Punk rock can be a monotonous genre when people are unwilling to grow up. Thankfully, some punk artists recognize the importance of change and use it to release better, more mature (or at least different) albums.
Cloud Nothings: “Here and Nowhere Else” (Carpark)
On 2012’s “Attack on Memory,” Steve Albini’s production added darkness to Dylan Baldi’s power-pop hooks, and critical acclaim followed. Due to a few duds, including the overlong “Wasted Days,” I could never enjoy the album as much as I wanted to. This follow-up replaces Albini with John Congleton, resulting in a sound that doesn’t allow the songs to hit as hard as they should. Still, the songs on here are often on par with the better tracks from “Attack on Memory.” The overlong song, “Pattern Walks,” doesn’t get old after two minutes.
Grade: B PLUS
The Men: “Tomorrow’s Hits” (Sacred Bones)
How do these guys do it? Since their 2009 debut EP “We Are the Men,” they have released a new album every year. This wouldn’t be impressive if they were putting out cookie-cutter punk rock, but somehow they’re able to mature more and more every year. This maturity first became apparent on 2012’s “Open Your Heart.” There, they snuck “Candy,” a melodic country-rock tune, in the middle of a mostly post-hardcore album. Last year’s “New Moon” continued down this road, and now there’s this gem, as glorious a rock-and-roll tribute as the recent releases from Low Cut Connie and Ezra Furman.
I can’t wait to see what they do with jazz.
Grade: A MINUS
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