Album Reviews

Active Child, “Mercy” review

Like a lover, the right producer can make all the difference in an artist’s life. Selfish, curious, altruistic, psychotic—it's the one decision that can affect the album's finished product most drastically.

Hudson Mohawke, “Lantern” review

Hudson Mohawke, somewhat fresh off name-elevating work with TNGHT and on “Yeezus,” seems to have gone into making his second record thinking “catch me if you can.” If the Scottish producer wanted to set a new standard for himself on “Lantern,” he succeeded, shifting away from his recent work and moving around so much that no one could hope to pin him down.

Review: Little Red Lung, “Beware”

Art rock is an inherently clumsy term. Like “world music,” it’s useful for critics insofar as it gets a quick point across. But in both cases the description is reductive, borderline ignorantly, (world music: “this music isn’t popular Western fare”; art rock: “this music sounds ‘art-y’”) to the point that the genres are used by everyone but the band in question.

Major Lazer, “Peace is the Mission” review

Major Lazer is here for a good time -- not a long time -- with its latest release “Peace is the Mission.” The Diplo-led electronic crew completely mash up each sizzling bass line, knock each feature out of the park and raise the bar a few notches on the nine-song project.

Jamie xx, “In Colour” review

Read any interviews with Jamie xx, the producer behind the darkly rhythmic rock band the xx, and you’ll notice a theme. Real name Jamie Smith, he's bashful, often portrayed avoiding eye contact while regaling a journalist about, say, that time he was too shy to talk to Rihanna backstage.

Algiers, “Algiers” review

Algiers -- singer-guitarist Franklin James Fisher, guitarist Lee Tesche and bassist Ryan Mahan -- is not coming into the world quietly. The southern-born trio’s self-titled debut is meant to blow down doors.

Tanlines, “Highlights” review

Insofar as indie connotes singing from dudes who would never normally get paid to sing, Tanlines is quintessential indie electro-pop. Based in Brooklyn, today’s de facto capital for DIY dance clubs, Eric Emm and Jesse Cohen formed the band after splitting from groups that relegated their musical prowess to bass and keyboards, respectively.

Surfer Blood, “1000 Palms” review

“1000 Palms” opens with pitch-bent drones, an explosion of thumping toms, squiggly guitars and a lot of promise. Surfer Blood’s third full-length record never quite matches that intensity again, not to mention the energy of “Astro Coast,” the Florida band’s debut.

Mumford & Sons, “Wilder Mind” review

The saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” comes to mind while listening to Mumford & Sons' “Wilder Mind.” The band traded rollicking folk for glossy rock and it had about as much the same effect as changing out of suspenders and into leather jackets.

Blur, “The Magic Whip” review

Blur used to be one of us. Like their chief rivals in Oasis, their Brit-Pop struck a chord with the budding 20-somethings of the '90s who were too disillusioned for Sugar Ray but not yet despondent enough for grunge.

James Pants, “Savage” review: A foray into vaporwave

Left-field funk producer James Pants came up in his native label Stones Throw on floor-forward tracks cut with a healthy dose of self-awareness. His loose collar electro-funk debut “Welcome” sounds like an (even more) irreverent LCD Soundsystem, a sly genre roast that sidles just a couple of strides closer to parody than tribute.

Waxahatchee, “Ivy Tripp” review: “Directionlessness” on a natural path

“Ivy Tripp,” the title of Katie Crutchfield’s third album as Waxahatchee, is a term she invented for “directionlessness, specifically of the twenty-something, thirty-something, forty-something of today, lacking regard for the complaisant life path of our parents or grandparents.” The record certainly captures that, and it’s unsurprising if you’ve heard Waxahatchee before.