Indie rock fans, rejoice: The music industry has a few late Christmas presents in store for fans of staccato guitar licks, ethereal mandolin riffs and switching rhythms.
“Beta Love” — Ra Ra Riot
Release Date: Jan. 22, Barsuk Records
The aptly named “Beta Love” is a heavy departure from the band’s 2008 release, “The Rhumb Line,” which was rife with upbeat electric guitar and clearly showed off the talents of the band’s range of instrumentalists. Instead, Ra Ra Riot’s new release is a subtle, noisy ’80s ode that is more basement-generated noise rock than the particular brand of ironic, sunshine rock popularized by bands like Two Door Cinema Club and The Temper Trap. Song previews on the group’s website show an entirely new sound, featuring piano synths on the eponymous track, “Beta Love,” and airy vocals on the sleepy ballad, “When I Dream.” The band’s sixth album is less of a step forward from 2010’s “The Orchard” and more of a step in an entirely new direction.
“Wolf’s Law” — The Joy Formidable
Release Date: Jan. 22, Atlantic Records
Doe-eyed Ritzy Bryan leads Welsh trio The Joy Formidable on its latest single, “This Ladder Is Ours,” off the group’s sophomore release, “Wolf’s Law.” On the back of the success that was the band’s debut album, “The Big Roar,” which put it on the industry’s map — and the Billboard US Heatseekers chart — it is building on its punk-rock roots to develop its momentum into airplay. The three singles released ahead of its second album show a new maturity in songwriting. Bryan’s voice is as dynamic as ever, and “This Ladder Is Ours” is certainly a nod to classic female-led punk bands, but she is no longer yelling at listeners. She doesn’t need to — the music is sure to speak for itself.
“Hummingbird” — Local Natives
Release Date: Jan. 29, Infectious Records
In 2009, Los Angeles-based group Local Natives released “Gorilla Manor,” one of the best indie albums of the relatively young movement, led by the ubiquitous single “Wide Eyes.” The band’s back this January with a follow-up that is gunning to be even better. Resplendent with the same jumpy drumming and genuine songwriting that made “Gorilla Manor” so rich, “Hummingbird” factors in yet more harmony and heart on tracks such as its lead single, “Breakers,” which came paired with a dreamy, multi-layered music video. Local Natives demonstrates on “Breakers” that it’s learned when to push and throw itself at listeners and when it would do well to pull back. The result is an ever-changing melody that’s sure to catch hold upon its release.
“Heartthrob” – Tegan and Sara
Release Date: Jan. 29, Warner Bros. Records Inc.
Perhaps best known for their 2007 release “The Con,” twin sisters Tegan and Sara are back for their seventh studio album with “Heartthrob.” Its lead single “Closer” has made it crystal clear that the group is trying something new. An electronic dance track that has notes of British singers Little Boots and Ellie Goulding has emerged from the guitar-picking and dissonant harmonizing of previous albums. It’s unexpected, and it is far more mainstream than previous albums, but that doesn’t stop “Closer” from being fresh and intriguing. One thing is for sure, the “replay” button will get its fair use out on the back of this track. It is to be seen if the rest of “Heartthrob” follows suit.
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