Media Reviews: April 2, 2015

Brandi Carlile – The Firewatcher’s Daughter (ATO Records, March 3)

Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi (Atlantic Records, March 31)

Throughout her career, Brandi Carlile has jumped between rock, Americana and country. The recent release of her fifth studio album, The Firewatcher’s Daughter, features a blend of old and new styles.

With her continued collaboration with twins Phil and Tim Hanseroth, the album is graced by some beautiful harmonies on tracks like “Wilder (We’re Chained)” and “Murder in the City.” “Mainstream Kid,” the album’s most obviously rock ‘n’ roll track, features Carlile’s killer vocals and a beat that lends itself to foot stomping.

Though this album is not a drastic departure from her previous work, it is evidence that Carlile has found her niche in the folk-country scene within which she excels.  For listeners who might normally distance themselves from the genre, the new record is accessible and features a handful of dance-worthy tracks that are sure to have you singing along by the second listen.

– Allison Grogan

I don’t think I had a cohesive thought during the first half of Death Cab’s newest album – it is brand new, yet sounds frighteningly familiar. In true Death Cab fashion, the lyrics are more personally prosaic than poetic.

The most distinct feature of Kintsugi is its electronic sound, a layover of frontman Gibbard’s time with the Postal Service. With their producer and guitarist Chris Walla gone, Gibbard has gained a lot of influence on the sound.

The other observable loss regarding Walla’s departure is a lack of transitions between songs. Each one ends with negative space, and therefore provides a choppy listening experience. Usually this enables the tracks to be put on playlists more readily; but with Kintsugi, no singular piece will stick long enough for individual appreciation – the album itself is the work of art.

– Tobias Paul


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