May 12th, 2015: Lower Dens, Django Django, My Morning Jacket

Every week, Side By Side brings you three picks of the week. Records you have to hear, and probably want to own. Don’t take our word for it: hear them for yourself. Here is this week’s “3 For 1”.

Lower Dens

“Escape From Evil”

available from: Ribbon Music

March 31, 2015


What’s in the water in Baltimore? Last year, Future Islands exploded on late night TV after already recording and touring for six years, to quiet critical acclaim. Beach House ascended in a similar vein years before, and now see themselves with very famous fans (Bey and Jay, etc.) This late blooming phenomenon seems ready to happen again sooner than later, with Lower Dens. “Escape From Evil” is pure pop bliss, and while being a synth driven act from Baltimore is ground firmly owned on two ends of the tempo spectrum by Beach House and Future Islands, Lower Dens slide comfortably in between. “To Die In L.A.”, undoubtedly the catchiest tune here, is a radio-friendly treat, built around the kind of E Street shuffle that makes you want to go dancing in the dark. “Your Heart Still Beating” begins with a showy example of how tight this band clearly is: the rhythm slowly ascends, beat by beat, eventually reaching the songs legitimate tempo, reminiscent of the control you’d find from a jazz prodigy in “Whiplash”, but the song eases in to a shimmering wash of synths and airy guitars that could stand alongside most tracks from The War On Drugs “Lost In The Dream”, another propulsive “80’s-tinged-without-being- derivative” record that makes old sounds new again. This album feels like a hidden gem for 2015, a record you’ll be proud to say you hear now, before it ends up on countless year end best of lists.

8.5/10 = Get It… On Wax!

Django Django

“Born Under Saturn”

available from: Because Music

May 5, 2015


Django Django are clearly talented. Their debut was a bright, unique take on well-known elements of math rock and indie pop. Even those who would classify their music as pretentious or inaccessible would find it difficult not to concede aspects of that. There were, however, some glaringly obvious issues on their self-titled debut, and unfortunately, they’re highlighted on this second outing, the lackluster “Born Under Saturn”. At 42 minutes, their debut already felt a little long in the tooth, and somehow, this sophomore record clocks in at a crushing 57 minutes, which is far too long to run when your last exciting song came way back in the first 30. Sequencing was yet another issue plaguing Django’s debut: the best songs, the catchiest, were on the first side, and while strictly catchy songs do not a consistent record make, there needs to be other territory explored if you can’t deliver single-worthy material across the board. The band knows what the best songs are here, too. In an unfocused listen, your ears inevitable perk up for “Shake and Tremble”, “First Light”, and “Reflections”, but those are the singles and advance cuts, and they all fall on the A-side. After that, there isn’t much else to be found here, except a repetitive, endurance-testing exploration of Django’s model: calculated rhythms laced with a surf rock meets world music vibe. Unfortunately, this is just another in a long line of disappointing sophomore outputs from 2010’s acts bands that, at first, sounded like a breath of fresh air.

5/10 = Grab It Used, If At All

My Morning Jacket

“The Waterfall”

available from: ATO Records

May 5th, 2015


Since the last My Morning Jacket record, 2011’s “Circuital”, a funny thing happened to Americana music: a group of thick-headed Brits came in, and appropriated pretty much anything they could from the “folk” community, and its offshoots, leaving a host of bands standing there, waiting for the dust to settle. It seems hardly a coincidence that those idiots have (hopefully) tanked their inexplicable career, releasing a dud of an album the same week that My Morning Jacket return, with a warm, sun soaked, bear-hug of a record that reminds you why they should be considered so essential: no one makes music quite like My Morning Jacket anymore. The bands tackled so many iterations of their own sonic territory at this point that when a record like “The Waterfall” comes along, the songs are allowed to breath and flow effortlessly from one mood to the next, without ever jarring you out of the trance Jim James undoubtedly wants you to lay in. “Like A River” is a song that can fill the hole Fleet Foxes left in your heart, and “Believe (Nobody Knows)” is a song that the aforementioned English morons could have written in their new “We ROCK now” vein, had they a shred of originality, but the influences all total to a My Morning Jacket record devoid of an obvious single, but one that feels more and more like the record the band needed to make, a statement that reminds fans new and old of who they are, and what they will always do best.

8/10 = Get A Copy, Plastic Or Wax


In Edmonton, I buy my records at LISTEN RECORDS. The owner is knowledgeable, friendly, and will bring in just about anything. It’s a store to spend some time in, I hope you manage to seek it out.

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