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Reviewed this week: Kami Thompson, Mouse on Mars and Sharon Van Etten

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Kami Thompson
Love Lies
(Warner Classics & Jazz)

Kami Thompson is a mahogany chip from a block—she's Richard and Linda Thompson's daughter. Darkness lurks in Love Lies; about half the songs are of love gone wrong, sour, or missing. The others come off as Goth seasoned with Millennium Generation attitude. But the jury's still out about her musical future. She seems to be a cut above celebrity offspring novelty acts, but it's hard to judge her instrumental chops given the powerhouse backing of Sean Lennon, brother Teddy, and paterfamilias Richard. Her strongest suits appear to be writing and arranging, as heard on the syncopated "Tick Tock," and her cover of George Harrison's "Don't Bother Me," reminiscent of The Kinks' "She's Not There." Thompson may need adjustments, though, as her laconic voice is neither as pretty as her mother's, nor as singular as her father's. Love Lies is a promising debut, but hardly an eye-popper. —Rob Weir

*

Mouse on Mars
Parastrophics
(Monkeytown Records)

In 1997, Mouse On Mars recorded the soundtrack for Glam, an ill-fated Australian film featuring Tony Danza. It's difficult to imagine why the movie producers ever entertained the notion of pairing Mouse On Mars with Danza. The soundtrack was eventually rejected. Parastrophics, the tenth album by the German techno duo of Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner, features 13 tracks that range from just under one minute long to well over five minutes. All of them buzz along with an enjoyably transient dance quality, filled with light drum sounds, heavy bass lines, and a cacophony of experimental electronica. The phrasing is ponderous, the beats kinesthetic, and the melodies melodious, even if the sampling is captured in such a way that one has no idea what is being listened to. A bizarre backdrop for a Tony Danza feature indeed. —Pete Redington

*

Sharon Van Etten
Tramp
(Jagjaguwar)

Though it's the product of 14 months of scattered recording sessions, the latest album by Brooklyn-based Van Etten is a surprisingly cohesive whole, albeit a slightly depressing one. Where her previous release teased fans with its mix of country rhythms and atmospheric ballads, here the singer opts for a more languid and orchestrated sound, possibly a result of her choice of collaborators. Produced by Aaron Dessner of indie rockers The National (who also appear on the track "Serpents"), the record opens with the electric strum of "Warsaw" before enveloping listeners in one lovelorn tale after another. Van Etten's sweeping alto is a perfect fit for the proceedings, and brings a certain majesty to songs like "Leonard." But the overall effect of listening to 45-plus minutes of someone else's relationship blues is simply too much. Here's hoping happier times equal happier material in the future. —Michael Cimaomo

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