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Deerhunter

Fading Frontier

Having gone from the noisy grandeur of Turn It Up, Faggot to the sweeping, sometimes transcendent opulence of Microcastle and Halcyon Digest — and then of course back to grittier climes on Monomania — Deerhunter are not ones to stick to any set style. Nor should they. The Sonic Youth-esque whirl of “Spring Hall Convert,” from breakthrough Cryptograms, is just as masterful as the dreamy stateliness of Halcyon Digest single “Helicopter.” Yet, any stylistic departures here feel a little forced, most evident in the funk riff on “Snakeskin.”

If the execution isn’t fully there, however, it’s still more fascinating to hear Deerhunter take on whatever style Bradford Cox endeavors than most other upper-tier indie rock bands. As little as I liked “Breaker” when I first heard it, its hooks are irresistible and Cox’s and Lockett Pundt’s vocals fit together wonderfully. The album falters when dream-pop sensibilities overtake (as on second track “Living My Life”) and thrives when Deerhunter are doing what they do best. Title track “All the Same” is idiosyncratic in both melody and lyrical content, but also brings an energy that is vibrant and engaging.

Overall, Fading Frontier feels as thought it would have made more sense if it had come after 2010’s Halcyon Digest. The albums share similar palettes and Monomania would have felt even bolder after this lapse into serenity. Yet Fading Frontier still clears a wide-open space for Deerhunter’s future. Here’s hoping it will be filled with something a little more adventurous.

—Maria Schurr, PopMatters.com

Coheed and Cambria

The Color Before the Sun

The Color Before the Sun feels less significant and magnificent than many of its predecessors. That, coupled with the aforementioned familiarity, results in a slightly underwhelming statement overall; however, the album “does” reveal its charms with repeatedly listens, and there are certainly many standout moments scattered throughout. All in all, The Color Before the Sun doesn’t come close to matching Coheed and Cambria’s greatest achievements, but it’s a very worthwhile journey in its own right, and most fans will still find plenty to adore.

—Jordan Blum, PopMatters.com

Satan

Atom By Atom

Atom By Atom finds the five British lads who recorded Court in the Act all those years ago (1983 to be exact) positively putting that shock and excitement back into metal. You won’t be reminded of the heaviness and the boogie-ooogie-ooogie of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal because for a moment you’ll be blasted back so far in time that you’ll forget that it ever existed and then spring boarded into the future where all shall hail the glory that is Satan.

—Jedd Beaudoin, PopMatters.com

Other releases

!!! (Chik Chik Chik), As If

Beach House,
Thank Your Lucky Stars

Here We Go Magic, Be Small

Majical Cloudz, Are You Alone?

Neon Indian,
VEGA INTL. Night School

Small Black,
Best Blues

Supersuckers, Holdin’ the Bag

YACHT, I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler

Zombi, Shape Shift