Michael Blume’s percussive pop is a listener’s dream, everything perfectly polished and all elements in their proper places. When I Get It Right is part Flume’s processed, pop-savvy electronic, part Sam Smith’s pained gospel falsetto, part James Blake’s soul-flavored downtempo. It’s equally comfortable at higher speeds as lower, bouncing between Casio-heavy blue-eyed soul and upbeat R&B. If When I Get It Right is any indication, Michael Blume’s career can only go up from here — this is a seriously impressive debut.
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Chris Ingalls: Moving forward with Edith Frances replacing vocalist Alice Glass, Crystal Castles keep up with what they’ve been known for: loud, in-your-face sheets of electronic sounds and pounding beats. “Concrete”, from their upcoming fourth album, is a heavy, brash, slab of danceable doom-and-gloom. While they appear to be a forward-looking band, there are definitely nods to the past and “Concrete” seems to conjure up an unholy alliance of Ministry and the Cure. [7/10]
There’s a stanza in Billy Joel’s iconic “Piano Man” which applies pretty appropriately to Big Top Heartbreak: “And the piano it sounds like a carnival / And the microphone smells like a beer / And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar / And say, ‘Man, what are you doing here?’” Because “My Breath Killed the Roses” is a deeply melancholy affair, a deceptively misanthropic ode set to gorgeous piano and gloriously imperfect violin. Its uninhibited sadness mingles with unbreakable optimism, pinned up by Scott Lavene’s cracked baritone. “It’s all about love,” sings Lavene, and in a twisted way — as with Joel’s masterpiece — the tragedy chronicled herein ends up driving unambiguously towards that love.
The pop of Maggie Szabo‘s “Touch the Ground” straddles a few tangential genre lines. There’s the subdued drums and piano of soft rock, there’s the riffing associated with a radio-ready take on soul, there’s the slight twang and shuffle of country and bluegrass. In other words, it’s pop in its purest sense, a style that draws from everything around it and reflects what people are listening to. Szabo is a uniting force, a singer who appeals to disparate groups of listeners, and that bringing together is always a force for good. Music is better when it’s shared.
Terribly Yours’ “Golden Age” is a synth-heavy piece of rock crusted with scuzz. It’s a relatively straightforward indie rock song, but it sounds like it’s being tuned through a staticky TV set, an atmosphere of fuzz weighing down its otherwise light instrumental. The guitar solo near the middle is serene, shining brightly through the muck. If you’re looking for a low-key way to kick off your Wednesday morning, this should do the trick.