Arcade Fire / The Suburbs / Merge
Instead of swerving into an indie bank splotched with razor sharp synth riffage, Arcade Fire release a homegrown rock side of them. The group’s third LP, The Suburbs, still treasures eerie melodic mood swings as seen on “Ready To Start” and “Half Light I”, but its the homage to Canadian rock n’ roll that pierces the ear. The Montrealers test their limits by grasping bare bone rock jams, porch-swinging jingles and dreary lullabies like “Suburban War” where reminiscing about a lost friend hits you on a level similar to losing a loved one. Endearing, yes, but The Suburbs is a comforting musical passage that weaves you through sentimental tales and genres and clarifies Arcade Fire superior experimentation will never burn out.
Download: “Suburban War”, “The Suburbs”
Norma Jean / Meridional / Razor & Tie
Expect the unexpected. Fan or not, Norma Jean’s latest offering (and first on Razor & Tie) is a compelling force born to knock a few ribs loose and put your jaw out of place. On Meridonial, the Georgia quintet literally smother their past releases with reckless shredding, stab it repeatedly with a stunning vocal range and “finish them” with concise yet consistent melodies packaged in a wrecking ball. The Thrice undertones and exploitation of metalcore overwhelms the disc’s length and prevails by assisting the group in their display of their heaviest and most diabolical release to date.
Download: “The Anthem Of Angry Brides”, “Fallen From The Sky: Day Seven”
Avenged Sevenfold / Nightmare / Warner
Slapped in the face with the idea of being a tribute album to a fallen comrade, the California outfit keep their signature thrash but downplay any signs of opening up their wounds. Instead of howling at a cursed moon, Avenged Sevenfold almost seemed restrained, pushing glam metal fillers in “Buried Alive” and “Welcome To The Family”. Sidestep the abundance of odd ballads and you see M. Shadows screeching over terrorized chords with an intent to destroy, that is until the group curls back into the fetal position in search of a soul to cuddle.
Download: “Natural Born Killer”, “Nightmare”
The Maine / Black And White / Warner
The Maine have been known to fuse pop with heartache and cheerful hooks for a few years now but on this summer road trip, the Arizona five-piece have ditched the neon digs for a more urban look. Proclaimed to be a rock record, Black And White dusts off the sophomore slump with simplistic, relatable numbers that slobber over radio stations and teen girls with a soft spot for teasing choruses. The cheap thrill mainstream guitar solos (“Colour”, “Listen To Your Heart”) and bold attempts at arena anthems (“Give It To Me”) make the group seem like knock-offs but the refined sound shows progress, even if it seems like singer John O’Callaghan and the pop rock squad are holding back on the talent they actually have inside.
Download: “Growing Up”, “Right Girl”