Surfer Blood, The Field, Tom Waits, Future Islands -- what we're listening to right now.
ON THE WATER
Recorded at a quiet waterfront house in North Carolina, the third studio release from Baltimore, Md.'s Future Islands showcases a slower, more refined side of the synth-pop trio. In a sense, it's a departure from the raw emotional frenzy of last year's In Evening Air. However On The Water is perhaps its most frighteningly moving release to date. With a powerful, bone-chilling voice, Samuel T. Herring narrates an emotional pilgrimage over lush synth and bass arrangements augmented by cello, violin, and marimba. "The Great Fire" is a haunting duet featuring Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner. "Balance" is sunny, romantic, and totally infectious. True to Future Islands form, On The Water will pull at your heartstrings and leave you begging for more. (Frances Capell)
BAD AS ME
Bad As Me (Anti-) opens with the horn blaring "Chicago," a tough track that chugs forward like a hell-bound locomotive, letting you know straightaway that Tom Waits can still take you by surprise. On "Talking at the Same Time" he's stretching his voice to a new range. On "Satisfied" he's growling. On the raving mad "Hell Broke Luce" he's mocking war with claps, distorted guitars, "Lefts!" and "Rights!" and one shocking couplet after another. Elsewhere, Waits is the old tender dreamer, like on the jazzy "Kiss Me," for instance. But it's the concluding "New Year's Eve" that Waits is at his finest — a simple, touching narrative with a Spanish air. Though not as encyclopedic as Orphans, of course, Bad As Me lives up to all the rowdiness and romance you expect from Waits. (James H. Miller)
LOOPING STATE OF MIND
The Field has mastered the craft of using minimal techno's precise intensity as a launching pad for satisfying waves of spaced out and hypnotic sounds. With Looping State Of Mind it continues to demonstrate how repetition used right can bring you to an ecstatic state of mind. Miniature melodies stretched out in ways that make you want to float as much as they make you want to dance. With slight tension and no clear cut release, it's a record that keeps you in its groove, while also introducing new found moments of dreamy and slowed down come down after taking you so high. This is what getting lost in an elegant trance sounds like. (Irwin Swirnoff)
Tarot Classics begins in familiar territory for West Palm Beach, Fla., indie rockers Surfer Blood. "I'm Not Ready" recalls the vocal power-hooks and catchy melodic guitar of 2010's reverb-soaked debut Astro Coast. "Miranda" and "Voyager Reprise" maintain its retro seaside vibe while showcasing tighter, more ambitious instrumentation. With synthesizers, layered vocals, and jungle-bird samples, "Drinking Problem" finds this quartet venturing into previously uncharted waters. Though it's a bit more restrained, JP Pitts' distinctive voice remains boyish, sweet, and slightly morose on Tarot Classics. The four song EP also comes with a distorted, bass-heavy remix by Oakland based one-man project Speculator. Tarot Classics is a brief and tantalizing glimpse into the bright future of Surfer Blood. (Capell)