Trax 05-08-14

By Bliss Bowen 05/12/2014

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LUCY WAINWRIGHT ROCHE, There’s a Last Time for Everything (Maeby): 3 out of 5 stars
Musically, Roche favors mom Suzzy (Roche) more than dad Loudon (Wainwright); her songs tend to be sweet yet sad, well written, with interesting instrumentation, and it’s easy to be lulled by her lightly grained soprano. The most ear-grabbing moments occur when it rubs against Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy’s robust tenor on “Seek and Hide,” and Mary Chapin Carpenter’s warm harmony during “A Quiet Line.” More such friction would be welcome. At McCabe’s in Santa Monica with Suzzy Roche Friday.

CURTIS HARDING, Soul Power (Burger): 3.5 out of 5 stars
The church choir-trained, onetime CeeLo Green backup singer achieves an agreeable balance of retro style and contemporary sensibilities on his solo debut, which showcases his no-nonsense Strat fretwork along with his limber falsetto. Soulful guitar tone, Hammond organ, staccato horn riffs and reverbed vocals evoke ’70s soul, particularly during the anthemic “Freedom” and single “Keep on Shining” (a guitar riff’s copped from the Spinners’ “I’ll Be Around”), while the bouncy OutKast-style “I Don’t Wanna Go Home” and psychedelic “Surf” reflect Atlanta’s diverse scene. Other highlights: “I Need a Friend,” “Cruel World.”

WYE OAK, Shriek  (Merge): 3 out of 5 stars
The Baltimore duo pivot away from their guitar-dominated sound with a bass-and-synth-driven set that reinvigorates their music. The result is more ambient, though still moody and mostly down-tempo, despite sounding like lo-fi dance-pop on tracks like “The Tower” and “Glory.” Frontwoman Jenn Wasner’s preternaturally calm vocals fill much of this relatively minimalist setting, backed by Andy Stack’s beats and ’80s-style keyboard lines. Fans of their previous melancholy folk recordings may appreciate the vibe, but the sound is more memorable than the songs.

HANNAH ALDRIDGE, Razor Wire (TroddenBlack): 4 out of 5 stars
Aldridge, daughter of Muscle Shoals/Nashville songwriter Walt Aldridge, makes a striking debut with nine noir-ish, image-rich confessionals and a smoldering reading of Jason Isbell’s “Try.” Aldridge makes the most of her dusky, lightly reverbed alto’s limited range, whether spitting out choice turns of phrase on the scene-setting country-rocker “You Ain’t Worth the Fight” (“I’m about to start runnin’ but it ain’t ’cause I’m scared, it’s more like a prison break”) or baring her heart post-breakup during the title track. But the songs are the thing. Highlights: “Black and White,” “Parchman,” “Lie Like You Love Me.”


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