On An On
Give In/Roll Call Records
Three members of the former indie pop band Scattered Trees formed the mysterious indie dream pop band On An On last year, and its debut Give In is an intriguing, experimental mix of electro beats, synth pop and rock. Tracks like “Cops” combine Nate Eiseland’s and Alissa Ricci’s respectively Chris Martinesque and heavenly vocals, and “Panic” sounds like garage rock mashed with the echoing guitars and upbeat rhythms of an ’80s era pop song. The band has a thing for moody aesthetics (check out the plodding, eight-minute-long ambient closer “I Wanted to Say More”) and contemplative content (first single “Ghosts”), but this isn’t a boring or depressing album. Give In is full of dips and bends as the album deftly navigates the emotional landscape of life. On An On’s debut is a splendid surprise, much like as it’s sudden appearance on the musical map was last year.
Late Night Alumni
The Beat Becomes a Sound/Ultra Records
The latest release from Late Night Alumni, The Beat Becomes a Sound follows precedent in combining a variety of elements that make its songs stand out. Although there are some nice surprises, the newest release captures the steadily expanding, hypnotic rhythms L.N.A. is known for. Check out the propulsive disco-style dance beats on “Ring a Bell” or the gorgeous combination of synth waves, keys, and subtle beats on “Every Breath is Like a Heartbeat.” The breathy, ethereal vocals of Becky Jean Williams are as entrancing as ever, but the fun doesn’t stop there. “Summer Lies” has a decidedly hip-hop flavor with dashes of funk and jazz for good measure, while “Sun Space” is a down-tempo piano ballad featuring beautiful, uncharacteristically somber, vocals from Williams. Toss in some tribal percussion on “Days” and you have some nice additions to the band’s sound on this release. The Beat Becomes a Sound isn’t the sort of epic that house music fans are accustomed to, but it is no less captivating.
The Lone Bellow
The Lone Bellow/Descendant Records
Brooklyn-based country rock trio The Lone Bellow’s self-titled debut album is making waves because it alternately soothes your soul and assists in drowning your sorrows. “The One You Should’ve Let Go” captures the scope and tone of the album’s content with its loping country rock and spine-tingling three-part harmonies lamenting a relationship that has passed its prime. “Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold” takes a positive approach in a dire situation with rousing vocals and an uplifting refrain about counting your blessings. And by the time the ballad “Tree to Follow” blasts into a rocking finale its vocals are sailing to the sky. The talented trio’s songs start to sound a bit familiar by the end of the record, but on the whole it’s a solid debut from a band on the rise.