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Review Round-Up: Phoenix, Laura Stevenson, Aaron Calvin/The Tallboys

By Andrew McNally Columnist

 

Phoenix- "Bankrupt!"

Grade: A

The song lengths on Phoenix’s fifth album, “Bankrupt!,” are deceiving. Seven of the ten tracks hover around the three-and-a-half minute range, looking like another album of friendly alt-pop. But the French indie group takes their sound in an entirely new, experimental direction. Phoenix recorded an album of experimental indie tracks that are just as accessible as their previous works. The tracks on “Bankrupt!” feature diversity in instrumentation and tempos, a first for the band, and singer Thomas Mars’ lyrics have never been stranger. It’s been a while since “Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix,” but it’s worth the wait.

If You Like: Vampire Weekend, Matt & Kim Key Track: “Entertainment”

 

Laura Stevenson- "Wheel"

Grade: B+

Brooklyn native Laura Stevenson’s third album eschews her backing band, The Cans, for a release focused more on personal songwriting than eclecticism. Her previous work, “Sit Resist,” is a personal favorite, and “Wheel” feels more like an aside. The songs feel like one long idea bugging at Laura that she has to tell someone about. Her impeccable voice equally destroys and nurtures your emotions. “Wheel” is much more of a singer-songwriter album than “Sit Resist,” and while it may not be quite as good, it’s an entirely fulfilling listen.

If You Like: Feist, Fiona Apple Key Track: “Runner”

 

Aaron Calvin/The Tallboys- "PissGhost"

Grade: A-

The Tallboys – featuring Ryan Broderick and Bryan Menegus, two recent graduates, released a split with junior Aaron Calvin to promote their respective new albums. The EP consists of five songs – an original song by Calvin and a Tallboys cover, an original Tallboys song and a cover of one of Calvin’s tracks, and a collective Mountain Goats cover. The album is a quick and homemade collection of acoustic emotion, with Calvin’s folksy sadness and the Tallboys songs that sound reminiscent of regretted pop-punk years. The EP, as well as full works by both, are available for free on bandcamp.com

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