CD reviews: Summer sounds and good vibes
July 5, 2012
produced by Chris Coady and Beach House (Subpop)While there’s not much lacking from summertime in a mountain town in the Rockies, it’s understandable if East and West coasters miss the beach house, where the sole focus is fun and the weekend getaways never seem to last long enough. So just in time comes Beach House, a band that not only has the right name, comes from the right place (more or less; they hail from Baltimore), and with just the right sound.Beach House – the duo of French-born singer and organist Victoria Legrand and multi-instrumentalist Alex Scally – makes the kind of sunny, dreamy pop music in which you can lose your troubles. Which doesn’t mean it should be mistaken for empty, disposable pop: Legrand’s voice has a grandness and depth to it, and the arrangements, which hint equally at the Beach Boys and the best of ’80s synth-pop, are lushly distinctive. If there is one fault on “Bloom,” it is that Legrand and Scally settle into one rhythmic groove, one approach. But anyone who has ever spent a summer with a weekend beach house knows – once you settle into something good like that, it’s hard to get out of it.Beach House plays Friday at Belly Up Aspen.
produced by Thom Monahan (Megaforce)With the release of the debut album by Chris Robinson Brotherhood, we get a hint of what was behind the fights between Chris and his brother Rich during their days together in the Black Crowes. Rich, perhaps, wanted to be a Southern rocker. Chris apparently wanted to front a full-on, noodle-happy jam band. There are seven tracks on “Big Moon Ritual,” the shortest of which clocks in at just more than seven minutes. Apart from the song length and the generous guitar leads by Neal Casal, there is the loose backbeat, the bright tones, the spaciness and happy vibe that say jam band.Chris Robinson Brotherhood plays Thursday, July 12 at Belly Up.
produced by Alex Ebert (Vagrant)In the beginning, which is to say around the release of their debut album, “Up From Below,” Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros had a charismatic leader, Alex Ebert, who dressed and looked like Jesus. They had a communal vibe and hit points of revivalist ecstasy when they performed. Just about the only thing missing was a sonic connection to true gospel, but with their second album, “Here,” ED&MZs sound as if they could have stepped out of a church. “I Don’t Wanna Pray,” which celebrates God and his gifts but not the institution of prayer, is hand-clapping, foot-stomping gospel. “Mayla” is a step away from the structure of Southern Baptist, but it still sounds like a choir, singing a message of praise: “We’re building us a new horizon.”Those searching for the glorious, exploding expressions of “Up From Below” might be disappointed. But those willing to join this other sort of search that Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros are on should find some soul-satisfying firstname.lastname@example.org