The Antlers new album “Familiars” Simmers.

The Antler's "Familiars".

The Antler’s “Familiars”.

After releasing a couple of albums on his own as The Anlters, Peter Silberman was joined by multi instrumentalist Darby Cicci and Michael Lerner on drums, and Familiars is the third album from them as a threesome.

The band have frequently been joined by fellow Brooklyn resident Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals (whose latest album is reviewed earlier here), and as you’d expect from their postal address, we’re very much in the beating heart of hipsterland here.

What makes the music of The Antlers so engaging is their very distinct tone. They craft songs of emotional honesty, naivety almost, and posit them in an expansive if minutely cultivated musical landscape. These are then given body with a succession of unapologetically gorgeous melodies that are draped in Silberman’s sweeping, elegiac vocals.

Some time backing vocalist Sharon Van Etten.

Some time backing vocalist Sharon Van Etten.

Though the results are in many ways very different, it somehow calls to mind Nixon, Lambchop’s seminal album from 2000. Kurt Wagner and his band though were more clearly defined as coming under the alt country rubric. The Antlers will only ever be listed under Indie. They just manage to be incredibly melodic without ever being saccharine. But best of all, they are unashamedly earnest.

There is little in the way of irony or distance here. All of the sophistication is invested in the music. So there’s an emotional heft to the songs that the sweeping melodies only serve to heighten. The boys from Pitchfork gave it an impressed 7.8 here

And you can see the video for their single Palace here.

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Sharon Van Etten’s new album “Are We There” Soars.

Sharon Van Etten's Are We There.

Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There.

Sharon Van Etten has been wowing the good folks at NPR’s All Songs Considered (reviewed earlier here) and the boys from Pitchfork for some time now. Her last album Tramp (2012) was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner and includes a guest appearance from Beirut’s Zach Condon. And in his profile of her in this month’s New Yorker (‘Relaxed Fit”), Sasha Frere-Jones describes her latest album as “astonishing”.  In other words, we’re talking indie royalty here.

Her fourth studio album, Are We There, is a serious piece of work. But on first listen, it seems to be a tad conservative, conventional even. There’s nothing here that we haven’t heard before. Songs of heartache set to pleasing melodies layered with lush harmonies.

The mandatory All Songs Considered podcast.

The mandatory All Songs Considered podcast.

What’s “astonishing” is how the whole adds up to so much more than the sum of its parts. These are songs that really ache, and those melodies and harmonies build and grow with every listen. Before you know it, they’re securely lodged in the comfort of your subconscious.

This is the album Van Etten has been building up to. Sonically, she’s come a long way from the hushed confessionals of those early recordings. This is a much fuller sound, but it’s achieved without sacrificing any of the intimacy. On the contrary, the bigger sound amplifies the emotional heft. What’s she’s produced in other words is the ultimate Fleetwood Mac album.

You can see the video for Every Time The Sun Comes Up here.

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Subscribe here for regular updates. And get your FREE GIFT of the first 2 chapters of my book, A Brief History Of Man.