Eileen & The In-Betweenseverything is alive(Self-released)
Everything is alive is the second album from local folk musician Eileen Shaugnessy and her band The In-Betweens. Their first recording, You Know, came out way back in 2010. Five years later, Shaugnessy's songwriting has matured nicely, and the band sounds tighter and more accomplished. While You Know had a straight-up folk sound, everything is alive brings some world music elements (with some help from Wagogo on the title track) into the mix and is generally a more polished and very accessible record. Although everything is alive conjures up the occasional Edie Brickell comparison—another reviewer calls The In-Betweens' music “cute-folk”—the album isn't adorable or cute in a contrived way. Add some very nice CD packaging and artwork to the 15 well-crafted songs and I don't think Shaughnessy could have done better with her second album. Well done.
Teen DazeMorning World(Paper Bag Records)
This is an impressive collection of bong hit wonders that made for a nice surprise last Friday afternoon. “Along” sounds like a lost track from Wish You Were Here, with a groove that conjures up mid-period Funkadelic of all things. Overall, the compressed studio sound—particularly the drums—is eerily similar to the sound on that Pink Floyd masterpiece, and the vocals share some of the sentimental quality of Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets. Though this isn't strictly a pop record, the progressions and riffs land Teen Daze somewhere between Cheap Trick and The Flaming Lips. Like a tiny but very heavy extraterrestrial rover, the songs on Morning World seem almost reluctant to get going—but once at-speed, they gain a momentum filled with a sweet reward.
Royal FinsProtopop(Exeunt Records)
Royal Fins' debut album is millennial rock and roll with its innocuousness, misplaced piano and occasional bursts of brilliance. A little overwrought at times, Protopop does boast strong vocals and some sporadic, rockin' riffs. Standout tunes like “Place in the Sun” and “Ready, Steady, Go” (not the Gen X song) make this worth a listen for fans of Franz Ferdinand and the like, where “The Rush Is in the Action” sounds kinda like The Offspring. Closing with a folksy slow-dance number, Protopop isn't a bad debut album, and it's easy to see this band achieving a more focused sound in the future.