Album Reviews: Apex Manor, Braids, Destroyer

The Year of Magical Drinking by Apex Manor

"Oh, hello there"

First off, terrific album name. Secondly, horrible album cover.

Ok, now that that’s out of the way, Apex Manor is a project by frontman Ross Flournoy formerly of “The Broken West”. The project’s debut “The Year of Magical Drinking”, is a pretty straight forward collection of  Wilcoesque 90’s power pop type songs. There’s very little that’s groundbreaking here. When the album is on though, it’s genuinely fun and easy to get into, when it’s off, it’s kind of like uninspired “Fastball”. In the face of all the lo-fi shoegaze ambient dream-pop out there today, it’s kind of refreshing to crank up “Teenage Blood” or “Under The Gun” and just party like it’s 1998 for a little bit.

Teenage Blood

Under the Gun

The Year of Magical Drinking: 3 out of 5

Native Speaker by Braids

Braids have a very liberal use of time on “Native Speaker”  most of the album is composed of sprawling 6min plus songs with very deliberate and lavish intros. Somehow though they rarely feel excessive. The band’s sound has elements of Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors, but is way more accessible than either of those two powerhouses. Despite the song lengths and volume/tempo changing vocals, the band (thankfully) rarely falls into that avant garde realm. For me the vocals are the star of the album, Raphaelle Strandell-Preston’s voice manages to be both shrill and ethereal and it really holds all of the gentle intstumentation together. This is a great album for a cold winter day.

Glass Deers

Plath Heart

Native Speaker: 4 out of 5.

Kaputt by Destroyer

Feel like I have heard the word “lush” used to describe music in the past and never really fully understood what it meant. Feelin’ like “Kaputt” might be “lush” sounding. The whole album has this kind of upscale sensuality to it. It almost sounds like a romantic weekend at some classy Mediterranean resort, if that makes any sense. My main gripe with the album is all of the ‘smooth jazz’ type sounds that are used over and over again. It just kind of makes the whole thing cheesier. Once in a while in a song like “Chinatown” these elements just kind of embelish the rest of the song and manage to work. But too often in songs like “Song For America” and “Kaputt” they just add a “weather channel” quality to the album.

Chinatown

Kaputt: 3 out of 5

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