Moaning — ‘Uneasy Laughter’

THE GOOD: Los Angeles indie trio Moaning comes back with its second album.

THE BAD: “Laughter” possesses a shift in tone. Not BAD, but be prepared.

THE NITTY GRITTY: The new record isn’t as morose as the band’s debut (although goth-rock fans should still attend this party). Moaning has embraced bigger melodies and apparently likes synths. What we end up with is an album flashing back to when Joy Division became New Order. It also reminds me of the Cure right before “Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.” And if you weren’t around to experience the ’80s firsthand, you’ll hear turn-of-our-century Interpol echoes in frontman Sean Solomon’s voice.

So while you could accuse Moaning of lacking originality, you can’t accuse “Laughter” of lacking good songs. Tracks such as lead single “Ego” and techno-leaning closer “Say Something” have their not-so-subtle charms. The hooks and seamless backbeats certainly are present. Much of the record makes a bold first impression. And you won’t mind exploring these familiar territories more than once.

BUY IT?: Yes.


Diet Cig — ‘Do You Wonder About Me’

THE GOOD: New Paltz, New York, duo Diet Cig (vocalist/guitarist Alex Luciano and drummer Noah Bowman) returns with its second album.

THE BAD: “Wonder” is good but a tad scattershot.

THE NITTY GRITTY: When this pair is on, it’s ON. Female vocalist Luciano’s voice recalls ’90s faves Juliana Hatfield and Letters to Cleo’s Kay Hanley. Bowman’s drumming is tight in spots, frenetic in others — whatever the song needs. I’m also hearing traces of contemporaries such as Beach Bunny and Charly Bliss.

Most of “Wonder” ends up a crashing yet tuneful mix of guitar-based indie/power pop. Better moments are the catchy and focused pieces, such as the spunky “Who Are You” and slightly melancholy “Stare into the Sun.” The record’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t feel fully fleshed out. Ten cuts fly by in about 25 minutes, because three end abruptly after about 60 seconds. Some good ideas could have been developed further. Luciano and Bowman definitely have the skills.

BUY IT?: Your choice.


The Pack A.D. — ‘It Was Fun While It Lasted’

THE GOOD: Canadian garage rock duo the Pack A.D. releases its eighth and (maybe) its last.

THE BAD: Nope.

THE NITTY GRITTY: The pair, vocalist/guitarist Becky Black and drummer/vocalist Maya Miller, is calling it quits. Or it’s going on hiatus. It actually hasn’t decided yet. But if “While It Lasted” IS indeed the duo’s final bow, the record sees Black and Miller going out on a high note.

Like past albums, this new set brims with bold melodies, jagged riffs and a little noise in all the right places. The opening one-two punch of “Give Up” and “Reprogram” sets the mood, with the two infectious, mid-tempo pieces complementing each other perfectly. Other gems include the chugging, forward-moving “Soul Warden” and “No Good.”

The gentler “The Gap” is the ideal closer to the album (and possibly the duo’s collaborations). It demonstrates that Black and Miller never sacrificed power even when decreasing the volume. And when the final note ends, you really hope they’ll return someday.

BUY IT?: Surely.