What I’m listening to:
There’s no genre that can really define Baltimore born-and-bred duo Beach House. Part alt-rock, part soft indie, part electronic, they defy most musical stereotypes to create some seriously impressive music. Their most recent work is the 2012 album Bloom, anyone not afraid to try something new will definitely enjoy what they find.
Suggestions: Lazuli, On the Sea, Myth, Real Love
Chance the Rapper
Chicago-born up-and-comer Chancelor Bennett, better known as Chance the Rapper, is undoubtedly bound for fame in the next few years. Combining playful lyrics with some serious social commentary, Chance’s music covers a wide range of emotions, from top-down car music to some hard-hitting emotional lyrics about his rough upbringing in Chicago’s streets.
Suggestions: Paranoia, So Good, Everybody’s Something, Favorite Song
This Welsh alt-rock band contains some of the most enthusiastic performers out there. The seven-man team combines dual vocalists and an oft-used chorus of shouts to create a sound that is both open air concert and private studio session. If nothing else, they’re bound to put you in a good mood.
Suggestions: You!Me!Dancing!, Death to Los Campesinos, Songs About Your Girlfriend, Drop It Doe Eyes
Neon Indian is electric in every sense of the word. Their sound isn’t for everyone, but they’ve struck a delicate balance by creating some of the catchiest, yet at the same time ground-breaking music. They’re one of the best artists in their genre, and even those who don’t normally listen to a lot of electronic (like myself) will be able to find a track they can enjoy on the 2009 album Physic Chasms, and I continually find myself coming back to them.
Suggestions: Polish Girl, Deadbeat Summer, Terminally Chill
Although it might seem strange to self-title your third album, especially when you’re as successful and world-renowned as psychedelic rock band MGMT is, the name seems apt, because this album is nothing like the debut album, Oracular Spectacular, which garnered them so much fame. The American duo proves they’re not afraid to experiment with the tracks “Alien Days” and “Cool Song No. 2”. Despite this, they still manage to retain somewhat of their original sound in songs such as “I Love You Too, Death” which, although it’s no “Kids”, is still a good dose of the old MGMT. However, despite yet again building their reputation for mind-bending music, I didn’t really understand how I felt about it. Although I tried to give the album a fair listen, knowing it wasn’t going to be like the MGMT I know, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed with their latest release. It didn’t strike me as anything noteworthy, and while I may have enjoyed hearing new music from MGMT, it was just that; new music from MGMT, nothing special, nothing really standout. And frankly, if this had been a lesser-known, not as lauded group, I doubt it would have even got much recognition.
Arctic Monkeys: AM
Despite a rocky start while recording due to drummer Matt Helders drunken fistfight with a wall, the Arctic Monkeys’ fifth album is definitely their best so far, and one to be remembered in the rock genre. Moody during “I Wanna Be Yours” as well as hard-hitting in “R U Mine”, the album shows a more varied, mature step for the British rock band. However, the best song off the album is the melodic “No. 1 Party Anthem”, a starkly honest and slightly humorous anecdote about a girl the author meets at a bar. In addition, the band has received some hefty critical acclaim, specifically the 2013 Barclaycard Mercury Prize, and they look like serious contenders. Prizes aside, however, AM is nothing if not simply fantastic rock music.
Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe
(Yes, Chvrches is spelled correctly) Seeing as it’s their debut album, this review warrants a little introduction. According to Pitchfork’s Larry Fitzmaurice Chvrches are “what a generation raised on electronic music is looking for in a rock band.” And although that’s true to a degree, this Scottish trio can’t just be shoved into that one quote, albeit the fact that their music does contain numerous elements of the electronic genre. But if you push past the synth and hi-hats, you find the secret weapon for Chvrches success: their clever blending of vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s fantastic voice with Iain Cook’s and Martin Doherty’s guitars, synthesizer, and samples. Mayberry’s lyrics adds a level of emotion you’d be hard-pressed to find in other electronic bands, and it’s the band’s perfect balance between vocals and effects in songs such as “We Sink” and “The Mother We Share” (arguably the best song on the album) that has made this debut album so long-awaited. Unlike most electronic artists, who take a talented female vocalist (see Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey, Florence Welch, etc.) with a perfectly fine track and drown out their voice with pumping bass lines, Chvrches use Mayberry as not a feature, but a true lead singer, especially in the track “Lungs”. And seeing as this only the first album from them, you can expect much more of this beautiful example of electronic gone right in the years to come.