Album Review: Stella Donnelly Takes the World to Task on Beware of the Dogs

The Lowdown: Stella Donnelly is a virtual newcomer to the musical scene, but Beware of the Dogs, a glimmering yet no-frills portrait of the political and personal realities and shortcomings of average life, makes one wonder where we ever were without her. She kicks off with an energetic push into the action with “Old Man”, before pulling back into the threads of something a little less pop, a little more indie, which guide the rest of the album. It’s a quick odyssey into a world Donnelly clearly knows well, from the delightfully acerbic family tensions in the lyrics of “Season’s Greetings” to the pinnacled mourning of “Boys Will Be Boys”. Haunting yet real and comprehensive but manageable, Beware of the Dogs is an indie folk wake-up call and a more than apt introduction to this young, fearless expert, who is quickly making herself impossible to overlook. [Buy: Tickets to Upcoming Stella Donnelly Shows] The Good: Beware of the Dogs shines in its concrete approaches to meaningful subject matter. Most markedly, Donnelly’s exasperation with the patriarchy bobs to the surface regularly across the album’s 13-track span; even in the moments when it’s not directly articulated, we feel the way that it informs […]

Album Review: Panda Bear Takes a Calming Breath on the Immersive Buoys

The Lowdown: For Buoys, Noah Lennox’s sixth solo album as Panda Bear, he decided to slow things down. Reunited with producer and longtime collaborator Rusty Santos on their first Panda Bear record together since Person Pitch, Lennox made it a goal to explore modern methods of recording and production in his current home of Lisbon. Beginning with a sketch of vocals, guitar, and simple arrangements, he built off those using Auto-Tune and other elements of rap production to expand his sound. The result is an album that evokes the feeling of being submerged in a sensory deprivation tank, awash with sound that envelops the listener in a gentle, serene manner. Lennox’s sparsest music since Young Prayer and the early days of Animal Collective, Buoys is an immersive wonder. [Listen: Panda Bear on How Success Affected Animal Collective] The Good: Lennox is a master at crafting bright melodies that rush and overwhelm, stretching the definitions of pop music by incorporating atonal and dissonant sounds alongside sugary hooks. He stretches the syllables of words, taking the familiar and making it sound like something completely new, pairing that with tunes that sound like they could come from Gregorian chants. He gradually builds pieces […]