Modern-day pop music is often maligned, and much of that criticism, frankly, is justified.
Most of what we hear on the radio is overproduced, overstylized, gimmicky junk that makes this generation’s pop music an easy target for those who grew up in a time when The Who, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and heck, even Nirvana, were the biggest bands in the world.
But not all of the music being produced today is dreck and, in fact, there have been a handful of albums released in the past two months that, if nothing else, serve as a reminder that quality music knows no time or era.
Though somewhat hard to find — you aren’t likely to find many of these at your local electronics store though they are readily available for download on iTunes — here are five recently released albums worth tracking down and checking out.
— Now, granted, I’m not the most objective critic of this album given that this Long Beach, Calif., quartet is among my favorite bands ever, but this is a quality record from beginning to end. The band’s first since the departure of guitarist Jonathan Russell, the album includes its infectious debut single, “Miracle Mile,” and delivers with similarly solid songs like “Jailbirds,” “Lost That Easy,” and “Bottled Affection,” which sounds like it could have been featured on the “Drive” soundtrack.
•The Neighbourhood, “I Love You.”
— A promising debut album from this Los Angeles band that features indie hits such as “Female Robbery,” and the undeniably sexy “Sweater Weather.” Many wondered if The Neighbourhood was merely a flash in the pan or could actually produce an LP worth listening to and they did just that with “I Love You.” Dark, moody and a little electronic, this album makes The Neighbourhood a band worth keeping an eye on.
•Vampire Weekend, “Modern Vampires of the City”
— Was tough to ignore the hype surrounding this record as seemingly every music writer and blogger worth his salt breathlessly awaited Vampire Weekend’s third LP. It was worth the wait. Easily my favorite record of the year so far. “Diane Young” was a strong first single but pales in comparison to songs such as “Unbelievers,” “Step,” “Finger Back.” If you buy only one record this year, make it this one.
•Daughter, “If You Leave”
— Not sure a more beautiful record has been released so far this year. Yes, it feels a little precious at times, and like the sort of record they’d have on a loop at Anthropologie, but it’s still a stunning LP from this English trio. It’s lead single, “Youth,” will very likely hold a place, if not rank near the top, of my year-end list of 2013’s best songs. A gorgeous, powerful song.
•Noah and the Whale, “Heart of Nowhere”
— Been a fan of this band for a while and was happy to hear, when this record was released, that they’ve been able to maintain their smart, sensible pop sound. Reminiscent of old Elvis Costello records, songs like “All Through the Night” and “Still After All These Years” make “Heart of Nowhere” worth a listen. The perfect record as we ease into summer.
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at http://www.twitter.com/IPBG_Patrick.
MUSIC VIDEOS FROM ALL FIVE ALBUMS
FOR MORE PATRICK DONOHUE STORIES