September 28, 2020

Balsam Range – Aeonic – MH Music

By Kristi Kates | Jan. 19, 2019

A half-dozen albums in, and Balsam Range has yet to fully reach the range of its skills, but offers a decent listen nonethless. Primarily a bluegrass-pop outfit, the five musicians kick things off with up-tempo standout “The Girl Who Invented the Wheel,” full of careening banjo riffs and playful lyrics, and similar to its album-mate “Get Me Gone,” another foot-stomper. Balsam Range tackles slower numbers nicely, as well, most notably “The Rambler,” with its deft vocal lines, and the desert-tinged “Tumbleweed Town.” ***
Ripp and Rice – Songs We Wrote on Tuesdays – R&R
Take two critically and fan-acclaimed singer-songwriters, Andrew Ripp and Chris Rice, and you get an amped-up, even more diverse version of what each of these talents usually do. This side project finds the pair taking turns on lead vocals (they share some backing vox, but no real duets) as they work their way through a track-list of thoughtful, simple but affecting songs about hope, romance, and more, including the mournful “Via Dolorosa,” the appropriately named “Gorgeous,” and the string-bedecked “Boy,” which recalls early work from Irish pop band The Script. ***
John Medeski – Mad Skillet – Indirecto
Best known as one-third of musical innovators Medeski Martin and Wood, this side-band project from Medeski (the band is called Mad Skillet) features a wealth of funky instrumentals executed by Medeski, along with guitar from Will Bernard, drums from Terence Higgins, and sousaphone from Kirk Joseph. Recorded in a studio on the Mississippi River, the set is infused with the jazz hallmarks of New Orleans, from the opening swagger of “Man About Town” to the added horns on the self-assured “Invisible Bubble.” ** ½
Röyksopp– Senior – Dog Triumph
The Spellemannprisen-award winning Norwegian electronic music duo Torbjørn Brundtland and Svein Berge are back with this revitalization of their fourth studio album. Fans will surely be delighted to see it — it’s been unavailable for several years — but it’s really quite a hit-and-miss effort that sticks only to instrumental tracks. It morphs nicely from one tune to the next, though, from the brooding “Forsaken Cowboy” to the darker “The Fear,” plus a somewhat pointless revamp of the pair’s own earlier track, “Tricky Tricky.” **


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