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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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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Phantogram – Three: Goodbye to my good side.

2016_phantogram_threeArtist: Phantogram
Album: Three
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: A remarkably solid electronica album with a bit of a trip-hop twist that strikes a deft balance between immediate pop hooks and sonic experimentation. If not for the embarrassing misstep at the end, this could easily be an A-grade record.

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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.

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Lucius – Good Grief: It’s the Dreaded Sophomore Record, Charlie Brown.

2016_Lucius_GoodGriefArtist: Lucius
Album: Good Grief
Year: 2016
Grade: B+

In Brief: A strong, although schizophrenic, follow-up to an amazing debut. In some ways, Lucius was bound to confuse me a little bit by not repeating the same formula, but they seem like the kind of band that is willing to push themselves into new and slightly uncomfortable areas, which gives them a refreshing edge that helps them stand out from their peers.

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Burlap to Cashmere – Freedom Souls: Forward to the Great I Am, Left Behind the Great I Was

2015_BurlaptoCashmere_FreedomSoulsArtist: Burlap to Cashmere
Album: Freedom Souls
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: The Brooklyn collective’s third album is all over the place, which is a blessing and a curse. At times it’s their “Greek-est” album yet. At others, it reminds us they’ve got more up their sleeve than just being “that Greek folk band” as they delve into rock, country, and a teensy bit of jazz. But it’s also a bit of a disjointed hodge-podge that can feel like more of a clearing of the vaults from all those years the band lay dormant than a truly unified new album.

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

2015_Owel_EveryGoodBoyEPArtist: 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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