Album Reviews: August 12, 2017

Soccer Mommy  – Collection (Nashville)

Effectively making a best-of of her previous releases on collection, Sophie Allison aka Soccer Mommy trims the fat to give listeners the perfect starting point for her Girlpool meets Chastity Belt style of writing. Starting on the self-referential "Allison" the album opens on glowing guitars and heavenly harmonies, crafting touching emotion between it all. Finding a little more pace on "Try" she brings in some surf without overtly diving in, offering knockout riffs while being witty at the same time. "Death By Chocolate" moves on its joyful melodies while utterly underscored by dark lyrics, making for a track that will hook you in emotionally. Somehow mashing up parts Nelly Furtado and the Cranberries on "3 AM at a Party," there's so much emotion that it's hard keep listening at times, but the stellar song writing and familiarity helps in handfuls.

GoldStripes – Tape 1: 24k Goldrush (Ottawa)

Another startling release from Ottawa's online hip hop community, Goldstripes offers up some dense and moving beats ready to shock. "Night Before" starts the record on a fluttering hook mixed with a dark overtone in its echo and dubstep in its bass. Going a little more dynamic and deep, "Brooklyn Dreams" is a sample and beat-heavy wonder, with blaring horns and sped-up shrieks that come together for a fast one-two punch. "Aw Dee O" races forward on a fast mix of cymbals and horns, mixing its speed with something heavier to craft a song that's equal parts hip hop and Motown. Going fully digital, "Roster" has electronic dirt in every note while its soothing synths have a few words to say on their own.

Naomi Punk – Yellow (Seattle)

A bloated release to be sure, this extensive release from the Seattle lo-fi art-rock outfit really only suffers from its organization as a record. Feeling more like two interesting yet utterly different records mashed together, its great songs tend to clash with each other. Starting on the ambient soundscapes of "Introduction I" and "Introduction II" there's a lot interesting hums and building, while light notes of movement tell a story all their own. Not running cohesively with the soundscapes, "Chernobyl Carrot" is the first real song of the record, hitting hard with clangs and a hefty stomp as it tears through the band's relentless pop-punk energy. "Cookie" manages something a bit more catchy in its delicious hooks, while its stop and start rhythms offer something dynamic to focus on. Before the album starts to really show its weaknesses as an album made up of two different records, "Cardboard" offers a loud and proud guitar-rock song, tumbling through post-choruses with heavy drums and an entrancing guitar line.

The Vile Bodies – Permanent Dive (Ottawa)

Taking Ottawa from more than just a punk-haven or by-product of its nearby scenes, The Vile Bodies offer lo-fi folk rock that says more. "Heaven" starts the record on a raw but emotionally full track that is brimming with energy and passion, all while incessantly catchy. Speeding up even more on "Getting The Band Back Together" they dirty up the guitars, blending it all together with a hissy sheen, and the smooth flow that connects it all makes for a track that's all to fun to dance to. Hitting a funky little groove, "Wharf Rat" has a delightful mix of underlying tones and its sunny horns make all the difference here. "Run Until The Porchlight's Gone" has a wonderful rush and sense of a party through the constant thump of drums and the screaming vocals.

Girl Ray – Earl Grey (London)

Offering drenched vocals and haunting harmonies over something delightfully witty but cutting. Blending parts of fellow UK acts like Cate Le Bon and Veronica Falls, Girl Ray finds serene pop between the two. Through flip-flopping rhythms and the yearning vocals of "Just Like That" there's so much going on that between the guitars and organ you can easily get lost. Moving to a more classic sound, the piano and acoustic guitar of "Monday Tuesday" finds a much sadder but penetrating emotion in its words. Tumbling on organs and dynamic drums, "Cutting Shapes" has a triumphant weight to its groove, as it moves along confidently. Proving that extended tracks can still work outside of the dance world, "Earl Grey (Stuck in a Groove)" makes it all work through its constantly changing sound, as it becomes a sprawling medley like "Band On The Run" and "Jesus Of Suburbia" before it. This said, it's ill-advised to jump right into this track without getting a feel for the band's sound first on the rest of the album.