Competition’s healthy, right? Ask alt-pop enchantress WHITNEY BALLEN’s tar-baby arias, “You’re a Shooting Star, I’m a Sinking Ship,” slinky indie-rocker CULLEN OMORI’s open-hearted, laser-paisley banquet, “The Diet,” or emo-punks DOWN BY LAW’s pistol-whipped fine-print, “All In.” From lurking modern-pop flirt STEADY HOLIDAY’s, even-keeled appeals, “Nobody’s Watching.” to barrio-rock knockabouts DETROIT REBELLION’s midnight insights, “See You Next Year” keep your eye on the prize and watch out for the other guy.
Mass Gothic - I’ve Tortured You Long Enough
Album title: I’ve Tortured You Long Enough
Record Label: Sub Pop
Hampered romantic seekers trusting thundering bluster and roaring scorn, Mass Gothic’s thick, glossy synth-punk assaults unearth super-sized pop surges through robust eruptions, sand-blasted passion and antsy panics tumbling and pummeling in interpersonal wide-screen purges. Apocalyptic space-rock staving runaway New Wave, “Torture,” scores stormy stomps with bottom-heavy romps holding strained refrains against roaring chords for desperate stretches cresting against steady head-rushes.
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El Ten Eleven - Banker’s Hill
Album title: Banker’s Hill
Record Label: Topshelf Records
Inquisitive wizards riding flashy magic-carpets, El Ten Eleven’s heavenly beatbox take-offs and ambient lambswool landings curve, swerve and converge, etching aeronautical clockwork onto flexible guitar-powered instrumentals. Parallel carousel satellites coordinating stinging pin-hole solos around hypnotic electronics, “Hill,” shifts gears with triumphant rock-driven synergy and passive jazz-massaged majesty, sculpting regal, teetering attempts to overthrow rhythmic pedal-board overlords through slippery algorithmic manipulations.
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The Beths - The Future Me Hates Me
Album title: The Future Me Hates Me
Record Label: Carpark Records
Take-charge harmonies wrapped in sunny spunk unravel contentious sentiments with happy gallops and unflinching sprints providing the energetic, “Future,” with smart cathartic larks celebrating impractical attractions and infectious affections. Wry, wise-guy rockers with brisk, feminist twists ringing in pithy what-ifs and provoked who-knows, The Beths’ unleashed glee and bad-apple cheek release swift blissful blizzards conquering well-timed irony with jaunty honesty.
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Bad Bad Hats - Lightning Round
Album title: Lightning Round
Record Label: Afternoon Records
Buoyant, nuanced pop-rock hop-scotch intoxicates in swinging riffs and sugar-coated wit capturing Bad Bad Hats’ tender demonstrations with lively head-bobbing promises hiding inside timid hip-swiveling invitations. Luscious percussive production infiltrates air-tight tunes with compact flash and casual sass as, “Lightning,” strikes a friendly blend of truth and groove for a cozy emotional bouillabaisse embracing brains and bop, mystery and intimacy.
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Tomberlin - At Weddings
Album title: At Weddings
Record Label: Saddle Creek
Perched between sweet stringed acoustics, spacious braided arrangements and poignant reflective melodies, “Weddings,” witnesses reserved turbulence tunneling deep into melancholy odysseys with calm, bare-boned folk blossoming into cosmic thoughts. A celestial muse whose literate pictures connect ephemeral memories to sensitive intellects, Tomberlin spins haunting plots within hushed buzz perusing half-lost options poised on an effortless precipice dressed in teardrop-embossed gossamer.
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White Denim - Performance
Album title: Performance
Record Label: City Slang
Elastic glam-rock boogie percolates in prog-pop pyrotechnics dancing alongside White Denim’s fly jive zapped in sunshine street soul; funked-up dawn patrols cultivating evasive tastes for radio-friendly minder-benders, flammable jams and rush-hour hustles. Six-string hairpin flings propel, “Performance,” from greasy psychedelic teases soliciting slick lizard-king kicks to wicked interstate check-mates whose traveling strategy covers coast-to-coast mojo, top-down getaways and fuel-injected cool.
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While August glows in ambidextrous get-downers RUBBLEBUCKET’s sizzling beach-house, “Sun Machine,” it also bakes with narco-pop poltergeists STILL CORNERS’ languid, lubricated, “Slow AIr,” and for every immaculate, imaginative, “Songs You Make At Night.” from subtle surrealists TUNNGS, there is Pacific-pop songwriters LIAM AND NEIL FINN’s curiously murmuring ocean-side lullabies, “Lightsleeper.” Whether seeking shade in choir-inspired jangle-rockers SHY BOYS’ soft, sheltering, “Bell House,” a regenerative siesta through Majical Cloudz angel DEVON WELSH’s humane, poetic, “Dream Songs,” or ultimate escape with mind’s-eye co-pilot STEVE HAUSCHILDT’s molecular-textured synthesized epics, “Dissolvi,” summer music cooks.