Mando Diao Ode to Ochrasy [Mute]


Rating: 6.8

Mando Diao is the second Swedish band I’ve reviewed in the past month. It appears as though the twenty-first century is upending the unspoken rule that in order to be European and play rock, you have to be from Britain. In the past year alone, indie bands like Mew or Peter Bjorn and John have demonstrated crossover success in the States and solid chops to boot. Mando Diao’s third full-length album, Ode to Ochrasy shows a talented band exploring facets beyond the 2002 garage-rock revival. Although the diversity on the album is sometimes a liability, these Swedes know what they’re doing and know how to deliver something solid.

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The Trolleyvox The Karaoke Meltdowns [Transit of Venus]

Rating: 7.5

Acoustic rock is often a dubious territory. It’s a fluid gray area encompassing everything from bright and dirty folk melodies harking back to Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel to chukka-chukka punk crossovers into kinder/gentler land. In any case, you generally want Dreadnought rockers to be doing it as a “fuck this electric shit” statement rather than as an avenue to squish saccharine lullabies about girls into a more condensed commodity.

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SJ Esau Wrong Faced Cat Feed Collapse [Anticon]


Rating: 5.5

Music’s future is in the independent label scene, and it is likely that talent will be culled increasingly from the fertile fields of Myspace Music. But there comes a point when a critic who reviews predominantly Indie releases begins to wonder, “is there such a thing as being TOO Indie?” Is there a line in the sand over which lies a dangerous realm of lo-fi, ‘I cut this album on my laptop’ music containing so much ambient sampling, white boy pretentiousness, and overdrive-free rock as to be embarrassing? The answer is yes, and I’m damn sick of it.

Cat Track (he has no balls) mp3

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Prototypes Prototypes [Minty Fresh]


Rating: 6.5

Hipsters must be pissed. As the reigning monarchs of pretentiousness and low-fi credibility, these frumpy-haired legions of tight-asses wearing jeans three sizes too small are now in danger of losing their pride and joy to the mainstream. In the past three years, dance rock and indie-infused nobodies have rocketed into the public eye to usher in the era of Ipod and myspace. Album sales are no longer the benchmark of budding talent, no matter how stubbornly the RIAA refuses to think otherwise. The question is whether or not Indie will now be allowed to flourish more than it ever has before or become an even more enticing prize for faltering record companies. In any case, a hell of a lot more people now have access to musical styles that were once only the mainstays of college radio and snooty dorm rooms.

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The Annuals Be He Me [Ace Fu]

Rating: 8.0

Low-key isn’t a term often used to describe rock and roll. But every once and a while there comes a band that can bark without the bombast, emote without Emo, and grip without grandeur. One such band is The Annuals, a six-piece jazzy rock band from North Carolina. With an unassuming, diamond-cut devotion to their craft, this odd little band is a fresh breath of air among the stink of artists simply waiting in the fame line.

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White Whale WWI [Merge]


Similar to The Decemberists’ work on The Crane Wife, the Kansas quintet White Whale dives into the past for their debut album WWI. It is a world of navigators and admirals, lovers and cynics, and a hell of a lot of ocean. Although a commendable effort from a band that shows remarkable promise, WWI is on the whole a deflated bag of microwaved history and detached feeling under a pretty sky of musicianship. The band is capable enough, but White Whale trips into the whimsy pit of using concept art and fable as an avenue for forging a memorable sound. The result is a sweet outing of daring that doesn’t grip, but seldom fails to glow.

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