A couple new albums and a new discovery…
The Whitest Boy Alive – Rules
After much success with his hometown band Kings of Convenience, Erlend Oye broke away from the simplistic pop for the more dance oriented The Whitest Boy Alive (on the short list for greatest band names of the decade). Flat out, this is fun indie dance hall music. The track “1517” starts out with a familiar keyboard/bass line, one that could be tracked to Daft Punk’s “Better Faster Stronger”. If Daft Punk traded in their turn tables and vocal effects for instruments and a softer melodic tone, you have The Whitest Boy Alive. Every track has a similar tone: an almost jazzy quick note guitar riff matched with a funky disco bass-line; it’s undeniably catchy and fun. They aren’t breaking any new ground, but if this doesn’t get your feet moving and smiling, you need to check your circuitry. The album releases 3/31.
Heartless Bastards – The Mountain
Sounding like a dirty indie country version of Cat Power with a healthy mix of Jenny Lewis and Jeff Buckley (yea, whoa), Heartless Bastards‘ 3rd album has been viewed as somewhat of a departure. The band started as a 3 piece, and has added a memeber for the album, but the only remaining original member is Erika Wennerstrom. She knows how to belt it out with the best of them, showing little restraint on the album opener and title track “The Mountain“. Although, one of the best songs on the album comes when they slow it down and add some banjo and violin, “Had To Go”. They have a real hodge-podge of influences, which is what makes them so interesting and exciting to listen to.
Empire of the Sun – Walking On A Dream
The two Aussie ‘gents that formed Empire of the Sun have made a bigger splash with their new “side project” than either of their individual efforts (The Sleepy Jackson & Pnau, never heard of them? Yeeea, don’t feel bad). Often noted as being a bit pretentious (just look at that album cover, eek!), you can’t deny their ability to craft an uber catchy pop song. The obvious comparison to MGMT is apparent while hearing the first couple bars of the title song “Walking On A Dream“. The album as a whole is not built as strong as that single, it becomes convoluted with a few throw-aways, of which the album could have done without. The keepers would have probably made a solid EP, but it still remains a good debut.