Jordan Klassen's new album Repentance dazzles with its surfeit of creativity: featherweight choir voices, xylophones, and even goofy boiiiiing effects make their way into the first track alone, and the album doesn't hold back on the whimsy from there. That said, these compositions also display a sense of vulnerable humanity. Klassen knows his way around a melody, as evidenced by his performance on songs like the soaring "Piano Brother," equal parts uplift and urgency. The songwriting often puts layers together in interesting, unexpected ways; lead single "The Horses Are Stuck" could very well pass as a B-side from a Disney movie soundtrack, with its colorful instrumentation, guttural choir vocals and folksy, ultra-catchy melodies, but there are hints of darkness sprinkled throughout the song. Repentance may sound as bright as a Technicolor lollipop, but at its core resonates a voice seeking redemption and connection, and when Klassen reconciles those two sides of his identity, there are few artists who can reach the heights he touches. Stream the entire album below:
You'd think the post-rock genre's pretty much cannibalized itself at this point, but one listen to Chemtrail's new album Your Frequencies Have Been Missed shows the magic is alive and well. Opener "Sometimes Food" sets a brooding vibe early on, with melodies lifted out of Explosions In The Sky's playbook, but the dynamic drum work from Chris Lukens brings a bit more heft to the band's sound than we usually see with most introspective artists. But ultimately, the album doesn't so much pound its way into your heart as it seeps into it. Chemtrail doesn't waste a second moping: it's always on the move, hitting on a melodic motif here before crash landing into an extended crescendo there (just take a look at how a song like "Moon Boots" waxes and wanes over its seven minutes). If only for its massiveness, Your Frequencies Have Been Missed will wallop you with the force of a wrecking ball, but it also showcases a band with a much more delicate touch. Stream the entire album below:
Gainesville, Florida native and singer-songwriter Lindsey Mills shines on the charming STONEFRUIT, which is available for name-your-price on Bandcamp. The songs here are loose but warm, with local band Handmade, Amigo bringing guitars, accordions, horns, and a harmonica to back up her sun-soaked voice. All in all, it can sound more like a jam session than a work proper, but who's to say where those lines are drawn? What I can say is that the moment on "In This Bed" where the horns swell up in a tangle shows an artistry I can't quite explain, Mill's voice sounds like lemonade feels going down my throat, and for forty-something minutes, that's more than enough reason to stick around and see what she has in store. Stream and download the entire album below:
Adding onto September's great harvest of electropop gold, New York City band Black Taxi impresses with its latest EP Chiaroscuro. Fans of the genre will find plenty to love in the robust rhythms and synth scenery, but the band also brings a more bluesy, laid-back vibe to the table: the groovy guitar lines of "The Runner" keep the track on its feet, while "Gone" is led by a rousing gang chant and trumpet blasts before it surges into a prolonged instrumental section in the end, complete with the obligatory "Beat It" guitar solo. It's a tasty appetizer for what I hope will be a fruitful career. Stream the entire EP below:
Papermoons, a duo from Austin, impresses with No Love, its first full-length in four years. Little needs to be said about it: it's gentle, soul-stirring folk music with plaintive vocal harmonies, simple but sturdy instrumentation and lyrics stripped of pretense, leaving behind a core of sentimental fuzzies. That said, Papermoons has a few sonic tricks up its sleeve, like a sudden outburst of post-rock proportions on "Arms Length" or a psychedelic breakdown at the end of "Ghosts." This is a comforting album, ready for you to embrace, but it's also one that'll hit hard when you least expect it to. Stream the entire album below:
The last artist of this month's Round-Up may be one of my favorite discoveries of the year. Costa Rican post-rockers Claro De Luna's latest album La Voz Quebrada might be about "the limits of language, and its implications on communication," but the band speaks volumes without a single word. Its strongest suit here is its philosophy of less-is-more and the subsequent focus on melody: that's why, even though the instrumentation is as parched as desert foliage, the music is still grand enough to sweep listeners off their feet. "Refracción" takes a haunting vocal bit and stretches it over five minutes of scorched earth; "La Otra Verdad" takes a while to open up, but midway through the track the band makes room for a gorgeous, stripped-back interlude where the piano and acoustic guitar shine. La Voz Quebrada is full of these little moments where you can see the detail and craft in every seam--and even then, the music speaks for itself. Stream the entire album below:
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