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Jun 27, 2016







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Band of Horses, Why Are You OK (Interscope Records)

It’s kind of hard to believe this country-indie-folk band has only been around since 2004, but it’s true, and they’ve been a bit of a secret the whole time, except of course to the Bonnaroo crowd. Chances are you’ve heard their 2010 single “Laredo,” which boasted an unusually scuzzy sound for them, sort of like Ryan Adams after a few cans of Monster. 2012’s Mirage Rock LP is where we last we left Ben Bridwell and his crew, a tabling of their typical Tom Petty/America strum-pop which, if it had really blown up wide, would have fit in fine in dentist offices, save for the not-completely-hopeless lack of hooks, a problem this album has fixed, what with the sudden interest from platinum star-maker Rick Rubin, who executive-produced this whether or not Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle did all the heavy lifting in the studio. And that’s where we stand, with new dad Bridwell maybe-possibly looking to become the next Stephen Stills or whatnot, even if he loses the hipster vote. Opener “Dull Times/The Moon” wants to be Pink Floyd so bad it stole “Us and Them”’s drums — it’s mildly loud and even has 1970s phase shifter effects, a nice chill trip, followed by the vocally ambitious “Solemn Oath.” Lots of instantly accessable stuff here, the net effect of which reads like My Morning Jacket retooled for Top 10 radio. This could easily be one of the year’s  — if not the decade’s — biggest records, absolutely. A+ 





Augustines, This is Your Life (Caroline/PIAS Records)
CD Reviews: June 23, 2016

06/23/16



Augustines, This is Your Life (Caroline/PIAS Records)

I don’t want to get too obscure when describing this Brooklyn trio’s third LP, so let’s start by name-checking U2, but with a side of Frightened Rabbit — or how about Coldplay if they didn’t suck? It’s pub-rock, but really big pub-rock, loaded with heavy subject matter and an all-too-rare heart-on-its-sleeve lyrical approach that could only flow from someone who’s been through some soul-shattering stuff, which bandleader Billy McCarthy has, what with the early deaths of his mother and brother. 1980s bands like Modern English seem to have affected this album’s DNA; it’s sort of like Gang of Four with an extra set of teeth, starting with opener “Are We Alive,” which thankfully isn’t as non-rhetorical a title as this generation of twee-and-bling-bred consumers might expect — McCarthy wants to be totally uncaged and wishes the same for the listener. “When Things Fall Apart” sounds like Coldplay trying to be Simple Minds; “Running in Place” is Elbow meets Springsteen with McCarthy conjuring a male Florence Welch — relentlessly great stuff here. A+ 





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