Chock-full of emotional filling and dusted with instrumental sugar, Badly Drawn Boys latest - like so many of his best albums - is another musical treat thats light enough to not be overwhelming, but still a rewarding and smart listen. His personal lyrics tell the stories, while the melodies remain as catchy as always, right from the temperate opener (In Safe Hands) to the reflective What Tomorrow Brings, the simple but effortlessly pretty balladry of Saw You Walk Away and The Electric, and onward to the slightly more musically-adventurous A Pure Accident and This Beautiful Idea. Its fairly apparent that most of the album is inspired by relationships - but hopefully something else hes thinking about is how to make more great music like this.
The Apples in Stereo - Travellers in Space and Time - Yep Roc
Serving as the successor to their much-lauded New Magnetic Wonder album, The Apples in Stereo push forward with more of their uber-catchy refrains and witty wordplay. A slightly more danceable feel is woven through this set, with disco beats enhancing tracks like Hey Elevator and the appropriately-dubbed Dance Floor, while songs like Dignified Dignitary and No Vacation keep those foot-friendly rhythms while blending back in the Apples appealing quirkiness, from their inclusion of vocoders and off-kilter harmonies to their slightly goofy way of writing lyrics that tell universal tales in a humorous way, albeit one thats blended with alien synths and heavy rock guitars.
Eels - Tomorrow Morning - E Works
With more electronica and definitively anchoring bass lines than prior efforts, Eels frontman E (aka Mark Everett) throws out the songs on his latest effort like confetti, completing whats being considered a concept trio of albums that began in 2009. With carefully-structured arrangements showcasing Everetts personal, often humorous lyric stylings, this is a more hopeful album than the two prior, beginning with the instrumental opener In Gratitude of This Magnificence setting the tone. What I Have to Offer is a simple mans love song, quickly followed by a 180, mood-wise, with This is Where It Gets Good, with its funky beat and synth work; and Mystery of Life is a standout with its obvious Beach Boys-influenced harmonies.
Autumn Defense - Once Around - Yep Roc
You might be familiar with at least two of the members of this band, namely Pat Sansone and John Stirratt, who are also bandmates in another little indie band called... Wilco. The Autumn Defense has actually been a side project of the friends for about the past 10 years, and offers both some similarities to Wilcos sound and some fresh infusions that are all Autumn Defenses own. The production is sharp, the arrangements bedecked with strings and plenty of backing vocals, and the songs themselves, while not as immediately catchy as Wilcos tunes, do grow on you, especially tracks like Tell Me What You Want, Dont Know, The Rift, and There Will Always Be a Way.