Casual Listening

a review of cool new music

by Jeff Pinzino

 

March 19, 2010

 

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* Drive-By Truckers – The Big To-Do (rock)

 

Drive-By Truckers don't write songs so much as novels set to music.  In the vein of writers like William Faulkner and Truman Capote, they expose the seamy underbelly of southern life and humanize it, in the Truckers' case set to grinding guitars and a shivering backbeat.  They're also rooted in the best of outlaw country music, telling stories of people trying to stay sane in the face of self-induced calamity.

 

Listen to Drive-By Truckers “The Wig He Made Her Wear

 

Elizabeth Shepherd – Heavy Falls the Night (jazz)

 

Shepherd is a jazz-around-the-edges songwriter with adventurous melodies that show more than a little funk.  Electric piano and acoustic bass put a keen edge on a 70's sound pioneered by Joni Mitchell and in many ways improved upon here.

 

Listen to Elizabeth Shepherd “What Else

 

Zach Lupetin & the Dustbowl Revival (folk)

 

Under the gazebo on founder's day in a turn-of-the-century Missouri town, there's a band like Dustbowl Revival that's the life of the party.   There's ragtime, cakewalks, and dixieland played by a brass band complete with oom-pa tuba and mandolin. 

 

Listen to Zach Lupetin & the Dustbowl Revival “Marching On

 

Julieta Venegas - Otra Cosa (Latin)

 

Venegas has the same lyricism and cheekiness of her American singing-songwriting counterparts (Regina Spektor, this means you).  Chipper tunes ride on jangly acoustic guitar with handclaps and a dose of irony that's easy to pick up on even if you don't speak Spanish.

 

Listen to Julieta Venegas “Amores Platonicos

 

 

The White Stripes – Under Great White Northern Lights (rock)

 

While I've never seen them in concert, this album makes me wish I had.  It should come as no surprise that one of the most explosive bands in rock & roll puts on a killer live show.

 

Listen to The White Stripes “Icky Thump

 

 

* highly recommended

! highest recommendation

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