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A quick preview of five album releases in August 2013 that you need to hear!

reviews by / LOGAN BRENDT


Stars & Letters
release date: August 6, 2013
Hailing from Wellington, New Zealand, the debut album by Black City Lights revels in dark glamour. Similar to some sort of gothic garden, the electronic landscape hangs like vines, surrounding a velvety voice that falls somewhere in the scope and texture of either Annie Lennox or Sandra Nasic (Guano Apes). It’s utterly beautiful, maintaining cinematic power throughout every second of the album, despite the excessive and somewhat slanted intro. “Give It Up” employs a rapid-fire drum machine offering interesting rhythmic elements while the title track, “Another Life”, showcases the ghostly vocals that recall Shirley Manson’s seductive shrill as they play upon elegant sparkling ambience off in the distance. Do I dare say that Another Life is my favorite album of the year (so far)?


Blue Note Records
release date: August 6, 2013

When KT Tunstall’s fourth album called her to Tucson, Arizona, little did she know the otherworldly geography would provide a spiritual backdrop to one of this years most spectacular records. The double titled Invisible Empire // Crescent Moon is a two chapter album, so to speak. Written at different times, the first half is almost precognitive to the second half which tells tales of love lost. You can hear the chilling nights of lonely wandering and roads less traveled on the track “Waiting On The Heart”, while “Crescent Moon” is even more heart wrenching. But it’s “Made of Glass” that can literally break you down into tears. While Tunstall has been known to wear many hats within her songwriting and performing, it’s her vocals on this album that now become the center point, showcasing her most divine gift— soul.


Major Nation Records
release date: August 13, 2013
Summer couldn’t be complete without the warped beachy pop of La Vega’s debut. Their single “Do The Surfer Girl Limbo!” is the quintessential summer jam, and you can almost feel your face being poked with the tiny umbrella that’s served with your favorite tropical drink. The album is complete with island vibes, pretty melodies and laid-back strummed acoustic ditties. “Love Ya Self” is odd, but oddly entertaining, reminding the listener a bit of The Strokes and The Growlers when it comes to the upbeat major scale guitar melodies. The muffled vocals and fuzzy guitars on “Key West” will make you move, but the mellow, slowed down “Exit Tax” will have you back in time, slow dancing in some sort of cinematic equivalent of a 50’s sock hop. La Vega is surfing the sound of fun.


release date: August 13, 2013

Home Address For Civil War is the debut album by North Carolina dream pop band Eros and the Eschaton. Pleasantly, their ethereal trance shoegaze is very reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine, especially on their opening song “Different Days”. Yes, it can be easy to throw out these comparisons, but their psychedelic and highly listenable songs are perfect for lazy afternoons on low dose hallucinogens. After all, any band that has a song named “Terence McKenna” after the American psychonaut makes themselves a little more pronounced, especially when the context of the song has a marching, almost krautrock tempo, immersed in discordant and noisy guitar bursts. The instrumental build on “Over and Over” is also an album highlight, consisting of a near gothic bass dirge, a melodic keyboard line, and overdriven guitar bends.


Capitol Records
release date: August 27, 2013
The commotion over rock singer-songwriter Serena Ryder is highly justifiable. While her name may be new to us in the States, she’s already seen great success in her native Canada. Luckily, her sixth album, titled Harmony, finally drops in the U.S. and there’s something empowering about listening to it. Maybe it’s her robust voice that cries out over open and honest songs like the heartbreaking “Baby Come Back” and “Fall” where her vocals seem to propel out of this world. Or maybe it’s the strut on tracks like the rock anthem and single “Stompa” which packs a punch, making you “stomp your feet”. However, it’s a song like “For You” which is so impressively soulful, clearly establishing that she’s in the same league as Adele and Amy Winehouse. And even though we’re seeing many aspiring female artists adhere to this musical trend, Ryder’s been at it longer than most and could very well and easily rise to the top.


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