Medium Rotation — Blue Rev; Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet

ALVVAYS Blue Rev (Polyvinyl/ Transgressive) — Rev is a reasonable potent alcopop that’s been a staple of questionable choices for Canadian youth since the turn of the millennium. The beverage is offered in a range of colors, including blue, presumably to add to the shame when it’s inevitable spewed back out at the end of a night of risky revelry. Whether Alvvays more evokes the happy head-spinning pleasures or the punishing aftermath of the product in naming their new album Blue Rev is up for debate, but both is the safest bet. The band’s indie pop has never sounded fizzier, brisker, or more assured, and it’s been stuffed with those qualities in the past. Working with producer Shawn Everett, who’s pitched in behind the boards on a slew of great records in recent years, Alvvays delivers a set of songs that are unfailingly bright and beautifully rendered. There’s a consistent sunniness to the music, but the word traffic in enough of the messiness of modern life to remind attentive listeners that sunshine can burn so hard that skin starts flaking off. Frontwoman Molly Rankin’s lyrics (every track is co-written by her and multi-instrumentalist Alec O’Hanley) often find the wry comedy in the dissatisfaction she expresses, such as the appraisal of an ex-lover who’s moved on in “Velveteen”: “Is she a perfect ten?/ Have you found Christ again?/ Then tell me you don’t have the time/ To cop to it and vanish in the night.” “Easy on Your Own” shows off the band’s mastery of offhand majesty, and “Tom Verlaine” flintily does the War on Drugs’ trick of taking jammy classic rock structures and flooding them with dreaminess (presumably Everett’s time on the studio payroll of the War on Drugs was handy in that instance. There are moments of vintage classic rock jingle-jangle here and there, typically giving way to the full-bodied pop wonderment of the same era’s Lush or Darling Buds. (consider “After the Earthquake” to be Exhibit A). Blue Rev is downright intoxicating. In addition to the tracks already mentioned, rev it up and ride with “Pressed,” “Very Online Guy,” “Pomeranian Spinster,” Belinda Says,” and “Lottery Noises.”

DISQ Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet (Saddle Creek) — Started by longtime pals (and I note with civic pride, fellow Madisonians) Isaac DeBroux-Slone and Raina Bock, Disq is the sort of egalitarian rock band that puts other supposed group efforts to shame, In addition to DeBrouz-Slone on guitar and Bock on bass, Disq features drummer Stu Manley and guitarists Logan Severson and Shannon Conor. On Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet, the band’s sophomore LP, everyone except Manley gets at least one turn at the lead vocalist microphone and songwriting duties are similarly spread around. The result is an album that shoots off ideas like a whirling knife-sharpening Dremel with the blade pressed tight. Sometimes that blast of invention mostly manifests around the edges, as with the stamped of samples and sound effects at the beginning of album opener “Civilization Four” or the summer downpour of screamy noise at the end of “Prize Content Life.” More often, the laudatory infuses a whole track; tilt your ears in the direction of the rascally, restless “Cujo Kiddies” or the languidly spirited “Charley Chimp” for prime examples. This sonic wanderlust could be distancing or lead to a fragmented listening experience, but the opposite is true. The album plays like a lesson in everything that’s made college rock a safe haven for toe-tapping discontents for a few generations now. Songs tingle and blare in all the right places, shifting and jolting with the delirious unpredictability of a blindfolded roller coaster ride. Contently experience something loud with “This Time,” “The Hardest Part,” “If Only,” “(With Respect to) Loyal Serfs,” and the Laurie Anderson-esque “Hitting a Nail with a BB Gun.”

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