Incoming: new music! Better yet, new music that is worth your time.
The Secret Sisters – Saturn Return – 10 tracks / 40 minutes
More beautiful harmonies from Laura and Lydia, both recently mothers for the first time, with a focus on female empowerment.
When I discovered this duo’s You Don’t Own Me Anymore with the amazing tracks “Tennessee River Runs Low” and “He’s Fine”, I was hooked instantly. Hailing from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, these gals (it’s no secret that they are in fact sisters) bob and weave with distinctly unique and gorgeous voices. Although I’m not sure this effort matches up to that last record, it is tremendous in its own right, especially the first half.
Things get started off strong with “Silver”, an ode to their (or anyone’s) mother and the crown of wisdom her silver hair reflects. On lead single “Late Bloomers” the message is straightforward and simple without being cliché: it doesn’t matter when you bloom, it only matters that you do. The backing vocals and subtle piano absolutely shine here.
The most powerful track on Saturn Return is “Cabin”, which recalls the pain handed down in a building that somehow still stands (as does the person who inflected the damage). The chorus “it makes me want to burn this cabin down” reminded me instantly of Coldplay’s “A Rush of Blood to the Head”- but this song feels much more tortured. Unlike Mr. Martin’s composition, this doesn’t feel so much a metaphor but something steeped in real pain. Powerful stuff, and pretty catchy as well.
“Hand Over My Heart” is the most dynamic track here, with excellent lyrics over some badass keyboards, tempo shifts, and handclaps. An ode to love itself and a promise to someone in particular, the title has two meanings- both a solemn promise and a gifting of love. “Loving someone is a choice to make, so walk me down the hardest roads it takes; you can have my hand and be my own, I swear that if I’m breathing you won’t ever be alone.”
The highlight of the latter half of the album is the ominous “Water Witch”, a song that if it weren’t for their unmistakable voices could easily be someone else’s work altogether. Saturn Return may not be their finest work yet (although with repeated listens I might change my mind on that), but it is another example of their greatness- and definitely is worth your time.
Key Tracks: “Cabin”, “Water Witch”, “Hand Over My Heart”
Spotify album link: https://open.spotify.com/album/3grv66GSazERZLzTlS8LrA?si=SoLve4HKRRabVlN-AOVVnQ
Real Estate – The Main Thing
More pretty guitar-pop melodies from a band that does that as well as anyone, but not very much that stuck with me. “Friday” meanders along in a lovely way and invokes classic Real Estate, while Sylvan Esso’s presence on “Paper Cup” is a welcome addition.
The Proper Ornaments – Mission Bells
A hit and miss collection from these chilled-out gents. “Black Tar” is a classic example of their sound, with subtle and terrific guitar work over a mellow and droll lyrical delivery. “Echoes” is my favorite track here, and finds each part of the band truly contributing.
Wasted Shirt – Fungus II
This collab of Ty Segall and Lightning Bolt’s Brian Chippendale is some seriously noisy noise-rock.
Edgar Winter – Live on Stage
“Free Ride” is awesome, of course, as is their take on the classic “Fannie Mae”. The highlight here is the late great Leon Russell, whose voice it is truly fantastic to hear throughout the recording. You are missed, Leon.
Hailey Whitters – The Dream