Paolo Nutini, “Sunny Side Up” – To listen to him, you wouldn’t think the kid’s barely in his 20s; au contraire, you’d guess from his voice he’s at least 50. But aside from an old voice, and aside from the freaky-looking cover, it’s a fairly passable and laid-back album that uses reggae and olde-tyme swing in the form of harmonicas, walking basslines, and muted horns. There isn’t a whole lot that pokes itself out here in the opening tracks, that is to say, there isn’t much in the acoustic setup that surprises there, and these tracks (“Candy” and “Coming Up Easy”) play straight-through and thankfullyRead More →

Lucky you, two weeks at once. Just remember to chew before swallowing: Iron & Wine – “Around the Well” A collection of songs spanning I&W’s three LPs, folk ranging from soft acoustic to slightly electric. Some of the early stuff ranges from listenable to not fully there (“Friends they are Jewels” falls here, still a bit sonically vacant), and much of the best material are the acoustic inbetweens, which tend to have better developed 2nd choruses; “Swans and the Swimming” sounds like it should finish “The Creek Drank the Cradle,” and much of the second album, including the gorgeous “Sinning Hands,” makes this worth theRead More →

Big Business, “Mind the Drift”: Heavy stuff. Strangely, though, it feels more loud than substantial (see track 4, “I Got it Online”). But “The Drift” is pretty hard-rocking good; the whole album, which consists of more distortion and yelling than songwriting, is something of a disappointment. Doesn’t add much, if anything, to the genre. Magnolia, “The Wooden Birds”: Light guitar with soft vocal harmonies not unlike Yo La Tengo’s. “Quit You Once” feels uncomfortably incomplete, and this album, too, is just lacking a bit of a punch; probably changing their musical voice a bit, as well as layering a bit more would help to fleshRead More →

Wow, so it’s my first actual post here and I’m already late by a day. Not good… but here they are: Connor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, “Outer South” – Hmmm… if you’re a fan of Oberst’s Bright Eyes, then this album… Well, I was disappointed by it, actually. Really a mixed bag; Bright Eyes tends to musically mesh with Oberst’s indie-weird vocals, and the musicians here play brightly, kind of demanding someone with more power (not “Steve Perry” power, but a step in that direction). Leaves the opener a bit – off – especially the first couple times around, though Taylor Hollingsworth doesn’tRead More →