Thank Your Lucky Stars (Sub Pop Records)
Back in August, we praised Beach House’s then-new album, Depression Cherry. After 10 years, the local dream-pop duo had reached a new peak and its fifth record soared, theatrical and dazzling as ever. Then, a few weeks later, when we were just starting to untangle how those nine songs made us feel, the band threw a complete curve ball. Known for tarried releases, Beach House abruptly dropped another album. Not a B-side. Not leftovers from the cutting-room floor. The band insists this record stands alone, and upon listening, you’ll heartily agree. All the BH trappings are there—modern melancholy, youthful intoxication, shimmering nostalgia—but for the first time, those dreamy existential motifs land in the real world as the sound of the instruments retreats to reveal luminous narratives. Outlines of characters and places—flawed beauties, unrequited lovers, sepia suburbia—begin to crystallize like a teenage diary, intimate yet distant. Singer Victoria LeGrand’s voice is a velvety dream, lilting softly about the hazy ballads like a ghost. We’ll gladly let tracks like “All Your Yeahs” haunt us for months to come.
The Dongo Durango (ATO Records)
There comes that pivotal moment in a band’s lifetime when it crosses the glittering line from small-town sensation to national darling, and Sun Club has reached that juncture. The local punk-pop band has just nabbed a record deal with ATO (which reps the likes of Alabama Shakes and My Morning Jacket); caught the attention of Spin, Stereogum, and MTV; played gigs at SXSW and Sweetlife; and now, in a chicken-before-the-egg moment, dropped its debut album. But there’s no question why: These self-taught, twentysomething musicians have created their own skateboard brand of sunny, surf rock that’s far more raw, effervescent, and accomplished than their 2014 EP. Each song is a rolling, rambunctious mosh of energy and good vibes. They’re a blow-out-the-speakers band of merry pranksters who defy the rules using wacky voices, weird interludes, and whimsical song structures with unanticipated shifts and sudden ends. But they do so in an eager, anthemic way, and even if we can’t understand all the words, we still want to follow them, wherever it is they’re going.
Your Face Sideways (Topshelf Records)
Wildhoney became famous this fall, but it wasn’t for the music. Well, it was, sort of. The local indie-pop quintet made national news when its debut album, Sleep Through It, was accidentally pressed onto what should have been vinyls of Lana Del Rey’s Born to Die, and some surprised fans actually liked it. Now the band is back with a new EP, stepping out of the songstress’s shadow and solidifying its sunny sound among the ranks of other C86-tinged bands—My Bloody Valentine, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Vivian Girls, Best Coast—with that perfect fusion of ’60s and ’80s pop. With punk urgency, the band’s lo-fi shoegaze is a fuzzy jangle of shimmering guitar, gated drums, and honeyed vocals without all the digital effects we’ve come to expect. Each song is founded in lead singer Lauren Shusterich’s solid songwriting as her deadpan delivery weaves its way through the lovelorn lyrics of six break-up ballads. Throughout, her bandmates support those weightless warbles with golden harmonies, infectious melodies, and a plush bed of instrumental interplay. We’ll take that over Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” any day.