Corey Harris: Zion Crossroads (Telarc)
Always a style explorer, Harris turns his eye towards Jamaica and comes up with something Island Records might have put out in the '70s. Always interested in finding connections between American and African music, Harris continues to tug at his bluesman label, finding his Steel Pulse on these swipes at heathen Babylon. Like the artists he's clearly inspired by (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Burning Spear) many cuts are a strange combination of sugary melodies and hardcore politics. There's no doubting Harris' sincerity and if the music is bit rote it's also not unpleasant as global political harangues go.
Robbers On High Street: Grand Animals (New Line)
This is a meat pie stuffed with minced Squeeze and prime Elvis Costello and the Attractions, baked crisp and served piping hot by Belle & Sebastian. Despite hailing from NYC, Robbers are so bloody anglophile the disc should come with chips and overcooked peas. That said, it's a damn tasty concoction that darts with a cleverness that eludes most aspirants to these pop heights. An endearing '80s white funk swagger crops up a few times, adding spice to the sweeping arrangements. Fast or slow, they know a hook and bait it with cerebral chestnuts worthy of their ingredients.
Death Ships: Seeds Of Devastation (Faithful Anchor)
There's something afoot in this bucolic jangle, something smart and sweet that eagerly makes you an offer you can't refuse. Like a slightly stoned dB's or a kissin' cousin to Midlake and Band of Horses, Death Ships roll one fine number after another, renewing our faith in exuberant boys with guitars and their ability to make us shrug our shoulders in time to their warmly melancholy musings. Nothing like the plague vessel their name implies, Death Ships sculpt mysterious echoes into an ear-tugging fog that happily envelops the listener.
Rasputina: Oh Perilous World (Filthy Bonnet Co.)
This emerges from slurred dulcimer, humming cello and shambling percussion into "1816. The Year Without A Summer." Rasputina's sixth album lodges the intrinsically offbeat trio well left-of-center but they inhabit that spot with a naturalism that normalizes the unorthodox instrumentation and precipitous shifts in mood. "Choose Me For A Champion" incongruously evokes both Queen and Patti Smith, but "Cage in a Cave" chirps like Scandinavian radio fare, bright skipping in service of a dark rumination. In the past, Rasputina's eccentricities may have kept less adventurous listeners at bay but Oh Perilous World is perversely catchy, balancing the stormy bits with the pastoral ones in a pretty winning way.
JamBase | On The Edge
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