Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Some of the best local discs, 2009, so far

Arnett Hollow
Night After Night

After a bluegrass-infused debut, AH has returned with a second disc that is more slick, more NPR-friendly, but also more distinct and original. Now known to inquiring out-of-towners as the home band of Bonnie Prince Billy fiddler/vocalist Cheyenne Mize, AH has become more like Nickel Creek and less like Del McCoury. Though their new style has its downsides (such as a less tight, more jammy rhythm section) the vocal interplay between Mize and songwriter/guitarist Chris Rodahaffer is lovely, and might sweep you away.

Bad Blood
This brief follow-up to their self-titled first record doesn't improve on the album titles, but is another raw, amped-up collection of garage rock thrillers. Fans of the MC5 and the Bell Rays should already know about them, one of the absolute best live bands in town.


The new band led by Joe Meredith, formerly of the Beatles-esque Merediths, is surprising not just because of Meredith's more poppy pedigree, but also because there are few bands left making sounds like this. The Invaders live near rock music but probably won't be understood by the AC/DC fan next door. Fans of the Sun City Girls and early Butthole Surfers will be pleased, however, to find a new psychedelic, grainy mindblast of a band. Meredith's vocals are mixed lower than most singers, taking his vocals away from the spotlight and melding them into the rest of the instruments. A band like this can't be found at just any club, so listen to Second Story Man's Carrie Neumayer, who "thinks the Invaders CD is the best local album I've heard in a long time."

The Mack
Lazy Bones

One of the weirdest - and I mean that as high praise - singer/songwriters you'll get to hear, this fellow comes up with names, ideas and melodies that you'd never expect (he formerly led a band called The I'll Beat Your Back Out Band). Once you enter his world - a little David Lynch, a little Will Oldham, a little Flannery O'Connor - you'll want a front row seat. If you can't hum gems like "Prisoner's Lake" or "Monongahela" to your puppy at night, you probably have a cold heart.

Sandpaper Dolls
Live at 21C

These 3 women sing from a place so deep down that you can practically see their intestines. An a capella Nina Simone would be the closest legit comparison, though "The Andrews Sisters on angel dust" has probably been tossed around. This live recording documents just how surely they can quiet down a room of otherwise excited devotees.

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