Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of Passerby, Honeyblood And L’aventura

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With Luluc’s Passerby, Australia-bred Brooklynites Zoë Randell and Steve Hassett prove, like Frost, that nothing gold can stay. The world they create in these 10 songs sounds lacy and transient, like dewdrops on spiderwebs after a storm. The duo, which has covered songs by Nick Drake and Townes Van Zandt, owes a great deal to 1960s English folk—Randell’s voice is equal parts Linda Thompson and Sandy Denny—as well as to contemporaries like Low, Laura Marling and The Head and the Heart. However, their biggest debt is to The National’s Aaron Dessner, who produced Passerby. Standout tracks include the title song, “Small Window,” “Tangled Heart” and “Gold on the Leaves.” (M. Brianna Stallings)

Honeyblood Honeyblood (FatCat)

A new, eponymous full-length by Scottish duo Honeyblood is surprising for its musical wit and reasonable expansion of tropes explored by forerunners like The Breeders or even The Cranberries. Beguilingly crafty and unexpected shifts in tempo and tone—noisy instances and expectant quietude—this recording is all about organic contrast and the divide between the heavenly sweetness of implied yearning and the burning reality of earthly satisfaction. Stina Tweeddale (guitar, vocals) and Shona McVicar (drums, vocals) advance this heady agenda with playing and songwriting skills that surpass a slew of contemporaries. Honeyblood rocks out a compelling synthesis to their contrarian musical and lyrical tendencies on a recording that includes abundantly satisfying tuneage like “(I’d Rather Be) Anywhere But Here,” “Killer Bangs” and “Braidburn Valley.” I’m pretty sure this is as good as pop gets in the year 2014. (August March)

SŽbastien Tellier L'Aventura (Because Music)

If you dig dream-inducing listening experiences with retrograde cinematic overtones, check out L’Aventura. The sixth studio album by Sébastien Tellier, L’Aventura has a summery affect that’s either disarming or party-inducing; it’s a rain-or-shine swim party. Tellier is a French multi-instrumentalist with a shaggy beard, piercing eyes and a propensity for experimenting with Euro-tuneage and electronica. L’Aventura adds a Brazilian feeling. The result is profound and verges on the surreal, but it has an ironically high cheese factor. The South American influence is subtle, but its presence adds to the sense of completion. It has an ebullient, narrative quality to it. Tracks like “Sous les Rayons du Soleil” and “L’Amour Carnaval” suggest Tellier resides far from this world. And (gasp!) the whole thing’s in French. Grab a decent chardonnay—and let it breathe—as you embark on this rêverie from the norm. (August March)

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