Old Canes -
Chris Crisci, frontman of the Appleseed Cast, is the driving force behind Old Canes - the indie rock band that released their sophomore effort just this week. Feral Harmonic is a noisy blast of folk rock that contrasts that more electric style of Crisci's other project, with the band members using acoustic guitars, drums and all sorts of percussion along with their leader's rough tenor voice. It's a raw and energetic album packed with noisy hooks and bright melodies, usually hitting hard and quick with the 12 songs coming in at just under 40 minutes. My favorites include "Little Bird Courage," with its insistent drum roll and hard-strummed guitar riff, and "I Will Be the Sun," which is even faster and messier yet just as melodic. There are some gentler moments on the album, like the brief, folky ballad "Under," and the upbeat but sparse instrumental "Black Hill Chapel," which are effective as well - but Feral Harmonic thrives on energy, and there's plenty of it on this strong sophomore effort from Old Canes.
Austin-based folk-pop group Wiretree also have a sophomore effort, Luck, just recently released this week, and by its inclusion on this feature, you know it's worth your time as well. The quartet - led by singer/songwriter Kevin Peroni - make clear, melodic pop music, borrowing bits from groups like The Beatles and Velvet Underground but with a modern indie rock twist. From crisp rockers like "Information" and "Back in Town" to the dark balladry of tracks like "Heart of Hearts," Wiretree sounds confident - and for good reason. The songs are well-written and the instrumentation sharp, with Peroni's smooth voice comfortably fitting into its niche. The album only contains nine original songs (and one demo of "Falling"), but with music this consistently great, 30 minutes is enough time to be satisfied. With Luck, Wiretree has become a band to know - make sure you get introduced as soon as possible.
Back in Town (MP3)
Satellite Song (MP3 via Under the Radar)
Parlour Steps -
Canadian indie-rockers Parlour Steps have been around for a few years, having just released their third album recently, but they've managed to keep an unfortunately low profile thus far. The five-piece band's new record - The Hidden Names - has served as an excellent introduction for me, and now I'm thinking I'll have to give the back catalog a listen. It's a hooky, melodic album filled with boy/girl harmonies, bouncy guitars, and arpeggiated keyboard riffs that balances a sharp wit and a more mature viewpoint admirably, and the band create some outstanding pop moments with this formula. The first half is packed with highlights, like the flowing "Little Steps," the perky, horn-laden "Soft Lies" and the simple acoustic ballad "Sleeping City," each song markedly different than the last but somehow creating a cohesive listening experience all the way through. The back half may lack the strong punch packed in the first, but there's nothing weak or bland anywhere to be found, and The Hidden Names impresses in some way at nearly every turn. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Little Pieces (MP3)
Bleeding Hearts (MP3)