By Andrew McNally Columnist
Cold War Kids – “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts” Grade: B
There’s nothing different on this album than on their previous albums. But, when you have a sound as wholly unique as Cold War Kids, it doesn’t really matter. “Dear Miss Lonelyhearts,” named after a Nathanael West story, continues their trend of guitar-driven indie rock, powered by strong lyrics and powerful, soulful vocals. The production quality remains the same – they sound like they’re recording in a hollow shed, complementing the soul. The Kids come out of the gate, more energized than ever on “Miracle Mile,” before slowing down to a haunting finale. Nothing has changed, but it’s a solid effort
If You Like: Spoon, Arcade Fire
Kurt Vile – “Wakin on a Pretty Daze” Grade: B+
Kurt Vile continues to combat the idea of sticking to one genre with his fifth studio album. “Wakin on a Pretty Daze,” clocking in at a running time longer than your morning classes, features Vile seamlessly jumping from folk to jam-rock, without ever feeling overlong or uninspired. The album forces a feeling of Springsteen, Wilco and Nick Drake collaborating in the best possible way. Vile, at his best, wanders his way through songs, both lyrically and musically. Yet each song penetrates; as if Vile is reassuring you of something you didn’t realize was a problem. Let it soak up your day.
If You Like: Wilco, the Antlers
James Blake – “Overgrown” Grade: B+
Electronic-based singer-songwriters are not very prominent, but James Blake is something of a treasure. His second album, “Overgrown,” is about as diverse of an album as you get in electronic music. Equal bits of Depeche Mode and the Postal Service are sprinkled among deep and honest lyrics. Tracks like “Voyeur” are heavier than expected and as close as Blake will come to dubstep. There’s even a surprising, if not misguided, collaboration with RZA. “Overgrown” has some faulty moments, but it’s eclectic music and largely pounding lyrics are more than enough for a great album. Sadly, the album ends all too soon.
If You Like: The Postal Service, New Order