La Luz- It’s Alive

It’s Alive is the debut full-length from La Luz. Recorded in an overheated trailer, the album oozes with the easygoing haze of a hot summer day. The Seattle quartet blends surf-rock guitar and organ with doo-wop vocals, and keep the tempo a tad slower than beach-minded peers Best Coast or Bleached. Instrumental “Sunstroke” recollects classic Dick Dale, albeit not quite as speed-driven, while “Morning High” and  “You Can Never Know” show off the group’s remarkable skill harmonizing, which the members claimed to have developed listening to the Beatles and the Shirelles. They certainly learned from the best, and it shows all over It’s Alive. 

Standout track: “Big Big Blood” 

 
 

Son Lux- Lanterns

Son Lux, AKA Colorado-born musician/producer Ryan Lott, is a tough act to pin down. In addition to his three albums as Son Lux, the most recent of which is Lanterns, Lott has contributed music for movies like Looper (a perfect fit for Lott’s futuristic sounds), collaborated with Sufjan Stevens as a member of S / S / S, and performed with choirs and orchestras across the nation. Lott’s polymath abilities are honed on Lanterns for a marvel of electronica, hip-hop, and classical music: the album is nothing if not ambitious. Arrangments on tracks like “Lanterns Lit” and “No Crimes” are simply enormous, with Lott’s shaky vocals enveloped by majestic choirs, robotic drum beats, and ghostly synths. The intersection of acoustic and electronic instrumentation is particularly striking, as Lott finds a natural middle ground for the two to elatedly coexist. Lanterns features guest appearances from My Brightest Diamond, the Antlers, and more.

Standout track: “Lost It to Trying”

 

Yuna- Nocturnal

Singer-songwriter Yuna cut her teeth in the music scene of her home country of Malaysia before crossing over to the US via her self-titled debut album. Her potent indie pop endeared her to the Billboard charts, NPR, and the New York Times alike and led to appearances at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. Her latest album, Nocturnal, proves equally irresistible. Yuna’s songbird vocal ability brightens songs like “Falling” and “Colors” with undeniable pop charm, even with lyrics touched by pain and longing. 

Standout track: “Lights and Camera”