By Bryan Menegus, Columnist
Sharon Van Etten- Tramp
Introspective and at times downright moving, Van Etten's third record bring to mind a lusher Feist or a more subdued Fiona Apple. Her voice has the pleasant if not thin consistency of powder-mix hot cocoa, and the drowsy honesty of post-coital conversation. With help from Aaron Dessner of The National and Matt Barrick of The Walkmen, Tramp has the enough atmosphere and reverb to mask the somewhat pedestrian arrangements, but has the side effect of burying Ms. Van Etten's voice, making a pleasantly languorous record the equivalent of half a bottle of Nyquil. Van Etten has talent, but seemingly lacks ambition.
RIYL: The National, Laura Stevenson
Die Antwoord- Ten$ion
Surprising no one, Die Antwoord are still one of the weirdest hip hop groups on the scene, although the term hip hop should only be used in the loosest sense. Like their debut, $0$, Ten$ion has some techno, dubstep, and what I can only assume are the traditional sounds of Die Antwoord's native country of South Africa. There's just as many mentions of the "zef" lifestyle, the tenants of which are still difficult to discern, and plenty of South African slang. But Yo-Landi's equal-parts-sexy-and-creepy persona and Ninja's flow is still practiced, if not misused. "So What?" is the record's high point. Much of the rest is forgettable.
RIYL: championing a white trash lifestyle, rape music
Fucked Up- Year of the Tiger
Hey Fucked Up, you're not punk, and I'm telling everyone. While anyone who've been following the Toronto group's meteoric rise will cite their decidedly un-punk sound as the exact reason for their success, this most recent installment in their "Year of the [animal]" EPs threatens to be too bloated and detached from the sound they've successfully honored/subverted. Lacking the richness that made their punk rock opera David Comes to Life sane, Year of the Tiger is unimpressive and dull. Better luck next time.
RIYL: Fucked Up's better records