By Jessica Cassyle Carr
The Clientele Strange Geometry (Merge)
If someone said, "Hey Jessica, what would you tell your ideal band to sound like and what instruments would they use?" I'd say, "Organs, obviously. And f*** the bass drum, snare rules! And throw in some string arrangements and steel guitar and freaking castanets! And use tremolo wherever possible, for god's sake! Make sure you seem normal on the surface, but actually be weird British guys. And whatever you do, don't talk about your feelings in any rote way; relate them to things like trampolines and math. You'd sound a bit like Tommy James and the Shondells with a post-rock twist." Well, nobody asked me, but here's that band.
Catfish Haven Please Come Back EP (Secretly Canadian)
Just when you thought Catfish Haven was only a trailer park in southern Missouri, I'm here to tell you that it's also a pleasantly rudimentary, bluesy, semi-southern rock trio from Chicago. The typical guitar, bass (which is really turned up) and drum combination is accented with occasional piano and even saxophone on one track, which turns a basic sound into something more atypical. Songs, however, are about all the old favorites: lovin', not getting lovin', hangovers, the devil and other damn shames, and are made for going over yonder, getting yourself a beer, crying in it or getting rowdy.
Old 97's Alive and Wired (New West Records)
Aside from despicable studio alterations of "live" recordings (which probably happen all the time) like on Kiss Live, live albums tend to be more authentic representations of what a band actually sounds like. Here Old 97's prove that they don't use any phony in-studio tomfoolery because not only do the 30 songs sound like they do on their volume of recordings, they also prove that the band's live shows are a spectacle to behold. Oh, and the Old 97's favorite of many, "Doreen," is here and definitely won't disappoint anyone.
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Sloan Armitage • acoustic, singer-