By Mark Lopez
Listen to Warpaint and venture into a sonic region permeated by menacing rhythms, hypnotic vocals and an indie-rock bent that's not cliché or completely self-aware. These women know how to play, and beyond that, they know how to captivate, in their own calculated way. This sound is what The xx strives for but doesn't always pull off. This self-titled album keeps a somewhat dark, dire tone throughout—with the only considerable lively moments happening on “Disco // very”—but tracks like “Love Is to Die” and “Son” are equally enjoyable. This one's a keeper, if only for specific flashes. It's definitely not something you'd play at a midnight dance party. Or would you?
The aging punk scene, space-age meanderings and overly strong brandy are just a few of the facets touched on in Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks' so-so Wig Out at Jagbags. The album has some sinister grunge moments (“Shibboleth”) but quickly becomes a labyrinthine mess of Weezer-esque admiration (“Scattegories” and “Lariat”). This isn't to say the album is bad; it’s just not as good as it could have been—they should have gotten rid of “Rumble at the Rainbo.” Tracks like “Independence Street” and “Planetary Motion” show what good instrumentalists these guys are, which is a good indicator of progress. This album just wasn't as progressive as I'd hoped.
Jazz standards can get samey, especially if you've ever overdone it with Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday records. (Is that even possible?) To overcome this musical ennui, a tender, sultry, beautiful voice is a necessary remedy. Jolie Goodnight has that. Her debut full-length, Say Goodnight Gracey, tackles standards by the likes of Arthur Johnson/Johnny Burke, Gershwin, Spencer Williams and others. See Goodnight’s whimsical version of “After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It,” her sexy rendition of “My Daddy Rocks Me” and her somber cover of “Summertime.” While the album's tracks are fairly standard covers that are often hard to differentiate from their inspiration, Goodnight’s voice is what brings the magic home.
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