By Bliss Bowen 03/12/2009
ANNIE MOSCOW, Visible
(2.5 stars out of 5)
Perhaps inevitably, considering she’s created a one-woman show and written songs performed by Sarah Vaughn, Sister Sledge and (ahem) Mickey Mouse, a pop theatricality permeates Moscow’s material. While her dramatic delivery overwhelms the delicate poignance of ballads like “House of Cards,” Moscow’s lyrics skillfully empathize with lost characters (the title track) and capture the intimate losses of time (“My grandma moved across the world when she was still quite young/ She found a life of freedom but she lost her mother tongue”). Should appeal to Roches fans. At Coffee Gallery Backstage Saturday. www.anniemoscow.com.
THE NEW STANDARDS,
Rock and Roll (Princess):
(3.5 stars out of 5)
Comprised of Semisonic, Billygoat and Trip Shakespeare alumni, this sharp-dressing Minneapolis trio wittily reframes material from Elvis Costello, Postal Service, the Replacements, Velvet Underground and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as cocktail-hour staples with a rock sensibility. Comparisons to the Bad Plus are inevitable, but where the latter focus on progressive jazz improvisation, the New Standards’ trademark is instrumental minimalism (piano, vibes, restrained rhythm) and vocals that mine humor from pop hits like OutKast’s “Hey Ya” and Britney Spears’ “Toxic.” At Hotel Café Saturday. www.myspace.com/thenewstandards.
CHRIS & THOMAS, Land of Sea (Defend):
(4 stars out of 5)
With a sibling-like vocal blend that soars and rolls à la classic California folk rock, this pair of transplanted Liverpool art students could have time-warped from Laurel Canyon circa 1973. Not unlike Crosby, Stills & Nash or Simon & Garfunkel, their soothing harmonies are their signature, their elastic phrasing reflecting the romantic and environmental sensitivity expressed in their lyrics as they float over melodic soundscapes of cello, Dobro, mandolin, pedal steel and restrained percussion. At Hotel Café Tuesday; at Coffee Gallery Backstage Thursday, March 19. www.chrisandthomas.com.
O+S, O+S (Saddle Creek):
(3.5 stars out of 5)
An intriguing electronic collaboration between Azure Ray’s Orenda Fink and Remy Zero bassist Cedric Lemoyne, here using the alias Scalpelist,constructed around Fink’s atmospheric field recordings and a relentless, often unsettling parade of drum loops. At once dusky and ethereal, Fink’s eerie vocals are chiefly responsible for the music’s numbing allure, juxtaposed against dramatic piano phrases, jagged electric guitar riffs, disembodied voices, lullaby-like acoustic guitar
interludes, loops and drums that beat with near-martial insistence. At Silverlake Lounge Monday. www.myspace.com/opluss.