Albums Reviewed by Alex Bieler and Ben Speggen

Category:  Music Reviews
Thursday, May 31st, 2012 at 3:04 PM
Albums Reviewed by Alex Bieler and Ben Speggen by Bieler-Speggen

Best Coast
The Only Place
Mexican Summer


Two years ago, Bethany Cosentino burst onto the indie scene with sunny surf-pop tunes rooted in her love of everything California. On “The Only Place,” Best Coast’s sophomore effort, the album cover, a depiction of a bear hugging Cosentino’s home state, shows that in two years time, the band hasn’t changed too much. The album has some differences, however. The reverb-heavy production of its predecessor is gone, replaced with a cleaner sound that does a better job of presenting Cosentino’s voice. The title track, essentially a tourism commercial put entirely to music, is a catchy bit of ‘50s and ‘60s style pop, much like the rest of the album. While the 11 tracks that make up “The Only Place” are pleasantly catchy, the album quickly gets repetitive. Add in the rather unspectacular lyrics and my trip to “The Only Place” ended up a short one.  
3/5 -Alex Bieler

Beach House
Bloom
Sub Pop Records


Some bands are so good at creating a certain atmosphere, it’s almost like they could do it in their sleep. Appropriately, dream pop duo Beach House is one of those groups. After wowing critics on their breakout third album “Teen Dream,” Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally’s brand of ethereal, almost trancelike sound quickly became recognizable to scores of indie fans. Two years later, little has changed on “Bloom,” the group’s latest effort. Lush synths, hynoptic guitar rhythms, and Legrand’s unhurried alto are the heart and soul of the album. Just like on “Teen Dream,” Scally’s nimbly plucked strings underscore Legrand, as her echoing voice stretches every possible vowel out as long as necessary. It’s all beautifully done, but at the same time, I’ve heard it before. Really, “Bloom” comes down to how much you like to see some change in a band’s sound.
4/5 -Alex Bieler

Kimbra
Vows
Warner Bros.

For a New Zealand native making her debut in North America, Kimbra is pretty well known. Of course, the fact that she’s Gotye’s partner-in-crime on the hit “Somebody That I Used to Know” probably has a lot to do with that. Unsurprisingly, nationwide interest in the naked, painted girl with the great voice from the music video skyrocketed, resulting in “Vows,” a 2011 release in her native country, to be slightly reworked for the United States and Europe. Blessed with a strong, jazzy voice, Kimbra dances between a range of genres on the album, flying through ‘90s R&B, Motown, and even Burt Bacharach-styled pop. Opener “Settle Down” starts the album off with a wonderfully danceable first single, but Kimbra packs each single with so much production that parts of the music gets lost in the cascade. Only 22, Kimbra’s potential still shines through the at times chaotic album.
3.5/5 - Alex Bieler

The Lumineers
The Lumineers
Dualtone Music

When New York City became too much—high cost of living, the plethora of other artists setting up shop there to cut their teeth in the sleepless city—Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites packed up and headed west to Denver. The move led to the addition of Denver native Neyla Pekarek, who contributes cello, mandolin, and piano to the folk trio. The band then launched a self-booked tour and their eponymously titled debut album followed. Drawing comparisons to the Avett Brothers, The Lumineers offer a raw and rough approach to catchy, stomp-clap rustic songs. Debut single “Hey Oh” captures the band’s fervent and infectious sound. Schultz’s voice strongly stands out against the music, slow or fast, and bares resemblance to Bob Dylan at times and Cage the Elephant’s Matthew Shultz at others. If this is the beginning, listeners should hope to see The Lumineers light the way to a bright future.
4/5 -Ben Speggen

Erie Reader: Vol. 4, No. 17
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

Stories you may have missed from the Erie Reader archive. This week: Bencher's Union and "legal graffiti."

Three Eerie Roller Girls talk about the rise of roller derby, the art of the sport, and what goes into choosing a Roller Girl moniker

Local Film Office Announces Tax Credit Seminar for Filmmakers.

The Art of Patricia Kearney: Selected Work 1975-2013

Erie Man Returns to Troubled Homeland to Document Crisis

IN THIS ISSUE

The Art of Patricia Kearney: Selected Work 1975-2013

Erie Man Returns to Troubled Homeland to Document Crisis

No Second Guessing The New Depression starts with circus-like fanfare, but there's no funny business after that – only serious rhymes layered upon thick, jazzy samples that don't neglect the booming bottom-end we all appreciate.

If you are an inveterate fan of New Jersey pop-punk quartet The Gaslight Anthem, you will likely be disappointed or at least befuddled by their latest release.

After releasing their debut album back in 2011, Buffalo-quartet The Albrights return with their self-titled sophomore release, and the results are as catchy as ever.

The sole founding members of Spoon have mastered the art of piecing together separate sonic parts to create a memorable whole, carefully constructing songs with basic elements before adding special touches through audio engineering tricks to dazzle all of the headphone listeners out there.

German Heritage Festival, Zabawa Polish Festival, and the Erie County Fair -- all happening in two weeks!

Unicorns and vampires? FILM's got you covered, Erie.

Two nights, two killer shows: Chrome Moses w/ Daybreak Radio, and The Burning River Ramblers at King’s Rook Club.

Seventy years ago, three Erie brothers gave the ultimate sacrifice.