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CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Silver Jews, Wildcat O'Halloran, Measure

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Thursday, October 04, 2012

Silver Jews
Early Times

(Drag City)

Before Stephen Malkmus and David Berman became indie rock elder statesmen, they were college friends and roommates who kicked around song ideas when they weren't at work. Then Malkmus hit it big with Pavement and Berman enrolled at UMass, where he met and mingled with such local musicians as the Scud Mountain Boys. In between, the pair formed the Silver Jews with percussionist Bob Nastanovich, and recorded this collection of lo-fi tracks on a boombox in their spare time. Though previously released on a handful of EPs, the music here is indie rock in its infancy. Listeners can hear the tape hiss, and any true mastery of guitar or vocals is often lost in the tumult. But on "Jackson Nightz" and an early version of the Pavement cut "Secret Knowledge of Backroads," hardcore fans can witness the pieces of their heroes' future careers coming together, warts and all. —Michael Cimaomo

 

The Wildcat O'Halloran Band
Cougar Bait Blues

(Dove's Nest)

Putting in Cougar Bait Blues is like transporting yourself directly to a New England summer barbecue. Its fun, unpolished sound is unpretentious and speaks to simple days and warm nights. Wildcat O'Halloran's vocals are gravelly and marked by a distinct Americana twang. " If You Don't Do What I Want" is a funky love song duet in which Emmalyn Hicks' silky, soulful voice balances out Wildcat's sandpaper gruffness. The album as a whole has an old-timey, trucker-blues feel, and "Come In My Kitchen" pays homage to the blues ballad with its clear acoustic sound. Wildcat and Emmalyn make a great duo, and dish out true blue American sounds without taking themselves too seriously. Cougar Bait Blues may not win you any music geek credit with your friends, but few would complain about its upbeat guitar riffs and perky drums at an outdoor party. —Kathleen Broadhurst

 

Measure
The Air Inside Our Lungs

(independent)

An interesting and not at all unpleasant presentation of female-fronted indie-pop, this record is well produced but not annoyingly so. Principally a product of singer/songwriter Laura DiStasi, it boasts inspiration from both heart and mind, and succeeds well on both levels. Though Measure's publicist tries to compare the act to newer pop phenomena like Feist and Imogen Heap, at its core it's more like a time-machine trip back to the 1980s when typically soft-spoken women like Suzanne Vega and Sinead O'Connor, in spite of mostly gentle delivery, broadcast personal visions and feelings of quiet but immense power that spread around the globe like wildfire. DiStasi may be another one of these, a thoughtful, consequential voice who sneaks up on you and beats you senseless with nothing more than a thought, four chords and a feather pillow of half-whispered melody. —Tom Sturm

 

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