Local Licks 

This week we review Andrew Hyra, Quiet Time, Eli Conley & Hip for Squares, and Paris King.

Paris King , The Roughest Draft.

Consider the title misleading. Paris King's new solo release is an incredibly considered piece of work, recorded on vintage gear and mixed in a home studio. The surface pleasures of the music — most of which sounds like classical indie rock, albeit with richly textured orchestration — belies the complexity of King's recording process. He plays most of the instruments himself — including bass, guitar, piano, and Moog — and sings overtop, in a scruffy tenor. He also raps. (self-released)

Andrew Hyra, Curious.

Maybe it doesn't always behoove a country singer to have folksy sensibilities, but in Andrew Hyra's case, it's refreshing. In some ways, his songs have more in common with Sixties-era protest music than with contemporary country western. Biblical references and populist lyrics abound, along with quirky confessionals (I'm a Weather Channel junkie) and the obligatory sensitive-guy love songs ("For Her"). The tracks are hooky and upbeat. (Poor Uncle Music)

Quiet Time, Quiet Time EP.

Perhaps by dint of budget or circumstance, this EP by Dan B. and Audio Angel (aka Professor Bang and Shidalou) is super-lean on production values. That said, it has moments of beauty, particularly when Audio Angel engulfs the melody lines with her all-powerful contralto. Give that woman a simple guitar lick and she'll make of it an aria. The only problem is that Audio Angel's voice is too often squandered on background harmonies. (self-released)

Eli Conley & Hip for Squares. All the Livelong Day.

Ostensibly, singer Eli Conley should fit comfortably in the political folk or protest music tradition, but for the fact that his lyrics are too opaque to stand for any particular party line. "Pinocchio" appears to be about gender normativity, but it might just be about wanting acceptance (I am not a real man, I'll tell you why/It's not the reason you are thinking of). Maia "Papaya" Wiitala provides lovely background harmonies. (self-released)


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