TWINS’ 2014 debut “Tomboys on Parade” had an infectious pop quality, but for “Square America,” the Waterloo band has moved more toward a ’70s FM rock sound. It suits the quartet, with tracks like “Hot Stepper” and “Mary’s Sister Margaret” harkening back to the sound of Big Star and Cheap Trick, distinguishing TWINS from the sound of other Iowa bands. It’s bar band rock but with a lot of drive and soul. “Tomboys on Parade” was great, but “Square America” feels like the band has stepped up to a new level.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Bad Seed LTD
You have to expect morose songs from Nick Cave. Twenty years ago, he released an album of nothing but murder ballads. But “Skeleton Tree” is morose even for Cave, and understandably so. While the album was being recorded, Cave’s 15-year-old son died in a freak accident. So be prepared that “Skeleton Tree” visits some dark and dreary places. It probably goes without saying that a band’s 16th album is unlikely to be a good starting point for new listeners, but “Skeleton Tree” is a deep cut for anyone but diehard Cave fans. It’s lovely and haunting but also unrelenting and heavy. Everyone will need a hug by the time the last track closes.
Joe Lawler is a music writer who has probably interviewed your favorite band. And your least favorite band.