Jeannette Kantzalis should be commended for creating a complete album. The Kitten Next Door is her first record, but it oozes the kind of experience and complexity many musicians don't capture until their third or fourth attempt. Kantzalis' vocals range from finely tuned to gritty and raw, showcasing her talent and passionate delivery, which saves The Kitten Next Door from being just another rockabilly/Americana/generic girl-with-guitar novelty production. Plus, the cover art perfectly captures the feel of the album: a confident woman wandering the desert highways with adventure on her mind and time on her hands.
Speaking of second attempts, Beirut's latest release doesn't carry the shock value of his first album, Gulag Orkestar. Why? Because the indie-klezmer sound is no longer novel. That doesn't mean Zach Condon has lost his luster—every song on this five-song EP is fun, explorative and captivating—but some of the innocence has been shed. Everything is sharper, in better focus, more composed and refined. It's a better-produced album, which is good news for some and bad for others. If in doubt, consult the toned-down, more instrumental remix of "Scenic World"—it's damn good.
Iron is a buffet of rock music. Che Arthur does soft, classic, punk, emo and progressive rock all in one convenient, easy-to-digest presentation. In listening to Iron from beginning to end, it's hard to believe Arthur does everything on this album. (I would have bet my iPod nano that there were four people on this album from the vocals alone.) Iron isn't available until the end of March, but in the meantime you can hear The Che Arthur Three at the Launchpad this Monday, March 12, in an all-ages show with Rocky Votolato and Slender Means.