WHITE RABBITS — Milk Famous
THE GOOD: Brooklyn indie rockers White Rabbits return with their third.
THE BAD: Famous is exciting but flawed. The band still has a serious identity crisis.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Their second album, 2009’s It’s Frightening, was produced by Spoon’s Britt Daniel. This new record was produced by Mike McCarthy, a guy who’s helmed more than one Spoon record. So White Rabbits have a tendency to resemble … you guessed it … Spoon! Whether it’s their manic beats, caustic lead vocals, terse rolling arrangements or adventurous instrumentation, WR sometimes force you to double check whether you’re listening to their album or Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga instead.
This time, the better tracks include sweeping lead single “Heavy Metal,” slightly funky “Are You Free” and moody but steady “Back for More.” But even these don’t stand out from the pack all that much; Famous definitely better when taken as a whole. And all too often, good song ideas aren’t brought to their full potential; ornamental bells and whistles only take you so far.
BUY IT?: Your call. Famous isn’t bad. White Rabbits are simply still finding themselves. I just wish they’d hurry up already.
HERE WE GO MAGIC — A Different Ship
THE GOOD: Here We Go Magic return with their third eclectic set.
THE BAD: Ship is a complicated listen. Those searching for straight-up ear-grabbing indie pop will have to look elsewhere.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Beginning as the on-stage moniker for modern folk singer/songwriter Luke Temple,
HWGM is now more or less a proper band. The group has been expanding its sound over the last couple of records, going beyond the raw and acoustic to include elements of tightly woven post-punk, Kraut rock, and even jazz.
Produced by Nigel Godrich (Radiohead, Beck, Paul McCartney), Ship continues the progression, but sounds a bit too sterile and calculated at times. This is not an emotional roller coaster. But most of the cuts work in their own way. From the airtight thrust carrying “How Do I Know” to the dreamy overtones coloring “Miracle of Mary,” the set pleasantly clicks along while keeping us at arm’s length; Temple not completely letting us into his world. This heightens the album’s sense of mystery and unpredictability. But you may not want to return to every territory stumbled upon.
BUY IT?: Your choice.
SILVERSUN PICKUPS — Neck of the Woods
THE GOOD: Los Angeles indie rockers Silversun Pickups are back with their third.
THE BAD: Whether it’s frontman Brian Aubert’s voice or the overall guitar-heavy style of the band, the Pickups can’t seem to shake those pesky Smashing Pumpkins vibes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: They’ve recruited producer Jacknife Lee (REM, Bloc Party, Snow Patrol) to slicken up the proceedings. That may dampen some of those mid-90s echoes, but Lee’s polish isn’t taking the band in any particularly interesting new directions. We get an hour’s worth of mid-tempo rockers, each clocking in at about five and a half minutes.
Lead single “Bloody Mary (Nerve Endings)” is good. “Dots and Dashes (Enough Already)” is good. “The Pit” is good. Hey wait a minute, this is getting mundane. And that’s precisely what happens to Woods. Taken in small doses, the songs are effective enough. Play the entire record through and it begins to sound as if it’s stuck on “repeat.” This is simply paint-by-numbers radio-friendly modern rock custom-made for aging grunge fans looking for something “cool and new.”
BUY IT?: Whatever. Pickups fans should be satisfied. The rest of us may begin to yawn.
NEW RELEASES — CD
THE GASLIGHT ANTHEM — Handwritten
LAETITIA SADIER — Silencio
MICACHU AND THE SHAPES — Never
PASSION PIT — Gossamer
PURITY RING — Shrines
NEW RELEASES — DVD