Young Galaxy's stars come out on 'Ultramarine'
Young Galaxy (Paper Bag)
How Young Galaxy aren't bigger than they are is baffling. For four albums now they have made strong indie pop records full of hooks, bounce, and atmosphere, and singer Catherine McCandless has one of the finest voices around. On “Ultramarine,” they're back at it with another strong package featuring a rock-solid backbone, and McCandless has never sounded better. The band always has had an electro side to them, and that returns, and they pull sounds from all over, peaking on excellent opener “Pretty Boy”; the island-influenced “Fall for You”; excellent ballad “Hard to Tell”; and blazing “In the Fire.” If you've slept on this band, correct that mistake now and grab this record.
Scottish trio Chvrches are going to be known to you sooner rather than later. If not, then Satan is in complete control of the Earth (which actually would explain the abysmal state of domestic mainstream pop). Their five-track EP, that's available for $3.99 on iTunes, is an electro-pop good time that will infect you like a virus. Three of the cuts are the title track — in its awesome original form and remixed twice to so-so results. The primary version is one of the best pop songs I've heard all year, powered by Lauren Mayberry's sugary-great vocals “Nothing Is Not the Time” is strong, and murky closer “ZVVL” shows a darker side of the band. Chvrches will blow up.
The third full-length from Philly-based black metal titans Woe shows the band, and its leader Chris Griggs, growing in leaps and bounds, and “Withdrawal” is their most diverse, ambitious record to date. “This Is the End of the Story” opens on a rampage, with lightning-strike guitars and Griggs' manic shrieks mixing with clean singing. “All Bridges Burned” has a post-hardcore feel and gets a nice dose of classic metal guitar wizardry for good measure; and “Song of My Undoing” launches into a classic punk rock rage before changing back to black violence. Catch this band when they're in town May 20. They'll blow your mind.
Ghost B.C. (Loma Vista/Universal)
A major label signs a Swedish heavy metal band that espouses Satanism and monstrous beings? What is this, the 1970s? Actually, the band's second record might be the one that chases away hardcore metal fans but gains Ghost B.C. an even larger congregation for their dark arts. You can see their tongues in their cheeks a mile away, even when they're adorned in dark robes, and singer Papa Emeritus II is one of the most engaging, fun frontmen in rock and metal. Ghost B.C. veer more toward pop and rock on this record (“Year Zero” is damn-near disco), and there are plenty of demonic gems such as “Secular Haze,”; killer “Per Aspera ad Inferi”; and crazy “Depth of Satan's Eyes.” This is perfect if you like Blue Oyster Cult and cheeky darkness.
Brian Krasman is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.