NEW RELEASES: The Rosebuds and The Vaccines craft guitar-driven gems

This weeks’ reviews focus on a couple of ultra-beautiful vocalists, with impeccable arrangements and precision guitar work – with the fifth studio album from The Rosebuds, a husband-and-wife duo who just divorced; and a debut album, from The Vaccines.

The Rosebuds, fresh off a divorce of founding members Ivan Howard (also of “supergroup” GAYNGS) and Kelly Crisp, released their fifth studio album “Loud Planes Fly Low” on June 7 (Merge Records). It’s an interesting transition for the band from North Carolina, forcing them to evolve  — amicably, apparently.

The first song – “Go Ahead” – is precise guitar craftsmanship, and fed by Howard’s vocals, is definitely one of the album’s best tracks. Perhaps it’s an analogy for the band’s new musical journey. “Limitless Arms” follows in the same vein.

In “Second Bird of Paradise”, Ivan echoes the refrain “she floats like a bird in the canopy”, and pleads with the listener, forcing them to listen not just casually to the album, but to drop everything else they’re doing. When Kelly takes over on main vocals, as on “Come Visit Me”, the songs are equally delicious. The drum solo in “Woods” is another tasty treat.

While the personal dynamic has obviously changed between the musical duo, the divorce of Ivan and Kelly has in some way made the band more emotive, creating an entire album of summery musical goodness. Their indie rock comes at a slightly slower tempo, providing a melodramatic tension tothe tracks, with a hint of sadness throughou. At the same time, impeccable arrangements and beautiful vocals play out amongst the ten songs. It could well end up onpeople’s year-end lists of best albums for 2011.

The Vaccines, formed in London just one year ago, released their debut album – “What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?” in mid-March (Columbia). The album received favorable reviews on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, and even vaulted to number four on the UK charts, but has barely made a dent in North America, which is unfortunate.

The second track “If You Wanna” is a joyful toe-tapping ditty; “A Lack of Understanding” is an introspective rock track with a subtle tinge of the 80’s; and “Blow It Up” is one of the standouts on the album, as frontman Justin Young pleads to “blow, blow, blow it up”.

The band attacks poignant and age-old questions later in the album, asking “what did you expect from post break up sex”, and tells us to “grow your hair out long” (“Wetsuit”). The album ends with the epic “Family Friend”, an eight and a half minute musical journey, which starts slow then methodically builds into a drum-pounding finale, definitely not “an awkward secret that someone denies” … then after a brief moment of silence at about the five minute mark, the tune flows into a beautiful piano track.

The album is full of rich, lush indie rock with melodic pop influences that you can at once imagine the band rocking out on stage live, but equally so you could imagine dancing along to the songs in a club. The guitar hooks are plentiful, the drumming often frenetic, and the vocals precise and inviting. Check it out as soon as you get a chance.

Michael Senchuk also writes about new music on his own blog, New Music Michael.