Shred the Master Design is the brand-new release from Playing to Vapors. The Columbus, Ohio’s unique brand of shoegaze-cum-prog rock is on full display across this new effort. “The Perfect Weapon in Human Form” takes a page from the rock and world influences heard in peak era Talking Heads with particularly deft work from guitarists Mike Stokes and Daron Mackenzie while the brawny rhythm section of Zackary Cramp (bass) and Josiah DePaso (drums) gives us a glimpse of its powerful breadth.
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Drawing from an abundance of diverse influences—including the Decemberists, Chvrches, Death Cab for Cutie, Saves the Day, Nirvana, Eisley, and Deftones—experimental indie rock trio Sonnder (vocalist Ryan Wiedman, keyboardist Kat Stein, and drummer Mike Liszka) is easily one of the most popular and idiosyncratic bands in Philadelphia. It’s not difficult to hear why, either, as their blend of dreamy instrumentation, honest lyricism, and pleasant vocals yield a sound comparable another local darling, Circa Survive (albeit with less punk frenzy and more 1960s pop lavishness). Their newest video, “Along the Way (I’ve Been Alive)”, captures that vibe perfectly, offering a sweetly humble visual to complement its titular sentiment.
Adriane Pontecorvo: Desiigner takes an uncharacteristically straightforward approach to Mura Masa’s beats on “All Around the World”, a simple track with a lot of good heart. His vocals refreshing and sometimes even sweet, Desiigner sounds happy to be here, and it’s infectious. It’s a song that embraces the good parts of life, a much-needed break from the national and global stress that heals the soul. [8/10]
Paul Carr: Arcade Fire seemed to have satisfied their experimental urges and returned with something more pleasingly uncomplicated and more akin to the band that made one of the finest albums of the decade in The Suburbs. However, this is less concerned about understanding the mundanities of life, more celebrating existence in general. Built on a circular, bright piano refrain, the band slowly builds the song with gentle acoustic guitar and the confident strut of bass. Only when the foundations of the song have been established, do they add in the gospel vocals, panpipes, and string slashes. It sounds like a band unshackled and in love with the simple act of playing music. [9/10]