4 AD Records
This is an excellent follow-up to Actor, and as good as Actor was, and Annie Clark’s debut Marry Me was, Strange Mercy tops both of them. Clark has found her voice as never before. These strong, confident, songs are a wonder to hear, and delight in.
Her lyrics, while having echoes of Sam Phillip’s The Indescribable Wow, and Hounds of Love-era Kate Bush, are in the end all Clark. While those two albums dealt with having pain, Strange Mercy is about relief from pain. Not that these songs are pain free. They are pretty dark, but the straightforward release she gets from that relief, also make this album her most buoyant. There are also snatches of political commentary here, like on “Cheerleader” which may be about realizing that America is not all it’s cracked up to be, or the line, “America, can I owe you one?” on “Year of the Tiger.” The commentary works because she realizes that there are other things to write about than relationships. It’s very smart.
This is Clark’s most guitar oriented album. She had wanted to be able to play all the songs on guitar, and the guitar playing here attests to that success. She is a fantastic guitarist, and as there still aren’t many woman lead guitarists, it is always wonderful when a woman steps to the front and slams down a bracing solo or riff. Taken together, this is a complete package, and a great one at that. [www.ilovestvincent.com/]
Magic Man! Records/ORG Music
This NYC band’s wonderful debut sounds like a little like a faster paced, louder Winterpills. Since Winterpills is a fine band in its own right, that Caveman should come up to their level, and in some cases top them with songs that aren’t as dark lyrically, means that Caveman is a band to watch, and who deserves every bit of their buzz.
They also sound a bit like the Dodos’ No Color album, but Stefan Marolachakis’ drums roll smoothly, not clatter around. Matthew Iwanusa’s lead vocals sound natural, and not oh-so-clever. His guitar and Jimmy “Cobra” Carbonetti’s blend together nicely, and the whole band’s harmonies are thrilling to hear. In the end, a joy, and one of the best debuts of the year. [www.facebook.com/CavemanBand?sk=wall]