Some Quick Reviews – “Other Albums”

Sometimes, I’ll listen to a new release and definitely feel ways about it, but I just can’t quite put them into words. So here’s some quick blast reviews because there’s been a number lately that have been worthy of praise but that I haven’t been able to come up with reviews of:

Swearin’ – “Surfing Strange” – B+:  It’s tough to call this album ‘punk,’ even in an era where the definition of the word differs person to person. It’s pretty, often soft and incredibly different from song to song. What it is, really, is great songwriting. The Crutchfield sisters (Allison, in this band, and Katie, the sole member of Waxahatachee) have yet to put out a remotely subpar album between them. Swearin’ is one of the best bands around today, so take note.

Haim – “Days Are Gone” – B+: As a whole, the album seems really repetitive. Every song sounds pretty similar. But when you listen to it track-by-track, you’ll realize that each song has a lot of time and effort on it, and that this trio of sisters are very talented songwriters and musicians. It almost sounds like music your parents like – and it probably is. But it’s catchy and original, give them your time.

The Naked and Famous – “In Rolling Waves” – B-:  “In Rolling Waves” isn’t a unique album, and it doesn’t try to be. It’s just a collection of largely good, dance songs. The album isn’t very memorable, but it’s easy to enjoy. “Hearts Like Ours” is one of my favorite songs of the year.

CHVRCHES – “The Bones Of What You Believe” – A-:  Much in the vain of the Naked and Famous, every song on this album is synth-driven and it all kind of sounds the same, but it’s an incredibly energetic album for something so catchy. Very great debut.

Tancred – “Tancred” – B-:  “Tancred” is a pretty great blending of emo, punk and folk influences. Everything sounds great on the album – it’s just all over a little too soon.

Best Coast – “Fade Away” – B: Being someone that’s not a big fan of the band, and given that it’s an EP, I couldn’t accurately say why I really enjoyed this release. But it’s just an entertaining listen, a good step for the band. Their songwriting has improved consistently, and they’re feeling comfortable as a weird, garage-rock/dream-pop mix.

Parquet Courts – “Tally All the Things That You Broke” – B+: This follow-up EP to their debut (which also came out this year – one of the best albums of the year) slows things down a bit and gets more detective. Even though it’s unexpected, it all works. Parquet Courts, a throwback garage band out of NYC, are a band I consider to be one of the best in American music today. This EP only bolsters that.

Chumped – “Chumped” – A-: It’s tough to stand out in pop-punk, but Chumped’s energetic and smart music make for a release much better than most of the schlock in the genre. It’s another great debut in an already pretty full year. Also, they’re great people. That always helps.

AFI – “Burials” – B-: I started writing a review for “Burials” the day it came out. It’s a few weeks later, sorry guys. What I had said so far was that AFI, for the first time in their career, sound like they have no barriers to conquer. So they’ve combined their 90’s hardcore punk with their ’00’s emo into what’s a largely entertaining album. It’s arena-rock ambitions are on an awful level similar to Muse and the Killers, but the band doesn’t always go there. When they’re just being themselves, it feels comfortable and zeitgeist-less, and it feels right. They stray away from that comfort zone too frequently, but it’s got all the gloom you expect from an AFI album, with a renewed energy.

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