Manzella’s Spring Music Picks

Spring is always a fun season for new music releases. This winter, I eagerly anticipated some new releases from a few of my old favorites…and now, with the ground thawing out and the weather warming up, I’ve found even more tunes to love from artists who are new to me. In the spirit of sharing, here are my top five new releases from spring 2015. Happy listening!

“Kintsugi” – Death Cab For Cutie

I must preface this review: Death Cab is my favorite band. Previous albums “Plans” and “Narrow Stairs” carried me through depression and heartbreak in high school, and I bonded with some of my closest friends over the release of “Codes and Keys” in 2011. Bias is inherent, naturally.

However, my love of Death Cab’s extensive discography has set the bar pretty high for their last studio album. “Kintsugi” is rife with classic elements of Death Cab’s extensive discography. Between romantic, poetic lyrics, slow and steady build-up in each track and a reocurring theme of heartbreak, this album is an enjoyable (if not predictable) end to Death Cab’s 15-year run.

I’m a bit of an album purist, so I firmly believe that albums are best listened to all the way through in sequential order. This could not be more essential for this album. “Kintsugi” has a beautiful and very cohesive progression, which makes it a very smooth and easy listening experience. To all Death Cab fans: this one is a winner. Of course, no tracks could compare to “Cath” or “Transatlanticism” or “What Sarah Said,” but this album has helped me make peace with the end of my favorite band’s career. Highlights include “No Room In Frame,” “The Ghosts of Beverly Drive,” “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life” and “Everything’s A Ceiling.”

“Medallion” – Lost Lander

Lost Lander is a new discovery of mine, and I must confess that I am smitten. Upon first impression, Lost Lander sounded like a perfect mix of The Killer’s charged vocals and Ra Ra Riot’s creative instrumental effects.

That first impression still holds true. “Medallion,” Lost Lander’s second studio album, is a fun, playful album to jam to. It has an awesome energy and is a fast, very easy listen. It’s the kind of sound that catches your ear and stays there for hours. My favorite tracks off of “Medallion” are “Gemini,” “Flinch,” and “Give It Time.”

“Strangers to Ourselves,”

Modest Mouse

Oh, Modest Mouse, how shall I express my love for thee? Much like Death Cab For Cutie’s tunes, Modest Mouse’s music has been there for me in the darkest of days and brightest of nights. In their 20 years of making music, Modest Mouse has gone from indie band extraordinaire to hipster culture phenomenon. Songs like “Float On,” “Dashboard” and “The World At Large” make frequent radio play to this day, and for good reason: Modest Mouse has mastered the cool and catchy yet still alternative rock vibe.

“Strangers to Ourselves,” the band’s first new studio album in eight years, doesn’t disappoint. The album progresses into an almost ska-like, very upbeat sound, which makes it the perfect soundtrack for cruising in your car (or, alternatively, dancing alone in your dorm room). The band’s lyrical style, which varies from hilariously blunt to bordering nonsensical, keeps things interesting and fun. My favorites from “Strangers to Ourselves” include “Lampshades On Fire,” “Shit in Your Cut,” “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box” and “Sugar Boats.”

“The Firewatcher’s Daughter”  

Brandi Carlile

Although Brandi Carlile is a new artist on my radar, she’s hardly new to the industry: “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” is Carlile’s fifth full-length studio album, so it is safe to say that she has ample experience as a singer songwriter. I love how her music defies categorization and appeals to lovers of many genres; Carlile’s sound lies somewhere between indie folk, soft rock and country music.

The standout element of Carlile’s work is her soft, melodic voice. Paired with gentle acoustics, “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” is the perfect slow jam à la Fleet Foxes or Bon Iver. Her album has the perfect balance of slow, quiet acoustic ballads and country-rock anthems. My favorite songs off of “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” are “Wherever Is Your Heart,” “Wilder (We’re Chained),” “Alibi” and “Murder in the City.”

“Love Stuff” – Elle King

Elle King is a new-to-me artist whose smoky, trance-inducing voice suckered me into her music almost instantly. A quick Google search told me she emerged on the music scene in 2012 with a short EP. “Love Stuff” is her first full-length studio album, and it certainly delivers. Color me impressed. I wouldn’t hesitate to call her the Marina Diamandis of alternative rock.

There’s just something about King’s voice that is absolutely captivating. Her raspy croan, reminiscent of pop artist Duffy or alternative rocker Amy Winehouse, hits the listener hard. King’s vocal range is impressive, and the catchy guitar riffs and fast drumming that accompany her vocals make for an awesome alternative rock listening experience. She sings of her experiences as an international heartbreaker, claiming she’s a tattoo lover, heavy drinker and most certainly not America’s Sweetheart. Highlights of the album include “Ex’s and Oh’s,” “America’s Sweetheart,” “Kocaine Karolina” and “I Told You I Was Mean.”