Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dylan LeBlanc

Paupers Field

Rough Trade.

LeBlanc is a very talented 20 year old Southerner who takes the best from people like Ray La Montagne, Neil Young, Graham Parsons, and the late Dave Carter at his most depressing and least mystical, and puts them together in a fine debut. LeBlanc sounds world weary and tired, and his country/folk music and lyrics sound the same way.

The only flaw on this album is that the songs crawl along, and by the time the album is finished, it’s something of a slog. But LeBlanc is smart enough to know this, and he’ll work it out. Someone this talented has a long and good career waiting for him. []

Andrea Weiss

Magic Kids


True Panther Sounds

Fun, musically and lyrically is the operative word here. It’s sunshine-like power-pop, a combination of ELO, the New Pornographers, Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys, the Brill Building, and Big Shot Chronicles-era Game Theory. Lead singer Bennett Foster even sounds like a deeper-voiced Scott Miller. The boy meets girl themes for lyrics are simple without being simplistic. The only quibble is that the band should have checked up on their song titles. “Superball” is not a cover of the Aimee Mann song of the same name, nor does it sound anything like Mann’s song. But that is a very minor complaint, and certainly doesn’t get in the way of the fun. This is an album to be blasted on a car stereo with the top down on a warm, sunny summer day.


Andrea Weiss

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Liz Phair



This bolt out of the blue over the July 4th weekend was shockingly unexpected, and a reason to cheer. I really didn’t want Somebody’s Miracle, a good but not great album, and slightly underrated because it’s a little too polished, to be her final statement. So I downloaded Funstyle ASAP.

The album is a mess. It’s a jumble of songs that don’t cohere, but that is one reason why the album is so great. It lives up to it’s name big time, it’s playful like Girly Sounds was, adult like the best songs on Somebody’s Miracle were, and just a blast to listen to, with every song having something cool to offer.

While Phair is no rapper, it’s fun to hear her try on “Bollywood.” There is the smoothness of “And He Slayed Her” where she gives Andy Slater, a former Capitol Records executive that Liz doesn’t think much of, a musical slap in the face, and “U hate It,” a wickedly funny song that at the end has the “thank yous” for the album presented as if she’s won an award.

“U Hate It” like a few other songs on the album, take on the backlash that she’s been unfairly living with since her 2003 self-titled album, the slick one which had critics screaming “sell-out.” But that album, heard now, doesn’t seem too different from her other work, and holds up very well. Liz had moved on from albums like Exile in Guyville and WhiteChoclateSpaceEgg, simply because she wasn’t in her 20s or early 30s anymore, and wasn’t about to be forced to be those ages again.

Net critics like Pitchfork are trying to continue that backlash, but don’t believe the anti-hype on Funstyle. It’s a damn fine album--funny, rocking, and pure Liz. And that’s all that’s needed. []. And at [] a wondeful interview with Liz.

Andrea Weiss


Beachcombers Windowsill


This isn’t a bad album--nice, pleasing to hear, melodic, with friendly lyrics, which are also somewhat sappy. This band’s idea of Brit-folk is to sound like Mumford and Sons without that band’s white knuckle rage and fatalism, but if Stornoway got angry just once about something they would be a lot better and more interesting to hear. Still and all, this debut shows promise. For all the sappiness they’re also thoughtful in a way Mumford and Sons aren’t, and in the end likeable as well.


Andrea Weiss


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