The true underrated queens of harmony, Lucius are awesome to listen to


Orville Peck – Bronco (Johannesburg, South Africa/Toronto)

Ever since taking the country genre in a mystifying new direction, Orville Peck has remained an enigma within the genre. His newest release blurs the lines between serious and pastiche-driven revival, and it’s in that place that Peck is able to craft something intensely listenable. Using the trotting beat and a lot of cheeky lyricism, “Daytona Sand” opens the record on a flurry of crescendos and grit. The “Ramble On”-like bass hook of “The Curse of the Blackened Eye” makes for a  warm and soothing bass for Peck to croon like the best of them, somehow eliciting Buffalo Springfield, Angel Olsen and Frankie Valli all in one song. “C’mon Baby, Cry” goes the most classic country energy, while being so unabashedly cheesy in its Wings-like production that you end up wanting to ride the highs regardless. It’s fascinating to see Peck’s transformation as a vocalist and performer however on “Let Me Drown” as he goes for the full ballad, and leans into all its darkness in something a little Meatloaf, but all of Peck’s kooky country.

Rachel Bobbitt  Tonight (Single)  (Toronto/Nova Scotia)

After her string of powerful singles, Rachel Bobbitt sticks the landing again with her new EP. While it’s fair to argue this feels like a very Canadian indie record, it also goes further than previous singles and reaches places between Mitski, Angel Olsen, Phoebe Bridgers and Snail Mail at times. “Watch and See” takes an already thumping indie rock track, and explode itself up several grades of power-pop in its fiery chorus, let alone those twangy breaks afterwards. The layers to the feeling on “Gemini Ties” lets every chord come off as warm and heartbroken all at once, and between the echoes, harmonies, and twists in each set of chord progressions, this track keeps you on your toes even for a slow jam. I’m admittedly a sucker for the style of chords Bobbitt uses on “What About The Kids,” but nevertheless she elevates it about fives times over through her beautiful riffs, growing takes on that core, and the cosmic effect she adds to the final choruses that slays me. The more downbeat and slow approach to “For Keeps” is a deceptive dagger of a track, critiquing a former partner, and letting the creeping dig of its light instrumentation lure you in before a folksy string break, then a heart-melting one, then a trip through a galactic headspace.

Lucius – Second Nature (Brooklyn/Los Angeles)

The true underrated queens of harmony in modern pop, Lucius are that band that you keep remembering just how awesome they are to listen to. Going full retro inspired this time around, the grooves are sublime, the vocals do that high 70s glide, and it’s just an infectious romp thanks to how sharp the writing is behind it. Even in its simplest pop format on “Second Nature,” they turn each left and right step into a funky swing, and select so many sonically satisfying tones for their keys, guitars and bass that the whole thing is a rich symphony of disco textures. The party keeps going on “Next to Normal,” with that sharp snarly guitar, and those ghostly harmonic shrills, turning each chorus into a goosebump-inducing ride. Things lean a little more 80s on “Dance Around It” through that chunky bass and big chorus, and the sense of desperation in their story of avoiding what you really want to say hurts to hear. That final chorus however, with Brandi Carlile and Sheryl Crow helping them just go into the stratosphere is delicious. The core emotions of “LSD” make you stick with it, and it rewards this patience with a slowly booming set of rhythms, frantic beats and a lot of dancing synth lines that soon become a wondrous soundscape to behold.

The Flatliners – New Ruin  (Richmond Hill, Ontario)

Grimy and relentless, the latest Flatliners record goes for it and never lets go of the bit. “Performative Hours” speaks to the best of hard rock shredding, and has that constant push and pull wail that lets its slips to fun pop work surprisingly easily. The sprawling boom of “Rat King” roars with fierce harmonies, and plays off like a cheeky ode to supporting your dark side every once in a while. The rollicking kick of “Oath” never ceases to keep its shriek going, but it’s so cutting in every hook, and particularly that combustive chorus that it uses its abrasive side to go all the way. There’s such a spirit to “Recoil” that the Flatliners just let fly in all its might and it features the greatest set of fades between a high soaring vocal and a blown-out guitar that I’ve heard in some time.

Father John Misty  – Chloë and the Next 20th Century (Rockville, MD)

Something borrowed, something new, something Tillman, always blue, that about sums up the vibe of the latest Father John Misty record. Though there’s a tad too much playing with lounge-like energy here, for whatever he gets out of it, there’s still some great writing from Tillman when he does what he’s strongest at. “Chloë” sets the record off on this oldies-style big band crooner joint, with Josh Tillman revelling in the theatrics, while also delivering some of his best poetry as the song goes further on. The alt-country of “Goodbye Mr. Blue” with its masterful strings is a welcome shift of place for Tillman, as he lets his signature vocal delivery take over this folky tune into something that feels ripped from a different time. The sense of longing can feel romantic and dangerously selfish on “Buddy’s Rendezvous” as Tillman seems to drift between an earnest soul ballad and a character piece, albeit one rich in heavy emotion and punchy sax. The morose tones of “The Next 20th Century” plays to the dystopian folk Tillman seems so singularly great at, with truly mesmerizing string breaks to take it over the top.