Updated: Friday, 11 May 2012, 10:12 AM EDT
Published : Friday, 11 May 2012, 10:08 AM EDT
Music that once might only be an indie underground sensation, possibly only heard by a niche audience, is making its way to mainstream.
Three albums have crossed my path that should claim some listening time with most any music lover. The mix of the three hits several genres – country, indie, blues and even electronica – and all come with my seal of approval.
It’s not often a married couple – Taylor Hollingsworth and Kate Taylor Hollingsworth respectively – puts out something as perfect as this debut album. Dead Fingers’ melodies and harmonies melt together. The sweet Southern tones seem to flow easily for them. It's tight and twangy, and terribly catchy. Pure win.
The alt-country or indie-country or what-have-you scene is saturated with new artists, yet Dead Fingers stands out because they have successfully captured the feeling of small towns with intricate lyricism and definitively rich dynamics. Add its rich, creamy production and musically it does not fail.
The couple isn’t new to the music scene. You may know Taylor from Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, and most likely you’ve heard the sweet background melodies of Kate playing with her sister Maria Hollingsworth.
If you were looking for a comparison, I’d look towards duets like John Prine duets with Iris DeMent or more recently She and Him or the Civil Wars.
And it’s no surprise this album comes from Big Legal Mess – more specifically Bruce Watson. His genius for finding and producing quality talent is by far something to be well noted by any music lover.
“Bloom,” the fourth release from dream pop duo Beach House, doesn’t show any decline from their traditional style. However, they are a far cry from traditional.
Although they do fit into that male/female duo category, there is something different going on here. A mix of deep lush vocals intertwined with misty keyboards and stark drum machine, it's a new wave Monet, for your ears.
Dreamy and psychedelic, “Bloom” continues the style of Beach House in a naturally evolving manner. Breezy melodies and the tinge of late ‘70s yacht rock make these tunes embrace the new while leaving something of the familiar there for the listener to grab onto.
A pleasant listen, with intelligently written tunes, “Bloom” is meant to be listened to as an album, straying from the current norm where single releases and downloads have changed the idea of “album” for modern day listeners.
I’m all for reverting to this way of thinking, and think the album, a willowy landscape of harmonies and sounds, can stand up to that challenge.
Alabama Shakes, known for its rocked out, bluesy live performances, proves that a studio recording doesn’t necessarily have to take away from the performance.
If you’ve at least seen a few live smaller shows with indie or garage bands, you’ll know what I’m talking about can be true. The live show always seems to be better, and disappointment comes when you’ve broken the seal on the album once you’re home.
Contrary to that is the Alabama Shakes. Their newest release "Boys & Girls" has that Southern swing, that smooth summer shake and rough around the edges tone. It's a veritable buffet of the Muscle Shoals sound with an early Motown back beat and a side of Stax/Volt. It's sultry, sugary-sweet and decidedly sinful.
Singer/guitarist Brittany Howard is the tie that binds this band together, with a drawling honeyed voice that speaks early Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin, a sage sound beyond her mere 22 years of age. Her band, no less, never fail to meet her challenge, and their sound is overwhelming - somewhat astonishingly – mature as a whole.
"Boys & Girls" not only gets my seal of approval, but I think will be music to most anyone’s ears, whatever your tastes might be.
Twinkle VanWinkle ponders, creates and discovers cool stuff about music, movies, food, fashion and so forth. Her thoughtful writings and interactives give great advice about healthy food, cooking tips, DIY projects, fashion and more. She’ll teach you a thing or two about music as well. Along with producing dynamic entertainment content for LIN Media, she is a mother, musician and social media fanatic.
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