The Mountain Goats | Transcendental Youth
The Mountain Goats stay true to their sound, and John Darnielle’s lyrics are still impressive after all these years.
“Transcendental Youth” will not come as a surprise to fans of The Mountain Goats. The album sounds much like their previous work with minimal atmospheres comprising acoustic guitars, slowly struck piano chords and a less-is-more approach to percussion. Horns make an appearance on only two tracks, but make the most of their time, providing strong melodies and creating a distinct change in sonic environment.
The real star of the show is, of course, John Darnielle. The singer-songwriter’s lyrics are constantly praised as some of the sharpest, most visual work in modern music and they certainly don’t disappoint here. Themes of external struggle and existential questions of the afterlife are delivered with a punk-tinged disregard for naysayers.
Darnielle is not the most technically gifted singer. But much like David Berman of Silver Jews, he is a poet first and a singer second. Darnielle delivers articulate lines in a high register and seems to dislike his own voice, never stretching lines out further than necessary.
“Transcendental Youth” is another notch in the group’s ever-growing discography, and as all others, is a solid indie folk album that shines with Darnielle’s presence.
Recommended If You Like: Neutral Milk Hotel, Okkervil River, The Magnetic Fields
By Cameron Stewart | “Sultry Red Feedback” — Saturdays, 3 to 4 a.m.
The Vaccines | Come of Age
This sophomore album from the London-based, four-piece falls short of its predecessor, sounding like generic British indie rock.
“Come Of Age” is a fitting title for a second album, seeing as the band is getting older and more mature.
But this isn’t truly the case for The Vaccines. Their debut album had some catchy choruses, but “Come Of Age” lacks the improvement expected in a second record. Singer Justin Young attempts a hook in a few tracks, but the melodies are not ones you will find yourself singing in the shower. The single “Teenage Icon” is an attempt at a pop hook, but it just doesn’t stick like their previous singles did.
When you think of British indie rock, the songs on this record are about what you would imagine; they are filled with loud guitars, pounding drums and simple lyrics. It is a recipe that has been followed many times before, and the product is exactly what’s expected.
Overall, the album is very average-sounding, but what did you expect from The Vaccines?
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, The Wombats, The Drums
By Drew Sher | “Fur Sher” — Thursdays, 3 to 4 p.m.
Ringo Deathstarr | Mauve
Shoegaze revivalists sound more and more interesting after each listen.
A surprisingly pleasant mixture of dark distortion and dream pop vocals, this new album from the grungy psychedelic rock trio will do a lot for the band who, in the past, have flown under the radar. While their overall sound is clearly noisy and fuzz-filled, it’s not overpowering and instead keeps the album going with its decorative guitar solos and driven percussion.
What helps to avoid getting lost in the loudness are the few songs that go for a more dreamy, faded sound (“Drag” and “Brightest Star”).
With its clever riffs, hypnotic vocals and a balanced blend of loud control, Mauve makes you wish you were in band as a kid.
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Tamaryn, No Joy
By Molly Pfeffer
Matt & Kim | Lightning
This duo brings their usual brand of energetic, borderline hyperactive, electropop.
For their fourth album, Matt & Kim keep to what they know best. Their formula is rather simple, with Kim on drums and Matt going to town on the synth and vocals.
The opening track ‘Let’s Go’ is a bit like the calm before the energy storm that is this release. Immediately following this catchy beginning, the tempo picks up along with everything else.
‘Now Revised’ goes from a faster drum rhythm and a staccato vocal/synth combo to a slide into shouts of “Now!” over a steady groove to a slower tempo that eventually reaches the point of erraticism, which is probably the best preparation for this album that’s possible. “Lightening” is a whirlwind of catchy electro indie pop that is just a lot of fun when you get down to it.
RIYL: Passion Pit, Hybrasil, Two Door Cinema Club
Leigh Hopkins | “Ambient Bloom” — Monday, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m.