Where did this spryness come from? As it is with all the pioneers of the Dunedin scene, you expect them to mellow out once they reach a certain age. But the Chills return in full form after close to 20 years with a propulsive confidence that gives an eye wink to their reverb-soaked contemporaries. Not that it’s a complete surprise—Martin Phillips has always had it in him to remold the Chills, and after sprinkling a few tracks here and there in the past few years it seems he’s finally concocted a formula that works. It’s a succinct rock song that curiously reminded of a less bombastic British Sea Power, which isn’t a bad thing, really. It’s also idiosyncratic enough to distinguish it as a Chills track, and that’s reason enough to believe that “America Says Hello” is a welcome return to the full-length album format.—JUAN EDGARDO RODRIGUEZ (8/10)
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The band might be led by its namesake, Brooklyn musician Chuck Stern, but anyone familiar with the underground/experimental/heavy music coming from the borough will see Stern as a supergroup. Partnering with Keith Abrams of Kayo Dot, Toby Driver of Kayo Dot and Vaura, and kayo Dot/Candiria collaborator Tim Byrnes, Stern has created a surreal hybrid of gothic rock, DC post-hardcore, progressive rock, and post-metal, with a strong Faith No More influence tossed in, and the end result is the extraordinary new album Bone Turquoise. If you want a good indication of how surreal and enthralling it is, you can’t do much better than “Your Level Best”, a weirdly gloomy track that slogs along like a dirge sung by a lunatic. Trust us on that one.
How the Sweeplings came to be is unusual, but in keeping with contemporary culture. Singer-songwriter Whitney Dean was watching America’s Got Talent at home in Huntsville, Alabama, and was entranced by the vocal talent of finalist and Spokeane, Washington resident Cami Bradley. At his wife’s urging he flew out to meet Bradley in Spokane, the musicians clicked, and the end result is Rise and Fall, a combination of Americana grit and Southern soul, brought forth by Bradley’s dulcet voice.
If 2010’s glitzy All You Need Is Now was a time travellin’ Rio successor, Duran are now seemingly redialing their DeLoreans towards 1986’s Notorious. A ‘Get the funk out’ rumpshaker with Co-Pilot Nile “Goldfinger” Rodgers (back! Back! BACK!) again sprinkling a soupçon of Chic magnifique. Le Bon struts around hollering about “The Future!” with such fizzy abandon you suspect it was recorded the day Duran signed their new swanky ‘Daddy Warbucks - Champagne Breakfast - Enormodomes ‘Ere We Come’ deal with Warner Bros. Sure it’s all a bit daft, slightly “Duran dumbed down” for “The Kidz” but we’re promised forthcoming album Paper Gods will honour their “Dark, weird experimental side” so it’s worth sticking around. Le Bon’s got rid of his dodgy Captain Birdseye beard too which is a bonus.—MATT JAMES (6/10)
Having grown up in a North Dakota town of 50 people, Ana Egge‘s music is seemingly spare at times, which makes you wonder if that geographical vastness has influenced the similar sparseness of her music. If you’ve ever spent time in a tiny town on the Plains, though, you’ll know there’s a lot of heart underneath such seeming harshness and isolation, and you feel it in the title track for Egge’s latest album, a song that’s also very near and dear to her as well.