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The Mass Media

Aural Pleasure: Boston Calling Music Festival Album Picks

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Boston Calling Music Festival

It’s that time of year again folks, time to snag tickets to Boston Calling, the city’s bi-annual music festival. This year, the 3-day festival features an impressive lineup. Performers include Modest Mouse, Warpaint, and Magic Man amongst other indie-alternative darlings. Here are reviews for three albums from artists on the lineup. Give them a listen, pick your favorites and have something to rock out to at the festival.
“Heartthrob,” Tegan and Sara
Released early last year, “Heartthrob,” is Canadian duo Tegan and Sara’s seventh studio album. Since its release, the album has received mixed reviews. It has been criticized for deviating away from the folk-alternative sound heard on previous albums and for venturing too far into the world of commercialized pop. Despite naysayers who claim the pair has sold-out, the new album is a refreshing change of pace. While their sound maybe vastly different, old themes of heartbreak and introspection are alive and well in their heartfelt lyrics.
The album opens with their commercially successful electro-pop single “Closer.” The spunky tune is the epitome of an earworm, with its danceable beat and catchy lyrics. From there, the album becomes a 10-track ode to the complexities of young love. Loosely anecdotal songs tell the tale of heartache and unresolved feelings. Songs of steadfast resolution like “Goodbye, Goodbye” and “I’m Not Your Hero” are juxtaposed with songs like “How Come You Don’t Want Me” and “Now I’m All Messed Up” revealing intense internal conflicts. The album wraps up neatly with the restrained “Shock To Your System,” a satisfying conclusion to a spirited album.
“Let’s Be Still,” The Head and the Heart
Seattle-based sextet The Head and the Heart’s sophomore album “Let’s Be Still” is a collection of beautifully composed and skillfully written songs. Much like their first album, this album has a controlled intensity. Its lyrics are deep and its melodies are emotionally penetrating. Though the music has clear alternative-folk roots, it also has a perceptibly country feel. Through their use of piano, violin, and occasionally, banjo, the band creates a sound that invokes images of pastoral serenity.
The album begins with the triumphant “Homecoming Heroes” and maintains a steady momentum. The mood seamlessly shifts from song to song, from airy to mournful, and back again. Country influences can be heard on “Josh McBride” with its sad sweetness, and “Cruel” which relies on a classically country musical arrangement. The standout songs on this album are the sad lullaby “Another Story” and its immediate successor, the dreamy “Springtime.”
Crafted with care, each song on the album has its own sound and story to tell. Still, the deepness of the feelings they invoke is the same, making it a profoundly soulful album.
“All This Bad Blood,” Bastille
English alt-rock band Bastille’s album “All This Bad Blood” is a musical behemoth. Twenty-five tracks strong, the album is a reissue of the band’s 2013 debut album “Bad Blood.” This revamped rerelease hit the shelves this past January and includes tracks from the first album along with some new additions. Despite its extensive track list, the album’s sound is relatively consistent, with scattered deviations. 
“All This Bad Blood” starts off with the energetic single “Pompeii.” From there on, it becomes clear that Bastille’s strength comes in the form of metaphoric lyrics, a staple on this latest album. As for sound, the steady booming percussion featured on songs like “Things We Lost In The Fire” and “Icarus” give the album an unwavering power. Other tracks like “These Streets” and “Laura Palmer” are more upbeat but communicate a similar sense of strength. The album ends with the gentle, “Tuning Out…” an odd but atmospheric cover of the Christmas classic “O Holy Night.” While unusual, the song reveals the band’s willingness to experiment and innovate on this repackaged album. 
All of these albums are available for purchase on iTunes. The Boston Calling music festival will take place on May 23, 24, and 25. For tickets, visit www.bostoncalling.com.