Words: Amanda Krew
Genre: indie/art pop
Annie Clark, better known as St. Vincent, delivers her fourth full length LP with what may be a creative peak for the singer/song writer/guitarist. Throughout this self-titled record, we are exposed to a variety of textured tracks ranging from guitar-saturated rock to synth-heavy dance tacks all tied together by Clark’s ethereal voice. The tracks on this album are defined not only by its intricate layers and loops, but also by its clever lyrics covering themes such as the impersonal connection of the digital age in the track “Digital Witness” and the death of youth in “Prince Johnny.”
Genre: electronic pop
Santa Barbra natives Gardens & Villa have branched out from the fogginess of their first album in their clean-cut, punchy sophomore LP, Dunes. The minimalist nature of this album creates a “no fuss, no muss” California feel without losing the engaging quality of the record. This album is packed with exciting features such as a flute beat paired with chunky synthesizers found in the track “Domino.” Looped background tracks found in song like “Echosassy” and “Avalanche” are starched to an almost mechanical drone smoothed over by dream-like, floaty vocals of singer Chris Lynch.
Genre: experimental rock
Alt-J’s second full length-record, though more easily digestible than their first, is far from conventional. The album spans the arrival and departure of the Japanese city, Nara, which possible alludes to the adventurous tracks found on this LP. Vocals on tracks “Intro” and “Nara” are used more as instruments than a lyrical device, creating what has been referred to as “indie a cappella”. Breaking out of the “indie bubble,” Alt-J has used a vocal sample from Miley Cyrus’s “4×4” in their track “Hunger of the Pine,” repeating and modulating the line “I’m a female rebel.”
After a nine-year hiatus, Nickel Creek is back with their sixth studio album. Organic vocals and tinny guitar riffs float through this album as it spans the well-rounded track list. Sara Watkins shows her vocal versatility though rich harmonies found in the track “Where is Love Now” and powerful wails found in “Destination.” Past the vocal tracks, this album also features beautiful bluegrass instrumental songs such as fiddle-heavy “Elsie” and the intricate guitar tune “Elephant in the Corn.”
Nickel Creek shows their versatility and musicianship in this album, making them so much more than just a bluegrass band.