Mini-Beats – May 2011 – Edition 43

(Editor’s Note: Starting with this edition all mini-beats reviews will feature links to buy the album on vinyl…if available, of course. Sweet, huh?)

MonumentGoes Canoeing (2011, Tiny Engines) ♥♥♥
:DC-inspired and bred, this rabble-rousin’ crew have a penchant for hyper post-hardcore with equal parts dissonance and melody: (buy vinyl)
Royal BangsFlux Outside (2011, Glassnote) ♥♥♥
:Flux didn’t pack as much punch as their previous two LP’s but I don’t think this will stop devoted fans from enjoying this; be sure to check out their recent performance on Letterman…; RIYL Royal Bangs, The Slats: (buy vinyl)
Viking Jews / SmyckenSplit LP (2011, Release The Bats) ♥♥½
:a mixed affair featuring two artists from Sweden; Viking Jews offer up a 20-minute slow-burning, delay-driven drone piece that failed to make any lasting impression and Smycken delve into deconstructed pop territory with beats that can be loosely classified as ‘indie R&B’: (buy vinyl)
Apex ManorThe Year Of Magical Drinking (2011, Merge) ♥♥♥½
:I expected this to be good after hearing all of Ross’ output with his previous gig, The Broken West; much like that band, Apex Manor is an outlet for him to present his version of modern power-pop that would definitely appeal to indies…though you probably already knew that with it being on Merge and all… RIYL Brendan Benson, Matthew Sweet:
Noah The WhaleLast Night On Earth (2011, Mercury) ♥♥
:all the personality and depth of their ’09 release is gone and in its place is a glossy, lifeless collection of songs with more than an allowable share of stock synth lines; those of you comparing this to Lou Reed or awesome-period Springsteen are straight-up three hipsters short of a biergarten: (buy vinyl)
Dave HauseResolutions (2011, Paper + Plastick) ♥♥♥½
:this LP is really no match for seeing Dave play these songs out live; when a critic describes a songwriter as ‘earnest’ and ‘blue-collar’ this is what he really means; check out his main gig, The Loved Ones for a pop-punk version of his craft: (buy vinyl)
Nathan EdwinWillow Spillow EP (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥½
:folkie who channels the spirit of early period Dylan; though this type of stuff is normally dime a dozen and Nathan Edwin doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue with ease, he manages to impress with little to no adornment in these ‘b-sides’ left over from his latest LP; available as a free download here; RIYL Tallest Man On Earth:
MonogoldThe Softest Glow (2011, self-released) ♥♥♥♥
:a surprise treat from this Brooklyn (no surprise) collective that features a less-serious take on AC’s good vibes and warm, inviting arrangements; quite possibly the best opening 1-2 punch I’ve heard this year and rad artwork too…someone press it to vinyl! RIYL Sun Airway, Magic Man:
The ShiversMore (2011, Silence Breaks) ♥♥♥½
:Brooklyn’s most overlooked outfit returns with another solid batch of piano soul and organ-driven dirges anchored down by Keith Zarriello’s unmistakable (dare I say ‘sexy’) croon and a bountiful supply of self-deprecating/lovelorn musings: (buy vinyl)
ShouldLike A Fire Without Sound (2011, Words On Music) ♥♥♥½
:the band’s first true LP since 1998’s unheralded classic Feed Like Fishes thankfully continues along that tradition of harmony-driven, minimal dream-pop and slowcore; there isn’t much to discern one song from the next here but, from my experience, it’s fairly typical of the genre; RIYL Low, Ida:
SnowingI Could Do Whatever I Wanted If I Wanted (2011, Count Your Lucky Stars) ♥♥♥
:angular emo action (like Cap’n Jazz but not nearly as spastic) from the nearby Lehigh Valley; they seem to be having a lot of fun and all but I couldn’t really latch onto anything that would make me come back to this: (buy vinyl)
Little ScreamThe Golden Record (2011, Secretly Canadian) ♥♥♥
:this is beautifully arranged and Laura soften the hardest of hearts with her effulgent vocals but the songs themselves seem to be lacking that extra element to make this album stand out: (buy vinyl)
Run, ForeverThe Devil, And Death and Me (2010, Solidarity) ♥♥½
:Pittsburgh melodic punk band with a lead singer who more than favors the vocal stylings of Conor Oberst so I guess you could compare this to Desparecidos?: (buy vinyl)
SloanThe Double Cross (2011, Yep Roc) ♥♥♥½
:many have said this is formidable notch in this 20+ year old power-pop band from Canada’s belt and, while I agree to a certain extent, there are some real formulaic clunkers on here; however, the two opening tracks are infectious pop nuggets that many of us have come to know and love…perhaps an EP would have fared better?: (buy vinyl)
The Builders and The ButchersDead Reckoning (2011, Badman Recording Co.) ♥♥½
:unfortunately for the B&B, their lead singer is a dead ringer for Colin Meloy, who I share no musical affinity for; a shame because normally I’ll gobble this minimal backporch/Gothic Americana stuff right up with a ladle: (buy vinyl)
Alcoholic Faith MissionAnd The Running With Insanity EP (2011, Paper Garden) ♥♥½
:Danish band straddling the line between folktronica and indie-pop; I was a little disappointed with this as their 2010 release featured a few tracks that showed innumerous potential:
The World/Inferno Friendship SocietyThe Anarchy and The Ecstasy (2011, Chunksaah) ♥♥♥
:every punk’s favorite vaudevillian/cabaret folk, weirdo-pop opera troupe (that’s featured Franz Nicolay and members of Dresden Dolls in the past) beams with good intentions on record but you mostly have to see this live to fully appreciate their vision: (buy vinyl)
Echo LakeYoung Silence (2011, No Pain In Pop) ♥♥♥½
:pleasant reverb-and-synth-drenched dream-pop from the UK on up and coming NPIP label; RIYL A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Tamaryn: (buy vinyl)
Laura Stevenson & The CansSit/Resist (2011, Don Giovanni) ♥♥♥½
:a worthy follow-up to 2008’s beautiful debut with another batch of diverse, Spector-inspired tunes peppered with banjo and horns and Laura’s genre-defining croon; download for free here: (buy vinyl)
Akron/FamilyS/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey Of Shinju TNT (2011, Dead Oceans) ♥♥♥♥
:these guys have taken a bit of slack lately from the hipster and indie-type crowds because of their unabashed hippiness but based on videos, their live shows are intense and their catalog is slowly filling up with near-classics like S/T II: (buy vinyl)

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