Best Albums: Man Man, Arctic Monkeys, Balance and Composure, Obits, Cock & Swan, Tremor

This week’s best albums

– With its fifth album, quirk-rock quintet Man Man offers a “band reboot,” merging its Tom Waits-ian, trop-pop weirdness with Talking Heads inspirations, old-school soul, and other oddities.

Arctic Monkeys makes another surprise transition, this time with a slinky nightclub record that channels bluesy rock riffs from the ’70s.

Balance and Composure, among the new guard of indie-rock bands that actually rock, makes an advancement of musical and songwriting depth.

– Rick Froberg’s Obits, on its third LP, better balances its members’ blues, rock, psych, and world-music influences with the more familiar snarl of their post-hardcore precursors.

– Following a more acoustic LP, Seattle duo Cock & Swan crafts an album of washed-out ambience, breathy vocals, glitching syncopation, and pop nostalgia.

– Argentinian “folklorica” outfit Tremor utilizes human voice for the first time, offering a poppier blend of folk and electronica.

Honorable mentions

The Weeknd: Kiss Land (Republic)

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Review: Cock and Swan’s Stash

Cock and Swan: StashCock and Swan: Stash (Lost Tribe Sound)

“Sneak Close”

[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Cock_and_Swan_Sneak_Close.mp3|titles=Cock and Swan: “Sneak Close”]

With its fourth album, Stash, Washington duo Cock and Swan makes a sharp departure from the sound of its previous records. Whereas the band was once rooted in haunting, trip-hop-ish electronic music, Stash sees it in a new direction towards a more stripped-down, acoustic aesthetic.

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Video Premiere: Cock and Swan’s “Tectonic Plates”

Cock and Swan: StashCock and Swan: Stash (Lost Tribe Sound, 4/23/12)

Lost Tribe Sound’s Cock and Swan is set to release its fourth studio effort, Stash, later this month. The album marks a departure from the band’s haunting use of electronics in favor of a more stripped-down acoustic aesthetic. Underneath its delicate surface, though, the band is able to achieve its subtly sinister sound through Ola Hungerford’s lighter-than-air vocals juxtaposed with Johnny Goss’ slightly askew percussion.

For a preview of what’s to come, here’s the video premiere for “Tectonic Plates.” Pre-order Stash here.

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