Adam Green & Binki Shapiro- Adam Green & Binki Shapiro
This collaborative album from The Moldy Peaches frontman Adam Green and Little Joy singer Binki Shapiro sounds like pure 1970s AM gold. Shapiro’s sweet, summery voice lays perfectly on top of Green’s straightforward, Lou Reed-esque croon. The track “Cassanova” finds Shapiro questioning her involvement with guy who is giving her the runaround while being accompanied by the album’s staple, sauntering bass lines, balmy guitars, and sparkling keyboards. The duo expands on this sound in the track “Just to Make me Feel Good” by sprinkling in bowed guitar and warm horn parts to Green and Shapiro’s charming vocal harmony. The thing that sets apart this album from the work of other guy-girl-duos is the real chemistry between the two voices that guide the listener through the album. They meld in a surprising way to create such a relaxing experience. This is a wonderful, light album that is perfect for the ensuing hot summer months.
Tegan and Sara- Heartthrob
These Canadian sisters have come a long way from their guitar-wielding roots with their 7th full-length release, Heartthrob. Right from the get go, The Quinn twins solidify just how far they’ve come with the dancey opening single “Closer.” This pounding synth-pop track, with its thick production and suggestive lyrics, lets listeners know that the duo are past the days of delivering songs about the stinging mishaps of love and rejection through a lens of self-consciousness. Their newly apparent confidence is as well-represented in the songwriting on this album as it is in the instrumentation. Tegan and Sara have been slowly adding more and more studio elements with each new release, and they hit the apex with Heartthrob. Unfortunately, It results in an album filled with trite synth sounds coupled with effected vocals and percussion on the vast majority of the tracks. This album is flat all of the way around. The songwriting is weak in comparison with past releases and the amount of electronics on this album cause for it to be a heavy listen. The duo may have some very interesting things going on but the mix is so large on every track that any noteworthy effort is buried. The Quinn sisters’ restraint in their use of electronic elements used to be the icing on the cake of Tegan and Sara, but with this record the twins have created an album with all frosting and no substance.
Local Natives- Hummingbird
This LA-based indie rock group made waves with their acclaimed, self-produced debut Gorilla Manor back in 2010. It was a debut record that really emphasized the bands musical proficiency, featuring catchy harmonized hooks, energetic percussion, and playful guitar melodies. Now the band is back for their sophomore effort armed with more experience, funding, and connections. The band acquired The National guitarist and songwriter Aaron Dessner to cover the production on Hummingbird, and Dessner’s refined production stands in stark contrast with the sometimes frenetic tones on the band’s debut. This polished production causes for the bands liveliness to come off as a bit watered down on this record. The tracks on Hummingbird display the same elements of musicianship possessed by the members of Local Natives as their debut did. Sonically, there really is not anything novel or unexpected from the band on this record; however, to listeners who are not familiar with the band’s previous work, this album serves as a great introduction to the sound of this group and other big name indie bands that Local Natives are similar too such as Grizzly Bear, Fleet Foxes, and Broken Social Scene. Though this record holds few surprises, the group churns out a few nice sounds like the dynamic building on the track “Mt. Washington” and the heartfelt, yearning vocals of the cut “Colombia.” The lead single “Breakers” exemplifies the melodic performance that listeners have come to expect from Local Natives. This record is like having coffee with a friend you have not heard from in a while: though not a lot may have changed and there may not be much to say, it’s still nice to see them. It’s good to hear from this talented group again, let’s just hope with their next record they try venturing down some new musical paths.