The Little Athens Band That Could harken back to their good old days with their newest set, as produced by legend-in-the-making Jacknife Lee. Tracked in New Orleans and at Berlins famed Hansa Studios, the album includes special appearances by Eddie Vedder, Patti Smith, and Hidden Cameras Joel Gibb - but the real elements to note are the songs themselves. Discoverer is classic R.E.M. (their more optimistic side, as well), with big Peter Buck guitars and an undeniable hook; Uberlin and Oh My Heart showcase R.E.M.s ability to craft evocative indie ballads; and album closer Blue lets Stipes speaking voice take center stage.
Beady Eye - Different Gear, Still Speeding - Dangerbird
Liam Gallaghers first project since splitting from his brother Noel and their long-term, highly successful Brit band Oasis, Beady Eyes songs are often along the same track as Oasis, albeit with a little more sass. First single The Roller features that familiar Liam yowl on the lead vocals, with comrades Gem Archer and Andy Bell picking up the rest of the instrumentals; the rest of the songs are plenty catchy and radio-friendly, but not so much as to sell out nor tarnish what Oasis established in the Brit rock genre. Other highlights of this debut set include the quirky Millionaire, the pretty For Anyone, and the singalongable The Beat Goes On.
The Strokes - Angles - RCA/Rough Trade
All eyes are on The Strokes as they release their fourth album, which was reportedly recorded within a swirl of band conflict and a bit of a power play between unofficial bandleader Julian Casablancas and his sidemen - er, bandmates. In spite of all of that, the latest collection of Strokes tunes is as confident and moody as anything thats been released before, from the buoyancy of Machu Picchu to the perfectly balanced guitar/vocal dissonance of Youre So Right, the near folk-pop of Undercover of Darkness, and the whistling Cars-era synths of Games. Its a solid polish on the bands signature sound, all arguments aside for the music.
Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys! - Downtown
Manchester indie-rockers Elbow have long sat in queue behind their other Brit-rock peers, although many of their songs are easily comparable. This album may finally set them apart stateside, with concrete-solid hooks and the sweeping instrumentals that reside behind Guy Garveys Peter-Gabriel-esque vocal lines. Arena-ready first single Neat Little Rows is joined by the life-affirming Open Arms, with its equally huge choruses, and Dear Friends, a paean to the pals of the songs title, complete with lyrics just this side of overly-sentimental and horn lines fit for theatre productions. Its all well-written and performed with sonic self-assurance.