September 19, 2020


Said the Whale – Cascadia – Arts and Crafts
By Kristi Kates | March 2, 2019

The Vancouver, Canada, indie band returns for its sixth effort on the ambitious Cascadia, a well-mapped audio journey that steers carefully between sanguine California pop-rock and folk-pop (“Old Soul, Young Heart,” “UnAmerican”) with hints of darker, more melodramatic themes that almost veer into ambient music at times (“Love Don’t Ask,” “Gambier Island Green”). The more ’80s sounds (and synths) of the band’s earlier days are not in evidence, but this new tone is a good exchange; it suits Said the Whale well. ***
Hauschka – A Different Forest – Sony
You might know Hauschka — aka Volker Bertelmann — from his avant-garde post-rock experiments or his ventures into electronic music (complete with impromptu instruments). So an album featuring his simple, unadorned piano playing isn’t expected, but it is worthwhile. Inspired by his early training as a classical pianist, A Different Forest showcases 13 short pieces for modern piano, seasoned with Bertelmann’s artsy sonic sensibilities. Favorites: the beautiful tracks “Dew and Spiderwebs” and “Woodworkers,” both of which evoke personality and verve. *** ½

Razorlight – Up All Night – Motown Records
The album that shifted Razorlight into the public English-rock consciousness is back, digitally given some extra oomph and, for those of you interested in collectibles, pressed onto 180-gram vinyl. Hit singles “America,” with its careening refrain, and “In the Morning” sound more front-of-the-house than ever, blazing with balanced treble and bass that put extra emphasis on Johnny Borrell’s lead vocals, and also grant B-tracks like the ’70s NYC- inspired “To the Sea” and “In the City” some well-deserved attention. ***

The Good, The Bad, and The Queen – Merrie Land – Studio 13
It’s been 11 years since The Good, The Bad, and The Queen’s last album, and there might not have been another — had it not been for the Brexit referendum, which reportedly stirred Damon Albarn (Blur) and crew together to revive their side-project band. A kind of concept album about Britishness, the set melds the past and the future as a relationship (with either person or country) and brings in a host of fellow Brit-pop-sound influences, from the Clash-like “Truce of Twilight” to the Mumford-esque title track. *** ½


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