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Music Reviews: Passion Pit, The Gaslight Anthem, The Reverend Horton Heat

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Here is a look at recently released music.

Passion Pit "Gossamer"

Passion Pit’s 2009 release, “Manners,” was a breakthrough album for the Boston-based electro-pop band. So why did they wait more than three years to release the follow-up? According to posts on the band’s website, lead singer and Passion Pit mastermind Michael Angelakos can be a bit of a perfectionist. That means trying out more music parts for one song than some bands do for an entire album. The result of this tedious process is “Gossamer.” The album is mostly along the same lines as “Manners” when it comes to its sound. Angelakos’ voice though doesn’t sound as high as it did on that album. Here, he sounds closer to the way he did on Passion Pit’s 2008 EP, “Chunk of Change.” Still, these songs are heavy with keyboards and poppy beats. The opener, “Take A Walk,” marches along to a bouncy cadence of keyboards and drums. “Mirrored Sea” is a little more frantic with its pop beat. The poppiness is dialed down in other songs, something that didn’t happen on “Manners.” Tracks such as “Constant Conversations” and “Love is Greed” are much more lush in their approach. But then there are the lyrics. This time around, we get more of a look inside Angelakos’ head. “I’ll Be Alright” talks about his racing thoughts. Passion Pit recently canceled tour dates so the 25-year-old singer could address mental-health issues including his bipolar disorder. “Carried Away” offers apologies and shows relationships aren’t always ideal. “Gossamer” is a perfectionist putting his imperfections on tape.

The Gaslight Anthem "Handwritten"

The Gaslight Anthem continue its trend of being equal parts Bruce Springsteen and Social Distortion on “Handwritten.” The New Jersey band enlisted Brendan O’Brien to produce its latest album. He was able to keep The Gaslight Anthem punk/folksy rock vibe intact while getting the band to expand on its sound. “Mulholland Drive” is typical Gaslight Anthem fare but with a drawn-out guitar solo. “Keepsake” tips the scale more toward Springsteen as Brian Fallon’s voice even sounds like “The Boss” in some parts. Although, “Handwritten” isn’t a direct ripoff of Springsteen. Instead, it pays tribute to the artist while the band keeps its punk leanings. The song “45” strikes a nice balance between the two. The album closes with “National Anthem,” a nice acoustic number on which Fallon’s voice is at its best.

The Reverend Horton Heat "25 To Life: Live"

Purveyors of the “psychobilly” sound, The Reverend Horton Heat celebrate its 25 years of existence with the concert CD/DVD, “25 To Life: Live.” The CD sticks to Reverend live show staples including the combination of “Big Sky” and “The Baddest of the Bad” back-to-back along with “Psychobilly Freakout” and “Big Red Rocket of Love.” There’s a couple of noticeable exclusions from the setlist, but they manage to get most of the usuals in there. The Reverend Horton Heat is worth checking out at least once in concert. Jim Heath is masterful on the guitar and makes his country-meets-punk riffs seem all too easy. While Heath remains as smooth as can be on one side of the stage, Jimbo Wallace slaps around his standup bass on the other side. Most of that translates well on this live CD.

Out this week: Antibalas, “Antibalas”; David Archuleta, “Begin.”; Apache Dropout, “Bubblegum Graveyard”; Atlas Genius, “Through the Glass”; Beat Connection, “The Palace Garden”; Blonds, “The Bad Ones”; Buffalo Killers, “Dig. Sow. Love. Grow.”; Colt Ford, “Declaration of Independence”; Graham Gouldman, “Love and Work”; Bruce Hornsby, “Red Hook Summer: Music From The Original Motion Picture”; Los Straitjackets, “Jet Set”; Branford Marsalis Quartet, “Four MFs Playin’ Tunes”; Marcus Miller, “Renaissance”; MuteMath, “Odd Soul Live In DC”; Redd Kross, “Researching the Blues”; The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, “Between the Ditches”; Sixpence None the Richer, “Lost in Transition”; 10 Years, “Minus the Machine”; Various artists, “NOW That’s What I Call Music! 43.”

Out Aug. 14: Michael Andrews, “Spilling a Rainbow”; Black Pistol Fire, “Big Beat ‘59”; Spencer Breslin, “Labor Day”; The Classic Crime, “Phoenix”; Dead Can Dance, “Anastasis”; Insane Clown Posse, “The Mighty Death Pop!”; In This Moment, “Blood”; Korpiklaani, “Manala”; Loudness, “Eve to Dawn”; Loverboy, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival”; Michael Maricle, “The Heart Found You”; Charlie Mars, “Blackberry Light”; Daniel Powter, “Turn On the Lights”: Shoes, “Ignition”; Slightly Stoopid, “Top of the World”; Twitch the Ripper, “Colorblind”; 2 Chainz, “Based on a T.R.U. Story”; Steve Vai, “The Story of Light”; Various artists, “Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac”; Yellowcard, “Southern Air.”

• Rob Carroll writes about pop culture and entertainment for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached at rcarroll@shawmedia.com. You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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