Initial Reactions (2011): Atlas Sound, Primus, Fruit Bats

Atlas Sound – Parallax – (++): This guy Cox comes up with some pretty melodies, and I like the Zombies-vibe that his music puts off. "Te Amo" is a neato moment and a standout cut. As is common with Deerhunter, he often launches with a killer melody but lands with a disappointing follow-through in terms of arc and/or narrative. Promises the stars, but fails to really engage at a gut level. Still, pretty. ("Angel Is Broken", "Te Amo", "Mona Lisa")

Primus – Green Naugahyde – (+++): This is a strong record. There were a few moments that reminded me of Modest Mouse’s recent work. If I was a diehard Primus fan, I’d be really happy with Les Claypool for giving me an album that is essentially as good as the band’s early work. Think of Dinosaur Jr.’s 2 reunion albums rather than reunion albums by pretty much any other band. Strangely and surprisingly enjoyable. ("Hennepin Crawler", "Tragedy’s a’ Comin’")

Fruit Bats – Tripper – (++): I suspect this one is a grower. At first glance, it sounds like pretty typical indie-pop, but there is at least one undeniably great track here (“Wild Honey”), and I suspect a few more shall slowly reveal themselves. I’m not crazy about the vocals (in general), but I don’t hate them either. All in all I find myself liking this more and more on repeated listens. ("Wild Honey", "Shivering Fawn")

REACTION KEY

[!!!!!]: Enthusiastic. Frequent rotation. A buyer. Contender for year’s best.
[++]: Positive. Good stuff. Possible grower?
[ind]: Indifferent.. Underwhelmed. I don’t expect to come back to this one.
[—]: Negative. A real screw-up. Don’t even bother.

Quick Review (LP): Halcyon Digest by Deerhunter

HALCYON-DIGEST-575x567 Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD; 2010

My Rating: B+

Best Tracks: “Revival”, “Desire Lines”, “Helicopter”, “Coronado”

I got to know Deerhunter earlier this year via the excellent single and “b-side” Revival/Primitive 3-D. “Revival” is here as well, the perfect doorway into the band’s throwback pop impressionism. Now I’m not familiar with Deerhunter’s back catalog (yet), but this album certainly seems to channel the golden age of pop music. Whether it’s the “heart in sax” of “Coronado,” or “Basement Scene”, which takes the Everly Brothers’ “Dream” through the looking glass, this is a record shot through with thoughtfully deconstructed rock and roll. It’s a pretty good record, one that might have made my A-list, but unfortunately a good number of the songs are overlong. Often these tracks begin with a great idea, then devolve into a dull monotony. The effect is that the songs quickly grab you, and then just as quickly let go. Of course, that might be the whole point. After all, the album’s title would suggest that we are encountering something ideal and fleeting, a mental photo album of fleeting memories. So I grant that. Unfortunately, it still leaves a potentially great record just below the mark. Be that is it may, overall this is a solid record, and I’m excited to hear more from Deerhunter, both past and future.

Pitchfork review
Paste review
Metacritic reviews
Band website
Daytrotter session