The Apes: Ghost Games (Gypsy Eyes)
The Apes have crafted a well-done art-rock album that is similar to but more accessible than the Liars, with a slight nod toward Modest Mouse. It is expansive and experimental, incorporating sixties psychedelia into guitar-heavy modern rock, and topping it off with soaring falsetto vocals and a healthy dollop of organ. Picture an Alice in Wonderland dream sequence. This D.C.–based group has a new lead singer, and while I've never heard the previous one, I can’t imagine their sound with anyone else.
The Heavy: Great Vengeance and Furious Fire
(Counter Records/+1 Records)
Blaxploitation + falsetto crooner + grooves you won’t believe = funk-infused, baby-making music. From Curtis Mayfield smoothness to guitar-thumping, bass-pounding songs to a Streets-esque rap that seems doomed to fail but ends up winning you over, this album doesn’t disappoint. Either way, the Heavy have a sound that will slay you: powerful, delicate, deep, wide, and commanding. They’ve even managed to get some retro production sounds in there so this post-millennial CD sounds like a scratchy, fuzzy seventies record. This April, get ready to put the swagger back in your step.
The Libertines: Time for Heroes: The Best of the Libertines (Rough Trade)
No matter what your opinion is of this band (personally, I’m “eh”), I don’t think that they’re quite ready for a “best-of” after two albums. And as far as I can tell, there aren’t any previously unreleased bonus tracks on this disc, either. But Mick Jones (the Clash) produced, and according to reps from Rough Trade (no bias there): “The Libertines were the best and most influential band of the last decade.” My best guess for releasing this album: Pete Doherty needs more scratch to fuel his many vices.
Kate Nash: Made of Bricks (Interscope)
You’ve probably heard the hype surrounding Ms. Nash, and to be honest, she’s worth it. There have been quick comparisons to Lilly Allen, but there’s more to this multi-faceted and talented songwriter. She writes about the things she knows (relationships, friends, and getting through life) with wit, aplomb, and a refreshing honesty that doesn’t come off hokey or forced. She brings in the sweet pop sounds of Regina Spektor and the lyrical stylings of the Streets to create an endearing and instantly stuck-in-your-head album. And her voice is as clear and beautiful as a spring day, even when she’s calling someone a dickhead.
Grant Moser is an art writer and frequent contributing writer for the Brooklyn Rail.