Spring is a wonderful time of year. Not only does it fight away the blistering cold, but it also brings sweet, sweet music to people’s ears. And I’m not talking about chirping birds. This past May was a generous month for music lovers as far as album releases go. For those looking for fresh indie and alternative rock albums, here are four that stood out.
“Ten Stories” — mewithoutYou
Philadelphia natives mewithoutYou are known for their efforts in experimental rock and spoken-word lyrics that include a variety of spiritual themes and fables. Their fifth full-length album, “Ten Stories,” continues to prove that they are talented and innovative musicians.
MewithoutYou’s earlier albums were more angst-filled with a heavier sound, but they departed from that a bit with the 2009 release of “It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright.” The album featured a more refined, artsy rock sound with splashes of folk and storytelling lyrics. “Ten Stories” was released May 15, and each song tells intriguing stories that build up to a bigger narrative about a traveling circus and a train crash in late 19th-century Montana.
Aaron Weiss’ lyrics continue to be intricate and thought-provoking with layers of meanings that take multiple listens to interpret fully. Remnants of the band’s post-hardcore roots are still there, but the grit is blended with a more subdued indie rock.
“Not Quite Yours” — Barcelona
Seattle natives Barcelona (not to be confused with the disbanded new wave group from Virginia or the city in Spain) fell off the radar for a few years after independently releasing their debut album, “Absolutes,” and touring for a little while. Besides playing a few shows and temporarily signing with Universal Records, which released a remixed version of their debut, the band was mostly missing in action.
Last summer they launched a Kickstarter project to back an album they had been working on. The album, “Not Quite Yours,” was finally released May 8, and it was well worth the wait. Lush guitars, thoughtful lyrics, bouncy piano chords and catchy melodies are just some characteristics that make the album great. It’s the kind of album you want to put on repeat.
“Gestalt” — The Spill Canvas
The future of The Spill Canvas seemed grim after the band broke up, regrouped and then disbanded again. However, the South Dakota band surprised fans by announcing it was working on a new album. The Spill Canvas started out as just lead singer Nick Thomas with an acoustic guitar, but it grew into a full-fledged rock band. However, the acoustic guitar is still a staple of the band’s sound. “Gestalt,” another album founded by Kickstarter, was released May 22 and displays more freedom and experimentation than some work recently released under the discretion of a label.
This latest full-length takes some twists and turns with upbeat numbers alongside quieter tracks. There are spells of piano and electronics mixed in with distorted guitar riffs and typical rock rhythms. Overall, the album is reminiscent of the band’s sonic beginnings in “One Fell Swoop.” It’s the same Spill Canvas, just with more range.
“Dream of the Inbetween” — French Wives
French Wives is another product of Glasgow’s thriving indie scene. The band formed in 2008, releasing singles here and there, before gaining recognition beyond its hometown. The band’s debut album, “Dream of the Inbetween,” was released May 7 and is a highly impressive debut. French Wives’ sound is far from generic British pop rock. They make use of orchestral instruments, keyboards and layered backup vocals to create catchy indie rock.