Review: Postelles delightfully retro on 'And It Shook Me'
‘And It Shook Me'
The Postelles (+1)
Big Apple garage pop/rock quartet the Postelles exploded onto the scene with their 2010 self-titled debut and I've been a fan ever since. Later that year, energetic covers EP “Summer Undercover” cemented my appreciation of the Postelles and they're at it again with second LP “And It Shook Me.” Their retro approach is undeniably catchy, and this 12-track release is chock full of infectious tunes. The title track is the ideal way to launch the record, and the Postelles also deliver with “Pretend It's Love,” “You Got Me Beat,” “Caught By Surprise,” “Waiting By Your Window,” “Running Red Lights” and “You Know I Won't.” If you haven't heard the Postelles before, “And It Shook Me” is the perfect place to start.
‘Tragic Songs of Hope'
Tin Cup Serenade (self-released)
Another band taking an old-school approach is San Francisco collective Tin Cup Serenade, a jazzy outfit fronted by Rolf Wilkinson, whose “Tragic Songs of Hope” is a delightful mix of jazz, calypso, mariachi and blues. Relying on upright bass, trombone, saxophone and drums, Tin Cup Serenade have crafted a throwback album that still feels modern and fresh. You'll be hard-pressed to find a clunker among the 10 songs here and Wilkinson & Co. are especially impressive on “Limbo Jazz,” “Sunny Oakland Day,” “Money Is King,” “Here Is Love,” “Empty Pocket Waltz” and “Yaya Blues.” Highly recommended.
‘Victory Is Music'
This week's string of killer albums continues with the full-length debut from Victory, aka Los Angeles-based pop/rocker Robert Fleming. “Victory Is Music” is a wildly entertaining gathering of 10 songs that straddle the line between modern indie pop and the psychedelic British rock of the 1960s. Fleming is a gifted singer and multi-instrumentalist and builds on the promise of his 2011 debut EP. “Bad Man” and “This, That Or This” get things off to a stellar start, and Victory keeps winning with “Play It,” “Soothing Me So,” “Straight Line,” “Lazy Art” and “Dirty Jeans.” At less than 29 minutes, “Victory Is Music” is short and sweet, with no wasted effort and not an ounce of sonic filler.
‘Pass the Ringo'
Initially a duo featuring Oakland, Calif.-based pals Jeffrey Harland and Matt Bullimore, noise pop outfit Legs have evolved into a full-fledged band in recent years with the addition of three more members. The fuller, more realized sound is front and center on Legs' “Pass the Ringo” debut. This is a good-but-not-quite-great gathering of 10 tunes that sounds like they might have been recorded in the 1960s. The first half of the top-heavy platter is fantastic, with Legs hitting all the right notes on “Friday Afternoon at the Zoo,” “Go Ask Your Mother,” “The Kingdom's Collection of Slides and Super 8” and “Two Colours.” The record loses some steam on the back half, though “Time to Face the World” and “Shades of Grey” merit a few listens. With a bit more seasoning, Legs could be on to something.
‘The Coming Tide'
Luke Winslow-King (Bloodshot)
New Orleans-based musician Luke Winslow-King is an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist and takes his recording career to new heights with the release of sublime sophomore effort “The Coming Tide.” With a rough-hewn tenor voice that pales slightly in comparison to his remarkable guitar work, Winslow-King made an inspired decision to have bandmate Esther Rose provide harmony vocals on most of the 11-track release. Effectively mixing first-rate originals (the title track, “Let 'Em Talk” and “You & Me”) with some traditional gems (“Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning” and “Ella Speed”) and a cover of George Harrison (“I've Got My Mind Set on You”) that puts the cheesy original to shame, Winslow-King and Rose hit every note on this delightful album.
‘The Secret Will Keep You'
Brass Bed (Crossbill/Off the Air)
I first discovered Louisiana indie rock four-piece Brass Bed last year when they teamed with pal Allison Bohl for a fantastic Harry Nilsson EP called, appropriately enough, “On Nilsson.” On new full-length “The Secret Will Keep You,” the Christiaan Mader-fronted outfit focus on their own stuff and the results are every bit as good. There's an appealing nod to psychedelia on a 10-track release that finds Brass Bed shining brightest on “Cold Chicory,” “I'll Be There With Bells On,” “A Bullet for You,” “How to Live in a Bad Dream” and “I Guess I'll Just Sing.” This is a talented band whose best days are ahead of them.
‘A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart'
Bill Ryder-Jones (Domino)
A couple years ago, British composer Bill Ryder-Jones recorded his solo debut after a 12-year stint in the band Coral. The mostly instrumental “If” was an intriguing “imaginary soundtrack” to the Italo Calvino novel “If On a Winter's Night a Traveler” and showed that Ryder-Jones could thrive on his own. Follow-up effort “A Bad Wind Blows in My Heart” finds him working as a singer/songwriter for the first time. And while his voice will never be his best asset, Ryder-Jones more than acquits himself on the 10-track release. Songs like the bittersweet “There's a World Between Us,” “A Bad Wind,” “Anthony & Owen” and “Christina That's the Saddest Thing” are terrific, and bode well for his future efforts as a solo artist.
Celestial Shore (Local Singles)
No matter what you think of the experimental indie pop of Celestial Shore, no one can accuse the Brooklyn-based trio of being self-indulgent. Their “California Eden” debut EP featured four songs clocking in at just seven minutes, and they continue the “less is more” approach on nine-track, 29-minute full-length debut “10x.” It's probably a good thing that the record is so brief because Celestial Shore aren't an easy band to digest. There's a ton of stuff going on in songs like “Swimmer's Sinking Feeling,” quirky gem “Coming and Going,” “Valerie,” “Rabbit Hole” and “Sleep” — and I found myself emotionally drained by the end of the record. An acquired taste, “10x” will reward patient listeners.
‘Above the Weather'
Leroy Justice (Elm City)
Like twang-leaning rockers Molly Hatchet and Lynyrd Skynyrd before them, Leroy Justice are a band, not an individual. Major-label debut “Above the Weather” should introduce the Jason Gallagher-fronted quintet to a wider audience and the 10-track release figures to impress. Leroy Justice suck you right in with opener “Up on the Mountain,” a tune that starts with Gallagher's quietly yearning vocals before exploding into a full-on rocker. Additional keepers include “Blue-Eyed Blues,” “Watch Him Fall,” “Worry,” “Before I Die” and “Two Trees.” Here's hoping Leroy Justice get the attention they deserve.
‘A Century Behind'
Will Courtney (self-released)
Having never scaled the heights that the music merited with Brothers and Sisters, the eight-piece sadcore band he fronted with sister Lily, Austin-based singer/songwriter Will Courtney branches out on his own with solo debut “A Century Behind.” While his work in Brothers and Sisters is criminally underappreciated, Courtney is an absolute revelation on this seven-track gem. Starting with the opening title track and continuing clear through to set closer “Lost in the Desert,” the hirsute Courtney doesn't miss a note. Along the way is a string of keepers that include “There's No Answer,” personal favorite “I'd Have to Be Crazy,” “Back Down on the Floor” and “I Have a Feeling About You.” My lone quibble is that “A Century Behind” whisks by in just 28 minutes. I would have wanted more even at twice the running length.
‘Greatest Hits *****'
Chrissy Murderbot (Murder Channel)
Having enjoyed DJ/producer Chrissy Murderbot's 2011 full-length “Women's Studies” and especially her 2011 EP “I'm a A-hole,” I had high hopes when latest effort “Greatest Hits****” came across my desk. Like the Howling Hex's February release of “The Best of the Howling Hex,” Murderbot's latest isn't really a collection of her best tunes. Rather, it's 14 tracks of new material, including seven remixes. Try as I might, I just couldn't warm to the tunes that Murderbot says “represent the future of bass music.” Many of the songs (“Get Wet Baby,” “Waffle House,” “What Should I Do,” “Pew Pew”) are off-putting and with the exception of Sidney Looper's “Slang It,” the remixes don't add much. It's a shame that this 57-minute slab is such a mess because I really do like Murderbot's work.
Craig Jackson Band (Green)
There's more than a slight nod to Tom Petty in the latest EP from Southern California-born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Craig Jackson. With his eponymous band in tow, Jackson delivers the delightful six-track “Sweeter Songs.” Treading the same musical turf as Petty by mixing country-rock, folk and Americana, Jackson serves up some ear-pleasing gems in “A Sweeter Song,” “Much Too Long,” “Things Get Lost” and “Sound of the World.” Remaining tracks “A Little Love” and “Here I Go Again” aren't too shabby, either.
‘Captains & Cowboys'
Mike Aiken (Northwind)
Though not yet a household name, veteran country crooner Mike Aiken has cobbled together an impressive, if under-the-radar, career. “Captains & Cowboys” is the Virginia native's sixth full-length album and may be the one that helps Aiken take the next step up the career ladder. Armed with a smooth twang in his voice, Aiken shines on a 12-track release that includes standouts “Virginia,” set highlight “Your Memory Wins,” “Bring Out the Bourbon,” “Dance With the Wind,” “Save the Whales,” “Take the Boy Fishin'” and the title track. If you like country music, it's time you got to know Mike Aiken.
Laura Stevenson (Don Giovanni)
Having earned our attention with a pair of releases under the Laura Stevenson & the Cans moniker (“The Record” and “Sit Resist”), Stevenson makes an impressive proper solo debut with “Wheel.” Her haunting vocals take center stage as usual on a 13-track album that incorporates everything from pop and country to folk and rock. Quiet opener “Renée” sets the tone, and Stevenson follows it up with rollicking keeper “Triangle.” Additional highlights include “Every Tense,” “Bells & Whistles,” “The Hole,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and the title track. Stevenson is one of those artists who gets a little better every time out and who has me eager to hear more.
Jeffrey Sisk is an editor for Trib Total Media. Reach him at 412-664-9161 ext. 1952, or firstname.lastname@example.org.