Welcome the Worms
Sisters Jennifer and Jesse Clavin were going through rough patches when they started working on Welcome the Worms, a record with a title taken from a religious pamphlet about embracing the dark side of life rather than ignoring it. Jesse had been evicted and Jennifer, Bleached's frontwoman, was a self-described loose cannon after she ended a toxic relationship.
But rather than record something dark and bitter, Bleached made an album that shows them stronger and wiser for the turmoil. The opener's title and refrain — "keep on keepin' on" sets the stage for the trio to power through. "Come on boy, dry your eyes / It's good to feel just a little alive," she sings to a poppy melody alongside ghoulish howls on "Wednesday Night Melody," imparting some of her newfound wisdom through the album's best song.
Culled from a batch of 30 demos, these songs have more fire and muscle than anything on the band's debut LP, Ride Your Heart. The sisters — now with the songwriting help of bassist Micayla Grace — tightened loose screws while exploring new avenues. "Desolate Town" makes dissonant and crunchy gestures at grunge, while "Wasted On You" sounds like an early Wavves song. The guitar that rings high over "Hollywood, We Did It All Wrong" puts a ballad-like touch on what would otherwise be a straightforward pop-rock song, complete with handclaps and tambourine. No matter what they toy with, they sound certain of it.
They mostly shook off the surf- rock haze, but Welcome the Worms still sounds akin to Wavves, Best Coast and Weezer. That's a complimentary way of saying it sounds familiar, but Bleached is as much worth your time as any of those bands, and they know it.
Ashley Dean, HeyReverb.com
It's a thrill to hear Mogwai's sense of control more than ever, conservative energy capping certain parts at a gentle murmur. Their work on the "Les Revenants" soundtrack was otherworldly, whereas it is astounding how Atomic — an album composed of reworked versions of the music recorded for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousin's documentary "Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise" — has its feet firmly planted in learning how to live with, if not love, the bomb. If you are impatient, you'll dread wondering if some of the songs are going anywhere, but most listeners will be fully rewarded with the promise that even the most ominous music on here is leading up to something transportive.
—Morgan Y. Evans, PopMatters.com
Explosions in the Sky
The Wilderness, Explosions in the Sky's latest studio release, is a natural and substantial progression from the groundwork laid by "Prince Avalanche." If one were to listen to this album without knowing the group responsible for it, she could run through a few guesses before landing on Explosions in the Sky. With its melancholy piano figures and its array of electronics, "The Wilderness" brings to mind the recently disbanded English group Maybeshewill more than it does their Texan predecessors. Previous records by Explosions in the Sky emphasize the band's skill in forming interweaving guitar leads, but on their latest outing, textural experimentation comes to the fore.
—Brice Ezell, PopMatters.com
A Mineral Love
A Mineral Love is a celebration of life's miniature moments, mired in glorious minutiae, and by the time he adds a feather-light reggae vibe to a Dan-indebted sax hook on "Feeling," you realize that it's damn near impossible to resist Mineral's charms. Although this marks the first Bibio set where he rounds up a variety of guest vocalists (most notably in the form of Gotye, who spends "The Way You Talk" repeating the same line over and over again to curiously hypnotic effect), Wilkinson, producing for his own voice better than ever before, is still the star of the show.
—Evan Sawdey, PopMatters.com
Other notable releases:
Babyfather, BBF Hosted by DJ Escrow
Andrew Bird, Are You Serious
Black Mountain, IV
Charles Bradley, Changes
The Field, The Follower
Mike & The Melvins, Three Men and a Baby
Pet Shop Boys, Super
Weezer, The White Album
Yeasayer, Amen & Goodbye