Finest Dearest

Finest Dearest (Bloodtown)

Your opinion of Finest Dearest may very well rest on how much you like '90s indie rock. An unabashed throwback to the lo-fi glory days of K Records and Kill Rock Stars, the San Francisco five-piece delivers a moody crunch amid various modes of catharsis. Carly Schneider's bittersweet vocals bring out the bygone era even more, alternately recalling Sleater-Kinney and Tiger Trap. That's not to say Finest Dearest isn't satisfying in its own right; the group gets plenty of variety from its storminess.

Finest Dearest opens with the pleasantly dreamy "Naming Ceremony," full of atmospheric spaces and foreboding build-ups. "I don't want to fight about it anymore," Schneider cedes as Christine Bolghand and Josh Luke's guitars battle and drummer Steve Treffers and bassist A.J. Dickerson kick up a decent undertow. "Your Hometown" is lighter and more engaging, bringing out the lilt in Schneider's voice and adding the soft punch of horns. The album's centerpiece is the three-part "Making a Sound," a 12-minute odyssey that lets the band stretch out and try some more post-punk machinations. The fever finally breaks with "Fathers," which features viola and cello for Finest Dearest's sweetest moment yet.

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