Although we are still less than a month into the new year, I don’t find it unreasonable to make the claim that 2013 has, for lack of a more eloquent lexicon, pretty much sucked when it comes to music stuff. I mean, sure, maybe some bands released new singles, teased clips of forthcoming material, or even put up some pre-orders, but as far as complete and tangible albums worth of quality tunes, January has left us high and dry…until now, that is.
This week, like most weeks, contains a Tuesday, also known by those who engage in the delicate art of media consumerism as release date. This particular date of release is special in that it presents the first opportunity for, not only one, but also several quality releases worthy of your purchase and auditory enjoyment.
Ok, I guess it’s a bit hypocritical to start the release list with this album given that I literally just wrote, “as far as complete and tangible albums worth of quality tunes, January has left us high and dry…until now, that is.” Hear me out though, “Darkness,” while only being an extended play in reality is, by I guess surrealistic standards, the sum of a larger whole. As part of an ongoing experiment (beginning this year with 28 new songs spanning six extended plays), this portion of the “Atlas” venture starts with the obvious darkness at the beginning of time. Over the course of the project, songwriter – singer Ryan O’Neal will be exploring, via music, “the origins, emergence and experiences of life.” It’s an interesting and rather grandiose concept that will undoubtedly yield some breath-taking results.
The generic term “pop” has always been eschewed to genre classification of the Canadian sisters, it has always been preceded by the even more vague idea of “indie.” However, on their latest effort, one might make the argument to eliminate the latter terminology and bold (and highlight and underline, possible even capitalize) the former. While the duo have always crafted up-tempo, groovy rock jams, they replace their somewhat punk-inspired sound with one that is glistening and shimmering, shiny and ready for the airwaves. On “Heartthrob,” Tegan and Sara haven’t sold out, they haven’t cashed in their sound for hopes of success, they’ve tweaked and perfected a type of noise; One that, while admittedly fun, tends to lean more towards the shallow end of the musical pool. In this case, though, their fidgeting and fin nicking has created a pop listen that’s both enjoyable and fun while contained just the right amount of heart.
Way back in 2009, when Local Natives released their debut album, “Gorilla Manor,” I chalked them up as yet another buzz worthy indie-rock band that seems to come and go like the daylight, leaving us with fantastic debut and then petering out before ever reaching the aspired precipice amongst the likes of Death Cab For Cutie. While the album was quite good, their sound didn’t seem new enough to last and I figured they just wouldn’t make it. Not surprisingly, I was wrong, at the band has returned in full swing on their sophomore release to prove just how bad I am at guessing things. Hummingbird is every bit as enjoyable, if not more so at parts, than its predecessor but with drastically improved…well, everything, but especially vocals.