As fun as it is to complain about “music these days,” and how it’s all been downhill since The Chronic came out, it’s even MORE fun to listen to — wait for it — good music. Every Tuesday, a.k.a. Music Release Day, we’ll highlight five albums worth (legally) downloading or driving to the local Best Buy (lolz) for.
Today, we've got Passion Pit, the Gaslight Anthem, Parallel Thought, and more.
Handwritten by the Gaslight Anthem
The punk rock Springsteens are back, with a more polished sound (Handwritten is their album for a major label), but still forever rushing towards the sincere, hands-in-the-air chorus. In a year chock full of cathartic rock albums (more on that another day), this is one of the best.
Gossamer by Passion Pit
Late last week, in a wonderful Pitchfork feature (such things occasionally do exist), Passion Pit frontman Michael "Falsetto" Angelakos revealed that he's been struggling with bipolar disorder for years. That explains Gossamer. It's great, but it's also all over the place; while the hypnotic dance music skips with overdubs and perky keyboards (and "Constant Conversations" is an amazing R&B song), the lyrics deal with alcoholism and self-loathing. You're not sure whether to dance or cry, or if it's OK to do both. It is.
Shrines by Purity Ring
Bizarrely sexy. That's how I feel about Shrines, which I think is what the Canadian duo that makes up Purity Ring were going for — one line goes, “Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you." But there's something about Megan James's bright coo of a voice and Corin Roddick's production, which mixes throbbing electropop with sparkling synths, that does something for me. About halfway through, the album suffers from too much of the same, but in four or five song bursts, it's hard to be unaffected by Shrines. (That sentence also works if you replace "Shrines" with "sex," which proves my point?)
The Art of Sound by Parallel Thought
Much of Art of Sound is instrumental, but Parallel's production — which they describe as “rich layers of funk, soul, jazz, blues, and rock sampling that honor the genre-bending experimentation prevalent in ’80s and early-’90s hip-hop” — is so good that you just fall into the album.
Super Crazy by Todd Barry
Hey, the column title just says "albums," not "music albums." Todd Barry is one of my favorite comedians out there today, someone who makes more of an impact with a quiet, deadpan observation than Dane Cook can with an overeager shout. Plus, he's great on Delocated.