Kai Exos, Telegraph (Self-released)
On his independently released debut album, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Kai Exos fuses classic soul music with modern pop sensibilities to craft a sound that’s both fresh and familiar. Although opener and lead single “Vigilante” features a slickly produced sound with programmed beats and a soaring, multitracked chorus, the rest of the album feels much more organic, with unfussy, minimal, live instrumentation, best exhibited on songs such as “Joe” and “Morning Song.” It’s a thoughtful, soulful pop style that feels less manufactured than, say, Bruno Mars, and much more like a surprising soul combo you stumble across in the corner of a neighborhood lounge late at night. And even piano-driven ballads such as “Apart” work well—sweet and poetic without a whiff of cheese. ★★★★✩
Resistor, First World Problems (Self-released)
Built around tinny electronic sounds reminiscent of Erasure and early Depeche Mode—but without the sophistication of those acts—most of the 11 tracks on First World Problems are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Irony is evident on the title track as well as the first single, “Narcissist,” on which Resistor mastermind Steve Goldberg sings It’s hard to see why they don’t try/to be a little more like me/such a lovely sight to see/that I oughta charge a fee/to passersby. It’s also hard to see which songs on his debut album are meant to be taken seriously. ★★✩✩✩
Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun, Q.U.A.D.S. EP (Greyday Records)
With a move away from the brattier, more guitar-oriented tone of its earlier recordings, Atlanta’s Today the Moon, Tomorrow the Sun trades up to a more mature and polished indie-dance-rock hybrid without sacrificing its youthful vigor. The sound is still dirty and organic, with the electronic elements used as tools, not crutches. Lead singer Lauren Gibson’s melodic vocals recall Deborah Harry, while the music pulsates along like The Faint as produced by M83. The only drawback of Q.U.A.D.S is that it’s only a four-song EP. ★★★★✩
Upcoming albums on Pj’s radar …
Australian downtempo diva Sia returns with a new pop disc, 1000 Forms of Fear.
The Pope of Mope himself, Morrissey, releases his 10th solo studio album, World Peace Is None of Your Business, which he recently called a follow-up to his 1988 debut Viva Hate.
Portland, Oregon, quintet Blue Skies for Black Hearts drops its latest LP, a self-titled collection of new indie rock jams.