The display of raw emotion has proven a utilitarian and inevitably salable quality in a variety of musical genres. Original emocore bands like Rites of Spring employed loss, heartbreak and desperation in every facet of their music and performances. The result was undeniably powerful and left listeners wanting more. Curling up in a ball and crying over feedback can evoke a strong response from audiences. On How the Spark Loves the Tinder (Jesus, I'm crying already), Monk Parker uses contrivances such as a theremin, trombones, far-away-sounding vocals, minor chords and down-lilting progressions to try and achieve the same response. At times the drummer sounds so blown away by how heavy things are that he might slow to a dead stop. With less purposely sad shit, Monk Parker's album could be enjoyable, but it's like Palace Music with an orchestra. Palace Music doesn't need an orchestra.
Despite the fact that I found myself singing the lyrics to “Big Country” while listening to the first track on Roam, it's hard not to like this EP. The synth-driven music of the ’80s has informed today's contemporary pop music to an insane degree, yet Kid Cadaver manages the ultra clean guitars, plunky bass and A-ha sounding synthesizers without irony. Interesting time signatures, falsetto-leaning vocals, surprising power-chord guitar and elements of ambient music make Roam more than a throwback to ’80s dance music. Kid Cadaver demonstrates the unconfined nature of today's pop music, where the panoply of influences and musical styles can either make for great music or a trainwreck—and Roam is no trainwreck. Roam will be released on Aug. 21.
St. Catherine is this writer's first exposure to Ducktails, and the experience was fairly innocuous—like easy listening music for millennials. After checking out their previous release, The Flower Lane, I regret to inform fans that St. Catherine does not sound like Steely Dan at all, a quality that made The Flower Lane interesting. The music on this latest release is what Luna might sound like if someone killed Dean Wareham's soul and then insisted the band immediately fulfill their recording contract. Songs like “Krumme Lanke” are decent shoegazing material, but the album as a whole could be mistaken for the soundtrack from an independent film, i.e. background music.