The Foxx guitarist/vocalist Juliet Legend has found her niche. After several recordings and tours with the Rondelles, she's proceeded to co-front a band that perfectly blends campy '60s pop and the kind of trashy '70s glam rock that exploded out of Alice Cooper and the New York Dolls. Garage guitars and a strict Romantics groove lend themselves perfectly to dual, male/female vocals and syrupy-but-sincere lyrics, mostly about the boy-girl stuff that makes the world go 'round. "Ready to Go" is a hit waiting to happen, and my current favorite song, period. The next band signed out of Albuquerque? Very likely.
If you locked Will Oldham and members of 16 Horsepower and Doo Rag in an analog studio together for a year, the resulting recording would probably sound like Ill Lit's second record. Bordering on country, folk and junkyard electronica but never delving headlong into any of them, Ill Lit can best be described as purveyors of one of the forgotten tenets of Americana—the overwhelming urge to stake a claim and get rooted thwarted by an insatiable wanderlust and a belief that the grass is greener someplace else, someplace that's always just a few more miles down the dusty road.
Like a modern-day Nick Drake, Sam Beam—as the one-man band Iron and Wine—delivers whisper-folk with Neil Young-like unease and the sort of melancholy that defines such bands as Hayden and Badly Drawn Boy. Sparse instrumentation occasionally gives way to acoustic orchestrations on Our Endless Numbered Days, Beam's second full-length, but all the hushed emotional and melodic beauty that made his debut one of the best records of 2002 remains intact. Beam's "new folk" is actually an amalgam of the old stuff and a discernible touch of the blues. The effect is haunting, tantalizing and, often, blissfully overwhelming.