February is officially on the ropes, ready to give up the fight. Although it’s always sad to see the months fade away, I’m not particularly fond of February: It’s cold, it snows, and there really isn’t much in the way of new…well…anything. Fortunately this February, despite all the usual disappointment (snow, followed by teasing warmth, followed by hail) held a few surprises in the form of some great music. Here are four albums that I deeply enjoyed this path month, and you should have too!
Foals – Holy Fire
With their latest, the five-piece from Oxford provide yet another album that is poppy and light most of the time, but gets ambitiously heavy, attempting arena-ready grandiosity; Unfortunately, the latter falls flat. Fortunately, the group still manages to make a solid effort that, while not quite living up to their won high standards of the past, is still worth at least a few spins. It’s electronic in all the right areas, with thumping bass that doesn’t hit too hard, and synth that knows when to flex and when to back down.
Check out Holy Fire!
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
On their fourth studio outing, it’s clear that Frightened Rabbit’s lead vocalist Scott Hutchison has become just as skillful with the pen (or a keyboard, let’s be real here, it’s 2013) as he is with his own thickly Scottish vocal work. Frightened Rabbit weave truly well implemented musicianship with heavily accented, sometimes nasally, always-sublime vocal work and darkly passionate lyrical content. It’s not exactly an uplifting listen, but the expert musicianship and self-aware introspection of Hutchison’s words don’t disappoint.
Notable Tracks: State Hospital, The Oil Slick
Stream to Pedestrian Verse!
HRVRD – From the Bird’s Cage
HRVRD (formally Harvard, with vowels) really surprised me on their sophomore release; While I, along with probably everyone else eager to hear there follow up to 2010’s The Inevitable and I were expecting more of the same progressive-rock, what we’ve gotten from the band could not be further. Taking the best bits of their former selves, namely their soaring vocals and spacey guitars, refining the rest, and toning it down it down to create something much more unique and, honestly, interesting. The band no longer sounds like a Circa Survive cover band (albeit one that largely writes better songs) but a new creation all their own; With fleshed-out soundscape, subtlety nuanced layers of instruments, and somehow even better vocals, From the Bird’s Cage is exactly what a sophomore album should be.
Notable Tracks: Flaming Creatures, Cardboard House
Stream From the Bird’s Cage!
K Sera – Collisions & Near Misses
It’s incredibly ironic that K Sera named their first ever full-length Collisions & Near Misses: For starters, it’s nearly impossible to give this band a clearly defined genre label or style. Their debut has the band opening on a light, vaudeville-style piano ballad, closing with a toned-down, almost jazzy, piano-heavy closer, and reeking absolute havoc for eight tracks in between. The fun begins right at the end of the opener, the aptly titled “Collisions,” when the band belts out in a gang chorus, “ So take a seat, sit back, enjoy the show.” After that, you’re on you’re on, left at the utter mercy of a band that switches gears at a moments notice, throwing heavy-hitting choruses one minute, plucked piano the next, and then maybe an 8-bit breakdown right outta left field. Between the perfect production a la Casey Crescenzo (The Dear Hunter) and this young band’s astonishing talent, K Sera have proven they are perfectly capable of colliding in a brilliant fashion.
Notable Tracks: True Enough to be Interesting, Dream, Like I do
Stream Collisions & Near Misses!