SWEET CRUDE — ‘Creatures’
THE GOOD: Indie pop collective Sweet Crude offers a bright, bouncy and multi-cultural debut.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Based in Southern Louisiana, this group of young men and women embrace their heritage, bringing Cajun flavors into a vibrant, modern, pop setting. “Creatures” is a half-English, half-French brew combining real Southern charm with rhythmic urban settings. Imagine a zydeco band hijacking Passion Pit and then some classic Poi Dog Pondering sprinkled on top for spice.
Multi-layered tribal beats stomp behind swirling synths, live strings and stings of electric guitar. The male-female vocal interplay adds a playful element, one that’s flirtatious and always spirited. Tracks such as the effervescent “La Cheminee” and the forceful yet fun “Weather the Waves” are simply irresistible; a lively, organic dance groove gets together with bold, addictive melodies.
But “Creatures” benefits from a few delicate tunes as well. Songs such as the dreamy “Mon Esprit” and the reflective “Ancient Maps” bring balance, ensuring the album doesn’t become TOO boisterous.
BUY IT?: Yes.

HOOPS — ‘Routines’ 
THE GOOD: Indiana indie pop outfit Hoops gives us a melodic, well-crafted debut.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Just like other somewhat retro contemporaries such as Surfer Blood or the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, the music of Hoops throws back to the alternative, guitar-based pop/rock prevalent during the mid ’80s. Groups such as Psychedelic Furs, Modern English and Echo & the Bunnymen immediately come to mind when drinking in the calculated sounds of “Routines.” The slightly lo-fi quality of the record even recalls a cassette blasting from a boombox with the Dolby noise reduction button pushed in.
What started out as a solo electronic bedroom project of frontman Drew Auscherman has blossomed into a full band with your standard guitar/bass/drums/keyboard lineup. During that process, the songs have become more focused and the vibe ever-so-wistful and melancholy. One becomes lost in the jangly guitars, airy harmonies and dreamy melodies blending perfectly throughout cool, collected tracks such as “On Top” and “Management.”
BUY IT?: Oh yeah.

THE GOOD: After a bunch of self-released singles and an EP, Brooklyn indie pop band Charly Bliss finally unleashes its first proper album.
THE BAD: If you invested in those singles, there are a couple of “repeats” here. Newbies, however, get an all-new fistful of ear candy.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Upon listening to “Guppy,” I was immediately smacked with two sources — Letters To Cleo and early Weezer (or maybe even the Rentals). This record would have been HUGE in 1996. Twenty years later, though, the songs haven’t lost any of their gooey, loud appeal.
Eva Hendricks is the angry pixie out in front, while the boys in the band crank out a sometimes mid-tempo/sometimes stomping even keel built upon solid backbeats, fuzzy guitars and whirring keyboards. The sing-song hooks are massive. Hendricks’ singing style is flirtatious but tough. Tracks such as the banging “DQ” and the melancholy “Ruby” are irresistible. Yeah, there isn’t a bad cut here. Charly Bliss has a blast pushing melodic ’90s rock forward.
BUY IT?: Yes.

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