Sometimes a new band releases an album that could fool listeners into thinking they were listening to an old pro.
Minnesota-based, four-piece indie band, Hippo Campus, is one such band. The group recently released its first full-length album, “Landmark,” and it's a 44-minute classic.
The band has been together since 2013, and it shows in the tightness of the album. Each song was written by the band members, who were clearly influenced by the sound of such groups as Fleet Foxes and Vampire Weekend.
Despite similarities, the band members create an original sound in these 13 songs. Their use of catchy lyrics, harmonies, rhythms, and some interesting production, makes it easy to love this album.
After the ethereal “Sun Veins,” the album gets underway with “Way it Goes,” an ode to de-stressing. A silky smooth guitar solo only adds to the groove. With the song's folky feel and rich vocals, don’t be surprised if it becomes your next earworm.
The buoyancy of the music in “Vines,” with its rhythms and airy backup vocals, belies the turmoil in the lyrics, “Night time in the basement, screaming about our feelings/Running through the cold air/Searching for a meaning.” It helps put a kick in the reverb that follows the final lyric, “Everybody’s leaving.”
“Epitaph” shows a broader grasp of the songwriter’s palette, using vocal distortions to ease the listener into the dark edges of a story, “I'm blind and afraid/The colors of this sound like a shape\The feast of words you never could say/And I'm torn apart.”
But an infectious riff, that borrows from the same well that Vampire Weekend taps, lifts the mood of the track. The hook “I need nothing more than my problems/Just let me know when you've found them,” adds an extra dimension to the story. The interplay of feelings throughout keeps the listener engaged.
The fuller production sound of “Boyish” makes it a standout, with what sounds like strings and horns.
“What good is truth if you don’t understand?” the singer asks, in a song that could be about the trials of growing up. “There's sunlight dripping off the apricot tree/Lost to the night tide growing in me.”
It will be interesting to see what path the band follows for future albums in reaching for its sound.
The Orwells have been around for a while, but their new album “Terrible Human Beings” offers up a really nice track “They Put a Body in the Bayou.”
Maybe it’s the obvious reference in the title, but with some nasty guitar licks, it tells a story worthy of the best of John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival who, at his best, was a master of telling a rock story with some catchy hooks.
On Melina Duterte’s first album under the name of Jay Som, “Everybody Works,” the Oakland-based singer-songwriter also plays all the instruments. She takes the listener on an excursion through a number of moods and styles.
It’s possible to see the album's first single, “The Bus Song,” as a declaration that lets the listener know they are about to go on a tour of her visions about work, life and love. “Why don't we take the bus...I can be whoever I want to be.”
She excels with the shoegaze sound of “Remain,” the driving fuzzed-out sound of “1 Billion Dogs,” and, my favorite, the slinky love song, “One More Time, Please.” It’s a solid groove, that throws in a solid guitar solo before fading away.
With Duterte being only 22, it’s hard to imagine where her musical path will take her.