There's no shortage of boy/girl indie-pop bands. In fact, there's been such a saturation that recently that description is more likely to make me wary than excited. Still, some groups manage to rise above what have now become cliched aspects of a somewhat tired genre - LAKE is one of those bands. Led by singer/songwriters Eli Moore and Ashley Eriksson, LAKE has released a stunning new album entitled Let's Build a Roof, a sophisticated - yet melodic - set of intriguing pop songs. The tracks utilize various instrumental approaches while Moore and Eriksson trade off on the vocal duties (occasionally combining their voices), yet the album remains cohesive despite its many facets. Highlights include the beautifully executed "Gravel," with its busy horns and menacing piano, the light, keyboard-centric funk of "Madagascar" and the delightfully breezy ballad "Acorn." The record's low-key pace and all-encompassing pop style makes Let's Build a Roof an album you need to hear.
Madagascar (MP3 via Pitchfork)
Erik Gundel -
Erik Gundel is perhaps best known for his guitar and pedal steel work with indie rockers Motel Motel, who's excellent debut album was just re-released this year, but recently Erik sent me a copy of his side project EP - simply entitled EP Gundel - and I quickly decided his solo work was very much worth becoming familiar with as well. The songs on EP Gundel bear little resemblance to the music of Erik's main gig, and the eerie, experimental pop sound (perhaps more akin to indie heavyweights Grizzly Bear, or even The Beach Boys at times) is well-composed and beautifully presented throughout the album's five tracks. Whether presenting avant-garde instrumental snapshots ("Turkulent Indigo") or sweeping, vocal-centered songs ("Lake on My Roof"), Gundel's substantial talent shines bright as he uses piano, guitar, percussion, vocal harmony, and atmospheric effects to create a wonderful balance between exploration and accessibility. This is uniquely gorgeous stuff - take a listen.
Lake on My Roof (MP3)
The Lower 48 -
After first listening and being intrigued by The Lower 48's debut EP, Everywhere to Go, I got a hold of the band's press release and was surprised to find that not only has the quartet only been together since January of this year, but every member is under the age of 20. The five folk tunes comprising the new EP certainly carry a sense of bright-eyed youthfulness, but the poise and talent with which this group executes their songs is nothing short of remarkable. Also, the sultry, smokey voice (something like an earthier version of Thao from The Get Down Stay Down or maybe Alison Sudol of a Fine Frenzy) belonging to the band's female lead could fool just about anyone. Highlights from the group include the simple folk duet "Transmission Pt. 1" and the emotive pop ballad "Bedroom," each tune showing a slightly different aspect to the group's sound and making me excited to hear what these four do next and - hopefully - soon. Give them a listen below.
Transmission Pt. 1 (MP3)