If there were questions as to the direction Sufjan Stevens would take after the departure from the norm that was Age of Adz, naming his new album after his mother and stepfather (his first album since his mother’s passing, mind you) answered those questions load and clear: Sufjan Stevens is looking back, which means a return to lovely, gentle indie folk. Carrie & Lowell strips away both the electronics of Adz and the lush orchestration of Come on Feel the Illinoise, putting the focus squarely on Sufjan’s lyrics, which come heavily from his life. This album is going inspire a lot of reminiscing, particularly amongst those who have lost parents, and is going to cause a lot of tears. They’ll be happy tears, though, so it’s unlikely people will be complaining.
Somewhere along the way, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s post rock dropped its found sounds and more lighthearted moments, veering strongly to the drone end of the genre’s spectrum. Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress continues the band’s exploration of that side of post rock. The album is throbbing, foreboding, and everything you expect from GY!BE, but there is a surprising amount of light in these drones. This is not an album that pummels you into submission through builds to overwhelming climaxes, rather it invites the listener to immerse themselves in the quieter moments with an almost hopeful feel that leaves the listener feeling legitimately joyful.
Baltimore’s Lower Dens are a band on the rise. In 2012 they released the excellent Nootropics, an album heavily indebted to shoegaze/dream pop sounds that would have fit in well on 4AD. With Escape From Evil, however, they’re introducing a dancey, new wave feel to their music. Drums and bass drive the songs on Escape From Evil and give the album a bounce that just hasn’t existed for the band before. Even with the new direction, however, the band’s music rises and falls with Jana Hunter’s strong alto vocals (reminiscent of Baltimore cohort Victoria Legrand of Beach House), and on this album there is far more rise than fall.
An author and editor at MiG, Craig lives in Minnesota with his wife and son and is an attorney in his real life. Once upon a time Craig played the trumpet and spent four years in the Hawkeye Marching Band and pep band. These days Craig finds himself most often listening to experimental rock, hip hop, and post punk, but you can see everything he's listening to at: www.last.fm/user/cafreema Craig is not ashamed to admit the first concert he ever attended was New Kids on the Block.
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