Sleeping at Last – Atlas: Intelligence – We were designed to send mixed signals.

2017_SleepingatLast_AtlasIntelligenceArtist: Sleeping at Last
Album: Atlas: Intelligence EP
Year: 2017
Grade: B+

In Brief: Three songs about the body, heart, and mind, in Sleeping at Last’s expected baroque pop style. The electronic pulses and plethora of subtle sounds working in tandem on “Mind” are an excellent touch, but aside from that, there’s not much new here.

Continue reading

Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming: You, Me, and a few less DuPrees

2017_eisley_imonlydreamingArtist: Eisley
Album: I’m Only Dreaming
Year: 2017
Grade: B-

In Brief: While Stacy and Chauntelle’s departure is a pretty serious drawback here, Sherri does an admirable job of keeping the Eisley sound her fans know and love intact, while also experimenting with new sounds here and there. This works better than expected, aside from a few maddeningly generic songs that probably would have been left out had her sisters been around to contribute their own material.

Continue reading

Regina Spektor – Remember Us to Life: What we learned from an obsolete, bleeding heart Russian immigrant.

2016_reginaspektor_rememberustolifeArtist: Regina Spektor
Album: Remember Us to Life
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: Song-for-song, this is a more consistently well-written album than her last one, with more of a unified feel from track to track, but leaving room for a few fun surprises as well. Regina hasn’t totally reinvented her sometimes-cutesy, sometimes-creepy piano pop style, but she’s certainly honed her craft a bit since we last heard from her.

Continue reading

Future of Forestry – Awakened to the Sound: In my voice you will know the sound of home.

2016_futureofforestry_awakenedtothesoundArtist: Future of Forestry
Album: Awakened to the Sound
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: It’s a stretch these days to call Future of Forestry a “rock” band. This album is much more like a film score. Exciting, climactic percussion sounds abound on a few tracks, bringing back fond memories of the Travel series, but as a whole this record is something else, weaving Eastern-styled strings, drums and vocals into a much more classical-oriented take on the Future of Forestry sound.

Continue reading

Sleeping at Last – Atlas: Emotions – For in our great sorrow, we learn what joy means.

2016_sleepingatlast_atlasemotionsArtist: Sleeping at Last
Album: Atlas: Emotions EP
Year: 2016
Grade: A-

In Brief: While the lyrics do a great job of explaining the inner workings of each human emotion, the music doesn’t always live up to the emotion being expressed. It’s still a worthwhile and intriguing new entry in the Atlas series, but it’s more of a study than an actual experience of emotion.

Continue reading

Relient K – Air For Free: There’s nothing better than knowing where you come from.

2016_RelientK_AirforFreeArtist: Relient K
Album: Air For Free
Year: 2016
Grade: A

In Brief: Relient K dodges the expectations created by both their pop/punk heyday and their abysmal attempt at pop crossover on Collapsible Lung, and comes up with their best album yet in the process. It’s less guitar-oriented and more piano and arrangement-heavy than classic RK, at times feeling like a spiritual successor to Forget and Not Slow Down. But the hints that RK had an album like this inside them somewhere have really been there since the beginning.

Continue reading

Andrew Bird – Are You Serious: I wanna cut to the quick, this is all non-fiction.

2016_AndrewBird_AreYouSeriousArtist: Andrew Bird
Album: Are You Serious
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: While Bird’s unique blend of violin, guitar, whistling, and live looping still has a tendency to hint at brilliance more often than he actually demonstrates it, the solid string of performances at the front of this album and the intriguing songwriting throughout remind me why he’s continued to pique my curiosity for over 10 years now.

Continue reading