so young at love and life

On their debut EP, Young at Love and Life, San Francisco duo Dominant Legs encapsulates the sound of the city, mixing danceable synths and a folky earthiness to pleasing effect.

Ryan Lynch heads up lead vocals on the four-song set, while Hannah Hunt provides dreamy backing vocals that are as integral to the sound structure as the synthesizers and guitars. The self-titled opening track hints at being reared on the Beach Boys and teenage experimentation with psychedelia, while the equally synth-heavy “About My Girls” trends toward funk and Prince.

“Clawing Out at the Walls” simplifies things, employing bongos and acoustic guitar. There’s a sense of earnestness about the song, Lynch questioning, “don’t you think that we’re hard enough on ourselves? / We believe that we do it all on our own.” Dominant Legs brings the EP to a close by infusing electronic elements into the acoustic setup on “Run Like Hell for Leather”, letting a beautiful acoustic guitar riff shine where synthesizers blast away on other tracks.

Young at Love and Life EP dropped 08.17.10.
You can listen to most of the EP at the Dominant Legs MySpace page.
You can download “Clawing Out at the Walls” here.

i got a sandcastle heart

Like their previous release, At Mount Zoomer, Wolf Parade‘s Expo 86 is mostly fantastic with a few tracks that, while not bad, are not as gripping as the rest. Fortunately for us all,¬†Expo 86 is front-loaded with dance-ready kick that eases into a slow burn.

Synth-heavy and 80s vibes abound, the songs on the album are at once filled with energy and tinged with ¬†melancholy. “Palm Road” is a perfect example; while dark, it still makes you want to dance. Also of note are “Little Golden Age” (the first-listen favorite) and single “What Did My Lover Say? (It Always Had to Go This Way)”. The lyrics of the latter are at times striking, and one phrase is downright novel-worthy: “I wonder if all the beaches / in all your holiday towns / will turn into giant shining earrings against the cheek of the sea / when finally this supernova goes down.” Gorgeous.

While the beginning of Expo 86 breeds excitement, the latter loses steam. There’s cohesion among the halves, due to the basic instrumentation and vocalist Spenser Krug’s distinctive delivery, but the tracks lack the memorable punch that so captures listeners in the beginning.

The final blow comes with closer “Cave-O-Sapien”, which recalls Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” to the point of distraction (seriously – play WP @ 3:52, then BI @ :38). However, it may all be with a wink, a nod, and a stroke of genius from Wolf Parade, as Stereogum reported that Krug’s main criterion for the songs was whether or not he would dance to them. While all the songs may not strike my fancy, it doesn’t matter – Krug and company are going to dance anyway.

Expo 86 drops 06.29.10.
More on Wolf Parade at their Sub Pop artist page.
Download “What Did My Lover Say” and “Ghost Pressure” by right-clicking.

rearrange the wreckage of our hearts

On their fifth full-length release, Destroyer of the Void, Blitzen Trapper swing from era to era and genre to genre while somehow holding tight to a common thread.

Weaving in and out of a mix of fuzzy and twangy guitars, piano, and deep-space-evoking sound effects as well as Tom Petty-esque harmonica blues and a folky duet with Alela Diane, Blitzen Trapper creates a sonic blend that has a little something for everyone.

Picturesque lyrics such as “heaven’s right below the hurricane / and hell’s contained in every flame” are sprinkled throughout the album, jutting up against simple declarations like “I’m left here with this cheap love song / because Sadie, I can never change.”

Cheap songs these are not. Layered, nuanced, and varied, the songs of Destroyer of the Void are an amalgam, a trip. They’re a product from “the tailor of the earth and electricity.”

Destroyer of the Void drops 06.08.10.
Download “Heaven and Earth” here.