By Jolie Klefeker
Midterms have been hitting me hard this semester. When school has me really stressing, it's always hard to find that perfect balance with music: uplifting, but not so happy it reminds you of how unhappy you are; relaxed, but not too calm as to make you lazy. It's a difficult balance. Luckily for you, I've got an arsenal of albums that manage to walk that line, so here are a few solid records to get you through that mid-semester slump.
Philly indie rockers The Spirit of the Beehive craft the brilliantly unclear — a hazy jumble of psychedelic indie folk that at times punches you in the gut and other times flies over your head. The sound on their latest, "Pleasure Suck," is dreamy and lazy yet incredibly well rounded, bridging the gap between the delightful and the fuzzy. I had the immense pleasure of seeing these kids live the other night, and let me tell ya, it didn't suck at all. Their sound was incredibly cohesive. The songs, much like the album, flowed effortlessly into each other. What stood out to me was how incredibly dynamic their sound is. They've mastered this balance of gentle and hard, somehow perfectly maintaining this homeostasis in which the quiet moments make the loud ones feel blissful and rewarding and vice versa. This is especially apparent to me on the songs "pleasure suck I," "ricky (caught me tryin')" and "big brain." Give this record a chance; it's really great.
Eddy Current Suppression Ring is kind of an oldie at this point, but 2009's "Primary Colors" has kind of been haunting me lately. The Australia based group's sound borrows from classic garage and punk roots but seems to add touch of irreverence and nonchalance that is just harder to come by these days. "Sunday's Coming" and "Memory Lane" stand out as the hits off this record for me. They're exceedingly simple but commit to their minimalism in such a confident way that there's no need to question it. If you like anyone from the Troggs to the Fall to Parquet Courts, there's something for you to appreciate in ECSR's discography.
"Denton After Sunset" is a record I frequently lean on for the late afternoon bus ride home. It offers a certain suburban ennui and melancholy that just seems to fit the bill. While Teenage Cool Kids is mostly known as the pre-Parquet Courts band, I think this record very much holds its own. It's timid, insecure, and vulnerable in a way that Parquet Courts never has been. "Denton After Sunset" offers an authentic and unpretentious window into Andrew Savage's songwriting and delivers garage-tinged indie rock — accented by unexpected yet well-fitting notes of country music — that's hard to dislike. Ranging from meandering lyricisms of "Landlocked State" to the driving guitars on "Kachina Doll," this album brings a lot to the table. If you dig P.S. Eliot, Milk Music or maybe even Built To Spill, check this one out.
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