September 21, 2020

Chuck Daar – Ovr Dou (Remastered) – 5th World

By Kristi Kates | Feb. 1, 2020

This impressive reissue of multi-instrumentalist Daar’s album (which also includes the equally worthy remix album Dou Ovr and two smaller EPs) pulls you directly in to his swirling genre-blend of SoCal-meets-Texas sounds, recorded back in the early 2010s under the aliases Nova Spies and ECD. Highlights include the skittering opener, “Central Processing,” the expected swirls of “Phase Transition,” and the very unexpected push-pull of “Kirtan,” which somehow lodges in your ears despite the lack of a discernable hook. ** ½

Echosmith – Lonely Generation – ESLLC
As the title might suggest, Echosmith’s latest is an indie-pop exploration into growing older, anchoring their latest set of songs in teen-pop beats while pushing the lyrics into adulthood. The alterna-pop set shows off its best side while sticking to lighter radio-friendly melodies like the title track and the dancefloor-friendly “Diamonds,” with its retro synthesizers; the galloping “Stuck Inside This Roller Coaster”; and ballads like the quietly vulnerable “Everyone Cries.” Attempts at funk/soul (“Cracked”) don’t work quite as well, but the bulk of the album’s pop tracks make up for it. ***

Isabella Lundgren – Out of the Bell Jar – Ladybird
Not quite as intense as the Plath novel but with near-equal gravitas is this latest release from Swedish singer Lundgren. She tackles a lineup of classic Bob Dylan tracks here and rearranges/remakes them in her own style. Best in the bunch are “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” which showcases her strong vocals, and her take on the classic “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” which she renders in a version instantly evocative of a dark, smoke-filled brick-walled coffeehouse, circa 1960. ** ½

Ralf Schmid – Pyanook - Neue Meister
Schmid brings traditional piano fans into new territory with an experimental set that skillfully blends his dependable skills with some unexpected technology: Mi Mu Gloves, a wearable music instrument that digitally transform his gestures to sound.  Layered atop his analog playing of two grand pianos, this futuristic approach flows smoothly — to greatest effect on the set’s first ever-shifting single, “Life in a Nutshell,” and the quirky beats of “Impromptu Reggae.” ***


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