Weyes Blood — ‘Titanic Rising’

THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter Natalie Mering (stage name Weyes Blood) turns 30, switches labels to Sub Pop, and gives us a dreamy yet confident fourth.

THE BAD: Maybe … pacing. “Titanic Rising” is all down-to-mid tempo, so only take the journey while in the proper mood. Not “bad,” but be prepared.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Co-produced by Mering and Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, “Titanic” finds the writer looking back on her formative years (“Movies”) while gazing out upon an uncertain future (“Wild Time”). Musically, Mering keeps matters low-key and intimate. Her warm vocals are always the main focus. Beats are steady and tempered. Strings and swirling synths add welcome splashes of color at various points.

Even though a spectacular bit like the gorgeous, unbridled pop of “Everyday” never rises above a dull roar, “Titanic” isn’t a weak affair. The melodies are accomplished, the lyrics poignant. Mering has sharpened her skills over the past decade, and this is her finest set yet. Who knows what beauty lies ahead?

BUY IT?: Yes.


Tacocat — ‘This Mess Is a Place’

THE GOOD: Seattle pop-punk band Tacocat cranks out its fourth.

THE BAD: Nope.

THE NITTY GRITTY: Being a fan of both tacos and cats, the band’s moniker works for me. Palindromes are cool, too. And if you think the name is playful, wait until you hear the music.

Fronted by writer/artist Emily Nokes, the band offers up a bubbly, bouncy concoction of rock-solid backbeats, simple guitar riffs, sweet harmonies and hooky melodies that immediately lodge themselves in your gray matter. I hear echoes of ’90s faves such as Velocity Girl and Tuscadero and catchy contemporaries such as Dilly Dally and Bleached.

Lyrically, the band dabbles in feminist issues and politics but with a sarcastic wit. Then again, “Meet Me at La Parma” is about nothing more than tossing back margaritas that are “bigger than your head.” So we end up with a thinking person’s party record. Pay attention to the insights or simply jump around the room. Either option is cool.

BUY IT?: Absolutely.


Barrie — ‘Happy To Be Here’

THE GOOD: After teasing us with a couple of singles and an EP, Brooklyn-based multi-cultural dream pop collective Barrie gives us its debut LP.


THE NITTY GRITTY: Built around the songs of guitarist/vocalist Barrie Lindsay, the band creates subtle soundscapes and delicate yet danceable tunes combining precious guitar pop; retro, synth-based tracks; and a splash of turn-of-our-century twee. Think Beach House crossing paths with Tennis while some early Camera Obscura or Cardigans paint the surroundings a gorgeous shade of sky blue. This is music constructed for pure pleasure and nothing else. That’s precisely why it works.

Barrie may not have a grand message to share or bold ambitions for the future, but you wouldn’t mind if it made four or five albums just like “Happy.” From the intimate musings spread across “Saturated” to the playful bounce guiding “Teenager,” this is infectious stuff. And this tight, 10-song affair never loses its hypnotic ambience, leaving us already craving the next one.

BUY IT?: I would.