Mommy yes, the Lil Indie Round-Up returns!!
Album: Firelight by The Coral Sea
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: Well, it's probably supposed to be some intense torch given the periodic table of elements look of the album title and band name, but to me it sorta looks like a sparkler. So, I dunno: brainy indie rock about chemistry equations??
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: Chilly post rock atmospherics (our guitars have a lot of delay and reverb, dude) meet warm, spiky indie rock. With keyboards/piano thrown in for good measure from time to time. This is actually a pretty good album if rather unexceptional. This is a case where the band has their sound down but the songs just aren't there.
Album: Chandeliers by The Boat People
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: Well, the intention is clearly to give you the impression of something soft, natural, and pretty. My guess is it's something minimalist--maybe all instrumental, even.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: What we have here is excellent indie pop from Australia. Between it and New Zealand, they're threatening to take the indie pop crown away from Britain and the U.S. This band may not have the most original sound in the world but they have great songs and the hooks embed themselves in you quite nicely. A heaping helping of Belle & Sebastian and a few spoonfuls of harder edged American indie pop, good sir or madam??
Album: Soho Lights by Tat
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: Well, other than the fact that I can't get the image to display with the proper colors, it makes me expect something obnoxious and profane. Tat is an exceedingly stupid name for a band, and the album title is a cheeky, insidery New York kind of thing that irks me to no end.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: Remember in the mid 90s, when alternative rock was boiled down to a lame halfway point between the pop/punk of Green Day and the ultra generic, watered down grunge rock of bands everyone has forgotten?? This is that, only with a girl singer. And they're from England but you would never know it and they should know better.
Album: Bedroom Superstars by Scarlet Blonde
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: Given the musical equipment on display, it's probably some awful bedroom laptop pop affair.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: If there were ever a Massive Attack, Everything But The Girl, and Bjork cover band, and that band went on to write original songs, it would probably sound like this. A very English-y electro-soul pop album with some experimental electronic edges. The singer has got a really nice voice, certainly, and the music/production backing her is good, but those two things don't add up to much and the whole thing is rather unexceptional. Not bad, not good.
Album: Fools Want Noise by Oh My God
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: "Dude, you remember that movie, 'Monkey Shines'?! Let's write an album and have that on the cover!!"
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: Think of the most uninspired hard rock you can. This album sounds like that. It's all the hardest rocking but at the same time least good Foo Fighters songs in one place, and the most interesting thing about this band is the backstory of how they got in a car accident before it was released. I'm sorry for that, and I know the band put a lot of work into this, but I don't grade on effort or hardship. Shitty music is shitty music no matter what.
Album: The Kindness Kind by The Kindness King
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: I think someone fell asleep in art class and hurriedly made this cover after having a dream about gay sex and cough syrup. This roughly approximates my idea of what the album sounds like: gay sex on cough syrup. Which is to say, awesome.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: This isn't half bad. This band's got one of those powerful, melodic PJ Harvey type of female singers. This is perfectly competent but forgettable indie rock with a handful of electronic touches. A decent album but the band don't do enough to make themselves unique. The best song here--'A New Sense'--basically sounds like a cover of a Spoon song.
Album: Bittersweet Batch by Jesse Dee
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: You probably can't read it, but the little bit in the corner says 'Almost Exclusively In Stereo.' So I expect some kind of retro revivalist throwback like the new wave of garage rock bands in the early years of this decade.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: It's a white boy with a big ol' soulful voice, set to an appropriately soulful/funky backing. I'll cut to the chase and say that for what this album is trying to do, it's actually very good. However, I never go for these kind of genre pastiches because it doesn't give the artist much room to grow. Unless he changes his sound a lot, it's just going to be an entire career of stuff like this, and who really needs three white boy soul albums?? Hell, I don't even need one.
Album: You're Being Watched by Fugitive Kind
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: Ooooh, it's all neon. Kinda like Electric Warrior by T. Rex, yeah?? Something tells me this isn't as good, though. I mean, the only band I can think of who got away with showing their gear on the cover was Battles.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: Like so many bands I end up reviewing in this column, Fugitive Kind exemplify the truism that just having some instruments and a 'sound' is worthless without good songs or inventiveness. This band features neither good songs nor anything inventive. Instead, it's ultra generic alternative rock with an over-reaching, show offy female singer who writes the kind of lyrics you filled notebooks with and then left at home when you got into college. I mean seriously, "I wanna hold my breath/just to see/if it feels like I'm alive"??
Album: Hannah by The Age of Rockets
What Does The Cover Make Me Expect??: I appreciate the old timey look of this. Coupled with the band's name, I'll guess it's some kind of old timey, "singing about the 19th century and early 20th century" band, like the Decemberists only nowhere near as good.
What Does It Actually Sound Like??: The press blurb included with my copy of this album compares them to The Postal Service, but for all intents and purposes they might as well be The Postal Service. The music has that same indie-electro-pop sound and most of the time the singer is so eerily close to Ben Gibbard I wouldn't be surprised to find out they were twins...or clones. I also detect a dash of The Flaming Lips circa The Soft Bulletin but mainly in the (over)use of big choruses of voices. Or it could just be that the whole thing reminds me of The Postal Service's cover of The Flaming Lips song, 'Suddenly Everything Has Changed', a song from The Soft Bulletin. Whoops, looks like The Postal Service has you beat there, too...