The year might have started a little slow for indie music, but February took off like a rocket with some fantastic albums we are sure you will still be listening to as the calendar flips to 2013. We imagine Album Of The Month to be a close call each time out, but nearly all of the 'Also Worth A Listen' selections here could have just as easily been the pick this month.
Album Of The Month
Cursive: I Am Gemini
From the playfully taunting strut of "The Sun And Moon" to the devilishly jabbing "Warmer, Warmer", Tim Kasher and crew have a blast crafting the tale of two twins separated at birth on the band's seventh studio album. Shifty time changes and Kasher's uniquely splintered vocal delivery remain, with the creaky stomp of "Double Dead" and buzzsaw guitars of "Wowowow" keeping things plenty strange, but the are flourishes of melody around nearly every corner, as with the rumbling groove of "Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton", making this strange gem a more welcoming Cursive album than most.
Also Worth A Listen
Canadian singer-songwriter, Bahamas made a name for himself with the delightful, if a tad too placid, debut, Pink Strat. Things do not pick up much in tempo this time around, but he feels a bit more comfortable awash in the strummy mellow cool of his music on the lovely "Lost In The Light" , the drippy blues thump of "Never Again", and playfully bouncy "I Got You Babe".
Band Of Skulls: Sweet Sour
The dual vocalist approach of this blues-kissed UK rock trio returns with a spectacular sophomore album. The slithering guitar and menacing beat of the title-track opens the album with a track that pulls you in hard only to punch you in the gut, with the rest of the album finding you questioning how they are not yet a household name. The eerily alluring harmonies of Emma Richardson and Russell Mardsen add a touch of unexpected sweetness to snarling "You're Not Pretty But You Got It Going On" and turn "Bruises" into a heartbreaker. The antsy layers of sound on tracks like dazzling "Wanderluster" only add to the enticing package.
Dr. Dog: Be The Void
The lo-fi bluesy shimmer of opening "Lonesome" and tangled mash of antsy beats and organ on trippy pop tune "That Old Black Hole" pull you into Dr. Dog's latest quickly. The carefree, ramshackle production of these irresistibly catchy tunes works great with their creaky harmonies on tracks like swaying "Get Away" and blippy chimes and naked drums that greet "Heavy Light". If you have never heard of them, but enjoy Wilco's flair for experimental indie pop, you are in for a treat.
fun.: Some Nights
If there is any band in danger of having their harmonies materialize into delicious soft-serve ice cream as they ooze out of the speakers, it is fun. Their sophomore effort again succeeds on the strength of, former The Format frontman, Nate Ruess' vocals, balancing triumph and heartbreak with each soaring note. The steady assault of beats and soaring, gorgeously melodic hooks of tracks like "We Are Young", featured in Chevy's Superbowl commercial this year, is the very definition of power pop. Like their debut, there are a few awkward missteps, but what works here, like the relentlessly cheery title track and the strummy, hopeful stomp of "Carry On", far outweighs what falls flat.
Dream indie popsters, Geographer will melt your soul with their graceful, gorgeous sophomore album. The trio win your heart quickly with the vocals of Michael Deni gracefully oozing through the hypnotic blend of synth and beats on the opening "Life Of Crime", and hold you in breathless anticipation of where they head next with each passing new wave kissed gem. Melodic strummer "The Myth Of Youth", blippy bounce of "Lovers Game", and twirling lead single "Kites" will keep this album in heavy rotation well into Summer.
Heartless Bastards: Arrow
If you like a little country in your rock n roll, or a little rock n roll in your country, the gorgeous fourth album from this fantastic quartet will satisfy your wants. The achy heartbreak in Erika Wennerstrom's vocals weaving through the dancing guitar and bass groove of "Only For You" and the steady cool of "Marathon" show the band's softer side, while the ragged strummer "Parted Ways" and thick swath of guitar on "Late In The Night" show off their more rock edged side. Produced by Spoon drummer Jim Eno, consider this proof that Britt Daniel is not the only member of the legendary indie rock outfit that can produce a kick-ass album.
Ben Kweller: Go Fly A Kite
Folky singer-songwriter, Ben Kweller adds a bit more southern rock twang to his sound this time around, proving a welcome change that flushes out the rocking verses and poppy melodic hook of "Mean To Me" well. The piano he has leaned on in recent albums returns on the jangling classic pop of "Jealous Girl" and boppy "Gossip", but the album succeeds largely on the heavier reliance of guitars lending Kweller a bit more of an edge his feel-good tunes.
Audra Mae and The Almighty Sound: Audra Mae And The Almighty Sound
In some ways the debut from Audra Mae's new band sounds like a more flushed-out, country dipped take on Asteroids Galaxy Tour, but that somehow sells the crackling energy and infectiously swaggering confidence of the album short. One listen to twangy gem "My Friend The Devil" or soulful flickering "The Real Thing" and you will be left wondering where Mae has been your whole life.
Anais Mitchell: Young Man In America
The taut, haunting fifth studio album from, folk singer-songwriter, Anais Mitchell is tough to get out of your ears once you hear it. The restless beauty in the achy vocals twisting through the title track, the delightfully splotchy harmonies and drizzled guitar of "Dyin Day", and casually captivating vibe of "Ships" make this the kind of album that sends you instantly searching for her previous work to catch up on what you have been missing. The loose, rhythmic strut of "Smokin The Boys" and steady step of working man blues "Ne'er Do Wells" round out the vibrant, diverse album well.
Shearwater: Animal Joy
The chilling falsetto of Jonathan Meiburg pairs with sparkling acoustic-based arrangements on the Texas indie outfit's latest offering, making for an intense listening experience that demands your attention with its grace and beauty as often as it does with the uptempo strut of tracks like "Immaculate". The way Meiburg quivers through the quaking backing of "Breaking The Yearlings" and the puffy-chested demand on jangling "You As You Were" makes this a magical, breathtaking album.
Tennis: Young & Old
Husband and wife throwback duo, with drummer James Barone joining on their first tour, Tennis had an awful lot of hype behind them when their debut, Cape Dory hit last year. With The Black Keys' Patrick Carney handling production, their sophomore effort sounds much more capable of reaching the towering heights their debut's hype promised. Alaina Moore's classic pop vocals roaring through the shaggy "It All Feels The Same", jangling piano of "Petition", and boppy, sweet winner "Origins" show that just because you find a band overhyped at first does not mean there is true talent there waiting to deliver the goods.
Rosie Thomas: With Love
It is both appropriate and a shame that this album came out on Valentine's Day. Thomas' latest is so bursting at the seems with love and affection that songs like the fantastically cheery "Over The Moon" are exactly the kind of tunes that induce that ear-to-throat gag reflex in those averse to V-Day. For those not afraid for a little love and hope in their indie, give the tender "2 Birds" and pretty "Where Was I" a shot and see how quickly the album wins you over.
The Twilight Sad: No One Can Ever Know
The third album from Scottish brooding rockers The Twilight Sad places the lads somewhere between The Smiths and Editors with shadowy romantic tunes like "Alphabet" and methodically twittering, sparsely lit "Sick". The album is a stark, mesmerizing listen that is hard to escape, with songs like the murky "Not Sleeping" and humming synth and rumbling bass of "Another Bed" grabbing hold of you tight and refusing to let go.