Full Circle Nightmare (Sub Pop)
Portland’s Kyle Craft is about to rock, and you may salute him. Craft writes perfect nü-classic rock songs with pounding piano, pealing slide guitar, and sucking-in-the-’70s horn charts—all present on “Exile Rag,” naturally. And a ubiquitous musical element that also happens to describe Craft’s constant state of hot bother is: swelling organs. (From the Portland love shanty “Bridge City Rose”: “Now I don’t wanna cause you grief / I don’t wanna take the lead / Little girl all I wanna see is you getting off.” Oh, Kyle.) There’s something unripe about Craft’s voice, like he’s a 12-year-old in pajamas belting it out for his hot babysitter. But nearly every song on Full Circle Nightmare would sound better on rock radio than any song currently on rock radio, and Craft will likely give Dr. Dog a run for the money when they plays the Jefferson on April 20.
“The first time I tasted somebody else’s spit / I had a coughing fit.” This 22-year-old Richmonder attracted a bidding war with her debut album No Burdens, and though she signed with an indie stalwart, the scrutiny surrounding her follow-up is distinctly major. But the opening line of Historian seems designed to announce that Lucy Dacus won’t be hiding behind platitudes, whether they be warm and fuzzy or cold and prickly. In a languid, velvety voice that bobs like a balloon in thick air, Dacus tells of friendships frayed and loves mislaid with disarming frankness and old-soul wisdom. The band brings a cinematic sweep that can get stormy, and would overwhelm a weaker singer, but no worries with Dacus, who brings her wry and tender strength to the Southern on March 7.
This Is Glue (Trouble In Mind)
Rock-solid grooves, fuzzy guitars, adorable accents, utterly simple melodies—Salad Boys are straight outta Christchurch, melting down practically everything that’s been great about New Zealand indie rock for the last 30 years. They make songwriting seem insanely easy, and then, too easy, as the songs stretch themselves a bit thin over the scaffolds of a few (undeniably appealing) chords. The Ramones would have taken “In Heaven” at twice the speed and it would have been a great Ramones song; here, it’s fine. There are also better-than-fine moments, like “Under the Bed,” which begins like a girl group deep cut and turns into animated Yo La Tengo. R.E.M. is also in the air, as on “Right Time,” and the acoustic, Fables-y “Dogged Out.” While Salad Boys haven’t added anything to various formulae, This Is Glue binds and bonds some excellent influences.
Make Way For Love (Dead Oceans)
The first moments of “Come to Me” set the tone for all that follows on Make Way For Love—songs plenty good, production all in place and holy smokes, that voice! Smoky indeed, like Chris Isaak, Stuart Staples of Tindersticks and unmistakably, especially on “What’s Chasing You,” Roy Orbison. New Zealand’s Marlon Williams has ditched the country affectations from his early recordings (credible and creditable as they were) and has gone full torch-song, with spellbinding results. Barely through his Saturn year, Williams has a seasoned vet’s command of airspace, and if his last tour of the States is any indication, he and his band could burn down D.C.’s Rock & Roll Hotel on March 23.