These reviews are written by our own music directors, enjoy:

Reviewer Name: Paul Rice & Laura Helderop
Review Date: 2011-03-05
Artist: The Radio Dept.
Album: Passive Aggressive - The Singles: 2002-2010
Label: Labrador
Review: Since you probably haven't heard of The Radio Dept, you'll probably surprised to find out that this band you haven't heard of is already successful enough to be putting out a compilation of singles (and a bonus disc of worthwhile B-sides). Turns out, they've been around since 1995 and are great, but they don't have a lot of stateside exposure, probably because they are Swedish. Their sound hearkens back to early post-punk bands like New Order who mixed keyboards and drum machines with gloomy lyrics and catchy pop hooks. Fans of M83 will enjoy their warm, dreamy sound, and fans of Peter Bjorn and John something similarly danceable and European. But The Radio Dept. deserve to be listened to on their own terms, so if you're interested in them, this is a great album to start with.

Reviewer Name: Paul Rice & Laura Helderop
Review Date: 2011-03-05
Artist: The Decemberists
Album: The King is Dead
Label: Capitol
Review: Sometimes when a band gets too comfortable at replicating its own sound from album to album, the fans start to hope for some sort of dramatic shift in style and approach. From Bob Dylan to Radiohead to Sufjan Stevens, artists always seem to get a lot of respect for big reinventions of themselves, even if they have to lose some fans. Maybe the Decemberists' last album, The Hazards of Love was one of those successful reinventions, but we at WTHS were unanimously disappointed by their shift towards the lofty conceptual rock epic. Thankfully, their new album is both a return to form and a reinvention. The King Is Dead is certainly the indie-folk Decemberists of old, filled with acoustic guitar and big proper nouns, yet it isn't a retread. With the help of fellow Americans Gillian Welch and Peter Buck (of R.E.M.), they've made an album that's both pastoral and defiant, sounding distinctly American for the first time. Decemberists fans probably won't hail this as their best work yet, but will be pleased to see them being themselves again.

 

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