Wolf Parade & r & & r & At Mount Zoomer & r & & r & 5 Stars & r & & r & Some bands get stuck in your head. Some bands dig under your skin. Wolf Parade comes slinking out of the shadows and bludgeons the back of your skull with a hammer. Its highly anticipated second release, At Mount Zoomer, is finally upon us, and does it ever live up to the hype. Dan Boeckner, the voice of reason in the group, brings an irresistible guitar pop sensibility to his tracks while Spencer Krug, the voice of chaos (and his generation's greatest songwriter), is still as gloriously weird as ever. Though sometimes the album feels more like a split record between two songwriters, the juxtaposition of Krug's frenzied yelp and Boeckner's smooth gyrations is still as compelling as ever. Krug's serpentine keyboard and Gordian arrangements bring a twist to otherwise simple (yet solid) indie rock tunes. It's captivating. It's crazy. It's the favored heavyweight contender for the championship belt.
Download: "California Dreamer"
Hard Sweet & amp; Sticky
The great garage-y soul sounds of the Bellrays remain on the band's latest offering, but the previous rough edges have been smoothed down and streamlined into a genuinely solid pop album. A great deal of the credit goes to vocalist Lisa Kekaula and her ability to add layers of depth to the band's fierce guitar-driven ditties.
"Infection," one of the early tracks on the album, grinds and crunches along in an uninspired manner -- that is, until Kekaula steps forward and gives the song its true identity: a song of pain and angst that transcends its easy rock trappings. "Coming Down" succeeds for the same reasons. Longtime fans might furrow their brows at the softer touches here, and that would be fair. But it is clear that the band has stumbled across something that resonates more deeply. The Bellrays can still generate the decibels when necessary. Take note.
-- CAREY MURPHY
Download: "Psychotic Hate Man"