Looking for new music? DJs at WVAU share their thoughts on a range of recent releases.
Alabama Shakes | Boys & Girls
In the short span of a year, Alabama Shakes have ridden a meteoric rise from playing in dive bars to making the rounds at every major festival and late night show. It’d be easy for a backlash to develop around the much-hyped band, who are finally releasing their debut full-length, but their music is far too likable and soulful to dismiss.
The obvious star here is singer Brittany Howard, whose vocals have the personality, pain and rawness needed of a great soul singer. On slow-burner “Be Mine,” Howard makes the vocal transition from wounded lover to crazed rocker sound seamless. Meanwhile, the band behind her cook up plenty of great Southern-rock riffs: “Hold On,” “Hang Loose” and “On Your Way” prove that this is more than a one-woman show.
There’s a lot to love about this band, which is even more exciting when you consider that there still is room for the songwriting and production to grow. For once, Alabama Shakes prove to be that rare group that overcomes the trappings of media hype, establishing themselves as a legitimately talented band.
Recommended If You Like: Mavis Staples, Janis Joplin
By Cameron Meindl
“Rhyme and Reason,” Sundays NOON-2 p.m..
Spiritualized | Sweet Heart Sweet Light
Spiritualized has always been classified into the undefined genre of space rock, and here, on the band’s seventh album, the classification is entirely appropriate, as the album reaches past the sky in terms of ambition and vision.
The songs here are all without exception grand, elaborate ordeals, with lush guitars, multiple backing vocalists and swirling symphonic additions. It’s a formula that could possibly come off as cheesy, but deftly avoids such a fate by, paradoxically, remaining grounded and relatable through frontman Jason Pierce’s excellent lyrical ability, largely inspired by his recent battle with double pneumonia in which he nearly lost his life.
This album is truly balladry at it’s best: huge, grand and without cliché.
RIYL: The Stone Roses, The Beatles (mostly the ballads), Blur, Deerhunter
by Richard Murphy
“Lionheart James,” Thursdays 2-4 a.m.
The Mars Volta | Noctourniquet
Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s fiery range-wrecking voice still rages with vitality, songwriting mastermind Omar Rodriguez-Lopez fills every song with layers of mind-twisting guitar and new drummer Deantoni Parks continues in the TMV drummer tradition of defying all human evolutionary boundaries.
But the songs sound new, more melodic, more accessible than anything TMV have ever made and more focused on complete songs than sections. This leads to a truly dynamic set of songs, including the uneasy, Radiohead-tinged “Aegis,” the gorgeous, lunar “Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound,” the psychotic, Modest Mouse-stomping “The Malkin Jewel” and the heartrending “Vedamalady” with its layers of tremulous soundscape.
The lyrics are still impenetrable and the music still challenges all sensory perception, but overall the result is a subtly decadent and highly enjoyable work of musical mania that rewards almost instantly, keeping TMV secure in the elite pantheon of prog rock.
RIYL: At The Drive-In, Muse, Rush, Radiohead
by Jesse Paller
“We Like Music,” Wednesdays 10 p.m.-MIDNIGHT
Miike Snow | Happy to You
After three years, the long-awaited sophomore album by Swedish pop trio Miike Snow has arrived and sadly seems to be a hit-or-miss type of record. Certain songs on the album are tremendously prevailing while others seem to fall short both musically and lyrically.
Despite some subpar tracks, “Happy To You” has a fair share of tastefully constructed electronic elements. The synths are melodic and pleasing, often blending harmoniously with rhythmic samples and interspersed horns and piano. Aptly integrated filters and electronic glitziness both enhance the songs’ compositions, creating multiple tiers of sound.
The experimentation present on this album is admirable, marking a definite growth between Miike Snow’s last album and “Happy To You” despite a few lackluster tracks. Full of hooks and fun, “Happy To You” is an electro-pop wonderland.
RIYL: Tom Waits, Daniel Johnston, The White Stripes
by Brendan Principato
“This Radio Show Will Ruin/Save Your Life,” Mondays MIDNIGHT-2 a.m.