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Basia Bulat captures triumph, tragedy on 'Shadow'

By Brian Krasman
Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, 8:57 p.m.
 

‘Tall Tall Shadow'

Basia Bulat (Secret City)

★★★★

Basia Bulat's voice is unmistakable--down home and friendly, coated with honey and rich with emotion. The fact that she isn't yet a household name among more people in the States is a crime and pure silliness, and maybe that can all change with her excellent third record “Tall Tall Shadow.”

The record is balanced by tragedy and triumph, and perhaps in response to all of that, the music is louder, more involved, and far bolder than anything she's done before. Her great voice and intimate lyrics, to which most people can relate, again are top notch, and she triumphs repeatedly on this 10-track record, including the huge, rousing title cut; spirited “Not to Think About Love,” full of hand claps and rousing melodies; “Wires,” where her voice sounds like it never has before and probably will bring down the house live; and cool, trickling “Someone,” where she adds some electronic elements to her sound. If you aren't familiar with Bulat yet, fix that error with this great new record.

‘The Bones of What You Believe'

Chvrches (Glassnote)

★★★½

Scottish pop band Chrvches quickly are becoming Internet darlings, one of those “it” bands that people celebrated before they even delivered a full-length record. Well, that long player finally has arrived, and “The Bones of What You Believe” basically validates all of that hype.

Lauren Mayberry has an infectious voice and a stranglehold on hooks, and the rest of the band backs her up with electronic-driven pop that provides just what she needs to shine. There are plenty of strong cuts on here, from sugary-good first single “The Mother We Share” to the ominous but fun “Gun” to the awesome “Recover,” that's better than just about every song dotting pop radio. Sometimes the music fails Mayberry, such as the annoying “Lies,” where the synth and samples grate, and “Lungs,” which undoes the fun. But the bulk of the album stuns, and this band should be one to follow well into the future.

‘The White Goddess'

Atlantean Kodex (20 Buck Spin)

★★★★½

In the 1980s, metal fans treasured singers who wailed like sirens and sung with such command and skill that they became gods. Dickinson, Dio, Kiske. All revered. It may be 30 years later, but add Atlantean Kodex frontman Markus Becker to the list of metal's great voices, a man with no modern rival.

This band serves up epic metal with zero tongue-in-cheek effect, and they are beyond awesome. Their second record “The White Goddess” would have been a time-honored classic had it come out in 1985, but no reason it can't still be, with the band blazing you with intricate dual guitar work, unreal melodies, folklore and history, and Becker's incredible pipes. From “Sol Invictus” to “Heresiarch” to “Twelve Stars and an Azure Crown,” this band proves metal can be elegant, passionate, and dramatic and still be downright killer. Great work.

‘Blur the Lines'

Those Darlins (Oh Wow Dang)

★★★

Those Darlins offered up raunchy, country-friend rock fun on their first two records, and their sneering, snarling approach was half the fun of their music, that always was catchy and pounded the right buttons. It was dirty good.

“Blur the Lines,” however, sounds a little lost. Those Darlins don't seem to know if they want to play country, punk, garage rock, or plain old rock, and while variety is a good thing, they don't seem to have mastery of any one thing anymore. “That Man” is a great, defiant ballad, and “In the Wilderness” is fun for its Stones-y feel (even if it's devoid of a true lead guitar line). But too much just feels flat on here including “Optimist,” “Drive,” and “Baby Mae” to truly recommend it.

Brian Krasman is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

 

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