Mega Gem

Mega Gem's debut album credits more than twenty performers, who contributed a variety of sounds, from saxophone and cellphone to hand bells and "wiggling noises," all of which are featured alongside a rock band and a small orchestra. The results are as eclectic as you'd expect from such a sizable cast, and it plays like a good mixtape made for you by a friend who's well-versed in the numerous iterations of alt-indie-hipster-nomad-college-rock-pop, bearing influences from Sonic Youth to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. "Onions" and "Don't Call Me Romantic" are excellent big-band indie pop backed by frenetic post-hardcore drums. "Merry Go Round" is far-out Renaissance folk pop, and "The Right Thing to Do" evokes the Decemberists as raised by an Irish R&B band (proto-rock, not R. Kelly). When the recipe works, the songs have raw energy and interesting arrangements; when they don't, they slip into the oft-trod land of twee. But the good outweighs the bad by a fair margin here.

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