Chad VanGaalen—Soft Airplane If Chad VanGaalen makes his music in a way that makes it seem like he doesn't care if anyone hears it (recording at his home in Calgary), his songs still show that he is a major talent. Relying on unusual instruments and sounds to complement his pleasant folk songs, VanGaalen is emerging as one of indie rock's great voices. He also seems like the kind of guy you can hand some maracas and a xylophone and somehow he will make a song you'll be singing all week long.
Department of Eagles—In Ear Park Daniel Rossen from Grizzly Bear takes a break from our furry friends to return to work on his other project, Department of Eagles (a collaboration with Fred Nicolaus). The sound of the band should sound familiar to anyone who has listened to Grizzly Bear—Daniel isn't exactly taking a left turn with this release. To the contrary, he has a sound (indie folk-pop indebted to Ram-era Paul McCartney) and he's sticking to it. There is something very comforting in Rossen's voice—it sounds familiar and totally unique at the same time.
Solange—Sol-Angel & The Hadley St. Dreams Even if Beyonce's little sister doesn't have quite as massive a voice as her sibling does, she still managed to craft one of the better R&B pleasures of this year. Her music here evokes two different eras of Motown sounds—both the carefully crafted soul-pop of the 60's and the intimate basement funk of the 70's. She even has a track called "Ode to Marvin" with the propulsive What's Going On beat. Maybe using such beloved sounds is a cheap trick.
Daniel Rossen from Grizzly Bear takes a break from our furry friends to return to his solo project, Department of Eagles. The sound of the band should sound familiar to anyone who has listened to Grizzly Bear—Daniel isn't exactly taking a left turn with this release.