Outside of the March release of Arcade Fire's Neon Bible, few early-year releases have been as anticipated as the sophomore effort by indie rock's favorite Brooklyn/Philly-based sons. And even though it would not have surprised anyone if the Alec Ounsworth-fronted five-piece folded under such immense expectations, Some Loud Thunder achieves the triumph necessary to follow Clap Your Hands' massive debut.
Less accessible than their first release, Thunder requires more work and faith from listeners even though it showcases the band flexing new muscles. Ounsworth's nasally squeal dominates all tracks, and the accordion remains prominent. So does the weirdness.
In the running for best track title ever: "Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles in the Air & amp; Burning?" Only one misstep: "Satan Said Dance." (Any tone-deaf pre-teen with a Casio could have pulled off this travesty.) Luckily, it's an anomaly.
-- CAREY MURPHY
DOWNLOAD: "Five Easy Pieces"
Deerhoof again reinforces why it has few peers in the realm of art-rock weirdness. Most characteristic of the album, as with all of Deerhoof's previous work, would be the pixie-ish vocals of bassist Satomi Matsuzaki. Her child-like whispers and wails keep "+ 81," the album's long-available first glimpse, marching along. The trumpets and Greg Saunier's heavy hits on the drums certainly help matters, and the razor-wire guitar work of John Dieterich pokes and prods the song all the way home. It might seem that Friend would extend the rock of last year's The Runner's Four, but Deerhoof can't help being what it is.
For every moment the band prepares to open itself to a broader audience with more accessible song structures, the oddball tendencies shine. Time signatures shift; the songs transmogrify; and Matsuzaki's Pied Piper voice leads all listeners to far-away realms.