Two-sentence album reviews on Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Real Estate, Phantogram, Tim Hecker and more 

Two Short

Two Short
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Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Wolfroy Goes to Town (Drag City)

Wolfroy Goes to Town is the best kind of Bonnie "Prince" Billy album, full of strong female guest vocals (this time courtesy of Angel Olsen) and odd melodies that might be mistaken for 1920s church hymns, but with lyrics about co-dependency and being disappointed. Religious overtones and rural hardships underscore Will Oldham's perpetual oddness — as in the relatively upbeat single "Quail and Bushes," where he calls God his "bosom friend," and the screen-printed pink skullcap that comes with the LP. LH

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Real Estate, Days (Domino)

With their sophomore release, surf-inflected indie rockers Real Estate prove that the melodically delectable pop hooks of their eponymous debut weren't mere flukes. If you enjoy shimmering, sunny, laid-back guitars — and if you can look past some oversimplified lyrics here and there — Days may very well end up your favorite release of the year. DPR

Spectrals, Bad Penny (Wichita Recordings)

Spectrals' Louis Jones was raised in Yorkshire, England, but Bad Penny puts a melodic, guitar-strummy spin on classic American fuzz-rock. Imagine if Girls or Best Coast time-traveled back to 1989. MTR

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Phantogram, Nightlife (Barsuk)

Much like electro-rock duo Phantogram's full-length debut, Eyelid Movies, this follow-up six-song EP features dark synth tones, fluid beats and pop melodies. It's like if The Postal Service's Give Up had been shadowy and smart rather than cutesy — and the unlikely and adroitly utilized Otis Redding sample on "Turning Into Stone" doesn't hurt. DPR

Tim Hecker, Dropped Pianos (Kranky)

Dropped Pianos is 32 minutes of minor-key piano sketches that Hecker later recorded on an Icelandic church's pipe organ for the recently released Ravedeath, 1972 LP. Here are those original melodies laid bare, and like an understated prequel to a blockbuster movie, their spare, haunting elegance is almost more dramatic than Ravedeath, 1972's reverb-heavy synth and drone. LH

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Cass McCombs, Humor Risk (Domino)

Earlier this year, Cass McCombs struck gold with the alt-country sway of "County Line." His brand-new Humor Risk is an appetizing blend of campfire folk and sweet, slightly damaged country wailing. MTR

White Denim, Takes Place in Your Work Space (Downtown)

Even with the excellent full-length D and a live-at-Third Man Records LP under their belt this year, Austin's virtuosic garage-psych four-piece White Denim returns with a four-song sojourn into mellow territory. As with any White Denim release, Takes Place sports intricate guitars and dense grooves, but here they lay back, swirl and intertwine, allowing some strings and pedal steel into the already diverse melodic mix. DPR



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