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Todd May's solo album deserves attention

Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

‘Rickenbacker Girls'

Todd May (Peloton)

★★★★

While the sublime “Rickenbacker Girls” is Todd May's solo debut, he's no stranger to the music business. A respected songwriter and performer who's logged time in the gone-too-soon Lilybandits and as the guitarist for alt-country dynamo Lydia Loveless, May is highly respected by his peers. One spin of this 11-track gem shows you why. May hits all the right notes on an album whose title track is an ode to the girls he knew in high school at Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Columbus, Ohio. May serves up these uniformly excellent songs with just the right amount of twang, and soars highest on “Josephine Calling,” “Why Don't You Come Out Lately,” “Build a Better Rocket,” “Still Better Than You Ever Thought It Would Be” and the aforementioned title track. Here's hoping May and “Rickenbacker Girls” get the exposure they deserve.

‘Push the Sky'

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (self-released)

★★★ ½

It's been a while since we've had an album of new material from Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (2008's stellar “Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!”), though Cave has kept busy composing film scores and forming (and disbanding) Grinderman. “Push the Sky” marks a welcome return from the veteran rockers. The nine-track release falls short of classic Cave & the Bad Seeds releases, but it's proof positive that after 30 years there's still plenty of gas in the tank. Among the keepers here are opener “We No Who U R,” “Water's Edge,” “Jubilee Street,” “We Real Cool,” “Finishing Jubilee Street” and “Higgs Boson Blues.” Good stuff.

‘When It Was Now'

Atlas Genius (+1)

★★★½

Australian indie rockers Atlas Genius became Internet sensations a couple years ago when their stellar single “Trojans” went viral and helped land the lads a record deal. Comprised of siblings Keith, Steven and Michael Jeffrey, along with pal Darren Sell, Atlas Genius make their official debut with “When It Was Now.” Not surprisingly, “Trojans” is the highlight of the 11-track platter, though the band also scores with “If So,” “Through the Glass,” “Centered on You” and the title track. If nothing else, Atlas Genius show they are much more than a one-song band, and now we'll see how American audiences embrace these talented musicians from Down Under.

‘Wishbone'

Bobby Long (ATO)

★★★★

And now for something completely different. British folkie Bobby Long is known for his reliance on acoustic guitars and the occasional harmonica when it comes to making music. The approach served him well on his first two albums for ATO (2009's “Dirty Pond Songs” and 2011's “A Winter Tale”). For album No. 3, however, Long has plugged in. With loud electric guitars, not to mention plenty of drums and bass, “Wishbone” sounds unlike any of its predecessors. Long manages to pull off the switch from folk to rock with nary a hitch. The 12-track release is fantastic from beginning to end, with Long especially impressive on “Devil Moon,” “She Won't Leave,” “Blood in the Orchard,” “Making You Talk,” “Yesterday Yesterday” and “Not Tonight, Not Today.” While I enjoyed Long's earlier work, his decision to take things in a new direction seems positively inspired.

‘Nightworks'

Caught a Ghost (+1)

★★★★

If you're a fan of neo-soul revivalists like Fitz & the Tantrums, Eli “Paperboy” Reed and Mayer Hawthorne, Los Angeles newcomers Caught a Ghost need to be on your musical radar. With their full-length debut set to drop this summer, Caught a Ghost serve up a tasty five-track introductory EP in “Nightworks.” The brainchild of Jesse Nolan, CAG have cobbled together a handful of tunes that could have been atop the charts half a century ago. All the songs resonate, with standouts “Connected,” “Hold Out,” “Somehow” and “Time Go” leading the way. Even remaining tune “Sleeping at Night,” with its Daryl Hall-esque vocals, makes for a pretty good listen. More please.

‘Cough Cough'

Everything Everything (Cult/Kemosabe)

★★★★

Up-and-comers in their native England, Manchester indie pop collective Everything Everything are about to be unleashed on American audiences with “Cough Cough.” This band makes music that is insanely addictive and, when you are able to decipher the lyrics emanating from frontman Jonathan Higgs' mouth, smarter than you might expect. The six-track EP features four tunes (“Cough Cough,” “Kemosabe,” “Undrowned,” “Torso of the Week”) from sophomore full-length “Arc,” set for a U.S. release later in 2013 after garnering universal praise in the U.K. last month; one song (“MY KZ YR BF”) from their 2010 “Man Alive” debut; and a superfluous remix of “Cough Cough.” This one's a winner.

Jeffrey Sisk is a managing editor for Trib Total Media. He can reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952 or jsisk@tribweb.com.

 

 
 


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