Music Reviews

Artist: O’Brother
Album: Garden Window
Go Download: “Sputnik”

With the ambient instrumental prowess of Mogwai and Sigur Ros, and the sheer density of Isis and Jesu, Atlanta’s O’Brother crafts a sound both crushingly heavy and melodically sophisticated. The band’s debut album, Garden Window, was released Nov. 15, 2011 on Atlanta based label, Favorite Gentleman. The album shows substantial growth from the band’s last EP, The Death of Day, released in mid 2009, which helped earn the band a cult following and opening spots on tour with Manchester Orchestra, Thrice and Circa Survive.
The new album presents a wide range of song structures, from the suffocating industrial squall of the opener “Malum,” to the nearly 14-minute epic “Cleanse Me,” which shifts from overwhelmingly powerful to beautifully orchestral with the introduction of harp to the mix. Songs like “Sputnik” and “Lo” propel the album forward and establish a palpable rhythmic undercurrent that pervades the album. O’Brother is a fairly heavy band, but even if you haven’t appreciated heavier music before, this album exhibits melodic sensibility and lyrical complexity that helps make it palatable to a much wider audience; just about any Alternative/Indie Rock fan can find something to love here.
— By Dylan Newcity

Artist: Youth Lagoon
Album: The Year of Hibernation
Go Download: “17”

There’s a certain charm in the alienation Trevor Powers conveys in Youth Lagoon’s first full length album, The Year of Hibernation. Powers, lone artistic contributor and sole member of Youth Lagoon, conjures the sort of small town loneliness you can’t help but relate to. Amid the wash of reverb-drenched vocals, haunting synthesizers and perfectly sparse guitar, are beautiful indie pop songs about anxiety, isolation, the joys of youth and nostalgia for a simpler time.
Young Powers’ mastery of the teenage condition is ever apparent on this album; his perspective of childhood memories through the lens of an angst-ridden teenage boy embodies the ambivalence and disillusionment so customary to that period. Repeated images of “monsters” in “Montana” and “Daydream” echo the fears of boyhood, but also serve as reference points for the evolution of those fears to more abstract, emotional obstacles. The mounting “17” hearkens back to a more liberated time, with a chorus proclaiming “don’t stop imagining, ‘cause the day that you do is the day that you die.” Although Powers doesn’t reinvent the wheel with The Year of Hibernation, he does manage to distinguish himself in a time when indie-pop albums are a dime-a-dozen. Anyone with a propensity toward lush alternative/ indie music a la Bon Iver and Arcade Fire could be content with The Year of Hibernation.
— By Dylan Newcity