Lambchop Is a Woman
My Morning Jacket At Dawn
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci How I Long to Feel the Summer in My Heart
You could consider these three CDs the collective alter ego of today's anger-mismanagement-small-cock rock. They offer a yin to the rock radio yang of Disturbed and Godsmack by placing sincerity over bombast, melody over machismo and invention over formula.
That's not to say these bands should be lumped in one category. Though they share an atmospheric, subdued vibe, the similarities pretty much end there.
Lambchop, a Nashville band described by some as alt-country, has emerged from its PR-friendly pigeonhole. Its sixth release, Is a Woman, has gentle ballads that gently tap at your consciousness like raindrops on a windowpane. Lead singer/songwriter Kurt Wagner's soft, almost spoken, vocal floats over subtle but powerful piano, guitar and synthesizer. He sings about the everyday things that convey bigger truths, such as the vicissitudes of love. This CD may come across to some as boring or monotonous, but it has a quiet strength that belies superficial first impressions.
Louisville act My Morning Jacket also came on the scene with an alt-country bent, but its haunting mood and intensity recall the more lofty allure of Flaming Lips and Galaxie 500. At Dawn, an apt title for a dark/light record that runs the gamut from depression to exhilaration, explores love's bliss and psychic trauma, with soaring vocals by lead singer Jim James, who sounds a bit like Neil Young. Like Lambchop, MMJ combines layers of vocals, keyboards and guitar in a way that's sophisticated but not overdone. The CD's overall feel, though not minimalistic, is still sparse, leaving a hollow feeling in your belly.
The whimsical Welsh band with a weird-ass name — Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (the last word pronounced Monkey) — delivers buoyant melodies with a childlike directness that never seems overly precious or cloying. The warm textures of acoustic guitar, harmonium, violin, banjo, trombone and a host of other odd instruments enhance without clutter, like wildflowers dappling a grassy field. The neo-psychedelic feel might remind you of late-'60s acts such as Donovan, but Gorky's Zygotic Mynci succeeds with a pure take on melody and art rock that transcends retro classifications. My Morning Jacket appears with Pagan Saints and Swearing at Motorists on March 20 at New World Brewery in Ybor City.
My Morning Jacket (Darla)
Gorky's Zygotic Mynci (Mantra)
Animal Farm is a collection of well-penned power-pop songs from two Fins and one Georgian (the U.S. state, not the region in Eastern Europe) living in London, released on American metalcore label Victory Records. All of which means nothing, really, save the surety that most of Victory's loyal followers will hand it off to their most mainstream friend after enduring, say, about a third of its tracks. Fortunately for the mainstream friends, Animal Farm is excellent, blending superior American pop-punk's meaty edge with a uniquely British combination of flamboyance and genre-ignorance. Snowdogs is obviously a band intent on entertaining —shades of Cheap Trick, Kiss, Slade, Placebo and Green Day color every track here. Sure, those groups have influenced just about everything that's come along since, but some songwriting quirks and loads of personality elevate the trio far above your average three-chord hack act. Plus, rock-solid tunes like Right At You, User Friendly and Are You With Missy? are so good that they'd probably still sound great coming from a shitty band, anyway. (Victory Records) Release date: March 12
We Are The Boggs We Are
The unexpectedly Brooklyn-based quartet known as The Boggs blends a bevy of old-music styles, including Leadbelly-style blues, folk, Americana and bluegrass. Up until recently, the young guys busked on the streets until they began booking indoor shows at NYC bars, including the popular Mercury Lounge. Perhaps The Boggs' humble beginnings informed their sound, intentionally recorded to come off as lo-fi and delivered by way of acoustic slide guitar, mandolin, banjo, harmonica and accordion. The lyrics seem to be born of the late, great Woody Guthrie himself, paying homage to whiskey drinkin' and broken hearts. Though there are some stirring slow tunes, a slew of upbeat numbers gets this album rockin' in a keep your hand on that plow kind of way. Whether you're a folkie or not, We Are Boggs We Are is highly recommended. It makes a body wish for simpler times. (Arena Rock)