Sonic Reducer: Micro Reviews Of Time To Go Home, The Ruffian’s Misfortune And Global

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From their BFF Glamour Shots-style press photos (complete with scrunchies and high-waisted jeans) to their snarktastic name and roots in the Pacific Northwest, the band Chastity Belt smacks of all things ’90s. Natives of Walla Walla, Wash., and current residents of Seattle, the group kicked off when Julia Shapiro (vocals/guitar), Lydia Lund (guitar), Annie Truscott (guitar) and Gretchen Grimm (drums) met at university three years ago. Their latest album Time to Go Home is equal parts Riot Grrrl, sex-positive millennial party girl feminism and jangle indie. “Drone” rolls its eyes at “another man trying to teach me something,” while “Trapped” envies “anyone who feels alright.” With lyrics like “So what? We like to fuck,” “Cool Slut” could be the theme song of Ilana from “Broad City.” If your playlist transitions from Slant 6 to Electrelane, from Bratmobile to The Organ, then this Chastity Belt will definitely be one you wanna rock. (M. Brianna Stallings)

Ray Wylie Hubbard The RuffianÕs Misfortune (Bordello Records)

I totally dig the title of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s new album. The Ruffian’s Misfortune conjures up a succinct image of the dark life forces underlying much of today’s Americana. Hubbard handles the essential problem of the genre—a hidebound attachment to tradition that can stunt originality and vitality when over-invoked—with the dexterity that a life in music gratefully allows. As a progenitor of a form that’s both celebrated and reviled, Hubbard remains unaffected, honestly belting out work that demonstrates a commitment to music in spite of his later-day popularity and financial success. Tunes like “Hey Mama, My Time Ain’t Long” and “Down by the River” demonstrate a mastery of craft but also a certain detachment that verges on nostalgia—rather than confession. That may prove a drawback for listeners familiar with Hubbard’s life and work. For anyone else—particularly new listeners—it symbolizes a vitality that continues to move Americana forward. (August March)

Todd Rundgren Global (Esoteric Antenna)

Todd Rundgren is one of those rock musicians—like Godley & Creme, Frank Zappa and the brothers Ween—whose work is so complex and nuanced by influence and appropriation that it’s hard to tell whether the product is satire, pastiche or an original outcome. Whatever the intent, this shit is good. With Rundgren’s oeuvre in particular, the results of such creative indulgences can be mixed, but overall they tend toward compelling and sometimes misunderstood. The artist’s new release Global provides ample clues, if not a definite solution to the direction he’s been traveling post-millennium. Snatches of electro, worldbeat and new wave are treated as mathematical structures used to launch listeners into deep space. Rundgren directs such expeditions grandly if with a touch of grandiosity. That last part may overwhelm or put some off, but tunes like “Holyland” and “Terra Firma” call forth a sense of epic wonder that—even if contrived—feels damn fine. (August March)

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