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4Play: Turin Brakes, Freelance Whales, Matt Pond Pa, The Bigger Lights

Kristi Kates - May 24th, 2010
Turin Brakes - Outbursts - Cooking Vinyl
Brit new-acoustic popsters TB wrote, performed, and produced their current offering mostly on their own, to supply their fans with their first studio album since 2007. First single “Sea Change” is also the album’s strongest highlight, with its spacious sound arriving in steps from the beat through the vocals and more symphonic elements. “Paper Heart” features more acoustic-meets-soul sounds, as do “Will Power” and the heavier “Radio Silence” - but “Sea Change” will likely be the track you’ll be putting into your favorite mixes.





Freelance Whales - Weathervanes - FK Records
Reminiscent of ‘70s folk (CSN) blended with more modern electro-folk such as Fleet Foxes or Phoenix, Freelance Whales hail from NY’s Staten Island, and somehow manage to make such diverse elements as ‘80s synths, xylophones, and banjos sound cohesive together. Some of the lyrics are far more trite than what one might expect from a group this instrumentally talented, but you can at least pull songs like the harmonic “Broken Horse” and the dense “Location” from the set and appreciate their standalone worth.





Matt Pond PA - The Dark Leaves - Attitude
Recorded in a rustic studio just outside of Bearsville, NY (with the assistance of co-producer Chris Hansen) Matt Pond PA follows up his last collection, aptly titled Last Light, with a more rural series of songs that sees him “escaping” city life. Starting off with, uh, “Starting,” the first track offers up a pensive, guitar-based feel, while songs like “Specks” and “First Song” drift into alt-country territory; other standouts include “Remains,” with its anthemic instrumentals and earnest lyrics, and “Ruins” with its sharp guitars and breakup anecdotes.




The Bigger Lights - The Bigger Lights - Doghouse
Northern Virginia quintet Bigger Lights follow up their six-song debut EP, Fiction Fever, with this set, which was recorded as the band toured constantly over the past year. A pop-punk collection of songs pre-cut for today’s mainstream radio stations, the band plows through catchy tunes “Get Lost,” “Jessie,” and “So Crazy” with the crispness of a band that’s spent a lot of time performing live. The letdown? Those same songs are also fairly bubblegum and throwaway, so hopefully the band will enjoy their 15 minutes while they’ve got it.

 
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