July 19, 2009
If you can imagine a really poppy X, or a Blondie produced by 60’s era Phil Spector, that’s what you’re in for with Southern California based band Miss Derringer’s third album, Winter Hill. Fronted by Liz McGrath and Morgan Slade, the band blends bluesy Americana, rockabilly, surf music, 60’s girl group music and a bit of punk into slickly produced indie pop tunes. The best songs, “Click Click (Bang Bang),” “Bulletproof Heart,” “Black Tears” and “Heartbreaks & Razorblades,” hit on just the right mixture of the above influences. Considering Miss Derringer’s influences, one would think the music on Winter Hill would have a bit more grit and fire, but alas, those qualities are mostly in short supply, which is a bit of a disappointment. However, if you can forgive the album for its lack of edginess and embrace its poppiness within, Winter Hill may be the album for you.
July 19, 2009
Wickedly entertaining self-titled debut from Tennessee based band Those Darlins (Jessi Darlin, Nikki Darlin, and Kelley Darlin), featuring twelve odes mostly to wild and dubious behavior of various sorts, frequently alcohol or lust fueled, or both, though there is a tribute to Mama thrown in as well. The songs, often done in three part harmonies, are raucous, a little dirty minded, but also immediately infectious and just plain fun. They seem a bit like the West Coast’s the Hot Toddies, except working in a country vein. And like that band, they’re impressively talented musicians with a real flair for a pop hook. Call it country, cowpunk or rockabilly, but if you’re a fan of one or all of the above, you should give Those Darlins a listen. Standout cuts: “Red Light Love,” “Wild One,” “Cannonball Blues” and “Snaggle Tooth Mama.”
February 25, 2009
Mr. Lucky, the first album of new material in seven years from Stockton, California born singer/songwriter Chris Isaak, reflects his status, twenty-four years after his debut, Silvertone (also the name of his band), as a most savvy entertainer, one who knows what his own strengths are and who knows what his longtime fans want from him. Isaak has never strayed very far from the music that made him famous, a combination of moody, often grimly drawn ballads and high energy rock with roots in rockabilly and surf music, all firmly entrenched in the 50’s and 60’s and delivered with a cool confidence. If there’s a major difference between Isaak then and Isaak now, it’s that his music doesn’t have that sort of spooky, eerie, slightly decadent quality that made it perfect for soundtracks of David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick movies, and honestly, I rather miss that. That said, Mr. Lucky is an enjoyable, highly ingratiating album, with some choice cuts amid a notably high gloss production. Isaak and his band sound as masterful as ever, and a couple of duets, with Trisha Yearwood and Michelle Branch, respectively, are thrown in for good measure. Despite the omnipresent heartbreak and world weariness built into Isaak’s music, this is a pretty fun record, a welcome return that gets more welcome the more (and more closely) one listens to it. Standout cuts: “Cheater’s Town,” “We Let Her Down,” “Mr. Lonely Man” and “Big Wide Wonderful World.”
March 17, 2008
A little bit punk, a little bit ska, a little bit new wave and a lot psychobilly, it’s the new Horrorpops album, Kiss Kiss Kill Kill, which finds the Danish band in fine form. Patricia Day sounds alternately fierce and alluring on lead vocals while also playing a mean upright bass guitar, and there’s some stellar guitarwork from Nekroman and ace drumming from Neidermeyer. Kiss Kiss Kill Kill, the Russ Meyeresque album title, hints at the general movie theme here, though “Boot2Boot,” an angry protest song about the closing of a punk club last year in their native Copenhagen is a temporary departure from it. The band sounds freshly inspired with this one, which makes the 40 minute running time blow by. Standout cuts: “Missfit,” “Boot2Boot,” “Heading For The Disco” and “Hitchcock Starlet.”