June 16Fleet Foxes, “Crack-Up”Leading up to release of their first record in over five years, on paper “Crack-Up” seems like it should be very much up my alley. An indie folk band that has often tiptoed around melancholic themes, occasionally embracing the uncertain times we are in and writing a record that shows all of those emotions. I was excited, even. You know I love me some melancholy. And then this piece of hot pretentious hoopla comes across my ears. Remember everything good I said about Mountain Goats’ new album a couple weeks ago? Imagine if everything went wrong, every emotion fell flat, and something that is supposed to be touching and intimate came across as horribly manufactured. There are some interesting moments, to be fair. The middle of “Third of May/ Odaigahara” has an interesting bit of synthesizer or heavily fx’d guitar that woke me from my coma long enough to notice something had changed before I listed lazily back into the clouded nothingness that is way more thrilling than this record. If you like their other stuff, you’ll probably like this album. It just isn’t for me.
Lorde, “Melodrama”I will never claim to be a member of the target market of musicians like Lorde, though admittedly her new one has grabbed me. I am a sucker for pop music that isn’t saccharine (though this does have sickly sweet moments, looking at you “Green Light”), and from my initial impressions of “Melodrama,” I think Lorde is onto something good. The production is just murky enough, with horns rising out of nowhere on tracks like “Sober.” “Sober” also has an interesting bridge that almost reminds me of some older Michael Jackson songs, which is a comparison I never thought I would write. The album is chock-full of interesting design choices; most songs have whispered vocals in the background that you have to strain to hear, and it paints a picture of a maturing artist that isn’t floundering under the idea of the sophomore slump, and also isn’t afraid to take her sound to new heights and depths.
Com Truise, “Iteration”One of my favorite recent music trends has been the revival of the synthesizer, and embracing the cheesy sounds of the ’80s all wrapped up in a new genre referred to by some as “Outrun” and by others as “Synthwave.” Some artists in the genre go for the driving power of these beat machines, while others, like Com Truise, embrace the floaty, heady tones to build cloudy atmospheres as melodies slowly build and evolve along with the instruments. “Iteration” is Com Truise’s first album in over six years, but his vibe hasn’t changed much in that time. This is another great summer record, perfect for smoking in a too-hot living room at 3 in the morning.
Carach Angren, “Dance and Laugh Amongst The Rotten”Carach Angren studied at the school of King Diamond, taking metal music as a storytelling device further than any band before. Each song is a horrifying saga about vampire queens, Ouija summonings gone wrong, haunted violins, and numerous other gothic terrors. Musically, Carach Angren make epic black metal, with the requisite shrill vocals and triple-picked guitars. Adding in a healthy dose of strings and atmospherics and you have a recipe for something that I will love. If you, like me, cannot wait for the new Septicflesh album, this should serve as a proper placeholder.