Some Cities FOUR STARS
I don't care if British music snobs think that popular UK bands (Coldplay, Doves, Bloc Party) are shite - to rock-hungry Americans like myself, I can't help but think there's something in the water.
I first caught onto Lost Souls and The Last Broadcast way after the bandwagon had passed. But what drew me to Doves were their catchy beats, upbeat mood and penchant for experimentation - and Some Cities is no different. The Manchester-bred boys weave airy ballads with rock standards, dotting each with twinkling electronic creations. Singer Jimi Goodwin croons and stretches to hit high notes, his thick British accent shining through on every word. Each track on Some Cities starts out small: a few strings syncopate, a short, choppy drumbeat stands alone or a few concise chords float mid-air. But that's when the band's makes it all pay off. Songs layer, build and inflate, blossoming into a sound that could shake an opera house to crumbs. It's original, it's poppy - it's completely un-American. --Leah Sottile
The Bravery FOUR STARS
The retro-pop-rock revolution that is consuming the mainstream has yielded many groups for audio consumption. Unfortunately most of them aren't any good; the Bravery, on the other hand, are fabulous. The band's self-titled debut on Island Records is nothing short of magnificent. I can't stop listening to this album.
With infectious backbeats laid alongside dance-floor synth grooves, sprinkled with tasteful '70s rock guitar and finished off with Sam Endicott's haunting vocals, the Bravery pulsate through 11 tracks of post-garage-rock-synth-pop, implementing just the right amount of NYC swagger. There are more than a few tracks on this record worthy of "repeat button" status. The sultry and forbidden "Give In" features epic drums and one of the best guitar riffs of all time.
This collection of songs comes on the heels of a timely retro-rock revival, but it's evident that there was more put into this album than some catchy instrumentation and a pretty press photo. If you're ready for an album you can listen to for days, this just might be it. -- Clint Burgess