Tegan & Sara
It is probably the natural result of being twins, but Tegan and Sara Quin have this uncanny harmony/echo thing going on, and never has it been more apparent, or more beautiful, than on their fifth album, The Con. It is a breathtaking step up from the more stripped-down acoustic sound of their past work; the sisters have branched out both instrumentally and lyrically, using more keyboards, more drum machine and more references to knives, guts and nerves than ever before. Don’t worry, though — the Quins haven’t lost any of their delicate softness, either. “Soil, Soil” is a tragic plea for reconciliation and “Call it Off” is as gentle as the act of giving up.
Download: “The Con,” “Nineteen,” “Soil, Soil”
From the Corner to the Block
This record sounds like a party, and actually, it kind of is. Once New Orleans instrumentalists, Galactic has now attracted a dozen emcees to rap over their bouncy grooves. Highlights include Juvenile, who, with Soul Rebels Brass Band, brings an urban edge to the title track, and “What You Need,” on which Lyrics Born almost sounds like James Brown. Galactic doesn’t want to be pigeonholed, that’s for sure. From the Corner to the Block is a little bit hip-hop, a little bit electronica (on the cool “Second and Dryades), a little bit soul (on “Find My Home”) and a lot funky, especially on “No Way,” with Lateef the Truthspeaker.
Download: “Second & Dryades,” “What You Need,” “Find My Home”
Horse the Band
A Natural Death
Yes, it was only a matter of time before the world was blessed with “Nintendocore,” operating in a universe somewhere between emo, ’90s metal and ’80s synth-rock. Horse the Band, perhaps the genre’s best and only purveyor, has blessed us with A Natural Death, a rumination on mortality, creation and destruction. No one since William Blake and Dante has tackled this lofty topic. The worlds all come together in the brutal soundscape of “Murder” and the frontal onslaught of “Face of Bear,” but the record tails off in the second half, weighted down by meandering instrumentals. You get the feeling that the band is on to something here, but pulls it off only halfway.
Download: “Murder,” “Face of Bear,” “Kangarooster Meadow”