Favorite

Said the Whale: Little Mountain (Hidden Pony) 

The sometimes off-kilter and wholly adorable indie-rock songs of this Vancouver, British Columbia-based band are nothing short of effervescent. On its third full-length album, the tunes are like scrubbing bubbles for brains numbed by modern irony, depression and negativity.

Resounding acoustic-guitar-bashing, rumbling drums, piano filigrees, loud-soft dynamics and warm harmonies imbue "Big Sky, MT" with a charming expansiveness that underlines its multi-generational lesson about bedrock values, including, "My grandfather taught me that picking flowers was worthwhile when you're doing it for your true love." And how you can resist a song such as "O Alexandra," in which the protagonist falls in love with his partner all over again each morning?

The singing voices of founding members Ben Worcester and Tyler Bancroft, who both also play guitar, twine into lush, expert harmonies, most notably on tracks like "Big Wave Goodbye," a love letter to their hometown. Often incorporating female backing voices, they frequently rival such acts as Fleet Foxes, the New Pornographers and, well, Fleetwood Mac for vocal artistry.

Slightly more ominous new-wave-style songs such as "Heavy Ceiling" and "Lucky" are no less appealing, but somewhat darker, thanks to a solid, slinking low end. I also like the play on words in the title of "Loveless," which refers to the refrain: "How could I love you less, now that I know you more?"

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