CD Reviews

Christian Folk

Danielson Best of Gloucester County (Sounds Familyre)


New Jersey’s Daniel Smith is among the more intriguing figures in American indie music. The history of his band, Danielson, goes back to the ’90s, and his recordings with Tooth & Nail, as well as Secretly Canadian, make him a proto-Sufjan Stevens before the new biblical indie-folk movement exploded a decade later. Despite its title, Gloucester isn’t a best-of; it’s Danielson’s first album in five years, and difficult to absorb without thinking of who (say, Modest Mouse) has enjoyed great success with this style of fractured songwriting and weird vocal delivery. Sure, there’s some of the Pixies’ skewed arrangements in songs such as “Complimentary Dismemberment Insurance,” mostly because of a new team of rocking musicians Smith has assembled. Overall, the listener is treated to psychedelic, spiritual folk shot through with a chamber-popster’s clever sensibility. Indeed, “This Day Is a Loaf” offers a strange yet rewarding lyrical metaphor for biting deeply into life. Dig in. ★★★★☆

Indie Rock

Dom Sun Bronzed Greek Gods EP (Astralwerks)


Worcester, Mass.’s quirky, garage-rockin’, Lil Wayne-lovin’, 23-year-old Dom says he can’t share his complete name because he owes people money. They should forgive his debt and write it off as an arts donation, because Dom’s debut EP is a blast of distortion-ravaged, synth-singed power-pop that makes this extremely cold month of February feel like a summer beach bash full of pizza-parlor sound and Galaga-raging fury. Originally released on what felt like a glorified CD-R via Burning Mill Records last year, Sun Bronzed earned enough rave reviews so that Astralwerks signed the band and remastered, remixed and re-released the EP. It sounds much improved, less lo-fi, yet with the ragged heart still intact and beating madly. From the cavernous, cracked-Casio-keyboard dance-rock of “Jesus” to the La Bamba-meets-Big Star beat of “Rude as Jude.” But beware the super-patriotic “Living in America”; it will have you singing along at top volume like some crazed Palinite! ★★★★☆


Volture Shocking Its Prey EP (Heavy Artillery)


The new wave of traditional heavy metal continues to grow, with no sign of slowing down. Here’s another killer group of freakish speed-metalheads called Volture (as in an electrically charged bird of prey—get it?), hailing from Richmond, Va., and clearly enthralled by Painkiller–era Judas Priest, back when every song Rob Halford screeched featured some fantastical, apocalyptic monster intent on world ruination. Of the six guitar fretboard-burning tracks on the band’s debut, Volture offers no less than four devoted to various doom-beasts: the title track (“swooping down to end your life”) “Heavy Metal Machine” (“ion thrusters shake the ground”), “The Horde” (“vicious hell spawn closing in”), and “Night Walker” (“sharpened edges tear through flesh and bone”). It’s tons of fun if you’re 12, or even 36; the music is virtuosic despite being thriftily recorded. Sadly, Volture sabotages itself with not-so-funny groupie-scoring boast, “Cheap Thrillz.” Play it straight or don’t play, guys! ★★★☆☆

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By Andreas Hale

Independent East Coast Hip-Hop