Album: The Thread that Keeps Us
In Brief: What this album lacks in special guests, it makes up for with its slightly more aggressive and exploratory sound. Calexico still balances their dusky desert folk, indie rock, Latin, and jazz influences pretty well, with this album coming out a little stronger on the “rock” side of the spectrum, but not alarmingly so. It’s a welcome change after the sleepier vibe of their last few records.
Artist: Lewis Del Mar
Album: Lewis Del Mar
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.
Album: Edge of the Sun
In Brief: As always, I enjoy the Latin music influence and the “desert noir” style. The numerous guest appearances make this one feel like a real community effort. But there’s still the pesky problem of too many “just OK” songs in the track listing, compounded by the presence of easily superior material among the bonus tracks.
Artist: Trails and Ways
In Brief: The retro/urban/South American take on indie pop that won me over on the Trilingual EP is alive and well on the band’s first full-length LP, with a few of that EP’s highlights reprised (and one radically reimagined) here. The new songs largely follow suit, though most of them are in a mellower vein, causing the group’s otherwise addictive sound to run a little closer to the middle of the road than I was hoping for at times. Still, this is a sunny summer record with a strong south-of-the-equator flavor, and I love it for that.
Album: 100 Lovers
In Brief: DeVotchKa has a real flair for otherworldly drama. It’s hard to create compact pop albums that are this epic and thrillingly inventive, but that’s exactly what they’ve done here.