Album Reviews: January 16, 2018

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club –  Wrong Creatures  (San Francisco)

After so many albums, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have found a new and unique sound for themselves, and is it ever worth hearing. Blending dark punk rock with a Southern growl, Wrong Creatures is one of their strongest releases in years. "DFF" sets the mood for the whole album, oozing haunting atmosphere through its brooding drums and tribal chants. "Spook" finds them launching into iconic rock drive while taking full advantage of their new ambiance. There's a menacing feeling to "King of Bones" however as they ramp up the heavy synths to make their most outlandish yet strong track on the record. "Echo" even brings in tones of U2's guitar work in its reverb-driven sound, as the rolling bass line builds on its dynamic sound.

Elementals – Mother Nature and Her Bipolar Tendencies  (Ottawa)

Elementals have always been known for being able to work their sound in interesting ways, and their latest LP is no different. The band brings a tense but distinct energy on "Medicine" as each chorus hook feels aggressive but intricate, tight and burning with real emotion. "Angel Static" strips so much away for its tender message of pain, letting guitar lines drip out to hammer home their feelings before exploding over each chorus. They keep it snappy on "Augusta" rasping out each verse with grit before popping into each bridge. The light drawl to "24" makes their huge production on the track feel all the more important, as they colour their sound to tell a personal story about their lives.

BØRNS – Blue Madonna  (Michigan)

Mixing pop and indie in the most unconventional ways, BØRNS has always impressed while making people want to dance. On his latest effort, BØRNS brings in vintage pop writing while upping the mystical qualities of his sound for a record that feels like a magical blast from the past. Blending his ethereal vocals with Lana Del Rey's venomous edge on "God Save Our Young Blood" BØRNS drives up the synths for choruses that really pack a punch. There's a more direct pop-rock drive to "Faded Heart" that makes all the spacey tones of the electronics make it feel more wondrous. "Sweet Dreams" really contrasts its distorted low tones with innocent highs to make a track that feels wholly fleshed-out. The most bizarre track on the record is "Iceberg" where BØRNS focuses his instrumentation on specific lyrics to hammer his message home.

Sweet Rocket – Above & Beyond (Ottawa)

The classic rock chops of Sweet Rocket feel constantly inspired without ever feeling derivative, making their latest record like a trip through time. Sloppy but thought out, "Drive Me Home" roars with their vintage rock energy without losing character by making it sound too robotic. Sweet Rocket gets delightfully tender on "Band Of Ponies" as they craft a dreamy but mystical story over their soft playing. Matching the intensity of its namesake film, "Das Boot" races with a brutal fury, mixing in enough exciting pop sensibility to make it feel like there's a constant movement to their playing. "OK Sick" wraps up the record on a breakneck beat that finds them ramping up the dynamics constantly to keep their more straightforward writing interesting.

The Academic – Tales From The Backseat (Kentucky)

The Irish rockers from The Academic have been dripping out tracks for years, but they really knocked it out of the park on their debut. Bringing a real sense of complexity to light indie rock, they are a standout in the youthful genre. "Permanent Vacation" hits with shimmering guitars that bring a euphoric energy while constantly feeling inviting. They twist this in the melancholy tones of "Bear Claws," as they make you invest in their story through their addictive melodies. "Fake ID" layers riffs intricately through the song, making each chorus more memorable through their clever mixing. While quite simple in writing, the neon tones of "Television" are viciously fast, making it all come together smoothly.