Style: Beat-driven indie pop with grand vocals; compare to Jeff Buckley, Okkervil River, Wye Oak
Top tracks: "Animal Life," "Breaking the Yearlings," "Star of the Age"
Ex-Okkervil River member Jonathan Meiburg has always used his band Shearwater to explore big questions, especially man's rocky relationship with the natural world. (He's also an amateur ornithologist.) While previous albums have matched Meiburg's operatic tenor and pristine falsetto with ethereal soundscapes, Animal Joy is more of a visceral, tethered rock album. When Meiburg wrestles with the act of faith and its repercussions on "Believing Is Easy," or when he sings that "all the darkness of our lives will meet the star of the age" in the final track, it's tough to pin down a belief structure. But even if Meiburg's answers aren't all biblically rooted, "Where do you go when the well is dry?" is certainly the right question.1