Sonic Reducer

2 min read
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The Maccabees, a five-piece from Brighton, England, has polished songwriting, slightly varying haircuts and gender-bending vocals that attract crowds. The band also occasionally takes the focus off its guitar, letting it quietly jangle while drums clatter and thump with coked-out enthusiasm. That provides the necessary amount of inventiveness for a commercial-friendly band to stand out. But when the "Wa-ow" wailing starts up, it’s hard to stomach. The band oversaturates the already adorable aesthetic and turns everything into mush. The wailing doesn’t ruin Wall of Arms , but it often makes enjoying it a challenge. (SM)

Kendra Shank Mosaic (Challenge Records)

With a folk singer’s simplicity, a jazzer’s savvy and a clear, intimate voice, Kendra Shank gets to the heart of her material and her listener—it’s how she magically disappears the layers that have accumulated over Carol King’s “So Far Away” and Cole Porter’s “All of You,” making these tunes fresh again. Her exceptional longtime collaborators—Frank Kimbrough (piano), Dean Johnson (bass) and Tony Moreno (drums)—with guests Billy Drewes (saxes, clarinet) and Ben Monder (guitar), buoy her at every turn. The 11 tracks include originals and standards, beautifully presented, though the dynamics could be a bit more varied. (MM)

Japandroids Post-Nothing (Unfamiliar Records)

While this Vancouver two-piece is billing itself as "indie garage," I’m only getting the indie part. In fact, the distortion, dischordant (spelling intentional) drumming and ’90s emo-esque vocal stylings make Japandroids sound remarkably Braid-like. Actually, this review is over—I’ve got to go download “A Dozen Roses” and make a mixtape. (JCC)
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