Mighty Fox, Oceans (Self-released)
It’s terribly lazy for a music writer to use the formula of “X meets X” as shorthand for describing a band’s sound. But, well, here on Mighty Fox’s latest release—a six-song EP that’s really more of a short album than an extended play single—the Chicago-based quartet effectively pulls off a sound that’s Mumford & Sons-meets-U2. Driving rhythms, anthemic choruses, subtle use of electronic sounds that don’t diminish the power of a delay-rich lead guitar line—we’ve heard it all before, but it’s used to surprisingly good effect on Oceans, carried by lead singer Mike Jansen’s urgent, rich tenor. ★★★✩✩
Blue Skies for Black Hearts, Self-titled (Self-released)
Portland, Oregon’s Blue Skies for Black Hearts is back with its sixth long-player, a self-titled collection of songs that throws the best popular styles of the 1960s and ’70s into a blender to come up with nine tracks that do little to let on that they were recorded in the 21st century. From jangly Beatles-esque pop and doo-wop to mellow folk-rock and rambunctious garage sounds, Blue Skies for Black Hearts’ latest album doesn’t say much, but instead just lets its melodies, grooves and harmonies do the talking. ★★★✩✩
Hawks Do Not Share, Self-titled (Predator Friendly Records)
While their synth-wielding peers are creating dance floor-friendly fare, Portland, Oregon, trio Hawks Do Not Share is more concerned with moving hearts than booties. On mid-tempo numbers “Crumble Lines,” “Over Our Shoulders” and “Break Even,” the trio layers high bass lines, ethereal synth washes and chiming guitars over icy, programmed beats while singer George Lewis III tells sad stories in his breathy, reverb-drenched voice. Sure, it’s all straight out of the synthpop playbook, but Martin Gore won’t lose any sleep over it. ★★★✩✩
Upcoming albums on Pj’s radar …
JULY 15: It’s New Music from Old Punkers day—Pennywise releases Yesterdays, its first album with original singer Jim Lindberg since 2008’s Reason to Believe, and Rise Against drops its seventh album, The Black Market.
JULY 22: Hair metal band Kix is back with its first new album in 19 years, promising “straight up guitar rock with no compromise.”
JULY 29: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are back with their 13th studio album, Hypnotic Eye.