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. 22
Now Available — Pick It Up Today

CURRENT

WMCE-FM broadcast continues local tradition

Election day is Tuesday. Let's study together.

Veteran metal band GWAR gives Pet Shop Boy's "West End Girls" a heavy dose of rawk while offering up a nice tribute to fallen friends.

A Pa. Supreme Court Justice and a Canadian radio host have very little in common, except that their sexcapades may spell the end of otherwise celebrated careers. 

The Allman Brothers Band ends a 45 year run on a perfect note. 

IN THIS ISSUE

A comprehensive list of the Jefferson Educational Society's Global Summit VI, including: the skinny, why it should be on your radar, and why we think it's worth seeing. 

Celebrating a definitive Erie Great: “Easy” Essie Hollis.

Here are a several low-profile, multiplayer video games that deserve to be on your list, according to our gaming expert. 

New Orleans' Crescent City Farmers Marketplace and what Erie could learn from it. 

Frontman Zac Little of the indie folk rockers talks about the band’s latest album, breaking wooden stomp boxes, and NPR Tiny Desk Concerts. 

Will we see a change in voter turnouts come Nov. 4 elections?

More than just an EDM artist, NatasK exhibits a fresh and welcomed sense of where electronic music is headed.

A plethora of reasons why Gov. Tom Corbott is simply the worst governor ever. 

Make no mistake about it – these guys rock first and foremost, especially on this album’s standouts, the anthemic “Obey the Beard,” as well as “Dogs Like Socks,” which explores the complexities of canine/hosiery relations.

It's news, but it's weird. It's... News of the Weird!