Summery and bright, Eric Copeland's new record, "Black Bubblegum," showcases his pop skills with a record that has more energy than a 48-ounce Red Bull. Copeland has a long resume of badass electronic work: He joined Black Dice when he was still in high school and formed the project Terrestrial Tones (with roommate Avey Tare of Animal Collective) before launching a solo effort.

His interest in electronic music varies. Previous releases have been everything from droney to frantic. "Black Bubblegum" vibes closest with Arthur Russell; the rhythms are danceable while vocal effects keep it interesting. This new release came out on DFA records, known for acts like LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture and The Juan Maclean. Copeland hangs comfortably with these artists, all of them share a propensity for indie-dance.

These songs weren't originally written to be released — Copeland constructed the tunes and left them untouched for a long time. This is dance music for Copeland himself: weird, driving and freaky. "Black Bubblegum" by Eric Copeland will make you dance the strangest dance, and love every second.

What happens when you put four singer-songwriters in a room and tell them to make something special? In most cases, a pathetic fistfight, but every once in awhile you end up with Avers. The band's record, "Omega / Whatever," juggles the artistic merits of four talented singers and comes across as a joyful jaunt through indie rock history. The first song, "Vampire," has heavy Wilco/Beck undertones, but the rest of the record goes just about everywhere. Psych influences like Tame Impala stand out on tracks like "Tongues" and "Insects," but other sounds are harder to pin down. Mostly, "Omega / Whatever" sounds like something you've heard before — but that doesn't mean you don't want to hear it.


Found on "Omega / Whatever" are songs of "divorce, technology, late nights, corrupt politicians, and societal norms," according to a news release. It sounds like a Kurt Vile record, probably because Vile's recording engineer Peter Katis mixed Avers, as well. When it comes down to it, "Omega / Whatever" isn't pushing independent music in a new direction, it sits comfortably in the middle of the pack. However, if you're looking for a solid release without too many surprises, the new record from Avers will hit the spot.

In April 2015, I got a chance to see American Football at the Gothic Theatre. The whole band got back together for a reunion tour of American Football's eponymous first record. "American Football" is a vulnerable diary entry concerned with young adulthood, complicated feelings, and crushing uncertainty. Since its 1998 release, "American Football" has garnered quite a cult following. Fans have fallen in love with its mathy guitars and late-'90s nostalgia. Although he is immortalized in the emo-fame of "American Football," singer and guitarist Mike Kinsella has had to move on with his life since the '90s. Through stagename Owen, Kinsella's new record "The King of Whys" is mature, heavy, and beautiful.

"Black Bubblegum" by Eric Copeland
"Black Bubblegum" by Eric Copeland (DFA Records)

Upon first listen, "The King of Whys" seems totally Starbucksy. His voice is beautifully produced, the acoustic guitar is light and airy, and none of the tracks really rock out. "The Desperate Act" reminds me of Glen Hansard, while "Sleep Is a Myth" is written like a Ray LaMontagne B-side. If you listen past those surface elements, "The King of Whys" becomes dark and broody. The subject matter is depressing, bitter and sometimes spiteful. "The King of Whys" is surprisingly wise, it gives a glimpse into Kinsella's personal life as an aging musician. If you're looking for a new level of emo, Owen's "The King of Whys" will do just fine.

Check out "The King of Whys," "Omega / Whatever" and "Black Bubblegum" spinning on Radio 1190 this week.

Jarocki is Radio 1190's music director. Read more reviews: