Album Reviews

A place to Bury Strangers, Guantanamo Baywatch and Kate Miller-Heidke

A Place to Bury Strangers
(Dead Oceans)
★★★★ (out of 5 stars)

A Place To Bury Strangers have long savored the taste
of drama, wringing histrionics from blistering blizzards of distortion-soaked guitar, incensed, demanding drums, Oliver Ackermann's sad-sack stalker croons and even song titles. Worship, their third album, epitomizes this tactic with tracks like "Why I Can't Cry Anymore" and "You Are the One." But even with the clear desire for theatrics, Place's emotionally raw shoegaze has only grown fuller and more gripping over the years. This is their apex. Insure your speakers before listening. – Reyan Ali

Guantanamo Baywatch
Chest Crawl
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

If you took those old beach party movies and recast them with punks, Guantanamo Baywatch's latest simple pleasure would be the soundtrack. Their heavily reverbed, slop-drunk constitution is garage, punk, oldies, original rock & roll wildness and more actual surf-rock tumbles and bends than their "beachy" peers. And while the Portlanders mostly split the difference between the Black Lips and the Ventures, top-pick "Diana" is a perfect little ditty that sounds like Ricky Nelson on booze and pills. Surf's up, punks. – Bao Le-Huu

Kate Miller-Heidke
★★★ (out of 5 stars)

As pop enigmas go, this Australian opera and theater vet and Ben Folds bestie is a choice one, but this follow-up to 2008's Curiouser lacks Miller-Heidke's best asset: Her sense of humor. Especially live, the spunky beauty crackles with spontaneity and irreverence. On Nightflight, Miller-Heidke doubles down on her ethereal vocals, piling layer upon layer of super-sized orchestration and arias on an already overproduced foundation, landing somewhere between Sarah McLachlan-esque airiness ("Let Me Fade") and Sarah Brightman-style pomposity ("Humiliation") for an oddly detached effort. – Justin Strout


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