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Youth Lagoon
Wondrous Bughouse
Fat Possum

On his sophomore release as Youth Lagoon, Trevor Powers employs more traditional instrumentation while preserving the whimsical and introspective qualities of his debut. Wondrous Bughouse is an album of dreamy, nostalgic, psychedelic pop that manages to be as accessible as it is personal. Rather than build up slowly like earlier Youth Lagoon tracks, most of the songs here are upbeat from the start and filled with strong percussion, Beatles-esque strings and horns as well as trippy synths and traditional folk instruments. Powers’ vocals are as  fragile as before, but he rightfully dares to sing more powerfully as the songs gain intensity. His voice perfectly matches the meditation and anxiety found in his lyrics; a highlight of the album comes on “Dropla” when Powers painfully cries “You weren’t there when I needed you” and then repeatedly “You’ll never die”. Wondrous Bughouse is a huge step forward for Youth Lagoon, it takes considerable skill to craft an album that explores such heavy themes while still remaining so utterly listenable. – Zack Hunter

Atoms For Peace
Amok
XL

Thom Yorke, of Radiohead fame, has stated that much of Atoms For Peace’s material stemmed from “getting wasted and listening to Fela Kuti (Nigerian afro-beat musician).” While this afro-beat influence can be heard within the walls of Atoms For Peace tracks, Amok has an incredibly sober sound, contrary to its apparently boozed-up producers. While songs such as “Stuck Together Pieces” and “Default” can invigorate and stimulate the listener, other tracks off Amok lack the exciting energy and concrete style of this super group’s potential. With members of REM, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Radiohead it was almost too easy to assume Amok would be one the most exhilarating modern experimental rock albums of recent times and while it definitely hits some very lofty highs, it also feels somewhat lacking in vigor and cohesiveness.  – Dafna Kaufman

The Men
New Moon
Sacred Bones

When you first hit play on this album, what you hear is not the typical sprawling and energetic indie-rock The Men typically deliver. In fact, the first track’s catchy piano riff actually made me question if I had the right CD until Mark Perro’s vocals came in. Turns out, the album evolves to include the familiar The Men punk rock and an interesting new sound; a sound that they found when they left fast-paced city life for a quiet cabin in the mountains. Now, when one thinks of punk rock, they typically don’t think of Bon Iver, but it’s this flavor that makes New Moon so interesting. In some songs they implement piano, steel guitar, and harmonica that’s evocative of classic rock and blues-rock. At times, it actually made me think of what this is what my dad must have felt like in the 70s – listening to Neil Young and Leon Russell and complaining about how disco sucks. Then on the next track, the punk energy returns and I’m back in the present. So not surprisingly, when the album is listened to altogether it has a timeless quality to it. New Moon is a seamless ~oscillation~ between modern punk-rock and 70s era country-rock that work together to form a new, youthful sound. Disco sucks. This album rulez. – Lawson Chambers

Reviews curated & edited by: Nathan Kerce

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