New Tunes Reviews, Oct 15: The Head and the Heart, The Avett Brothers, Cults, & Paul Simon

I was looking forward to The Head and the Heart‘s Lets Be Still since their excellent self-titled album was released in 2011.  There is a wider variety of songs on the new album. “Homecoming Heroes” and “Shake” are two particularity strong songs.
In this album, vocalist Charity Rose Thielen moves to the forefront and takes the lead on many songs.  In the last album, she mostly stood to the back and supplied THATH with harmonies and their signature violins.  It is nice to see that her voice is brought into the light (see, “Summertime” and “These Days are Numbered”).  I’m glad this release is a compelling sophomore effort. This band has the potential to move away from those one-hit trendy-folk bands and into sustained success.

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It seems like The Avett Brothers cannot release a bad album. Between restlessly touring and releasing many albums (they released The Carpenter about a year ago), it seems crazy that they would have time to write another great album.
For Magpie and the Dandelion, the banjos, harmonies, and foot-stomping beats are all there.  “Open Ended Life” (the opening track) and “Another is Waiting” are both classic Avett Bros song with the back-and-forth harmonized vocals between both brothers. There are sweeter songs too (like “Bring Your Love to Me” and “Good to You”).
As in past release, sometimes Scott takes the lead over Seth and vice versa.  Other times their voices blend together in sibling bliss. This melodic practice is done very wisely and with concern for the individual style of each brother.
I am just waiting for the day when this band become as popular as Mumford & Sons were for a hot second.  (Although maybe their recent Barclays show announcement is a sign of things to come).

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Cults Static is the follow up to 2011’s great self titled album, that gave us “Go Outside,” an incredibly inescapable catchy song.  This latest album opens with “I Know,” which is a catchy track much like “Go Outside.” “High Road” is dreamy and “Keep Your Head Up” is a clap-along joyous number. This album may not live up to the self-titled album but it is has its moments.

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For all of those S&G fans, Paul Simon released a retrospective album entitled Over the Bridge of Time: A Paul Simon Retrospective (1964-2011).  It starts off with well-known S&G songs (“The Sound of Silence,” “America,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” etc) and moves into a good group of his solo tracks (“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,”Still Crazy After All These Years,” and personal favorite “You Can Call Me Al.”)  It is a great collection for the casual and obsessive fan.

Bands To Keep An Eye On

Band: The Head And The Heart

Label: Sub Pop
Genre: Indie-Folk
Sounds like: Ryan Adams, Fanfarlo, Mumford & Sons
They hail from: Seattle, Washington
What to expect: Strong vocal harmonies with Americana roots, perfect percussion with strains of violin and surprise girlie vocals
Fun Fact: They sold out of self-burned CDs in stitched denim sleeves that they brought to concerts and local record stores, earning them the title of Seattle’s Best New Band by City Arts Magazine.
Standout Tracks: Rivers and Roads, Cats and Dogs
Lyrics: “Down in the valley with whiskey rivers, These are the places you’ll find me hidin’”