Album reviews: Bonny Doon, Melody’s Echo Chamber, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Kingdom of Mustang and La Luz

Detroit's Bonny Doon plays three area shows this summer. publicity image Detroit’s Bonny Doon plays three area shows this summer. publicity image

Melody’s Echo Chamber

Bon Voyage (Fat Possum)

Melody Prochet’s 2012 debut was produced by Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and shared many stylistic markers with Impala’s Innerspeaker, which was just peachy. Bon Voyage was co-produced by Dungen’s Reine Fiske, but while Fiske’s guitar and Dungen main man Gustav Esjtes’ flute are present here, they’re not exactly in effect—and neither is anything else. Every song on Bon Voyage is a confused mess, like a bowl full of every kind of cereal you’ve ever had. The cinematically psychedelic rock of “Cross My Heart” takes a hard left into ’90s dance-rock territory, synthesized record scratches and all. Brief, vaguely exotic modal passages pointlessly interrupt the dank Melody Nelsonisms of “Vision of Someone Special,” and primal-scream shrieks, trap hi-hat clicks and some unaccompanied heavy breathing pop up on “Desert Horse.” Prochet’s thin cooing is all that unites the seven songs on Bon Voyage. I wanna go home.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Hope Downs (Sub Pop)

With nary an intro, Melbourne’s Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever charges out of the gates with the vigorous groove of “Air Conditioned Man” and doesn’t let up for the majority of its full-length debut, Hope Downs. RBCF sounds as tight as you’d expect from a band that includes a pair of brothers and a pair of cousins, and singer Tom Russo has the Aussie/NZ knack for sounding endearing while lovelorn, and melodic while not even singing a proper melody. Hope Downs should be a crowd-pleaser, and by the time RBCF plays Seattle’s Bumbershoot September 1, the band might have to move to the main stage.

Kingdom of Mustang

Kingdom of Mustang (self-released)

The trifecta! I’m a sucker for a statement of purpose, and what else could a self-titled song on a self- titled album possibly be? Kingdom of Mustang’s entry is well-tempered power pop, and more than an ode, because these guys were there—KoM comprises members of legendary 1970s-80s Charlottesville bands like The Deal and SGG&L. The 17 (!) cuts on this debut could be used in a songwriting textbook—the mid-tempo chapter; “Ketamine” is the only fast one—and their hooks and harmonies will fill the air at Durty Nelly’s on June 15.

La Luz

Floating Features
(Hardly Art)

That La Luz is from L.A. seems particularly noteworthy regarding Floating Features, and not just because one cut is called “California Finally”—the title track opens with ’60s karate movie vibes, and “Cicada” follows up with spaghetti western guitar. If the “features” are films, La Luz makes some engaging and entertaining ones—it roots everything in crunching garage and lilting desert rock, and makes you sure you can smell the surf. It might get a little samey, but Floating Features would still sound pretty sweet at your next pool-crashing.

Bonny Doon

Longwave (Woodsist)

Bonny Doon comes from Detroit, though it makes sense the band is named for a town near Santa Cruz. The group’s rolling twang—a few clicks west of label mates Real Estate—comes so easy it sounds like cheating. The lyrics feel even more effortless, if not borderline trite on both the down side (“And I should be happy / but I’m not”) and the upside (“You are who you’re supposed to be”). Doesn’t matter much, as Longwave casually and coolly rides its sleepy ’70s Cali reboot into that mellow Pacific sunset. Bonny Doon hits D.C.’s Black Cat on June 12 and RVA’s Strange Matter July 11, both with the much-hyped Snail Mail, and on August 15 BD plays The National with Band of Horses.

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