Review: The return of Baltimore's Lower Dens - now with half as many members as last time we caught up with them - could have been entitled "The Contrast", although that may be stating the obvious. As anyone familiar with the outfit's combination of heartfelt vocal delivery, dream pop ambience and brutally honest socio-political commentary will understand. It's a unique combination for a band that, on first contact, sound like they should be all about the love songs. Then again, there's an air of jilted love, or at least just jilted, about numbers like "Young Republicans", sliding into waves of powerful synth as Jana Hunter waxes lyrical about the world burning. While many of today's pop bands nod to the 1980s, Lower Dens are particularly convincing given the decade was, for many, defined by the death of America's big dream and a realisation that societal progress could be a 20th Century myth. Uptempo but stark stuff.
Review: Thanks to the lengthy gap between 2011's We Must Become The Pitless Sensors of Ourselves and last year's acclaimed Screen Memories, John Maus built up a vast archive of new material. Hence Addendum, an album marketed as a "companion piece" to Screen Memories. Interestingly, much of the material is far more carefree and jubilant than the tracks chosen for its atmospheric and moody predecessor (for proof, see "Episodes" and "Running Man"). It's arguably more in keeping with the lo-fi, off-kilter style of skewed synth-pop - influenced by Baroque modes, as always - with which the Ariel Pink associate made his name. It is, then, a joyous blast from the past packed to the rafters with memorable moments.