We Are Not a Glum Lot, The Price of Simply Existing (self-released) – It’s taken Sam Erickson and cohorts longer than expected to release a second album, but Erickson, Zac Blum and Reggie Thompson have honed the band into an impressive power trio. They are best known for instrumental math rock in the manner of Don Caballero, but Erickson’s high tenor vocals and imaginative lyrics combine for exceptional vocal tracks as well.
Florist, Emily Alone (Double Double Whammy) – It’s not quite accurate to say Los Angeles-based Emily Sprague is blazing new folk territory, since her minimal, bedroom-studio solo work under the name Florist follows a path set by singers like Haley Heynderickx. Yet in her debut album, Sprague establishes herself in the first tier of the new folkies, reciting spoken-word poetry between striking tracks like “Today I’ll Have You Around.”
Mini Mansions, Guy Walks Into a Bar… (Fiction Records/Universal) – Ten years ago, the scruffy L.A.-based Mini Mansions played wonderful Colorado shows, but then they went a bit too upscale in attitude and lifestyle. Luckily, their fourth album after a five-year hiatus solves the arrogance problem by emulating a bit of Strokes and Interpol while never taking the band’s purpose too seriously. Even if nothing is profound, many songs are fun.