Albums of the week: 5/6
Best Coast – “California Nights”
Release Date: May 5
Best Coast was one of those bands that fell to the “sophomore slump.” The Los Angeles
indie-rock band’s first album, 2010’s “Crazy For You,” was critically well-received and
deservingly so. It was a pleasant album with countless earworms, boosted by Bethany
Cosentino’s fantastic, reverb-heavy vocals. However, the band’s second album, “The Only
Place,” stuck to the formula of their debut so strictly to the point of becoming bland. The band’s
third album, “California Nights,” is, again, full of reverb-heavy vocals and romantic lyricism.
Nothing new here theme-wise, but “California Nights” is a more refined album than its lackluster
predecessor. It’s larger in scope, more personal and the band’s most consistent effort to date.
Recommended tracks from “California Nights”: “In My Eyes,” “When Will I Change” and
George FitzGerald – “Fading Love”
Release Date: April 28
Disclosure may be the reigning champs of pop-driven house music, but that doesn’t
discredit other artists in the genre. Take for example George FitzGerald’s first full-length album
“Fading Love.” Like Disclosure’s landmark 2013 album “Settle,” George FitzGerald strips house
music down to the basics. “Fading Love” is packed with repetitive house beats and emotionally
powerful guest performances. Unlike Disclosure, George FitzGerald takes his time with each
track, letting each develop into a trippy fusion of electronic experimentation and heartfelt trance
beats. Listen to the song “Full Circle,” a slow burner that slowly builds into one of the most
hypnotic dance tracks of the year by the end. “Fading Love” is a low-key album, but one that
unravels throughout and reveals a darkly beautiful, emotional core.
Recommended tracks from “Fading Love”: “Full Circle,” “Call It Love (If You Want To)” and
METZ – “II”
Release Date: May 5
When the Canadian noise-rock band METZ released their self-titled debut album in 2012,
it caused quite the stir. Influenced by early 90’s grunge bands like Nirvana and Alice in Chains,
METZ took these influences and ramped up the volume. Their loud, hardcore punk-inspired take
on early 90s rock landed them a Polaris Music Prize nomination and numerous accolades from
critics. Their second album, simply titled “II,” is more of what the first album offered:
pummeling drums and ferocious guitars cranked up to volumes basically meant to make your
ears bleed. It’s all good though; METZ have crafted another wildly entertaining and thrilling
album that serves as a perfect companion piece to their highly-regarded debut. Listening to “II”
may harm an ear or two, but you’re not going to want it any other way.
Recommended tracks from “II”: “The Swimmer,” “Spit You Out” and “Landfill”
Mumford & Sons – “Wilder Mind”
Release Date: May 4
I’m one of those people who just never understood the Mumford & Sons hype. The
British rock band’s first two albums, “Sigh No More” and “Babel,” may have given the band
Grammy attention, but the band’s generic brand of folk-rock has never done much for me.
“Wilder Mind” isn’t going to necessarily change the minds of folks who, like myself, aren’t into
Mumford & Sons. That being said, “Wilder Mind” is a better album than the previous two.
Banjos are out, soaring rock ballads are in and most people who have completely written off the
band may find something to like in the new direction the band’s taken.
Kudos to Mumford & Sons for having the balls to ditch the music styles that made them
one of the biggest bands on the planet. Is “Wilder Mind” a great album? Heavens no, but
negative opinions about a new Mumford & Sons album are irrelevant. Fans will love this, haters
may enjoy a nice change in direction and people like myself will brush it off with a shrug. That’s
improvement if you ask me.
Recommended tracks from “Wilder Mind”: “The Wolf,” “Snake Eyes” and “Tompkins Square
My Morning Jacket – “The Waterfall”
Release Date: May 4
Kentucky rock band My Morning Jacket have had somewhat of a weird history as of late
with their albums. When “Z” was released in 2005, it was evident that the band had finally
created a classic. As the years passed, we got “Evil Urges” and “Circuital,” two fine albums that
unfortunately shined a light on the fact that My Morning Jacket had no idea how to follow up a
classic. “The Waterfall” harkens back to the band’s alt-country/rock roots, ditching the
experimentation that damaged the cohesiveness of the band’s last two albums. This is a deeply
American album, but not in the patriotic sense. “The Waterfall” paints a picture of the American
countryside while tackling themes of lost love and life regrets. It’s not a depressing album, but
rather a reflective one. One that meditates on past experiences in an effort to understand the
present moment more. My Morning Jacket’s “The Waterfall” is finally the classic follow-up to
“Z” any fan has been waiting for.
Recommended tracks from “The Waterfall”: “In Its Infancy (The Waterfall),” “Like a River” and
“Only Memories Remain”