CD Shorts

Animal Collective
Merriweather Post Pavilion

Rippling patterns, dizzying reverberations, shimmering echoes, and spectral loops take shape and develop their own contours, rhythmic weight and emphasis on Animal Collective's hypnotic new release. Singers Avey Tare and Panda Bear pile on choir-boy harmonies atop the woozy vocal lines and meticulous, churning soundscapes. You'd never call Animal Collective a pop band, but here the quartet crafts soaring melodies that—even at their most prog-damaged and dubbed-out extreme—somehow bring the Police and Genesis to mind. Making music that is both transcendently weird and achingly beautiful, the band continues to blur the distinctions between electronica, avant-folk, ambient, ritual stomp and indie rock.  —John Adamian

Wildflower Lullaby
(Wild-Wood Records)

Valley band Wild-Wood offers a quietly insistent acoustic brew. On much of Wildflower Lullaby, shuffling drums drive the tunes, and mandolin punctuates smooth soundscapes of violin, upright bass and guitar. The results are more pop than folk, but more folk than most pop. Lyrics explore, in a sometimes vague and overstuffed fashion, lots of romantic relationship territory. That said, Wild-Wood sports talented vocalists who offer well-delivered melody that often carries the band right over the falls to a pleasant brand of acoustic sunniness that's well worth a spin. And the whole comes complete with local references, from Mount Sugarloaf to "Mocha Maya" (one of the album's most engaging tracks, a swinging folk instrumental).  —James Heflin

Sweeter than Bourbon
(West Pole M&M)

Hailing from the same corner of the world (Limerick, Ireland) as '90s rock sensation The Cranberries, Seneca is Rob Hope, Yvonne Conaty, Brendan O'Gorman and Daragh O'Loughlin. The foursome's debut album, Sweeter than Bourbon, is a 14-track mix of tunes with catchy pop melodies, heavy electric guitar riffs, peaceful strings (violin, cello and viola) and vocals by lead singer Hope, who sounds like Eddie Vedder on his best day. Energetic and somehow plaintive, Sweeter than Bourbon might be the perfect soundtrack for any John Cusack movie.   —Kendra Thurlow

James Morrison
Songs for You, Truths for Me
(Interscope Records)

James Morrison lists soul icons Stevie Wonder, Al Green and Sam Cooke (among others) as influences, and these are evident in this production. The modern-producer John Mayer/Beyonce cheese button has definitely been set to the "on" position, though, which, sadly, does a disservice to a talented voice. The pianos are nice (both acoustic and electric), and sometimes there is a hint of E-Street in the backing band, or maybe the cats from Every Picture Tells A Story-era Rod Stewart, and Nelly Furtado cameos on a track. The songs are mostly just recycled soul tunes, but "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You" has a cool groove a la Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" or Aretha's "Chain of Fools."  —Tom Sturm

Author: Advocate Staff

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