Music reviews: Melissa Errico, Does It Offend, Yeah?, Marcia Ball, Caroline Herring
You never know whats going to come across your desk as a music critic. This weeks choices were particularly sparse so I was left with little choice but to review the new CD by Broadway star Melissa Errico. Her collection of updated and modified lullabies, appropriately titled Lullabies & Wildflowers, was obviously recorded with parents in mind. Not that it cant be listened to by anyone, but I dont see too many of my friends going out of their way to make the purchase.For parents, who I can only imagine have a difficult enough time finding music they want their children listening to, this album will probably be a treat. Erricos voice is gentle and soothing, making it beautiful background music while putting the kids down for a nap. Lullabies & Wildflowers is surprisingly adult too, almost jazzy in its structure.Parents, unless youre OK with your child banging his head to Metallica already, it cant hurt to add this record to your collection. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
The guys in Does It Offend You, Yeah? a quartet of electro-rockers from Reading, England are kind of full of themselves.And that works for them.Its how they pull off releasing a song called We Are Rockstars as a single, and its how they pull off the frenetic energy and simple structure that set up the first minute and a half of the track. Throughout the bands full-length debut, You Have No Idea What Youre Getting Yourself Into, it draws on the most beat-driven elements of more than two decades of pop and electronica to craft an album thats more like a dance party mix tape than a carefully planned set of songs.And while Does It Offend You, Yeah? is firmly rooted in thumping bass and synth-saturated glitch, the quartets got a hold on what else its target audience is listening to which is to say, Does It Offend You, Yeah? has no trouble writing a low-key indie rock song. The band even does it well, with Dawn of the Dead, a track that relies more on The Cure than it does on Daft Punk.The song is a down-tempo break from the majority of You Have No Idea What Youre Getting Yourself Into, an album that dances along on super-loaded beats and the easiest melodies Does It Offend You, Yeah? could think of.More than anything, the band understands what a 10-track electro-pop album is supposed to accomplish. Its supposed to be fun, and its supposed to encourage silly dancing, foot stomping and fist pumping.The band does that by following a 1960s-TV-action-theme (Attack of the 60 FT Lesbian Octopus) with a blunt party anthem (Lets Make Out), and by being generally everything but offensive in its subject matter and accessibility.So maybe the guys in Does It Offend You, Yeah? are lying to us with their name. But that works for them, too. Margaret Hair, Steamboat Pilot & Today
Theres something about Southern music that almost always puts a smile on my face.It doesnt matter whos singing when the songs are about barbecuing in your back yard with family. In this instance it just happens to be Louisiana-raised singer, songwriter and piano player Marcia Ball.Peace Love & BBQ, Balls latest romp through the deep South, is an upbeat slathering of blues-rock that relies heavily on classic Southern themes like food, religion and partying. Whats not to enjoy when you have songs titled Watermelon Time, and Peace Love & BBQ?Its not a masterpiece, or even that original, but the album is fun enough to hold its own in the overgrown forest of southern blues. Balls voice is pleasant, her piano playing spicy, and her songwriting better than many in the genre. Most prominent on the album is Balls message of loving thy neighbor and getting along with as many people and circumstances as possible. Maybe all the world really needs is a little more Peace, Love & BBQ. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
What can a girl and her guitar accomplish in this world? Atlanta-based singer/songwriter Caroline Herring answers that question with righteous indignation on her latest release Lantana. Lantana is a complicated and heartfelt examination of the South and how it has affected Herrings life and career. With a powerfully-raspy and heavily-accented voice much like Lucinda Williams or Allison Krauss Herring brings to life the landscapes and emotions of her life in powerful lyrics like Im a selfish girl/In a selfish world/Each town has her selfish ways/And each girl has her selfish days from the song Stone Cold World.The themes of religion pop up here and there like they do on most Southern artists records, and Herring is willing to take the listener as deep as they want to dive into the lyrics. On the song Paper Gown she sings of a grown woman clearing her conscious of her childhood crime while on Heartbreak Tonight she relates the tale of a woman who continues to run away from her past, never making peace with herself.The album is soaked in sin, sacrifice and forgiveness, but never leaves too much hope for better days ahead. Lantana is a bittersweet look at life with runaways and redemption around every corner. Charlie Owen, High Life writer
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