Elbow — ‘Giants of All Sizes’
THE GOOD: British alternative rock outfit Elbow comes back with a darker eighth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Since the release of 2017’s “Little Fictions,” tragedy touched various members of the band. Frontman and lyricist Guy Garvey lost his father to cancer, and everyone said goodbye to a couple of close associates to the group. So there are some dark clouds hovering over the songs. Add the usual political observances about Brexit along with some tragic U.K.-centric news stories, and “Giants” SHOULD be a much gloomier affair than it actually is.
Yet Garvey and company know how to make a graceful set filled with grand melodies, rolling rhythms, subtle guitars and strings in all the right places. “Giants” ends up a balanced collection carried by buoyant mood swings and dramatic arrangements. All the pieces fall perfectly into place. We get a lyrically deep album with all the beautiful bits rising to the surface.
BUY IT?: Yes. “Giant” is a timely and welcome addition to an already sparkling catalog.
Sarah Bethe Nelson — ‘Weird Glow’
THE GOOD: California singer/songwriter and former Prairiedog member Sarah Bethe Nelson releases a stirring third solo outing.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Weird Glow” is a melding of the hard and soft, the sweet and the bitter. Singing in her usual breathy, hushed tones, Nelson still manages to be heard over the background din. While the tunes come from a gentler place, she doesn’t shy away from jangly, full-bodied pop/rock that’s heavy on the guitars while riding tough backbeats.
Songs such as buzzing opener “Desert Song” and the fuzzed-out “Sunspots” are equal parts dream pop, shoegaze and spacey grunge. Nelson is both a commanding presence and ghostly form that floats about the room. We’re essentially talking about many delicate balances that aren’t easy to pull off, all occurring at the same time. And yet, “Weird Glow” doesn’t feel calculated. A warm spontaneity carries the entire affair. Even rambling closer “8th and Hooper” never wears out its welcome.
BUY IT?: Sure. “Weird Glow” proves that weird is good … always.
Rose Dorn — ‘Days You Were Leaving’
THE GOOD: After teasing us with a couple of EPs, California indie trio Rose Dorn gives us a spaced-out full-length debut.
THE BAD: “Days” gets stuck on one particular speed, one specific mood and in exactly one set of surroundings. Hopefully, you crave something low-key and slightly maudlin.
THE NITTY GRITTY: These three high school outcasts do work well together, all hailing from the same artistic place with a desire to churn out a foggy mix of shoegaze, fuzzed-out indie and the slightest bit of pouty twee. One detects echoes of vintage Helium crashing against a less noisy Thee Oh Sees. Toss in some loose La Sera and maybe a smattering of Beach House.
Try not to separate “Days.” Take it in as a whole, and you’ll get lost in both a dreamy narrative and a smoky yet vulnerable session. You have to give this one a couple of spins, but be patient. It’s worth spending some time getting to know this young band.
BUY IT?: Sure.