Antlerand Branches

Blurring the lines between art project and musical venture, this Portland three-piece take advantage of their visual backgrounds to create mesmerising video art to go alongside their music, not to mention the well-designed packaging. But does this music stand up? Luckily, it does. Their particular blend of sensitive indie rock with pianos, electronics and other assorted instruments works really well, and although there’s nothing shockingly unique about the sound, Antlerand manage to avoid easy comparisons. "Now It’s A Year” stands out immediately, with a little bit of help from Sleater-Kinney’s Janet Weiss in the mix. There are quite a few other guests throughout, which nicely augments the core sound. The album as a whole is well-orchestrated and the songwriting is spot-on, with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. There are tons of little touches, like bells and banjo, that don’t distract the listening experience, but rather add a subtle accompanying layer of sound that just works. The epic instrumental closer "Three (In A Tree)” along with the hidden extra track that follows is an appropriately dramatic finish. Although this debut album was released last year under their former band name Invisible, changing their name should hopefully prove to be a successful metaphoric one — this deserves to stand out. (Invisible)