Guided by Voices, Zeppelin Over China (Rockathon/GBV) –
Guided by Voices, Zeppelin Over China
One to three times each year, you could write a fill-in-the-blanks accolade to the prolific talents of Dayton, Ohio’s Robert Pollard, who churns out hundreds of worthy power-pop tunes inhabiting fantastic landscapes. The newest GBV studio outing packs 24 songs into dual discs, eschewing the noodling experimentalism in many of the group’s albums to deliver one chiming singalong gem after another. If it all seems exhausting to the neophyte, a careful listen to tracks like “Send in the Suicide Squad” confirms that Pollard delivers an accelerated attention-deficit equivalent of Quadrophenia
each time at bat.
Beirut, Gallipoli (4AD) –
The puzzling abstract album art on Zach Condon’s first outing in four years tells us that his band Beirut is up to its usual layered harmonies and dream-pop sounds, set to foreign landscapes, this time including Corfu, Mainau and the Apulia region of Italy. Some skeptics claim Santa Fe-based Condon is a feel-good superficial tourist of the planet
, but when the Zapotec horns meld with ukuleles and Farfisa organs, the results are too exquisite to stay a grumpy tourist for long.
Tiny Ruins, Olympic Girls (Ba Da Bing) –
Tiny Ruins, Olympic Girls
Hollie Fullbrook already is a minor star in her native New Zealand with the Tiny Ruins project, but this third album is the first with a proper U.S. release. Fullbrook’s warm but world-wise delivery suggests Laura Marling or Julie Byrne, and the arrangements are mesmerizing enough to be shimmering at times. Fullbrook’s cryptic lyrics can leave too much to the listener’s interpretation, though when she connects in tracks like “Kore Waits in the Underworld,” it seems clear that Tiny Ruins will find a captive U.S. audience.