Hot off the presses: new music! Better said, new music that is worth your time.
Anna Burch – Quit the Curse – 9 songs / 32 minutes
Excellent debut from this Detroit-based singer/songwriter covers familiar musical and lyrical territory, but with great effect.
She may have came out of nowhere for me, but Anna Burch came out strong. Though the album is quite short, it has plenty of great moments. After a couple of so-so songs to start off, we are treated to several tracks where she gets it just right. Do yourself a favor and start at track 3, or at least listen to the first two with an open mind, as they are fine but it gets a lot better. Sonically reminiscent of the excellent Lotta See Lice record from Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile last year, this is a throwback to the 90s alt-rock sound (that I admittedly love to pieces). Couple that sound with fresh takes on tried and true themes: heartbreak and loneliness for love lost and insecurities with new love, and what we have here is a record that is an enjoyable listen on more than on level.
The fuzzed out guitar sounds on “Asking for a Friend” made me smile, and the ridiculously catchy riff and lyrics on the chorus will surely nestle in your head like they did mine. As she laments a former lover who is giving her the cold shoulder she tells him “I think its suspect you ever feel lonely at all, you’re faking, you’re faking the fall”. On the title track, Anna informs him that she is not as cursed as he thinks she is, and that they weren’t either; but to no avail. This track and the incredibly catchy “In Your Dreams” are both earworms of the most positive variety.
My favorite song musically on this album is the all over the place but quasi-country “Belle Isle”, complete with the mellow electric strumming found throughout the record and a nice touch of steel guitar in the back of the mix. Anna’s vocals here are beautiful and slightly reminiscent of Lana Del Rey, as she sings about an evening spent with a guy that she is now infatuated with. Her friends think she is being foolish, and she knows it, but can’t help it, explaining “now I’m love sick and sunburned, and summer’s only beginning”.
Other songs (“Yeah You Know”, “With You Every Day”) find Anna in a newer, better relationship, but still struggling with insecurity and jealousy. Getting past old bad memories is not as easy as she wishes it was. When she proclaims repeatedly on “What I Want” that she “won’t play the victim just because I can’t get what I want”, it’s hard to tell if it’s a confident proclamation or just a hopeful mantra… I predict big things for her, and also highly recommend that you give this opening salvo a listen or three.
Key Tracks: “In Your Dreams”, “Belle Isle”, “Asking For a Friend”
Kyle Craft – Full Circle Nightmare – 10 songs / 40 minutes
Kyle crafts tales of bad women and broken hearts on this tavern-ready guitar and piano rock & roll album with feeling.
If this one seems raw and real, it’s not just Kyle’s energetic and sometimes spastic vocals; this album was recorded live with his full band in studio. Sadly, that is not how most music is recorded these days, but it seems to me that maybe more of it should be. As if he wanted everyone to be aware of this recording methodology, the album starts with Kyle telling someone to “roll it”, followed by a pounding piano-led diatribe about a love gone bad.
This is Kyle’s second proper album, and the Louisiana native still evokes the Bayou even though he has relocated to Portland. Look no further than one of the slower and quieter tracks, “Slick & Delta Queen” which finds him lamenting the memory of a woman that meant more to him than he ever meant to her while throwing bottles at a steamboat ship.
Most of this album is raucous bar-band goodness with a definite theme of the evil ways of women Kyle has known. On the more impassioned tracks such as the title track or “Heartbreak Junky”, you will find yourself torn between dancing and head-banging. When Kyle shifts to belting out his heart in a half-screaming style, he sounds eerily similar to Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett.
Perhaps the most evil of all of the women mentioned is his subject on the excellent “The Rager”. Whether she is friend, foe, lover, or a combination of all three is uncertain, but she lets Kyle tag along each night as she gets off on teasing and destroying men. “This one’s a rager, and all the cute girls hate her, and all the boys run terrified from her powder-white toes. Who is she they ask me, as she stumbles past me, it’s one of twenty different names depending on where she goes; I still don’t know which one is real”.
“Belmont (One Trick Pony)” finds Kyle screaming over a groovy guitar and piano melody about a one-trick pony that he just can’t take with him. One of my favorite lines is found here: “You best get back to Texas, you best get back and find yourself some cheap air to breathe; you say you’re going crazy, sounds like you’re going to the same place as me.”
This album is pure, unadulterated fun and will be blasting from my speakers throughout the summer.
Key Tracks: “The Rager”, “Full Circle Nightmare”, “Heartbreak Junky”
Also listened to (but just once, thanks):
John Oates – Arkansas
Field Music – Open Here
The Soft Moon – Criminal
DZ Deathrays – Bloody Lovely