This year anxiety casts its ragged pallor over April with menacing musical titles ranging from vehement sentiments present in Boston’s swinging indie-rockers ALOUD’s demanding, grand-standing, “It’s Got To Be Now,” to the psycho-placid tactics surrounding majestic projectors OVERLAKE’s gritty, kaleidoscopic concoctions, “Sigh.” Add panoramic folk-rock fantasists HORSE THIEF’s Oklahoma-honed, “Fear in Bliss,” and slithering digital mistress and monster-pop princess EMA’s discontented connections, “The Future’s Void,” and spring brings unintended apprehension.
Wye Oak - Shriek
Album title: Shriek
Record Label: Merge Records
Topped in posh synth-pop palpitations, cozy knowing vocals and caramel carousel keyboards, “Shriek,” peaks, tweaks and soars; carried by daydream queens hungry for shadows strapped to race-track steeds with deep-shag saddles. Equal parts alluring coercion and dangerous equation, the willfully wiry Wye Oak evokes entrancing dance-floor enchantments within gurgling cyber-circus vertigo. The Baltimore duo headlines Milwaukee’s Turner Hall May 14th.
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Jon Langford & Skull Orchard - Here Be Monsters
Album title: Here Be Monsters
Record Label: In De Goot Recordings
Populated by unsuspecting cogs, merciful mercenaries and friendly renegades, Langford and his crackerjack back-up lob strong, accomplished songs entrenched in soulful fox-hole rock ‘n roll. Vigorous convictions and compact compassion weave scrappy recaps beside pithy vigilance as the reliantly defiant, “Monsters,” fosters brisk gypsy waltzes dipped in country-folk brogues and delightfully feisty ballads loaded with shimmering incriminations and introspective interventions.
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Eels - The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
Album title: The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett
Record Label: E Works/PIAS
Whether waxing nostalgic in woeful condolences or blissfully lifted in wistful symphonies, “Tales,” sails through divested upsets, touchy subjects and repressed regrets guided by benevolent acceptance, sublime kindness and razor-sharp pop instincts. A bedraggled master of tender depression, Eel’s front-man E pens his fondly despondent correspondence with sage rainy-day cadences. The witty, prickly Eels slide into Madison’s Barrymore June 4th.
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School of Language - Old Fears
Album title: Old Fears
Record Label: Memphis Industries
Double-parked hearts ambushed by nimble rhythm-driven brittleness tie-dyed alongside creepy bass, startled guitars and snake-charmer falsetto, School of Language’s post-graduate arrangements construct a cagey British art-rock disco; tripping slinky form-fitting syncopation into irrepressibly edgy segues for a funky roller-coaster hosting elliptical blue-eyed soul. Nervous curves fashioned from zigzagged tag-teams, “Fears,” steers past slippery hipsters into intricate collisions and fractured passions.
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Split Single - Fragmented World
Album title: Fragmented World
Record Label: (self-release)
Nourishing portions served with verve and packed in panache, “Fragmented,” welds the best bits from power-pop and modern-rock for a hook-filled road-trip whose scenic themes wind and climb in streamlined designs. Led by Jason Narducy with sidemen Britt Daniel and Jon Wurster contributing bass and drums, Split Single’s groove-infused gurus cruise through galvanized truths delivering casual valor behind unerring daring.
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Manchester Orchestra - COPE
Album title: COPE
Record Label: Loma Vista
A blistering avalanche balancing guitar-drenched petulance, Manchester Orchestra’s supple bundles of fleet-footed rumble plows past fluid sleuths groomed and consumed by viper-like appetites. Panther anthems pounce on spirited pirouettes from dynamic romancers as, “Cope,” floats over shell-shocked flocks and stormy non-conformists, building shrines to power-chord grinds, gut-wrenching gravitas and buffed muscle. The swift, resilient rockers crash Madison’s Majestic May 12th.
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Cures for anxiety also blossom this spring beginning with irreverent fringe-rockers JAPANTHER’s loopy art-goulash, “Instant Money Magic,” followed by estranged raw-pop rearrangers MARGOT AND THE NUCLEAR SO AND SO’s pointed, poignant sorcery, “Slingshot to Heaven,” and ending with sneering, searing HOWLER’s demented, punk-buzzed, “World of Joy.” More practical but no less effective suggestions arrive in deep-fried jazz-rascal JOHN SIEGER’s savvy, “A Walk In The Park,” with marvelous guitarist Greg Koch, playful piano poppet LIZ GREEN’s literate mischief, “Haul Away,“and chamber-folk innovators NEXT STOP: HORIZON’s ghost-infested testament, “The Harbour, My Home.”