Ida: Lover's Prayers
Trying to avoid obvious comparisons like Low and The Spinanes is tough, maybe only because I love all of these bands, but Ida's new record Lover's Prayers is easily one of the strongest of its ilk. Interweaving pianos, guitars and transcendent harmonies with a timeless, bittersweet Americana, the New York-based band delivers an album that is as starkly beautiful as it is achingly melancholy. The songs unfurl at a meticulous pace, stretching and building like a long ride alone. The production is absolutely gorgeous, with each intimate hush and each warm voice perfectly in its lush context, yet wonderfully distinct. A truly cohesive work with flourishes of bluegrass, country and folk well-peppering the mix, "For Shame of Doing Wrong," "Lover's Prayers" and "Willow Tree" are particularly strong and demand an immediate listen. Do so on Ida's MySpace page and by the album from iTunes or Polyvinyl Record Co.
Black Mountain: In The Future
On "In the Future," Black Mountain finally lives up to the hype. Fulfilling the space age promise of their debut, In the Future weaves their obvious influences into a cohesive pattern—as much Pink Floyd atmospherics as Sabbathian riffage. "Bright Lights" is a stand out here with haunting, droned-out male-female vocal melodies that build to a crushing face-melting jam. Tracks like the Neil Young-ish "Stay Free" add depth and complexity to a seriously well-constructed album. Far from sounding from the future, Black Mountain is simultaneously timeless and perfectly contemporary. Listen on MySpace and buy from Jagjaguwar or iTunes.
Able Baker Fox: Voices
Six years ago, Small Brown Bike and The Casket Lottery were two of the best bands in their genre, making earnest, melodic and complex post-hardcore with tons of heart. Call it emo if you have to, but none of these dudes wore eye make-up or wigs. Before both bands disbanded, they collaborated on a classic, if oft-overlooked split EP—a collaboration that sowed the seeds for Able Baker Fox. With members from each band, the familiar sounds are there, for sure, but Able Baker Fox adds some new flavors to the mix. Heavy grooves and layered, almost-stoner vocals add a fresh approach. Written with the members living in four different states and recorded over five days, Voices is a strong debut and a compelling progression for veterans of this sound. Listen to tracks on MySpace and buy it from Blue Collar Industries or iTunes.