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The Boy Least Likely To – The Great Perhaps album review

The Boy Least Likely To’s The Great Perhaps is a sonically childlike trip through the broken heart. The Boy’s third effort, The Great Perhaps is, similar to their albums in the past, quirky and light-hearted, but decidedly less successful in marrying its childlike charm with more mature themes. At its best The Great Perhaps juxtaposes their youthful sound with adult lyrical content quite charmingly, at its worst veering on tastelessness and gimmick.

Jof Owen and Pete Hobbs formed The Boy Least Likely To in 2002, and have remained refreshingly outside of the ups and downs of the indie pop world ever since. Their first record, The Best Party Ever found The Boy’s quite a lot of success with many ad placements including General Motors and Apple, sharing the same childlike themes and tinkling production as The Great Perhaps. However, it was decidedly more refined, more mature.

The Boys find their stride halfway through the album with the ballad “Michael Collins.” It’s melodies are reminiscent of Pink Floyd, and the lyrical content is the most deeply developed on the album. On the other end of the spectrum is the track “Even Jesus Couldn’t Mend My Heart.” Thematically this song is a bit of a conundrum, with the prevalent Jesus reference, but that may be a matter of taste. Owen and Hobbs take the juxtaposition between heartbroken lyrical content and childlike (reminiscent of video-game sounds of my childhood) production too far on this one; it feels tasteless.

As a complete work, The Great Perhaps is a charming effort from a comfortingly out-of-the-loop duo. They are not concerned with trends or ebbs and flows of indie pop music, simply progressing from album to album in their own way. They get to a catchy and charming point for the last half of the record, “The Dreamer Song” is a definite standout with its soaring melody and nostalgic vibe, even a Beach Boys influenced harmony. I just wish that they got to this charming point sooner.

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The Besnard Lakes – Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO album review

Besnard Lakes create a space to float through, you could even call that space a dreamscape. Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO is an ambient record, at times psych-influenced, at times dream-pop. With eight tracks all over five or six minutes long, “Until in Excess” surrounds you in a vague place that is disconcerting and comforting simultaneously.

Forming in 2001 in Montreal, Besnard Lakes is the project of husband and wife team Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas. With a rotating cast of band members, the band put out their first full-length in 2003, Besnard Lakes, Vol. 1. Since then they have put out two other albums The Besnard Lakes Are the Dark Horse and Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night, and worked on a few soundtracks for Mark Ruffalo. Apart from Besnard Lakes, Lasek and Goreas run Breakglass Studios, recording albums for Stars, Wolf Parade, and other Canadian acts. The fact that they are producers is evident in Until in Excess, as the production is painstaking and multi-layered, surrounding you with sound.

The album begins slow and somewhat somberly with “46 Satires,” but it builds steadily for a couple of songs until “People of the Sticks” quite frankly shocks you with its foot tapping groove and circular guitar riff. It’s a definite standout track. From here the album really takes off, and Lasek’s vocals begin to totally fascinate the listener. On “The Specter” Lasek sounds like a mix of Brian Wilson (the dreamy harmonies definitely help), and the softer side of Jim James. The overall effect of Lasek’s upper register and the larger-than-life, dreamy production (shoegaze-y sound, slowly building song structure) reminds me undeniably of M83, especially 2011’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. Goreas’ vocals are eerily similar to early Broken Social Scene, which brings me right back to my high school days (think “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl”). This is actually very interesting, as Besnard Lakes have an innately nostalgic sound; you feel not quite sad, but…wistful? Ultimately the record ends on an optimistic, albeit psychedelic note after bringing you on an aural adventure; “Color Yr Lights In,” a definite highlight of the album, feels like everything’s going to be alright. Lasek’s voice soars with conviction, and the upbeat chord progression lifts you out of the haze you didn’t even realize you were in for the last two songs.

And therein lies the magic of Until in Excess…I was honestly challenged to get through this record at first, losing myself in the shoegaze clouds, and just when I felt myself drifting off, the optimistic, soaring strings and driving drums shook me back to reality, a little different than I was before. Listen to Until in Excess on a long drive, or alone on your bedroom floor.

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music videos reviews

Deap Vally – Get Deap EP review

“That’s really the spirit of rock and roll, rebellion….And, like, release.” These are the opening words of the Get Deap EP video trailer, spoken by both halves of Deap Vally, Julie Edwards and Lindsey Troy. After spending some quality time with Get Deap, it’s undeniable: These girls are committed wholeheartedly to rock. Deap Vally formed in 2011 when Edwards (drums) and Troy (guitar, vocals) met (adorably) at a knitting class in Silver Lake, California. Their single “Gonna Make My Own Money” was well received in both the United States and the United Kingdom, and they started work on their soon to be released full-length between the UK and LA, finishing recording in Los Angeles.

The four-song EP opens with the single “Lies.” Thematically it’s a simple scorned woman story, damning the no-good cheater who “spread his seed.” The rest of the EP plays out this empowered girl theme, from the in-your-face and totally badass “Gonna Make My Own Money,” to “Ain’t Fair,” which pokes a stick in the side of the powers that be, perhaps specifically in the music industry, with sarcastic lines like, “thanks for your submission/we’ll get back to you soon.” The track “End of the World” goes in a slightly different direction, preaching love and understanding. It’s almost a protest song with lines like, “there’s a thing I like to call it, brother/when you fight and you kill/you’re at war with each other/it’s the end of the world.”

It’s hard to ignore the similarities between Deap Valley and anything Alison Mosshart related; you hear a lot of both The Kills and Dead Weather in Get Deap, and that’s a great thing. You might hear some comparisons between Deap Vally and the Black Keys floating around, but beyond the obvious two piece, drums and guitar composition of the band, Deap Vally goes significantly, way harder than the Keys. They also beg comparison to Led Zeppelin, if Led Zeppelin were pissed off, empowered girls.

With their crunchy guitars, badass girl harmonies, and sing-along worthy choruses, I’m a fan. (Not to mention their excellent glam/garage rock look). I can’t wait to catch them at Psychfest (April 26-28) and Bonnaroo (June 13-16), as they’re making the festival rounds on both sides of the pond this summer with stops at Lollapalooza, Leeds Festival, Outside Lands, Reading Festival, and more. Pick up their new full length Sistrionix, set to drop at the end of June.