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Quick Hits: Athletics / Keystone Kids

ProTip: Wrecking your car during a cross-country move is not a good idea. It will, at very minimum, bankrupt your productivity for the week.

I felt that AthleticsWhy Aren’t I Home? was “easily the most emotional rock experience that I’ve ever heard and/or been a part of.” So when the band announced that four of their tunes would be released in a piano and voice setting, I was thrilled. Stop Torturing Yourself does not let me down: these arrangements are beautiful. The band’s control of tension and melody transfer from the originals to here, as atmospheric instrumental performances are replaced by the resonance of the piano and the beautiful vocals. “Speaking for Everyone” is the winner here, as the haunting tune takes on an even more poignant air. The musicians in Athletics know how to convey emotions, and this release is an outstanding reminder of that.

Things Get Shaky by Keystone Kids also features some beautiful piano playing, but it’s augmented by another instrumentalist. The duo plays guy/girl indie-pop that will resonate with Mates of State fans. Both bands share a love of ’80s music in addition to piano-pop, and that’s a divide: if you’re into one but not the other, there will be moments that you want to skip. But if you’re down for both those things, the synth blast and drum machine of “What They’re Saying” will score points with you just as easily as the poignant confessional “Falling.” Fun and heavy, by turns.