The Enemy Chorus
Sounds like: The Flaming Lips' earnest older brother
Short take: Defibrillated neopsych works!
The Earlies' previously wayward neopsych at once recalls Wayne Coyne's sonic autonomy, My Morning Jacket's rock-rooted dynamics and The Beta Band's DIY eccentricity. With its sophomore effort, The Enemy Chorus, though, the band seems awoken, and more unique. Here they're magnified angrier and more triumphal, louder when loud, but much softer when not. Whereas they previously sounded trapped in the gauze of midafternoon musing, The Earlies are now stomping along with what might be called abandon, using their manifold instruments as tools of a driving, assertive sound. Their loopy, soupy tendencies no longer drown their songs now, big drums, sharp horns and hammered pianos push like righteous marches. Matt Martin
Stars of Track and Field
Centuries Before Love and War
Sounds like: New wave meets Brit rock
Short take: The sports term is "frontrunners," yes?
When raving about indie-rockers Stars of Track and Field, reviewers rightfully wield '80s comparisons: U2, Morrissey, New Order. Then there are the more current parallels: Radiohead, Coldplay, Keane. Oh, and Pink Floyd, too. But who are the Stars? The four-piece shrank to three when it lost its bassist before recording Centuries Before Love and War. Rather than search anew, the group went digital, taking a chance and mingling multiple influences. And it works. Rock beats meld organically with electronic pop ("Real Time"), and melancholic lyrics leave tracks in the brain ("Lullaby for a G.I."). An album like this could feel schizophrenic, but not here. If they keep this up, in 10 years the Stars will be the new crux for comparison. Kirsten Akens
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Some Loud Thunder
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Sounds like: Distant nasal thunder
Short take: Skip this and buy the live tickets
The fact that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" was arguably 2005's best song eclipses the fact that the album it came from mostly just doddered along lead singer Alec Ounsworth's gooselike whine notwithstanding. Now, without such a dynamite lead song, the group is exposed for what it is: a boring bunch of lugs with a lead singer who croons kinda wacky. Ounsworth still caterwauls his words into oblivion, not that any lyrics booklet would help: The whole sound of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a muddy gulag, where few things are discerned through twonging guitars and lo-fi wallow. Matt Martin