Fleet Foxes- ephemeral without being ethereal, painfully earnest but with no heart, this nonsense crushes with its grand declaration of itself. Sincerity is only as interesting as its wielder.
Blood Ceremony, "Living with the Ancients"- I have an unsubstantiated hunch this is going to accused of falseness by plenty of metal people, even though they toured w/ Electric Wizard (or *because*, really; EW, in spite of their own deep cred amongst the faithful, are a metal band of choice for plenty of dabblers. Fine with me, but you know...). Good stuff, though. Retro without being cutesy, seemingly knowledgeable about horror and occult-y stuff (a song inspired by Machen instead of Lovecraft! "Oliver Haddo" instead of his inspiration Crowley!) and a creeping 70's tenebrous film vibe, all supported with ominous Sabbath/Pentagram riffery which also suggests familiarity with all that Wicker Man evil pagan English folk everyone's been so into this past decade. Really dig the ominous, high-pitched, prancing(!) riff between the verses of "The Great God Pan." Frontwoman Alia O'Brien is a decent enough singer, forceful without sounding forced, cool without sounding out of it. She has that rare thing Ozzy used to have: the ability to sing about darkness and evil and all that and sound like a dazzled or frightened protagonist, as opposed to so many metal dudes who sound like the ones *doing* the conjuring. Out of control evil is more frightening than a merely human devil: man's place in the awful and awe-inducing cosmos, etc. It's her flute playing that pushes some of this into greatness, though. It (as well as her able organ playing) summons heaps of alchemical atmosphere. And it sounds nothing like Jethro Tull! Not an all-time album, but some top- notch songs and a fucking terrific and clever vibe. If you like the cover, you'll like the record; it's a good indicator.
The Green Pajamas, "Poison in the Russian Room." Green Pajamas have been around forever, since the early 80's, I think. This one, from 2009, is the first full- length I've heard of theirs, so maybe I'm not qualified to write about it. Whatever. It kicks off with a boring song which sounds a little like an uninspired Big Star, and I skip it every time. The rest of the album brings something special, though. A full band playing gently and quietly in that Yo La Tengo way, but with an earnest, melancholic, even sorta gothic vibe. Maybe a closer comparison would be Damon & Naomi if they were more into the Brontes and Pre-Raphealites than surrealism. These guys did a full EP of tunes inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu, and that brooding, mystic gloom is the key. It will probably put a number of folks off, but I'm goth and I love it. The few harder rocking songs don't do a lot for me, but when they give in to their spooky tendencies it works. Big on atmosphere and tunes, an air of pleasant pretension, etc. Good enough to keep me interested in their catalogue (which is deep).