CD Roundup: Broken Bells and Frightened Rabbits

Dangermouse and James Mercer pair-up for success while literary boozehounds create sad rock for the weather.

PHOTOS COURTESY SONY

PHOTOS COURTESY SONY

Mark Brenden

Broken Bells ALBUM: âÄúBroken BellsâÄù LABEL: Sony After an OK-at-best collaboration with Beck in what seemed like a match made in sweet-people heaven, everybodyâÄôs favorite electronic producer Danger Mouse is back behind the scenes. This time heâÄôs with everybodyâÄôs favorite 2000s sentimental dream boy James Mercer of the life-changing Northwest brigade The Shins. Their first installment is a chill affair for the band (we can call them a band, because they claim they are not just a one-record stand) who use for their template, like most every modern indie band, Beach BoysâÄô Pet Sounds and that ever-flowing fountain of extra-cool ironic crackerjacks that is the 1980s. But the pair is able to make it work, using real instruments to boot. âÄúThe Ghost InsideâÄù channels Gnarles Barkley to dig up some good olâÄô-fashioned soul, while âÄúThe High RoadâÄù wouldnâÄôt sound out of place on The ShinsâÄô last record. âÄúSailing to NowhereâÄù sounds more like a collaboration between Daft Punk and Ben Gibbard in the parts that surround the charming ragtime piano. By no means has this duo made something to be stacked on a perfect albums list, but if they are what they say they are (a real band with a future), then this is a hell of a starting pad to build on. These Broken Bells can chime. 3/5 stars Frightened Rabbit ¬ ALBUM: âÄúThe Winter of Mixed DrinksâÄù LABEL: FatCat Records ItâÄôs about time for the limelight to shine on this frightened rabbit. More accurately, on the indie boys of Frightened Rabbit out of Scotland, who have been hopping around for seven years now. Their third full-length, âÄúThe Winter of Mixed Drinks,âÄù (which is every winter in our tundra) could be their step into public view or at least the blog-happy sector of the public. Their sound has gusto âÄî less like a frightened rabbit than one with gall, one that wouldnâÄôt be afraid to take what it needs from your radish garden. Their sound is what might happen if Band of Horses collided with Interpol: a too-huge epiphany that is more like a borderline orgasm. Occasionally their story songs even promise the literary chops of The National. âÄúThe WrestleâÄù is an absconding song, with The Edge guitars grappling with a melodious bass and revelatory vocals of sure-fire emotion. âÄúMy enemies/Please stay close to me/No breath left/Cold breath thiefâÄù. The albumâÄôs first single âÄúSwim Until You CanâÄôt See the LandâÄù nurtures the feeling of escape described in its title with swift percussion setting the pace for singer Scott HutchinsonâÄôs heart-in-larynx wails. The whole album has a desperate aura surrounding it âÄî the feeling of a man running away. What else would one expect from a Frightened Rabbit? But with the stylistic maturity of the album, these Frightened Rabbits might be running right into the spotlight. 3.5/5 stars.