Stereo Off – Photographs

“Photographs” is taken from New York EP, the debut release by New York indie rock / dance / psych groove / rock / electronic / balladeers Stereo Off. Its steady rhythm rubs up against rough, clipped guitars and the way they set themselves up for a huge chorus, but resist the urge every time is the perfect antidote to the bloated and over-emoted sounds of the inexplicably mega-selling alt stadium monsters of our time.

First Aid Kit – Cedar Lane

What seems like barely five minutes after the release of their breakout album The Lion’s Roar (actually from back in 2012, but clearly lingering in the mind), Swedish sisters Johanna & Klara Söderberg returned this year with Stay Gold. Their fourth album, it continues more or less exactly where “The Lion’s Roar” left off, with another collection of heart-grabbing harmonies and timeless melodies that make you wonder whether they’ve done some sort of deal with the folk-song devil. Starting out on the Western plains with “My Silver Lining”, and finishing back home at the piano with the heartfelt reflection of “A Long Time Ago”, Stay Gold is a masterclass of beauty and emotion. “Cedar Lane” is one of the albums best cuts, starting out mildly enough before slicing through its flutes and harmonies in a stunning, rousing climax.