Music Reviews: Boys Like Girls, Josh Dion Band, The Photo Atlas

Every month(ish), we recommend the most seriously awesome albums and tracks we had on repeat.

Boys Like Girls

Boys Like Girls

Music: At first blush (or maybe pimple), the Boys were probably a regular bunch of brash Bostonian popsters. But after slathering on some emo-earnest vocals, sprinkling on some slyly sophisticated electronic bleeps, and packing on a bit of hard rock muscle, the energetic four-piece sounds about as great as any young band ever has. And if that description doesn’t grab you, the group’s catchy melodies surely will. Just try to escape “Heels Over Head.” 

Drumming: John Keefe’s shred-grooving swings all kinds of ways. First check out his punchy kick drum sound on 2-and-4 whackers like “On Top of the World.” Next listen as he spices things up a little with the hi-hat sloops on “Hero/Heroine.” And then take notes on how he subtly combines acoustic patterns with electronic rhythms on “Me, You, and My Medication.” Excellent work.

The Straight Poop: All smart boys and girls like Boys Like Girls. You’re not dumb, are you? 

Josh Dion Band


Music: Josh Dion and company are old-school cool in the very best way: they’re real musicians playing real songs on real instruments. And they’re doing it real damn good, particularly on this live release. Juggling duties as leader and lead vocalist, Dion belts out the band’s jam-thick tunes with a rich voice that proves white guys might just have soul after all. And that’s not even the coolest part. Dion, you see, not only sings…

Drumming: …He plays all the drums too. And dude is appropriately funky and skilled, a born pocket player with plenty of slick licks that keep a beat bouncy and interesting, like on the intro of “Boogie on Reggae Woman” with its infectious sixteenth-note rim-clicks. Fast-forward to the 16-minute-plus “Birdwalker” for a dash of Dion’s chops. 

The Straight Poop: A drummer-led, soul-soaked jam band that isn’t afraid to work up a sweat. Or sling it around. Bring a towel. 

The Photo Atlas

No, Not Me, Never

Music: Billed as dance-punk phenoms straight out of sky-high Denver, Photo Atlas does indeed get the feet moving and the head flailing. The band’s tunes are appropriately and appealingly schizo, a combination of angst-pained vocals (Alan Andrews doesn’t so much sing as exorcise demons) and up-tempo happy-tapping rhythms. And after mixing in plenty of those angular, math-rocky guitar parts made popular by Brit-hip Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys, the Photo foursome forge a sound that’s not at all pretty, but is certainly seductive. And dangerous. Two minutes in, you’ll wonder whether to dance or to break stuff.

Drumming: Devon Shirley, taking charge of both drums and sampling, hits with tendon-snapping abandon. Give a listen to the big-ass kick bombs on “Little Tiny Explosions.” The guy means business.

The Straight Poop: No, Not Me, Never—an essential purchase for real music fans? Yes, you, always. Go grab a copy. 

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