Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of Alvvays, Lese Majesty And Whoop Dee Doo

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OMG, guys! Everybody and their cooler older sister is falling all over themselves about how great the self-titled debut from Alvvays is! What’s apparently the most important thing for listeners to know about this quintet? They totally sound California beachy (most frequent comparison? Best Coast), but—get this!—they’re from Toronto! Now that we’ve gotten that absurdity out of the way, perhaps the merits of Alvvays can be addressed. It is a great debut—lyrically clever, and thanks to Molly Rankin’s vocals, capable of pining without whining. The musicianship is also first-rate, deftly melding indie rock with old-school twee pop; keyboardist Kerri MacLellan and drummer Phil MacIsaac tie things up in a pretty sonic bow. Grow up with Tiger Trap & Heavenly? Dig on Viet Cong & Vivian Girls today? Then get down with the cool summer sounds of Alvvays. (M. Brianna Stallings)

Shabazz Palaces Lese Majesty (Sub Pop)

Shabazz Palaces’ Lese Majesty is a brilliant bifurcation for hip-hop. The record inhabits another world—one that’s all spacious, dangerous and unpredictable and ironically, leaves little room for error. This recording is dream-flavored but happens while folks walk around experiencing life. “I’m coming up like Donald Duck,” Palaces provocateur Ishmael Butler intones on “Solemn Swears” before disappearing down the rabbit hole on “Harem Aria.” Lese Majesty shows a fearless capacity for deviating from the norm, uncovering obscure, tangential linkages with bursts of keyboards and voices echoing from another place altogether. Interestingly, Butler’s flow is sometimes overwhelmed by multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire’s ornate sense of musical organization. This effect leads to a feeling of spaced-out distance but sometimes distracts from the record’s listenability. Besides wishing for a more inclusive vocal mix, this reviewer could spend many an early morning listening to Lese Majesty on the porch as the stars roll by. (August March)

The Muffs Whoop Dee Doo (Burger Records)

Pop-punk is a lot like summer. It’s such a desirable thing, but after prolonged exposure, one can’t wait for the leaves to start falling, for practical shoes to become a necessity. That sentence is similar to any review I’d do of a recording by Weezer, Green Day and probably The Breeders too. And so it could be with The Muffs and their new album Whoop Dee Doo. Admittedly, Kim Shattuck’s guitar tone has an admirably grungy crunch to it. Tunes like “Paint by Numbers” and “Take a Take a Me” rock the fuck out. “Forever” shows a depth of understanding pop tropes that is reminiscent of Alex Chilton’s best work, so the recording is profoundly difficult to dislike. Shattuck’s music is earnest but with just enough nonchalance to make a case for repeated listening. This phenomenon could lead one to an endless summer, while still hoping the former Pandoras guitarist eventually has a bountiful autumn. (August March)

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