It’s tough to reinvent songs that have been covered by many of the greatest musicians of our time; however, Brian Wilson manages to bring a whole new feel to classic standards such as “Rhapsody in Blue,” “Summertime,” “S’wonderful” and “Love Is Here to Stay.” Oozing with the same California vibe that made him famous, songs that were fashioned with the Big Apple in mind suddenly find a new home amongst palm trees, sunshine and the salty sea.
Endorsed by Band of Horses, folk/blues singer Lissie Maurus‘ husky, vibrant vocals resuscitate an antiquated genre. Last autumn, I had the pleasure of catching her in a sparsely populated Mercury Lounge; even with the meager audience, she owned the stage and remains one of the strongest performers I’ve seen in a while. I highly recommend you listen to her first EP Why You Runnin’. This week, Columbia Records released her first full-length album Catching a Tiger, which is a slightly incoherent work as a whole. Half the tracks have a slick, polished sound while others recall Runnin’. Overall, the album is a bit of a disappointment considering the stunning timbre and range of Lissie’s voice. Key tracks include “Little Lovin'” and “Stranger.”
Released on Domino Records, this act’s mellow, harmony-driven take on folk rock is perfect for fans of Kings of Leon, Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes. While none of the tracks offer anything we haven’t heard before, it’s a solid debut from this California-based quartet.
I can not say enough good things about this record. Due to the melding of classical, jazz and Brazilian genres, portions of this record are unlike anything I’ve ever heard. To gain a clearer sense of what I mean, imagine a fusion of Jonatha Brooke’s voice, the instrumentation of a classical string quartet, jazz syncopations and chord progressions sprinkled with some Bossa Nova effects.
While Spalding is best known for her bass playing, this album showcases her airy, shimmering vocals and her artful song-writing abilities. This is an album you can not afford to miss.
Note: For a limited time, you can stream all of these albums at AOL Spinner.