Reviews: Lemuria closes the 'Distance' with mix of elements
‘The Distance Is So Big'
Lemuria (Bridge Nine)
The pride of Buffalo, N.Y., post-hardcore trio Lemuria is a band that should be on your radar. Mixing elements of rock, garage punk and indie pop into a sound all its own, the band delivers a winner in third full-length “The Distance Is So Big.” Sheena Ozzella handles the bulk of the vocals (and contributes some blistering guitar work), while Alex Kerns is on drums (and vocals) and Max Gregor plays bass. Lemuria explodes out of the gate with “Michael and Stephen Moon,” “Brilliant Dancer” and “Clay Baby.” And though it can't maintain that level of awesomeness, it also scores with “Dream Eater,” “Oahu, Hawaii,” “Bluffing Statistics” and “Congratulations Sex.” This is a terrific band.
Arian Saleh (self-released)
Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Arian Saleh, in the fantastic “Undone,” has crafted one of the best out-of-left-field releases of 2013 in his 11-track debut. Though a tad overstuffed at almost 51 minutes, there's a lot to like about Saleh. A powerful vocalist who injects plenty of emotional intensity into every song, Saleh delivers the goods on “Underhill,” “Shadows,” the title track, “One Through Ten,” “G Minor Shufflisto” and “Open Your Mind Let Me Out.” Keep an eye on this guy.
Jimmy Eat World (RCA)
One-time trailblazer for the emo scene (we forgive you, fellas!) Jimmy Eat World has redefined itself as an alternative rock act over the past decade. In seventh studio effort “Damage,” the guys have nailed it with one of the better albums of their long career. Frontman Jim Adkins has matured into a solid lyricist and he and his mates score with the title track, “Book of Love,” “I Will Steal You Back” and “How'd You Have Me.” For my money, “Bleed American” remains Jimmy Eat World's definitive album, but “Damage” is in the mix for second place.
Portugal. The Man (Atlantic)
For the life of me, I can't figure out why Alaska-based indie outfit Portugal. The Man isn't a bigger star. The band has been remarkably consistent since 2007's breakthrough sophomore set “Church Mouth,” and it has a string of terrific records on its résumé. Latest effort “Evil Friends” is no exception, a phenomenal 12-track release that stands alongside P.TM standouts “Censored Colors,” “The Satanic Satanist” and “American Ghetto.” With acclaimed producer Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton steering the ship, “Evil Friends” is the band's most mainstream record to date and might be the one that finally helps make it a household name. Keepers abound, most notably “Plastic Soldiers,” “Creep in a T-Shirt,” “Modern Jesus,” “Atomic Man,” “Purple Yellow Red and Blue” and “Smile.” Can't recommend this one highly enough.
‘Songs From the Psychedelic Time Clock'
Drivin' N' Cryin' (New!)
For the last half of the 1980s and first half of the 1990s, I was convinced Drivin' N' Cryin' was destined to follow in the footsteps of R.E.M. as a Georgia band that catapulted to national acclaim. But despite no fewer than five flat-out fantastic albums, it never managed to become more than a blip on the radar outside of the Peach State. That's everyone else's loss because the Kevn Kinney-fronted band really was (and still is) good. “Songs From the Psychedelic Time Clock” is the third in a four-EP series that focuses on one aspect of the band's sound. This one finds the guys explore their garage and psyche-rock influences and the six-track release is loads of fun. Highlights include “The Little Record Store Just Around the Corner,” “Upside Down and Round and Round,” “In the Sound Room” and the title track. It's not too late to get to know Drivin' N' Cryin'.
Devendra Banhart (Nonesuch)
One of the standard bearers for what has become known as the “freak folk” movement at the turn of the new millennium, Devendra Banhart is one of those rare artists who can be counted on to release a sublime album every few years. “Mala” might not rank among his very best (2002's “Oh Me Oh My ...,” 2004's “Niño Rojo,” 2007's “Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon”) but it's a record just about any other artist would kill to have made. After a middling start with “Golden Girls,” Banhart hits his stride on keepers “Daniel,” “Für Hildegard von Bingen,” “Your Fine Petting Duck,” “A Gain,” “Won't You Come Over” and “Hatchet Wound.” Good stuff.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.