Dogheart, What Burns the Best (Self-released)
Do guitars grow on trees in Portland, Oregon? The city seems to produce an endless string of new bands, but not all of them are as talented as young trio Dogheart. On its self-released debut album, the band explores a lot of the territory once known as “college rock,” from the bass-driven opener “Night Jewels” and the moody, Smithereens-like “Dead Love” to the angular post-punk of “Holding Out” and bluesy dirge of “Pumpkin Face,” which features the shout-along chorus We’re coming for your blood/You better leave/You better learn/How to run. ★★★✩✩
Cafeïne, New Love (Indica Records)
French-Canadian musician Xavier Cafeïne recently relocated from Montreal to L.A., a move that informs his third album, chock-full of songs heavily influenced by late-1970s/early-’80s punk and new wave (there’s even a charged-up cover of The Gun Club’s “Sex Beat”). But although tracks such as “Left for Dead,” “Lettre d’amour” and “I Love You” wouldn’t sound out of place in circa-1978 CBGB, Cafeïne doesn’t entirely linger in the past on New Love—the title track’s buzzing synths recall MGMT and M83, while the propulsive “Electric” is more Bloc Party than Bloc Party. ★★★✩✩
The Districts, A Flourish and a Spoil (Fat Possum Records)
It’s unlikely you’ve heard of Lititz, Pennsylvania, but it’s been dubbed “America’s Coolest Small Town.” And after listening to the new album by Lititz-spawned quartet the Districts, it’s likely this band is the sole reason. On A Flourish and a Spoil, the group defies genre conventions, offering 10 tracks of earnest, atmospheric rock that spans four-on-the-floor gusto (“4th and Roebling”), acoustic soliloquizing (“Suburban Smell”) and crunchy dissonance (“Hounds”). Even the nine-minute “Young Blood” keeps things interesting with its quiet-to-loud dynamics, spacey middle section and guitar acrobatics. ★★★★✩
Upcoming album’s on Pj’s radar…
APR 07: The Waterboys are back after four years with Modern Blues.
APR 14: Calexico, Edge of the Sun.
APR 21: Venerable indie rock band Built to Spill drops its first album in six years, Untethered Moon.