By DYLAN BROWN
“COMRADE,” Volcano Choir
While Justin Vernon is “not in a hurry to go back” to making music with Bon Iver, never fear, angsty Good Winter fans, because Volcano Choir and “Comrade” are an excellent stand-in. In his collaboration with the post-rock group’s Collections of Colonies of Bees and All Tiny Creatures, the peaks of Vernon’s falsetto mesh seamlessly with the crests of sonic waves of guitar. Plus, Vernon’s sappy-then-suddenly-jarring songsmithing remains as potent as ever.
“HELLO STRANGER,” Julia Holter
On her new album “Loud City Song,” the California Institute of Arts-educated singer makes an erudite — very hipster — reference to “Gigi,” the 1958 musical set in turn-of-the-century Paris. Holter’s avant-garde shares Regina Spektor’s love of off-putting tuba notes, but the album-crowning cover of Motown rhythm and blues singer Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger” captures Holter’s exquisite musicianship. Holter stretches her version to 6 minutes and fills in the spaces with an orchestra that hums like a shoegaze track’s guitars.
“WALKING WITHOUT FRANKIE,” Okkervil River
A cold-call listen to Okkervil River’s eighth album struck me as an upbeat, but unremarkable example of East Coast folk rock in the Hold Steady vein. They’re an entertaining six-piece unafraid of blaring their horns, pounding the piano keys and playing the acoustic guitar, loud. But explore the map of Meriden, N.H., personalized with lead singer Will Sheff’s deeply personal recollections of leaving his childhood home behind — “Walking Without Frankie” being my favorite example — and you find a treasure.
“BIG TV,” White Lies
While much of the third installment of White Lies’ brooding 1980s retrospective can wander too far into a bad of New Wave, the title track leads off the album with a rebel yell — for some odd reason their sound conjures up images of Billy Idol. Reminiscent of Interpol or the Editors, their dark synthesizers pulse along with the rest of their post-punk. Guitars on the verge of a lonely solo and lyrics all about big TVs and arcades demand an arena.
Brown is a deejay for the University of Idaho student radio station, KUOI 89.3 FM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 848-2278. Follow him on Twitter @DylanBrown26.