Steve Horowitz: Very nicely done! The Strokes take a low key approach to the music, and it pays off handsomely. The guitars shine through the haze, the drummer keeps the beat lively and the vocals are unpretentiously delivered with a smile. The band’s musical chops turn what could be an ordinary song into something special. The video has some fun moments as it plays with the conventions of heist films and greedy Wall Street pigs, but the “Threat of Joy” offers its own rewards. [9/10]
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Wrinkles make rootsy psychedelic rock with a revivalist kick, the kind of exquisitely-produced jams that have been bursting forth ever since Tame Impala broke through to mainstream consciousness. Separation Anxiety is an impressive collection of synthy goodness from the young band, synth twists and echoing guitar played straight for immediate effect. It lifts satisfying elements from the major trends in indie of late — Young the Giant’s pop savvy, Future Islands’ propensity for the anthemic, LCD Soundsystem’s spare misanthropy — and the result is an album well-studied and well-executed. It refines the wheel instead of reinventing it — and given the result, refining is plenty good.
The Chairman Dances’ “Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin” is — as only a song with that kind of title can be — a quietly fervent chronicle of the lives of the titular Catholic activists. It’s the kind of spirited indie rock lazy music writers describe without fail as “jangly”, shimmering verses dropping into a dusty, stomping chorus reminiscent of the wandering rock of Springsteen and Darnielle. Lyrically, it continues in the tradition of the aforementioned artists as well — it’s less a treatise than a scene, reflective and illustrative above all. It’s the kind of eternal indie rock which will survive as long as the guitar stays in style — and, given how well the song fits into this canon and how good the canon as a whole is, this is a fine thing.
National Park Radio’s straightforward rural folk and bluegrass is a pleasantly rustic sound, the audio equivalent of gigantic cedars and down-home cookouts. The Great Divide is comfortable, upbeat acoustic guitar strumming along to foot stomps and mandolin. It’s dance music in its most traditionally American sense: this is the stuff you waltz to around a campfire with your sweetheart. It’s joy filtered through the lens of Americana, and that simplicity in approach should be celebrated.