I‘ve kind of slacked off on listening to the music lately; part of that is that Metric’s new album was released in June, and I’ve kind of had it on repeat. The other part is just that I haven’t felt like listening to much else. In any case, I did find a few albums I thought worth mentioning this month in addition to Metric.
Metric – Synthetica
Frankly, there wasn’t much question in my mind that once Metric’s new album came out, it would leap to the top of my favorites for the month – in fact, most likely for the year. Metric is probably my favorite currently-working band, and I’ve never yet been disappointed by any of their releases. Of course, there’s a first time for everything, but this is not that time. Naming their new album Synthetica seems like a natural move – after all, the band is well-known for their throwback use of New Wave-esque synths. But that’s not all that’s going on here; frontwoman/songwriter Emily Haines has constructed an album about the blurring and distinctions between the real and artificial, embodied life and synthetic detachment. Like most of her lyrics, the power behind these is felt rather than explained, and the music, which harkens back to the entirety of the band’s past as well as pushing forward, matches the evocative lyrics beat for beat. An easy front-runner for my favorite of the year.
The Raveonettes – Into the Night
This EP has been out for a couple of months, actually, but somehow I managed to miss it until now. The Raveonettes are coming out with a full album this fall, and there’s every chance I will love it as I have loved their last three, but until then, this four-song EP will do very nicely. By this point, you know what you’re getting with The Raveonettes, but what you’re getting is some of the best noise/dream pop going, so it’s not really a negative. I’ve already listened to this EP more than most albums this year.
Crocodiles – Endless Flowers
The Brandon Welchez half of Crocodiles is married to Dum Dum Girls’ frontwoman Dee Dee (and both Welchez and bandmate Charles Rowell at one time played with Dum Dum Girls), so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the two bands share a similar sonic landscape, full of classic rock-inflected noise riffs and wall-of-sound instrumentation under clear, strong vocals. I’ve got to go back and listen to their earlier stuff, because I fell in love with this album almost immediately, even the one track that’s weirdly spoken-word experimental.
Wintersleep – Hello Hum
If I’m not mistaken, I saw Wintersleep open for someone at a show sometime and enjoyed them, though not enough to buy their album while I was there – in any case, it was enough for their name to ring a bell when this new album showed up on Spotify, and I’m definitely glad I gave it a listen. Not every song strikes as particularly memorable, but the entire album is very pleasant and fun to listen to, and a couple of songs are definite attention-getters.
The Beach Boys – That’s Why God Made the Radio
I’m not what I’d call a huge Beach Boys fan, though I do enjoy driving along the Pacific Coast Highway blasting some “California Girls” and “Surfin’ USA.” I rarely have high hopes for older bands doing new records, but That’s Why God Made the Radio is kind of special – it’s the first time the surviving members of the band have all worked together on a project in a LONG time, and the bad blood between them seems to have been smoothed over into something that works quite well. I don’t think every song is great, but the melodies and harmonies are all here, recognizably Beach Boys, and yet with a wistfulness and individuality that fits them now while still evoking their past.
White Arrows – Dry Land is Not a Myth
Sounding something like a rougher, less polished Vampire Weekend, LA-based White Arrows manages to evoke some of the same unusual rhythms as the NYC band, while sounding a little more raw and fresh. I find the album more interesting than repeat play-able, but it is definitely solid driving music, and I’ll probably be returning to it a few more times this year.