The Invisible Way, the 10th album in 20 years from slowcore trio Low, is the definition of aging gracefully. Produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, it's trademark Low—a steady pace, cavernous drums and tweeting harmonies—but twinges of Tweedy's influence shine through, with tinkling pianos and twanging guitars (“Amethyst”). Harmonies from husband-and-wife core members Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker are still equal parts Emmylou Harris/Gram Parsons and Exene Cervenka/John Doe; there is also an honest but gentle spirituality. Although they've never hidden their Mormon faith, it also never seems overbearing, even when their lyrics are clearly faith-based (“Holy Ghost” and “Mother”). This is another addition to their swaddling cocoon of sound. (M. Brianna Stallings)
Far from just another a Nord-folk novelty album, Yggdrasil finds Norway's Wardruna pitting nature sounds and traditional instrumentation against a backdrop that's decidedly ancient rather than the contemporary song structures that figure prominently into most of the music of this ilk. This isn't just primal drums and Viking chants for the sake of proving the indigenous music of Norse country is inextricably linked with the metal it churns out today. Utilizing (mostly) traditional instruments and Norse languages, Wardruna conjures gut-wrenchingly authentic riffage worthy of a darker, blood-smeared age when men were men and weaker men were just dead. (Michael Henningsen)
Glaswegian synth-pop trio CHVRCHES managed to rack up more than 30,000 Facebook fans with a two-track discography. The group’s debut EP pours like prosecco swirled with cotton candy and glitter. It’s nothing new, but CHVRCHES conjures a wide-eyed, vibrant sound. Maybe it’s Lauren Mayberry’s vocals that pushes it beyond imitation. Of these five tracks, two are inconsequential remixes. The clear standout is eponymous single “Recover,” with its gloriously effervescent sound and earnest lyrics. “ZVVL” is pure depeche mode (read: fashion forward) goodness infused with dancefloor glitch. The remainder of the release doesn’t inspire gushing, but it’s enough to whet my appetite for the forthcoming full-length. (Samantha Anne Carrillo)
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