One/Rock Ridge Music
One, the debut full-length album from Sarah Miles, is an engaging debut. It has a lot of great melodies, the production value is top-notch, and Miles fills the record with gorgeous vocals and considerable insight into the human condition. The folk-pop opener “Middle of Nowhere” states, “If I could run a hundred miles/I’d still be/So far from anywhere worthwhile,” while the rock track “Bad Intentions” centers around an unhealthy relationship. The lovey-dovey country number “Just So You Know,” and the empowering “Take the Lead,” demonstrate Miles’ ability to zero in on those priceless moments of joy we all long for. Whether she is singing breathily on the swelling “Meet Me There,” or in a high register on the acoustic ballad “Gray,” her excellent voice grabs your attention throughout.
Cherry Poppin’ Daddies
White Teeth, Black Thoughts/Space Aged Bachelor Pad Records
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t kept up with the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies since the 1997 breakout album, Zoot Suit Riot. Lots of people didn’t stay on the bandwagon for long when they realized the Daddies are more of a punk rock band with horns than a straight-up swing band. In fact, White Teeth, Black Thoughts is the first full-on swing album since Zoot Suit Riot, and it’s a dandy. “The Babooch” sets the tone for the album with a swinging rhythm juxtaposed nicely against lyrics about access to the world of the one percent. “Whiskey Jack” is a lively, jaded update on the Jack & Jill children’s rhyme, and the title track has a romantic, straight-ahead jazz sound set against lyrics about the deception and games people engage in. “Doug the Jitterbug” is a rip-roaring good time and “I Love American Music” plays like a semi-sequel to “Zoot Suit Riot,” and there is fun to be had here.
The Joy Formidable
Silent Treatment EP/Atlantic Records
UK rock trio The Joy Formidable had remarkable success with the early 2013 release of Wolf’s Law, boasting appearances on a number of late night and music shows and multiple tours across North America. The band has followed up quickly with a relationship-centered EP, Silent Treatment, and fans will dig it despite the more subdued content. The title track is the lone acoustic track from Wolf’s Law and is a breathtakingly simple look at a broken relationship. The William Orbit remix of this track adds some ethereal qualities to Ritzy Bryan’s already charming vocals, and the electronic layers give it a chill vibe. The swelling piano ballad “All This Promise” laments, “All this promise/Going to waste,” and the live version of “Tendons” is as operatic and gritty as the album version. Overall, Silent Treatment is a solid addition for die-hards.