Stephen Wyatt: Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon’s favorite band, Poliça, returns with a delectable synthpop lament ironically titled “Wedding”. Gayngs’ Ryan Olson and vocalist Channy Leaneagh continue to champion the finest aspects of electronic minimalism, focusing on lining each song with subtle innuendos and bass-driven grooves. Leaneagh’s voice, reminiscent of Blonde Redhead’s Kazu Makino’s come-hither delivery, adds mystery and intrigue to love’s cumbersome deceptions. “Wedding” is far from a joyous celebration of the matrimonial sacrament. It coyly teases fans of Poliça’s with slithery hooks and restrained rhythms, promising of even better songs to come. [7/10]
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Canadian indie rockers Paper Lions have been on a hot streak of late. Last year the band’s 2007 video for “Travelling” suddenly went massively viral and it has opened all kinds of doors for Paper Lions. They now stand poised for a huge mainstream breakthrough and they are most definitely ready as their new set of songs from Full Colour, releasing this April, is jam packed with arena-sized pop nuggets that could easily see some major chart success. Perfectly fittingly, Paper Lions titles their new single “Believer” and fills the tune with soaring harmonies declaring that they “want to believe”. So do we because we still need our pop heroes.
Stephen Wyatt: Nearly seven years after Mercury Rev’s last gift to the world, Snowflake Midnight, rumors abounded that the much beloved band was no more. To the delight of many fans, the rumors were unsubstantiated. The fact that their music would be a slight return to the heralded Deserter’s Songs-era—the band’s crowning musical achievement—generated further enthusiasm from a fanbase eager to welcome them back. True to form, Mercury Rev released “Coming Up for Air”, a song that delights in the language of Brian Wilson while penning a cavity-sweet chorus that swirls around the band’s familiar baroque orchestration. Jonathan Donahue’s boyish vocals and gentle performance emboldens the song’s charming ode to difficult break-ups. [9/10]
Steve Horowitz: Hayes Carll does his imitation of Townes Van Zandt, but Carll misses the desperation that gave Van Zandt’s songs their edge. This track offers melancholy instead of pain under the pretense of deep feeling. Carll complains about not going crazy, but he should go crazy. You can’t light a fire, as the Boss says, without a spark. Otherwise, you are just whining. [6/10]
Barcelona’s Obsidian Kingdom will release a new full-length album, A Year With No Summer, in March and has just issued the video “Black Swan” as a taste. And what a delicious bite it is. The group’s sound has never been easy to classify and this track is certainly no exception to that rule. Driven by a gently throbbing electronic pulse and atmospheric keyboards, the track is carried by an emotive vocal performance that places the track somewhere between Porcupine Tree and Radiohead with dashes of more traditional progressive rock swirling in the mix as well.