Alvvays (which I will continue to pronounce with a heavy V sound, no matter what). Both these songs are tidy samples of what you get with the band's debut album, which is strong on charm and melody and wildness. It is occasionally a wonder to me (especially when I'm feeling less than generous regarding most radio music) that any band--regardless of where they come from, how long they've been together, etc.--can produce music that holds a listener's close attention. Alvvays's songs grab your interest immediately. And it's good and fitting to be grateful for that, particularly when there is so much music (now, always) that does little more than float by in the background. Molly Rankin has one of those voices that's so bright and clear that you can't ignore it, the kind of voice that you realize in retrospect you've been longing to hear. This album is one that I've already passed on to friends and I'll continue to do so. Perfect for mid-summer, it'll probably feel even better in the fall.
The Kinks' Arthur is the last album I heard playing in a record store (in this case Amoeba Records in Berkeley) that I immediately fell in love with. I'd never heard Arthur before, and I found it totally arresting--without knowing for sure if it was the Kinks, I went up and asked the guy behind the counter and he gestured to the CD with a sort of 'voila' movement. This happened in December and I've been listening to the album intermittently since then, and it continues to fascinate and thrill me. I'm not sure why it's so difficult (i.e. impossible) to find this in a digital version, especially considering that this is the Kinks, who are not exactly what you would call an obscure band (surely there must be some convoluted and bizarre rights issue with the album--maybe it has to do with the fact that it started off as the soundtrack to a TV show?). The CD is out there, though, plus there's a pretty fancy deluxe reissue you can buy (if you like expensive import CDs).