for the past twenty minutes. This is disappointing as a listener because the album’s sound could be described as consistently enjoyable, but the full product becomes so easy to tune out that it is most certainly not capable of being viewed as a terrific comprehensive album. Instead it’s a good release by the band which contains a few terrific songs within it, but a release which should become characterized by it’s almost habitual quality of missing the little thing which would have made it great.
Top Tracks: “The Upsetter”, “Monstrous”
Kishi Bashi- Lighght
Release Date: 05/13/2014
Back in 2012 Kishi Bashi came out with a debut album named 151a which showed that this multi-instrumentalist who was formerly a touring member of the Kevin Barnes-led band Of Montreal had an impressive amount of talent of his own. It was a beautiful creation of orchestral pop which contained music which contained complex, interesting, and melodic music that garnered Bashi some attention due to it’s consistent quality and single appeal in tracks like “Bright Whites” and “It All Began With a Burst”. So does Lighght bring Kishi Bashi back to earth? In some ways, yes. There are more tracks on the album which are stripped down and more direct than anything which was heard on it’s predecessor and thus less ambitious in some aspects, but these tracks actually stand alongside the orchestral pop terrifically well and have become the high-point of the album because of how they display a form of variation which was actually missing before. Kishi Bashi creates some absolutely tremendous music to listen to once again on Lighght, and if you’re a fan of a more complex form of pop similar to what you see in Of Montreal’s chaotically melodic period then I would highly recommend you give Kishi Bashi a listen sooner rather than later.
Top Tracks: “Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”, “In Fantasia”