La Dispute – Rooms of the House
In 2011, La Dispute released Wildlife, their second LP and an emotionally exhausting affair that carried on for nearly an hour. Therein lied the album’s greatest strength and weakness all rolled into one inconvenient realization: La Dispute had created an album so lyrically dense, that you had to listen to it in one sitting to embrace the full effect.
At the same time, you couldn’t listen to it in one sitting because it was far too depressing and emotionally heavy. Rooms of the House takes notice of those flaws and almost completely does away with them, creating a more straightforward (and equally as aggressive) experience centered on domestic disputes and the emotional backdrop of marital issues.
The band finds itself spending equal time perfecting old tricks (“First Reactions Falling Through Ice,” “Stay Happy There”) as they explore new ground with the fantastic quiet of Radiohead-esque “Woman (In Mirror)” and “Woman (Reading).” The band hits harder than ever on the surprisingly simple “For Mayor in Splittsville,” featuring nearly spoken word verses and an incredibly powerful bridge: “Then that day, how you said ‘I just don’t know’/I promised we’d rearrange things to fix the mess I made here/But I guess in the end, we just move furniture around.“
La Dispute have trimmed the fat that was hardly there to begin with, further refining their work into a single 11-track masterpiece; it’s up to you to let La Dispute into your life and decide whether their unique brand of cathartic poetry is for you.
Key Tracks: “First Reactions After Falling Through Ice,” “For Mayor In Splittsville,” “Woman (In Mirror)”
For Fans of: mewithoutYou, Touche Amore, Radiohead
Manchester Orchestra – Cope
Manchester Orchestra can be a tough band to peg, only because the diversity their catalog holds and the personal preferences their fans hold so dear. I, for instance, think 2011’s Simple Math is near-perfect, while others mourned the loss of the grungy, rock ‘n’ roll stylings of indie-hit Mean Everything to Nothing. Those who find themselves in the latter category will feel an even stronger attachment to the band’s latest album, Cope, which stands as a somewhat-sequel to METN, brimming with crunchy guitar riffs and palm-muted melodies. Gone is the religious motif and in its place, a lyrically aggressive record that refines both the familiar (career standout “The Ocean” and title track “Cope”) and relentless, guitar-driven territory (“All That I Really Wanted,” “Trees”).
While the album takes time to sink in, sounding slightly repetitive in structure and ranking last of their LP’s in my mind, an incredible thing begins to emerge after multiple listens. The fact is, Manchester Orchestra have still succeeded in releasing one of the best records of the year, towering over their peers with definitive and self-referential songs like “Girl Harbor” and “See It Again.” Whether you follow the band closely or are just looking for some good old-fashioned “rock and roll” music, Cope’s perfect atmosphere serves as a fantastic homage to Manchester Orchestra’s influences.
Key Tracks: “Girl Harbor,” “The Ocean,” “All I Really Wanted”
For Fans of: Bad Books, Brand New, Nirvana