White Lung, Spoon, and Got A Girl 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge White Lung

White Lung

Deep Fantasy


File next to: Les Butcherettes, Holly & The Italians, Vapid

Two related musical revivals took root this year — '70s old-school punk and early '90s riot grrrl — both of which are exploited by Vancouver's White Lung. Deep Fantasy's songs are short and fast, the guitars are crisp and screaming, and vocalist Mish Way knows just when to add a snarl to her plaintive yells. Despite all that, White Lung doesn't generate as many thrills as fellow revivalists Perfect Pussy or Street Eaters. No real changes are needed in White Lung's program, save for allowing themselves more sloppy swagger. Way can make clever use of riffs and lyrics, particularly in a song like "Face Down," with its strident use of the word "vile." Even if it takes White Lung another album to reach the upper echelon, remember that even second-tier punk bands of the '70s are revered 40 years later. White Lung is capable of writing its own interesting history. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Spoon


They Want My Soul

Loma Vista Recordings

File next to: Wilco, The New Pornographers, White Rabbits

Spoon's fan base has yet to discover who wants Britt Daniels' soul, but we do know that songs from Gimme Fiction and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga have appeared on movie soundtracks and prime-time TV trash. On They Want My Soul, the band's eighth full-length album, Daniels responds with songs like "Rainy Taxi," and "Inside Out," which allow him to escape from the apocalyptic ruin his post-fame world has become. Flaming Lips co-producer Dave Fridmann incorporates shadowy synths and elements of chillwave into the opening bars of "Do You." But even with a dreamy, futuristic approach to white-people problems, Spoon keeps it soulful and simple — "I Just Don't Understand" strangely recalls the Beatles' "Oh! Darling." With each new album the band dishes out a more complex musical palette; on this one, it combines rock, pop and electronic elements with the greatest skill to date. — Hannah Fleming

click to enlarge Got A Girl

Got A Girl

I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now

Bulk Recordings

File next to: Mark Lanegan & Isobel Campbell, Ramona Lisa, Handsome Boy Modeling School

Dan the Automator fans will swear that I Love You But I Must Drive Off This Cliff Now is a safe bet for album of the year, but such accolades must get big asterisks. There's no doubt that Dan Nakamura has found an amazing collaborator in horror-film actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who can generate vocals and moods that suggest French 1960s ye-ye music filtered through the soundtrack to a James Coburn faux-hippie movie. It's also no surprise that Nakamura's sound engineering is as exceptional as ever, with Winstead at her best when he layers her vocals, as on "Everywhere I Go," while Dan himself provides some running jokes about french-fry sandwiches. The only real problem is that a mid-'60s soundtrack is like a Morricone spaghetti-western instrumental — unless you're in on the joke, the concept has only limited appeal. — Loring Wirbel


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