May 20, 2019

DG - Elbow - Ben Howard - Capital Cities

By Kristi Kates | Nov. 10, 2018

Bad Moves–Tell No One – DG
Washington, D.C. outfit Bad Moves puts plenty of secrets into this power-pop outing – their debut full-length – and one that well shows off the interplay between the bandmates. By turns just punky enough to stay in the cool underground, yet radio-friendly enough that one of these tracks could just catch on, the setlist cranks through energetic singles like opener “Change Your Mind” with its vigorously chanting vocal refrain, and the ‘80s TV sitcom theme song feeling of “Cool Generator.” ***
Elbow –The Best Of – Polydor
“Best of” is something of a misnomer for this Brit-rock band, who have likely not even really hit their best yet – and certainly not in the U.S., where they’ve not had any real hits. It’s a darned shame that they still haven’t broken stateside, and you’ll hear why if you give this set a listen. “Grounds for Divorce” pummels with direct sketches of life at the pub; tracks like “Magnificent (She Says)” and even the solitary cover (The Beatles’ “Golden Slumbers”) all quiver with Guy Garvey’s emotional vocals and the band’s sharp energy. *** ½

Ben Howard–I Forget Where We Were– Republic
Recorded in Devon, England with producer-slash-drummer Chris Bond leading the way, this is essentially sophomore proving ground for Howard after his successful debut set, Every Kingdom; that pressure is probably why it took him so long (three years) to follow up. This renewed version of the set is a great look back at the skills that have propelled Howard’s growth: his ability to blend storytelling with tunecraft on such tracks as “Small Things” and the affecting title track. ***

Capital Cities– Solarize– Capitol Records
If you’re looking for great, speedy hooks, Capital Cities is a top place to go, and for good reason – bandmates Sebu Simonian and Ryan Merchant actually started their collaboration writing commercial jingles together, so they know how to turn around a melody in record time. Centering this set around an outer space theme, they utilize quirky spoken word samples (“Gatekeeper Julie”), guest performers (Rick Ross on “Girl Friday”) and appropriately spacey instrumentation (“Space;” “Venus and River.”) ***


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