[Quick reviews of a whole slew albums I received late in the year and didn't get a chance to acknowledge:]
The Stevenson Ranch Davidians, “Life & Death” (self-released) — The L.A. quartet’s sophomore release has all the fuel for a psych-pop burner — gently rolling melodies, gorgeous guitar textures, plenty of allusions and excursions to the cosmos — but the L.A. quartet never puts the pedal to the metal. “Life & Death’s” Verve-meets-the-Byrds-in-slow-motion vibe is almost maddening at times. You want tracks such as “Cosmic Blues” or “Time Is Going By” to explode in fireworks, but they’re just sparklers, pretty but grounded, illuminative but not the beacons the Davidians are capable of shining.
Regrets & Brunettes, “At Night You Love Me” (Campaign Set) — Slacker-smart and acidic with no aftertaste, the first album from singer-guitarist Richard Bivens (in this musical incarnation, anyway) is a time capsule from 1995, when indie rock was less pose and more prose. No, “At Night You Love Me” doesn’t carry the spinART or Merge bug on the backside, but it would fit into either label’s catalog. (See, please: Spent, “Songs of Drinking and Rebellion,” 1995.) The O.C. quartet keeps its rock spry and wiry — all the better to hear Bivens open the bottle and pour out his neuroses. Want a lime with that? Recommended.
Thomas’ Apartment, “Tuesday Night Lights” (self-released) — If radio-ready rock is your thing (and that’s not necessarily a pejorative here), you might find something tasty on this UCLA-birthed quintet’s third album. Trouble is, they don’t look much deeper than the usual suspects (Three Doors Down and the Foo Fighters have been name-checked) for influence, and while the production is there, Pete Nguyen’s vocals and cliche-plagued lyrics make the results occasionally stultifying.
||| Live: Thomas’ Apartment performs Saturday night at UCLA’s Ackerman Ballroom.
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