Sunday, January 22, 2012

This Week's Music: Dan Andriano, Owl City, Letting Up

The title is a bit misleading. By "This Week," I mean I found this post from months ago in my drafts folder.

Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room
Hurricane Season

Dan Andriano has always been Alkaline Trio’s softie. But on his first full-length solo release, he’s a full-on teddy bear. And that suits him just fine. Andriano sticks to the catchy hooks he’s perfected through his years with AK3, but the music--driven by acoustic guitars and piano fluorishes--is a good fit for the tales of heartbreak. The lyrics are lonely (“I’m a mess, I’m a ghost who overslept on Halloween”), but the tunes are so upbeat that it’s hard not to clap your hands and sing along. With “Hurricane Season,” Andriano delivers a mature record (but not too grown up for his punk following), that doesn’t sound like it was made for your mom.

For fans of: Alkaline Trio, Dashboard Confessional
Rating: 3. 5 of 4

Owl City
All Things Bright and Beautiful

Success is always accompanied by some backlash. With his 2009 hit “Fireflies,”  Owl City’s Adam Young made million of fans. But there were also plenty of detractors accusing him of being nothing more than a mainstream version of The Postal Service. Both camps will feel the same after hearing “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Young’s top-notch (and still Postal Service-inspired) production skills still rise to the top and every electronic bleep and bloop finds the perfect home. His lyrics, however, have become intolerably sugary, as he floats through skies that are filled with rockets, dreams, and girls he’s too shy to talk to. (The worst offense comes in the line “If the green left the grass on the other side/I would make like a tree and leave.”) It must be wonderful to live in Young’s world, where things are sunny all the time. His overly happy songs, however, would benefit from a little bit of rain now and then.

For fans of: LIGHTS, The Postal Service
Rating: 2.5 of 4

Letting Up Despite Great Faults
Paper Crush

Michael Lee, the man behind Letting Up Despite Great Faults, has a penchant for heartfelt, shoegazing electronic pop. On his third release, that infrastructure remains in tact, but the accessories have changed. The EP opens up with guitars leading the way (an approach that is used again nicely on “Teenage Tide”) before being tempered by the usual atmospheric synths. Lee wisely lets his own vocals take a backseat and they add to the layers of longing (for what, it’s hard to tell, given the unintelligible lyrics). On “I Feel You Happen,” Lee lets go entirely, creating a raucous noise fest worthy of My Bloody Valentine. Not one to let emotion get the best of him, he reigns the energy back in for the closer, the bouncy and beautiful almost-instrumental “Aurora.”

For fans of: The Album Leaf, The One Am Radio
Rating: 3.5 of 4

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