In my attempts at finishing these posts and getting to sleep at a decent hour, it seems the third time is in fact the charm. So without further ado, let’s pick up right where we left off…..

15. Diiv – Oshin
Originally called Dive, this band changed their name after learning of another band with the same name. The quirky spelling was then carried over to the album title, which, if nothing else, makes it easier to Google. Seeing as how main Diiver Zachary Cole Smith is also in Beach Fossils, it makes sense that most critics compare the two. But in my mind, there really isn’t much of a comparison. Yes, they have a lot of stylistic similarities, but I actually like Cole’s voice. Mellow grooves, tremolo guitars, and tons of reverb are all par for the course, creating a singular vibe that works equally well as the focus of your attention or soothing background music. I’m most reminded of mid-career Starflyer 59 and their masterpiece Leave Here A Stranger, and seeing as how Jason Martin hasn’t done anything worth listening to in years, I consider this a very good thing.

14. Yeasayer – Fragrant World
Coming after the brilliant All Hour Cymbals, 2010’s Odd Blood was a huge disappointment. Yeasayer completely changed direction, abandoning the exotic rock of their debut and selling out to the dance floor. Seeing them in concert on my birthday last year led me to believe this album would be more of the same – repetitive grooves that might be fun to dance to, but make for a pretty uninteresting listen. Approaching Fragrant World with low expectations, I was more than pleased. They have somehow managed to mix the guitars and exotic instruments of the first album with the dance grooves of the second, but then fed everything through a 1980’s R&B filter and smothered it all with art rock gravy. In short, this album is everything the most recent release by The Dirty Projectors should have been but wasn’t.

13. Walk The Moon – Walk The Moon
Having been mostly disconnected from mainstream radio for quite some time now, I’m never sure how new albums are received by the public. But with this one I think I can pretty much guess. A sizeable portion of frat boys, teen girls, and former pop-punk kids trying to prove their tastes have matured probably all flipped out over this album. The majority of critics probably broke a blood vessel in their forehead straining to find anything at all good to say about it. The truth is somewhere in between. This is a fun album full of catchy, uptempo, danceable arena rock. If you like Foster The People or the first Killers album, or if you just want a fun collection of expertly played songs, you can’t go wrong here.

12. Snow Patrol – Fallen Empires
I still haven’t figured out why, in this day and age, record companies insist on releasing albums on different days for different parts of the world. European listeners got this disc way back in November 2011, but those of us in North America had to wait until last January. The good news is the wait was worth it. It wasn’t a completely new direction, as most early reviews indicated. All the critics who bemoaned Fallen Empires‘ use of electronics obviously haven’t been paying attention – Snow Patrol have been twiddling knobs since their debut album. Basically, what we have here is a Snow Patrol album, full of all the usual driving rockers, soaring ballads, and big hooks. While it’s not the best thing they’ve done, it’s pretty damn good.

11. Bear In Heaven – I Love You, It’s Cool
These Brooklyn art rockers toned down the art and made what might be the strongest album of their career. While there are still traces of the Krautrock-influenced pop of 2009’s Beast Rest Forth Mouth and the ambient prog of 2007’s Red Bloom Of The Boom, most of what’s left here is streamlined, stripped down, and ready for mass consumption. Bear In Heaven are still a bit too cerebral for most audiences, and their grooves are a bit too dark for the top 40, but in an alternate universe, I Love You, It’s Cool would be a huge hit. In this universe they find themselves relegated to obscurity, only on the radar of those of us who love experimental, synthy pop.

 

Until we meet again…..

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