It looks like the Cold War Kids are growing up. Last year the California indie rock group dropped their guitarist Jonnie Russell and replaced him with Dann Gallucci, previously of Modest Mouse and the Murder City Devils and now are ready for more with their upcoming fourth studio effort, Dear Miss Lonely Hearts. Produced by Lars Stalfors, who has also worked with the Mars Volta as well as Matt & Kim, the album offers any west-coast indie fan a breath of fresh and familiar air. The album itself is reminiscent of early Modest Mouse and Local Natives but offers an exploratory look and take of the evolution of that sound. You’ll like this if you’re a fan of those bands or like the style of The Killers as the lead singer of Cold War Kids reminds us heavily of Brandon Flower’s voice and tone.
Best Tracks: Tuxedos, Fear and Trembling, Miracle Mile
The View is a crazy talented indie rock band from Scotland. They are veterans on the scene with now a total of four studio albums under their belt with their latest, Cheeky For A Reason. The album has been described by the band as “Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours done by The Clash” and we have it here ready for you to check out on First Spins! Throw this album on and take a trip on your bicycle around your neighbourhood. It’s one of those kinds of albums.
Best Tracks: Hole In The Bed, Hold On Now
I came to know Local Natives when my co-worker came to the office gushing about attending their show the night before. They had just come out with Gorilla Manor and like juicy Pretty Little Liars text from A, Gorilla Manor was in your face, beautiful, pounding, and anthemic. That was 2009. Four years later, finally they’ve come and made Hummingbird, their strong follow-up to their previous success, spending time in between doing the festival circuit touring with other amazing bands like Arcade Fire and The National.
But that’s not the only thing that changed for Local Natives.
They parted ways with their bassist Andy Hamm in the spring of 2011 and even if that wasn’t hard enough, three months later lead vocalist Kelcey Ayer’s mother passed away. Her passing had deeply influenced the tone and the energy of the new record. Speaking with The Daily Beast, Ayer commented on the impact of both events on the band stating, “That was definitely really hard,” Kelcey admitted. His mother’s passing “and the Andy thing and there were also relationship issues and weird stuff that impacted the record and the mood of it and what we sang about. We didn’t set out to make a darker or sadder record, but we always write, for the most part, based on our experiences, so it’s a kind of window into the last few years.”
As an avid fan of Gorilla Manor, I didn’t know what to expect walking into Hummingbird. Local Natives delivered probably the most impactful follow-up they could have created with this new album. There’s depth, there’s heart, there’s sadness and happiness. It most definitely leaves me wanting more. If you’re reading this, Local Natives, please don’t make us wait another four years for the next one.
Best Tracks: Three Months, Black Balloons, Colombia, Ceilings
The album drops today, January 29 and but we have it ready for you to right here first. Listen to Local Natives’ new album Hummingbird right here at Much.com‘s First Spin section and check out other albums like k-os’ BLack on BLonde here.
Also Local Natives will be hitting up a few Canadian cities on their upcoming tour, check out their tour dates here and see if you can see them live!
Bruno Mars is set to release his sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox on December 11th, but the record is ready to be spun and enjoyed right now in MUCH’s First Spins (click here to listen). The much anticipated follow up to Mar’s 2010 debut Doo Wops and Hooligans doesn’t disappoint, showing growth and experimentation without losing the emotion and passion Mar’s groundbreaking debut.
Heavily influenced by the decade of Bruno’s childhood, Mars took music cues for Jukebox from artists like Prince, The Police and of course, Michael Jackson. Moonshine features a distinct 1980s sound, borrowing a few layers of backing track from Michael Jackson’s Beat It. While many musicians do their best to emulate the King of Pop with their sound and movements, Mars is one of the few artists since Jackson’s passing who possesses the talent worthy of sampling Jackson (I’m looking at you, Chris Brown).
The singer, songwriter and producer goes for his second reggae infused track in as many albums, this time with the upbeat Show Me, getting it right this time around, unlike with the depressing Liquor Store Blues from Doo Wops.
Mars shows that he hasn’t abandoned his Doo Wop and Hooligans roots, proving his soul is still old and his heart is still bluesy on the album’s final track, If I Knew. Singing about the innocence of love at 17, Mars again shows remorse for events that transpired in his love life, a topic also explored on the album’s standout track When I Was Your Man.
While the disc boasts an incredible line up of producer’s, including Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, fun.), Mark Ronson (Amy Winehouse) and Mar’s own production team The Smeezington, the Jukebox is threatened at times to be overshadowed by the numerous layers of instruments and sound effects, possibly a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. When I Was Your Man is reminiscent of the live version of Young Girls Mars performed on SNL and the Victoria Secret runway show, showing that when you take away the who’s who in the music biz, the synthesizers, and the sound effects, Mars is the real deal. Sure, the album sounds great with the wall of sound created by a wish list of producers, but not every song needs that much dressing up. Some sound good just the way they are.
The new album from Swedish trio Hellsongs, Hymns in the Key of 666, is ten tracks of beautiful harmonies, guitars, violins, pianos…and heavy metal. Sort of. Hymns is a cover album of hard hitting classics like Black Sabbath’s Paranoid and Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills. I consider myself a bit of a ‘covers’ fanatic. I find it fascinating when an artist can take a song, reinvent it and make it their own. Hellsongs does that and more in their freshman album – I didn’t even realize the album was covers until I heard AC/DC’s Thunderstruck on Track 7.
We think Hymns is so amazing that we’ve put the entire album in our First Spins rotator. But, don’t just take my word – listen to all ten songs from Hymns in the Key of 666 right here.
Top Picks: Symphony of Destruction (Track 2) Thunderstruck (Track 7) and Paranoid (Track 9)
Sounds like: A mix of Jenny Owens Young, The Corrs, Sarah McLachlan and Ben Folds Five
Most Impressive: Hymns in the Key of 666 rates about a 10 on the scale of ‘Awesome Album Titles.’