Yo La Tengo – Fade (Matador)
Musically speaking, it’s so still and tranquil it takes rotations aplenty before any of its minuscule beauty begins to stick. But once your bearings are found, it’s easy to key in on their charming patchwork of delicate melodies, shimmering sonics and lushly detailed instrumentation. With carefully crafted horns, nimble organ, brittle chords, and a few well placed string arrangements, the band continue to master their subtle flair for hooks – which lightly dance amid husband and wife duo Ira Kaplan’s and Georgia Hubley’s whispered vocals. Slowly creeping up on their fourth decade as a band, and this being their thirteenth album, it’s easy to call these songs routine (as some of them are) but with increasing age has come a tightened resolve to stick together, and remain assured in each other’s company. They’re prone to let the worries of being middle-age creep in, and they certainly have the right to be anxious or hesitant of growing older, but they continually reaffirm their faith in each other with lines like “We always wake before we fall / I always know that when we wake up / You’re mine.” You know what they say. The kids are alright.
Christopher Owens – Lysandre (Fat Possum)
Out of work after quitting his day job as leader of the overrated Girls, Chris Owens relishes in his new gig flying solo. A vague concept album centered around his broken heart, he layers saxes, flutes, harmonica, piano and backup singers onto this brisk batch of whimsical self therapy. How quaint. No doubt these songs must have been moderately liberating to record, but they’re dull and colorless to the ear. Blame it on his gutless whimper of a voice that’s more annoying than sympathetic, but also on his poor sense of direction. In a scant 29 minutes, he traverses through weak-kneed chamber pop, toothless pop rock, a rudderless instrumental, and half-assed country folk. It’s lesser than the sum of its parts and made more forgettable by a host of cliches. “Don’t try and harsh my mellow”? If he’s being droll his humor is far too arid, and if he’s being sincere, I think I figured out why his sweetheart ditched him in the first place. GRADE: C+
Key Track: ”Love Is In The Ear Of The Listener”