By Alex Brenner
Lucero – 1372 Overton Park
Usually when a cool indie band signs to a major label it’s the beginning of the end. After eight years of bad record deals and playing 200 shows a year Lucero’s hard work has finally paid off. This record sounds big, I mean huge. Rounded out by a full horn section and B-3 organ this is the record Lucero fans have been waiting for. Still country, still punk and still singing about broken hearts; singer Ben Nichols’ weary voice will make you believe every word. Highlights like the closing ballad “Hey Darling Do You Gamble?” and rockers like “The Devil and Maggie Chascarillo” make this album a contender for record of the year.
Nirvana - Bleach (Reissue)
I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since the release of this album. For those of you not old enough to remember Nirvana or not cool enough to know, before all the Teen Spirit there was Bleach. I was amazed after listening to this record how relevant is still is today. Songs like “Negative Creep” and “Blew” still sound as fuzzy as ever. This is a classic amongst the Sub Pop releases and legend has it recorded for a mere $600. This 20th Anniversary reissue comes with 48 page booklet and previously unseen photos. There will also be a vinyl pressing on 180 gram white vinyl; the original first run of Bleach was on white vinyl so that’s pretty cool. The added bonus is a 12 song DVD, Live at Pine Street Theatre, from 1990 which is most of Bleach along with other classics like “Molly’s Lips”, “Been a Son” and “Dive”. Even if you are not a big fan or a nostalgia king such as me, this is a great record to either discover for the first time or reacquaint yourself with.
The Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
The Avett Brothers have been one of the biggest grassroots success stories since maybe Dave Matthews (but they are a lot cooler than that guy). On their sixth album and major label debut produced by Rick Rubin (instant cred) they have expanded their sound with more lush arrangements. While Rubin is known for bringing artists back to the raw roots; this record is way more polished than anything the Avetts have ever done. There is a lot of piano on this record. Is it a bad thing? This record definitely lacks the raw feeling of their earlier releases but these are some of the best songs they have written to date. With the poppy “Kick Drum Heart” or the gorgeous opener “I and Love and You,” this is a solid effort and worth a listen.
Tegan and Sara – Sainthood
On their sixth studio album, once again produced by Death Cab for Cutie’s Chris Walla, this Canadian duo once again hit pop brilliance with a more band oriented sound. For longtime fans looking for The Con part 2 prepare to be disappointed – not that this is a bad thing. This record is filled with 80′s pop synths and punk pop melodies which makes it 40 minutes of pure ecstasy. This record is more focused and even a little brighter than their previous releases. Songs like “Hell” and “The Cure” show major maturity with their cutting lyricism and soaring melodies. This is an easy listen and worth checking out.