Eric Berglund of the Swedish band Tough Alliance has branched off on his own with his latest creation, White Magic. The album is an impressive solo endeavor that showcases his individual talents. Joined only by Sincerely Yours artist Kendal Johansson, Berglund takes a 28 minute stab at all things audible. With various string instruments, keyboard and katanas (yes he even employs the use of Japanese swords). The album’s opener “All Around” begins with high searing violins and echoing search-calls, vaporous in manner, beautiful melancholia plays adrift peacefully balanced drums beats.
Berglund lays down light danceable tracks that speak of lessons learned and the frustrations of love and life. Tracks like “Come With Me” and “Illuminata” manage to deliver clubby beats with ethereal overtones keeping things at once breezy and emphatic. An ambient purgation that floats vibrational crescendos throughout synthesized streets. White Magic is a futuristic classical menagerie finely-tuned into an ultimately cohesive work of art.
West Coast rocksters Chief met and formed at NYU but soon returned to their hometown Santa Monica, California to continue their musical venture. Their second studio album Modern Rituals is a testament to the usual culprits of song; heartache, pain, longing, and regret and they do a formidable job of it. The album is characterized by a lot of alt/folk rock with classic-rock underpinnings. Tracks like “Breaking Walls” are subdued reflections on lessons learned. While songs like “Summer’s Day” are indie-rock all the way, the album as a whole combines the crooning vocal styles of singer Evan Koga with various genres of Americana seamlessly.
The members of Chief collectively made the move across the country and back, consequently their music seems to have picked up a variety of well-informed musical comprehensions along the way. Their second album reveals their musical and thematic integrity, acquired no doubt from a diversity of influences.
While at times elements of the album come off as a little too remote and robotic all and all Modern Rituals comes together as a tight well-executed creation. Chief’s dexterous handling of pop and folk renders Modern Rituals an enticing proposition.
Canadian hard-hitters Arcade Fire have hit a new impressive stride with their latest album The Suburbs. This is an album which, upon listening to from start to finish, appears to have been conceived as a whole in a manner considerably more studied than the band’s previous attempts. Its sequencing is self-aware, the contrast between fiery punk number “Month of May” and the following acoustic strum of “Wasted Hours” is the most prominent instance of how unlikely tracks are segued with uncommon skill. “City With No Children” is an interesting mix of light airy pop and persistent driving drum beats.
The Canadians third studio album speaks to emotional isolation both put upon and self-imposed, focusing on feelings of alienation and the realization of tainted dreams. The Suburbs is an impressive step up for Arcade Fire containing enough variety and maturity that it can be listened to repeatedly without tiring of it.
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– Amanda Decker