Bands putting down their guitars and picking up synths has become a tired trend in the indie rock world. I totally understand that electronic music has bled into all our lives, and musicians are influenced by what they here and love. Still, its become a common and tedious narrative to so many new albums in the past five years. But Baltimore duo Wye Oak’s synth reinvention is different for a number of reasons. Instead of shedding their rock sensibilities in favor of a shinier and dancier sound, Wye Oak’s latest Shriek shows the band actually amplifying their rockingness through the use of virtuousic bass and jarring synthesizers.
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On 2010’s Teen Dream, Baltimore duo Beach House (guitarist Alex Scally and singer Victoria Legrand) made the sort of unique record that is not only chalk full of simple alluring pop tunes but was also, as a whole, simply timeless – perfect for any time of year, a record to retreat to like few others. So obviously in following up a near-masterpiece, the excitement existed to not only see if the follow-up would reach the heights of Teen Dream, but also what direction it would take the band. Bloom, Beach House’s fourth effort, stays fairly consistent with the duo’s past efforts for really good results, though not quite in the ballpark of Teen Dream.
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Based on what I’ve seen from The Wire (and TV always equals truth), Baltimore isn’t a dream destination. But based on the sounds from two of the city’s most noteworthy bands, Lower Dens and Beach House (who are both releasing albums this month), you would think the city rests on a bed of billowy clouds. While we will tackle the new Beach House album in a couple weeks, let’s get down to brass tax and talk about Nootropics, the second album from female singer/songwriter Jana Hunter’s best project, Lower Dens.
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