July 14, 2020

The Milk Carton Kids – The Only Ones – MCK Records

By Kristi Kates | Jan. 11, 2020

Mixing up folk/bluegrass/Americana with a hint of pop, The Milk Carton Kids have snagged Grammy nominations and plenty of critical acclaim for their twisty-turny musicianship and powerful harmonies. While they dallied with a full band setup last album, here they return to their duo format, which always serves them well — especially on pretty tracks that vacillate between melancholy and, well, more melancholy. The standouts of same include the vintage-sounding “I Meant Every Word I Said” and the faintly Western “I’ll Be Gone.” ** ½

Gas – Pop – Kompakt
Wolfgang Voigt — aka Mike Ink, aka Gas — is back for a third album, and he’s stepped out of the darker tone of his past works to embrace a lighter, more sanguine sound. Delicate pieces of musical flotsam are sprinkled over each track in a different way, adding just enough audio seasoning to keep things unexpected and slightly off-kilter. The first three untitled tracks sweep by with oxymoronically similar variations, but as the album progresses, some of Gas’ heavier sounds creep in to add a nice texture. ** ½

Sufjan Stevens - The Decalogue – AK
Petoskey native-turned-Brooklynite Stevens is back, but not with what you might expect (i.e., another quirky album of indie underground hits-in-waiting). Instead, he offers up yet another score he composed in collaboration with dancer/choreographer Justin Peck for the New York City Ballet. The work, as written by Stevens and performed by Timo Andres on solo piano, is quiet yet reminiscent of a blended, pop-i-fied version of Bach and Chopin’s sounds, with romanticism at its core. A pretty effort. ** ½

Walk Off the Earth – Here We Go! – WOTEE
Blending pop with folk, a few dashes of EDM, and a heavy dose of world music, Walk Off the Earth’s latest is a true melting pot of instrumentation, cramming in everything from kazoos to didgeridoos. That’s probably a good thing; the lyrics here aren’t anything groundbreaking, so all the complex instrumentations helps to cover up the fact that they’re relying heavily on cliche. Case in point: “Addicted to You,” “I Do It All For You,” and “Lost In You.” Yes, all on the same album. Unless you truly enjoy repetition, this one will wear thin quickly. * ½


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