Alibi V.22 No.11 • March 14-20, 2013 

Sonic Reducer

Devendra Banhart is a musical chameleon. Whether he's mixing lo-fi acoustic jamborees with slick production or poetically yammering about a significant other, he has a knack for turning what could be simple tracks into audible magic. The man just gets better with age, taking old inspirations and deriving new conceptual territory like it's second nature. Mala, his eighth release, is another welcome addition to this man's thoughtfully freakish repertoire. Tracks like “Never Seen Such Good Things” and “Hatchet Wound” showcase his whimsical yet formidable skills. If this isn't another utterly solid release, it's for sure a keen indicator of his growing prowess as a songwriter. We approve. (Mark Lopez)

Will I be the only one who doesn't fall all over themself praising Cerulean Salt? I totally get why it would be liked—“Blue Pt. II,” “Lively” and “You're Damaged”—but I've heard what Katie Crutchfield is doing about a thousand times before. I cannot be the only one who hears this and thinks, "We get it: you're a fan of Juliana Hatfield, Mirah, Mary Timony, Kimya Dawson and Sharon Van Etten. Now find a non-derivative way to angst it all out, then get back to us." I can just tell—based on Crutchfield's vocals, her incisive (albeit clunky and pretentious) lyrics, and her sheer honest gumption—that she can do so much better. Really? Just me? Okay. Maybe y'all are on to something. … (M. Brianna Stallings)

On their fourth full-length, The Men proves its all-things-to-all-people mettle. Examining the catalog’s soundwaves could bring out the impassionated statistician in anyone. Exploring many aural paths since forming in 2008, the Brooklyn swains’ embrace of reckless noise segued into a bear-hug of indolent rock. New Moon’s boot heel-on-sawdust-infused, punky post-country rock finds The Men fearlessly embracing the only constant—change—on 12 tracks composed by real, live craftsmen. There ain’t no boys ‘round here. No, sir. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)