Our Lady Peace / Burn Burn / Coalition Entertainment
With the release of Burn Burn, Toronto’s Our Lady Peace is approaching its 20th anniversary. Formed in 1992 and with 6 full-length albums already under their belt, this disc unfortunately marks the band’s continued slide toward mediocrity. Generic power ballads (the first single “All You Did Was Save My Life”) and vague Christian themes (the aforementioned lead single and “White Flags”) make listeners nostalgic for OLP’s glory days when Raine Maida seemed to have a little more to say. “Dreamland” is a catchy, up-lifting track that sounds like it was put together using some verses Maida left off his solo single “Yellow Brick Road.” The raucous “Monkey Brains” is the sole nod to the band’s grunge tradition, while every other song is saturated with bland, piano-accented maturity.
Download: “Monkey Brains”
Portugal. The Man / The Satanic Satanist / Equal Vision
The latest from experimentally-inclined group Portugal. The Man starts inexplicably with a live recording of “Do You Live”, complete with background crowd banter, that sounds like it was recorded using a cell phone. Once past that strange production choice, the album treats listeners to 11 studio tracks that blend funk and hippie-tinged classic rock that’s not shy with its riffs. Singer and multi-instrumentalist John Baldwin Gourley’s versatile pipes create a moving falsetto similar to Avey Tare from Animal Collective or Chris Keating from Yeasayer. While “Guns and Dogs” and “Work All Day” give a hint at a rougher edge, most tracks have a laid back feel perfect for getting high or getting down.
Download: “People Say” and “Guns and Dogs”
August Burns Red /Constellations / Solid State
Call August Burns Red a more melodic version of Unearth or a more metalcore version of The Satellite Years-era Hopesfall, but just make sure you call them talented. For the majority of Constellations the band impresses with a constant onslaught of snapping snare, furious bellows and splintered fretboards. However, where a classic metalcore band like Unearth might give listeners no room to catch their breath, on tracks like “Ocean of Apathy” and “Marianas Trench” anger gives way – briefly – to emotive melodic bridges reminiscent of Between The Buried and Me, exemplifying ABR’s desire to bring their sound onto the fringe of progressive metal. Speaking of BTBAM, Tommy Rogers, vocalist for the influential Charlotte, North Carolina metal outfit, lends backup vocals on the fast paced “Indonesia.” This is a must-hear for metal heads.
Download: “Marianas Trench” and “Indonesia”
Owl City / Ocean Eyes / Universal
23-year old Adam Young, mastermind behind the one-man project of Owl City, makes his major label debut with Ocean Eyes, a collection of electro-synth pop that has been polished to a fine sheen. For a new generation of MySpace teenagers that are too young to recall Two-Thousand-Ought-Three, Ocean Eyes will sound fresh. If you’re a little older than that though, stick Ocean Eyes in your player and you’ll be sure The Postal Service has put out a new album. The single “Hello Seattle” not only name drops the Puget Sound region of Washington State (also done in The Postal Service’s song “This Place is a Prison”), the ambient electronic beeps on the track are more than a little reminiscent of those on The Postal Service hit “Such Great Heights.” Oh, and Young’s vocals are practically indistinguishable from Ben Gibbard’s (Death Cab For Cutie, The Postal Service). Call these similarities coincidences or homages – or something more insulting – but once you get past them Ocean Eyes is a very enjoyable listen. Owl City’s simple love songs are all giddily optimistic, yet still fit for both the young and the young at heart. What’s more, the accompanying tunes are perfect for the warm weather.
Download: “Hello Seattle” and “Umbrella Beach”