The Head and the Heart
Let’s Be Still/Sub Pop
The latest record from this folk/pop/rock band is a beauty. Thought-provoking, well-
crafted with great melodies and variety, Let’s Be Still is easy to enjoy. “Another Story” is pleasing piano rock given greater power in lines like “tell you one thing/ain’t gonna change much/the sun still rises/even with the pain,” and the folk track “These Days Are Numbered” zeroes in on love. The title track exhorts us to stop and smell the roses, so to speak, and the upbeat jangly pop rock of “Summertime” will offer encouragement of a different kind once the doldrums of winter set in. By the time you get to the heaven-reaching final moments of the closer “Gone,” you will be fully convinced of the need to live each day as though it is your last—a fitting note for the album to end on.
Moby’s 1999 breakout album, Play, proved he could swing, rock, and jive with all the funk and soul of a Motown stalwart in addition to being a successful EDM artist, and he hasn’t stopped since. His latest release features down-tempo rhythms and lush orchestration (“A Case for Shame”), organic and primal percussion (“Saints”), and even hints of jazz (“Going Wrong”) along with his normal moody, emotional sonic aesthetics. “Don’t Love Me” is a rock and soul hybrid with ominous keys leading the way, and “The Perfect Life” features a gospel choir in the background. Moby fills the album with guest appearances by Damien Jurado, Skylar Grey and Mark Lanegan among others, proving he has a few tricks up his sleeve. Innocents is a serious work with its meditations on the loss of innocence, and not exactly a happy record, but there is beauty in the sadness all the same.
The Avett Brothers
Magpie and the Dandelion/American Recordings
The Avett Brothers’ new album, Magpie and the Dandelion, is exquisite. Anchored by youthful wonder, the record depicts the ups and downs, dreams and fears of the young. Tracks like the bluegrass rocker “Open Ended Life” linger on commitment issues, while the pop rock track “Another is Waiting” uses lyrics “it’s a fake/it’s a hoax” to embody the spirit of distrust. The folk number “Apart From Me” makes you think twice about whether “everybody wants to be a rock star,” and the piano ballad “Vanity” uses reveals the double-edged sword that the need for self-expression really is. “Morning Song” is a brilliant insight to breaking a hopeful spirit (“It’s all right if you finally stop caring, just don’t go and tell someone that does.”), and ends with the chorus “I have to find that melody alone” amplifying individual belief to a universal one.