Alt-J – Relaxer: Don’t do it.

2017_AltJ_RelaxerArtist: Alt-J
Album: Relaxer
Year: 2017
Grade: C

In Brief: Alt-J has gone from being a groove-laden, psychedelic indie band occasionally interrupted by dull ballads, to a band largely focused on ballads, some of them lushly orchestrated and some of them rather dull, occasionally interrupted by jarring rockers. It’s not a good look.

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The Killers – Wonderful Wonderful: And I shall give thee moderate cause to rejoice.

Artist: The Killers
Album: Wonderful Wonderful
Year: 2017
Grade: B-

In Brief: The Killers are probably always going to strike me as a highly inconsistent band. I can’t decide whether I want them to be more serious or more silly, and they often swerve in one direction when I’d expect them to go in the other. But they make a good case for both sides of their personality on their fifth album, which shows some genuine maturity in places without casting off their fun, glammy side. I’d say it’s their best work since Hot Fuss, actually.

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Everything Everything – A Fever Dream: Shame About All of Our Neighborhoods

2017_EverythingEverything_AFeverDreamArtist: Everything Everything
Album: A Fever Dream
Year: 2017
Grade: A-

In Brief: With relentless, hypnotic rhythms, hypnotic guitar and synth melodies that sear into your brain, and politically-charged lyrics, Everything Everything has, well, just about everything I’ve been hoping to get out of an indie rock record in the year 2017.

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Grizzly Bear – Painted Ruins: It’s chaos, but it works.

2017_GrizzlyBear_PaintedRuinsArtist: Grizzly Bear
Album: Painted Ruins
Year: 2017
Grade: B

In Brief: While Grizzly Bear’s sound generally doesn’t excite me on first listen, I’ve grown to really appreciate how the colors and moods in their songs slowly reveal themselves as I listen for the details beyond just a song’s tempo, melody or riff. I’m coming back to this album a lot more than I would have expected based on my history with the band.

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Arcade Fire – Everything Now: It goes on and on, I don’t know what I want.

2017_ArcadeFire_EverythingNowArtist: Arcade Fire
Album: Everything Now
Year: 2017
Grade: B

In Brief: While I really enjoy the disco-rock sound and the theme of media oversaturation, it’s a genre exercise that has its limits, and the repetitive choruses make those limits painfully clear. I enjoy this one more than a lot of Arcade Fire’s fanbase seems to, but I think they need to change things up and truly surprise us again when they get around to making album #6.

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Mew – Visuals: They could have made it; I believe they faded.

2017_Mew_VisualsArtist: Mew
Album: Visuals
Year: 2017
Grade: B-

In Brief: Mew’s keyboard-heavy indie rock sound will always inspire mental flights of fancy, and I appreciate the occasional heavier moments, too. But this record feels less “prog” than their last few, and I don’t think the songwriting is as intriguing, which means a lot of it is pleasant but forgettable.

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Lewis Del Mar: Build Yourself a Technicolor Masterpiece.

2016_LewisDelMar_LewisDelMarArtist: Lewis Del Mar
Album: Lewis Del Mar
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: An interesting blend of Latin-inspired rhythms and guitar parts with indie/experimental rock sensibilities that are equal parts ambient and abrasive. Not every experiment works, but the effect of these unique ingredients coming together can be quite alluring when they get it just right.

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