Gabrielle Jackson Lotus (All Bad Records)
This debut EP from local 20-year-old Gabrielle Jackson fairly backs up her Facebook page description of herself as a “soft spoken songstress who taught her soul to sing with a six string.” On Lotus Jackson continues the youth trend (to the bafflement of fans of feedback and weirdness) of producing what could almost be described as “easy listening” folk music—but she does it handily. The polished and pretty guitar arrangements appear to come second to Jackson's singing and leave one hankering a bit for more than one great hook in five songs, but her voice takes center stage for good reason. Sounding like a smiling Norah Jones, Jackson smile-sings (fair warning) about love, beauty and the mailman. Jackson has what people call “promise”—and I bet people tell her that a lot. (Geoffrey Plant)
Wildewood The Other Side (Self-released)
The Other Side confirms something Brett and Rennie Sparks of the Handsome Family said to me a couple years ago: that Wildewood easily has the talent to make it on more than just a local level. Of the 14 “alt-folk” tunes on The Other Side, none are dispensable; I wasn't tempted to skip a single one. What's really an achievement though, is that the entire album has a cohesive, confident style and relaxed sound that is entirely Wildewood's, something I noticed as they mesmerized a packed room with these songs at the Press Club a while back. Fans of Will Oldham or Jason Molina take note: Wildewood is in that same darkly joyous musical vein, and they come by that sound honestly and without imitation. And they keep getting better. Probably my favorite record so far this year. (Geoffrey Plant)
Kidnapper Van Self (Self-released)
Judson Frondorf has been an essential part of Albuquerque's art and music scene since the 1980s. He worked briefly with Bill's Friends and then went on to define the nascent punk scene here as a member of Cracks in the Sidewalk. Frondorf was responsible for a sound both provocative and complex as recordings such as Fucker's Concerto continue to demonstrate, decades after its initial release. With his latest project, Kidnapper Van, Frondorf exhibits a heady evolution. Although he sometimes referred to himself as less of a musician and more of a performance artist, this record makes clear the intense musical gift in Frondorf's possession. Opener “Land of the Lost” is enigmatically funky yet glitchy, complete with complicated rhythmic moments and obscurantist vocalizations. Number six track “No Matter What” combines melodic delicacy with a growing, repetitive, industrial distractedness that eventually bursts out as deadly bright keyboard and guitar phenomena. Self is an alluring yet dangerous record. (August March)
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Sloan Armitage • acoustic, singer-