By Caroline Ackerman
“Blue wave” singer-songwriter Mac DeMarco streamed his hazy fourth album, “Another One,” in the middle of summer. Following the critically acclaimed “Salad Days,” DeMarco slows down and makes way for a less adventurous sound in his newest album. While “Salad Days” expresses the heartbreaks of growing up, DeMarco’s newest album reveals the heartbreaks of finding love. “How’s your heart been beating?” DeMarco asks in the first line of the album, a question to reflect on throughout its seven tracks.
DeMarco melancholically sings about the trials and triumphs of normality while successfully creating an overall abnormal sound. Lethargic guitars and characteristically offbeat synth provide background to DeMarco’s thoughtful lyrics. The title track, “Another One,” describes the paranoia that arrives with young love — “Feeling so confused, don’t know what to do, afraid she might not love you anymore.”
“Another One” barely hits LP status, clocking in at a mere 23 minutes, but it leaves a lasting impression and has the listener begging for more of DeMarco’s wisdom. Fortunately for unsatisfied listeners, “My House by the Water” ends the album with an invitation to have coffee at DeMarco’s house in Queens.
“Another One” vividly paints the picture of the lackluster side of love without including the falsely-perpetuated images of fiery passion and constant fervor. Images of holding hands while pushing a rusted grocery cart and walks around a littered pond complement the sentimental attitude of “Another One.” DeMarco’s voice and skillful musicality add to the story of love told throughout the album — gentle and imperfect.
“THE MOST LAMENTABLE TRAGEDY”
By TJ Mertikas
Titus Andronicus is the only indie band for which a 29-song rock opera that clocks in at just over 90 minutes seems like natural progression. “The Most Lamentable Tragedy” is the fourth studio album from New Jersey rockers Titus Andronicus, who earlier in the decade released one of the best indie rock records of the 2000s with “The Monitor,” an album that seamlessly blends themes of a poor post-college experience and the Civil War. Having confusing concepts already under its belt, the band returns with a five-act rock opera about a man suffering from manic depression who comes across his seemingly put-together doppelganger.
Like most rock operas the story is often clunky and muddled, which would be a problem if the songwriting weren’t as stellar as it is here. Even if no attention were paid to the overarching narrative, this record could still be thoroughly enjoyed. Titus Andronicus somehow combines the DIY ethic that has always surrounded the band’s music with arena rock guitar solos and instrumentals that wouldn’t seem out of place on a Bruce Springsteen album. The influences are clear and executed perfectly. Tracks like “Fatal Flaw” and “Fired Up” are the best arena rock songs written in the past decade. “Come On Siobhan” has the catchiest hook of the year and was made to be screamed in DIY venues across the country.
With “The Most Lamentable Tragedy” Titus Andronicus has finally lived up to the lofty expectations that “The Monitor” set and has done so with one of the most original, bold ideas of the year. Play this album as loudly as possible.
By Cameron Beck
“In Colour,” the full-length debut from Jamie xx (born Jamie Smith), is a masterful assortment of Smith’s wide range of material. Smith has received acclaim for his work as producer of indie-electronica powerhouse the xx. He has also been praised for his remixed version of the late Gil Scott-Heron’s “I’m New Here” (appropriately titling the remix “We’re New Here”). Building momentum off singles such as “All Under One Roof Raving” and “Girl/Sleep Sound” (re-recorded versions of both appearing on the album), “In Colour” showcases Smith’s creativity and fluidity through a multitude of dance music styles.
The album’s opener, “Gosh,” hustles a dark, jarring beat later met by a graceful synthesizer bass pad, which ultimately transforms into a ravishing synth solo. “SeeSaw” is a bustling and breezy cut featuring Romy Croft, a vocalist of the xx. The spacious piano chords of “Just Saying” allude to the album’s centerpiece single, “Loud Places.” What makes this particular single stand out, as well as the album as a whole, is the melancholy dance nature of the song. Each track has a gloomy tinge, but the gloom never overrides the groove. Croft takes the wheel again on “Loud Places,” her smooth vocals delivering sorrowful lines such as “I go to loud places to search for someone to be quiet with,” only to be juxtaposed by the sanguine sampling of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This?”
“In Colour” breaks ground on all these genres. Nothing about “In Colour” is rushed, yet many of the songs clash moods within themselves. This creates a melancholy turmoil, one that was entirely intentional. That melancholy turmoil is what sets “In Colour” apart from other electronic albums, making it a clear contender for 2015’s album of the year.
By Caroline Ackerman
After three long years of anticipation, psychedelic rock group Tame Impala released its latest studio album in late July. Tame Impala wanted to step out of the shadow cast by a successful sophomore album, “Lonerism,” which took home the 2014 Grammy for Best Alternative Album. The group definitely thrived with the release of “Currents,” an excellently-executed album different from prior work.
Tame Impala started out as a solo project in 2007 by an Australian named Kevin Parker. Since then, the project has slowly evolved into what Tame Impala is today while maintaining a psychedelic sound that could seamlessly fit into a 1960s dance club. A track from the album titled “Yes I’m Changing” might address the project’s evolution. This is evident with the lyrics “Yes, I’m changing, can’t stop now, and even if I wanted to I wouldn’t know how.”
The album daringly begins with a seven-minute song titled “Let It Happen,” proving that Parker has no qualms with being a little unconventional. The album is almost an hour the whole way through with each song slightly different to maintain the attention of listeners. However, all 13 tracks from “Currents” lean toward the carefree attitude showcased in “Yes I’m Changing.” One of the first singles released from the album, “Cause I’m a Man,” has Parker admitting that he is just a human, his voice gently confessing, “I am aware I am not in control.”
Parker’s perfectionism is audible throughout “Currents,” as each second sounds intentional, yet remains characteristically tranquil and easygoing. Initially, the laid-back album can easily be played as background music. However, all who listen will eventually be pulled in by Tame Impala’s reverberating bass lines, colorful synth and poetic lyrics.