Glen Hansard Drive All Night EP (Anti- Records)
Fans of Once star and former Swell Season member Hansard’s heart-wrenching voice will have to wait a little while longer for a full new album, but until then, they have this four-song EP to tide them over. The title track is a sweetened cover of the Bruce Springsteen original, featuring contributions by Eddie Vedder, Joe Henry and Jake Clemons, nephew of late E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons. The rest of the disc is rounded out by three new originals, including the quiet, cello-accented “Pennies in the Fountain,” the soulful, Van Morrison-esque “Renata,” and the a capella closer, “Step Out of the Shadows.” ★★★★☆
Daytona Self-titled (Ernest Jenning Record Co.)
Daytona opens its self-titled debut with “The Road,” featuring a lilting guitar melody, island rhythms and chanted lyrics, setting the stage for the ensuing nine songs. Indeed, the North Carolina-via-New York City trio roll out one jaunty tune after the other, awash in rich vocal harmonies that will surely make their way into the background music of hipster wedding videos everywhere. The sweet, reverb-drenched guitar lines of Hunter Simpson and Christopher Lauderdale’s shuffling, country-inspired drums are ever-present throughout innocuous numbers that pleasantly roll by like gentle waves, barely leaving a mark once the mild tide subsides. ★★★☆☆
The Last Astronaut Self-titled (Chill Mega Chill)
The Last Astronaut doesn’t as much toss its influences into a blender as it does gently stir them. Over the course of 11 songs, the duo demonstrates strong pop songwriting sensibilities, but with more than a few Modest Mouse soundalikes, including “Save Yourself” and “The Breaks.” Much like that Seattle-area band, The Last Astronaut is adept at combining somewhat serious subject matters (depression, fatherhood, death) with punchy rhythms and soaring melodies. When members X and Z (no, really) do deviate from lo-fi indie pop, it’s for more minimalist, electronic numbers such as the shuffling groove of “All Your Dark Arts,” and the Postal Service-like “Glorianna.” ★★★☆☆
Upcoming on Pj’s radar …
JAN. 7: Former Pavement frontman Stephen Malkmus releases his sixth solo album with his band the Jicks, Wig Out at Jagbags. JAN. 21: Big week for fresh sounds, including Against Me!’s Transgender Dysphoria Blues—the band’s first album since lead singer Laura Jane Grace came out as a transgender woman—and albums from two of today’s most interesting post-rock bands, Mogwai’s Rave Tapes and Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra’s Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything.