Hearsay 

Our reviewers give you the low-down on new and notable recordings

Baby Carrot
Play Every Day Some Guy Down The Street
Bet on this local bunch as having a better than one-in-ten chance to become the next Yo La Tengo. Neither nasty rabbits nor timid bunny-hoppers, the Babes cut their pop with oomph, sugar with spice; you get that buzz without feeling like you just downed an entire Partridge Family-size box of Cocoa Puffs. Guitars sting and swirl, bass sets up a pleasantly deadly undertow as the drummer champs at the bit, vocals slip by clipped and dreaming, with the requisite measure of Stipean mumble. And the songs seem to be about actual stuff! Plus, the all-acoustic hootenanny number is right at the end, so you can flip it off if you don't care for it. Nine out of ten avant-barflies agree: Baby Carrot is as fresh and crunchy as its namesake. Pull some out of the ground today! --David Hill


G. LOVE & SPECIAL SAUCE
Electric Mile Epic/Okeh
Okay, what happened to G. Love? Is his stereo stuck on smooth jazz? Is he looking to get on heavy rotation at Starbucks? Not everyone has to update the blues with the intensity of, say, indie rockers like the White Stripes. But listening to Electric Mile makes you wonder how G. Love ever got compared to genre-crossing artists like Beck and the Beastie Boys--other than the fact that he's a white boy who raps. Electric songs like "Unified" blend karaoke-cutter reggae with "can't we just get along?" politics, while "Praise Up," the title track, and ... well, most of the album are unimaginative adult alternative fare. The few slight respites from mediocrity come in "Parasite," a jazzy hip-hop number, and "Rain Jam," a slow burning instrumental--but they're both too little, too late. With these breezy, blasé jams, Electric Mile takes the two-lane highway straight for easy-listening radio. --Jennifer Maerz


Kampec Dolores
Sitting on the Buffal RER/CUNEIFORM

Sorten Muld
III NORTHSIDE
When most people think "folk-rock," they think of jangly guitars (e.g., the Byrds), mid-'60s Dylan, and/or electrified British Isles sounds (Fairport Convention, Tempest). But for years bands around the world have been combining the trad-folk sounds of their nationalities with rock, funk, electronica, or whatever. Hungary's Kampec Dolores is superficially similar to Muzsikás yet far more electric and eclectic. "Tan Naa Ne" is swirling, Middle Eastern-accented Balkan folk, while the entrancing "Seta (Su Es Si)" adds Larry Graham-style bass-popping, snake-charming soprano sax, and overtones of techno to the mix. Singer (and violinist) Gabi Kenderesi is like a cross between Marta Sebestyen and Pere Ubu's David Thomas, with a dash of the Slits' Ari Up and a pinch of Tim Buckley. If you can imagine Holland's ethno-punks the Ex collaborating with the Bay Area Balkan choir Kitka, that's close to the way Kampec Dolores sounds. Denmark's Sorten Muld combines Scandinavian folk with sleek, pulsing ethno-beat; the group consists of a singer and two fellows credited with "electronics," though they also use guitar, viola, bagpipes, and hurdy-gurdy. With its fusion of ethnic melodies, spacey textures, and seductively pensive rhythms, Sorten Muld is somewhat reminiscent of Loop Guru and TransGlobal Underground, yet not as dance-oriented. Ulla Bendixsen sings in both Danish and English with a cool, Nico-like reserve and a gentle yearning reminiscent of the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan. Possible crossover hit: the hook-laden, mysterious "Volven (The Fortune Teller)." --Mark Keresman


Vic Chesnutt
left to his own devices Spinart
Vic Chesnutt's ninth album and is a collection of--to quote the press release--"rarities and demos." Translation: we had a lot of leftover stuff hanging around the studio so we decided to make a record. There are treasures in this "collection," but you have to sift through the studio debris to find them. "Wounded Prince" is just embarrassing. Chesnutt affects a fake English accent and rants against royalty. The Casio- and drum-machine flavored "Twelve Johnnies" suffers from muddled production and sounds not experimental but amateurish. "Very Friendly Lighthouses" with its gentle, almost Spanish-sounding guitars, seems sweetly predictable at first listen, but then veers off into strange time changes and is a nice example of experimentation that works. "Fish" is the true gem on this album, softly strummed and as exquisitely fragile as handmade lace; Chesnutt's lilting, twangy voice has a whispery poignancy that is absolutely heartbreaking. The few good songs on this album, sadly, are the exception. Vic Chesnutt's forte has always been his natural, unaffected simplicity, but there's a huge difference between simplicity and just not giving a damn. Let's hope that his fans will be able to tell the difference. --Michelle Turner

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