Geographer – New Jersey: Go so far to make it home again.

Artist: Geographer
Album: New Jersey EP
Year: 2019
Grade: A-

In Brief: This 7-track EP may only feature 4 full-length songs, with the rest being intros and outros that help glue everything together, but those 4 songs are phenomenal. This was the perfect gateway for me to get into Mike Deni’s “sort of a band, sort of a solo project” blend of indie rock and synthpop, and it leaves me incredibly eager to hear what’s next on his upcoming full-length release due out this December.

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Robert Randolph & The Family Band – Brighter Days: Calling all crazy, come get in line!

Artist: Robert Randolph & The Family Band
Album: Brighter Days
Year: 2019
Grade: B-

In Brief: You know what you’re listening to these guys for – explosive pedal steer guitar playing, feel-good Gospel, soul and funk choruses, and the occasional chill slow jam. Don’t go in expecting anything profound from the lyrics – in fact, pay no attention to them all if you like! – and you’ll probably have a blast.

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Owel – Paris: How do I make you understand through words something that never truly could be heard?

Artist: Owel
Album: Paris
Year: 2019
Grade: B+

In Brief: Owel’s third album proves that their delicious blend of indie rock with classical/chamber pop sensibilities is both reliable and malleable. While many of the songs take a while to sink in, as they have on previous albums, I’m tempted to think that they’re stronger for it, as a lot of these songs have euphoric crescendos that make the payoff worth the wait. But it’s also good that they’ve learned how to not overdo that approach to the point where it gets too predictable, and thus a few of their best songs that might be considered “poppy” can be found here as well.

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Owel – Dear Me: This is not your heart to break; you’ll break it anyway.

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Artist: Owel
Album: Dear Me
Year: 2016
Grade: B+

In Brief: Dear Me is every bit as complex, immersive, beautiful, and haunting as Owel’s self-titled debut. Both albums sit right on the cusp of greatness, and I’m honestly having trouble figuring out which one I like more. It’s a good problem to have.

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Owel – Every Good Boy EP: They’re a rare, dying breed.

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Artist: Owel
Album: Every Good Boy EP
Year: 2015
Grade: A-

In Brief: There’s more drama and detail packed into these four songs than a lot of bands come up with on an entire album. I think they’ll do more than fine if they can keep up anywhere near this level of quality.

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Owel: No City. Just Owel.

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Artist: Owel
Album: Owel
Year: 2013
Grade: B+

In Brief: It’s probably unintentional, but in the course of creating an album full of epic, meandering progressive rock tunes with a few peppy pop tunes in between to break the tension, Owel seems to bring back the specters of several indie rock bands I used to love who have since vanished into the woodwork. They could use a band name that doesn’t result in their immediately being confused with a dorky synthpop outfit, but that would be a stupid thing for me to hold against them.

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