Album reviews: Velveteen Rabbit, Shana Falana, Wished Bone, Yukihiro Takahashi, and Grace Potter

Grace Potter has a new album, "Daylight." Publicity photo Grace Potter has a new album, “Daylight.” Publicity photo

Velveteen Rabbit

Velveteen Rabbit (Hozac)

Rising from the ashes of NYC power poppers The Jeanies, Velveteen Rabbit do up the ’70s glory days of glitter rock in a stripped-down way. They don’t try to match the theatrical majesty of Bowie and Roxy Music—especially vocally—but still they deliver plenty of exhilarating boogie via deliciously sleazy guitar solos and songcraft that holds up even on the mellowest tracks such as the Chris Bell-like “Guitar.” Velveteen Rabbit’s DIY glam is well worth a spin. [7.5]

 

Shana Falana

Darkest Light (Arrowhawk)

Shana Falana is a veteran of the ’90s San Francisco rock underground and the early-’00s Brooklyn nü-garage moment, and Darkest Light, with its churning guitars and dreamy melodies, sounds like it could have dropped at any point in the last 25 years. The album bursts out of the box with the buoyant shoegaze opener “Go Higher” and the Galaxie 500-meets-Sonic Youth rocker “Everyone Is Gonna Be Okay,” but then goth and stoner rock come to the fore, and it’s almost like watching Falana switch cafeteria tables midyear, ditching the smart arty kids for the brooding, ineffectual rebels. [6.5]

 

Wished Bone

Sap Season (Wished Bone)

Currently based in Los Angeles, Ohio’s Ashley Rhodus records as Wished Bone, and second album Sap Season is a deceptively simple collection of low-fi songs that flit from the country-ish “Saucer Eyes” to the Mazzy Star-lite “Cops” to the Velvets-y “Pink Room.” Rhodus’ twee voice is apt as she ascribes stoned significance to life’s banalities (“Who put the butter in the fridge? / You know I don’t like it cold”). The musical dressing often saves the day—when slide guitars and horns show up, they’re like those friends in the room who smile, listening, and then drop perfect remarks. Which, unfortunately, makes Rhodus the one whose faux-naif observations threaten to tip from charming to nattering. [7.0]

 

Yukihiro Takahashi

Saravah! (Wewantsounds)

When Roxy Music played Wembley Arena in 1975, the unlikely opener was Osaka’s Sadistic Mika Band, whose drummer Yukihiro Takahashi would co-found legendary electronic progenitors Yellow Magic Orchestra in 1978. Recorded just before YMO’s debut and featuring YMO bandmates Haruomi Hosono and Ryuichi Sakamoto, Takahashi’s Saravah! is a fascinating document— disco, bossa nova, and lounge rock filtered through Japanese whimsy (Exhibit A: the leadoff cover of “Volare”). Takahashi’s vocals are a bit sober to be sexy, but they’re easygoing, and the musicianship on Saravah! transcends irony and camp (Exhibit B: the nasty Skunk Baxterish guitar solos on “La Rosa” and “Elastic Dummy”). [7.8]

 

Grace Potter

Daylight (Fantasy)

With her 2004 debut, Grace Potter was heralded as Vermont’s answer to everyone from Norah Jones to Bonnie Raitt to Janis Joplin, which implies more versatility than she delivers on Daylight, her third album. Possessor of an undeniably potent voice, Potter can’t resist opening the throttle on the back end of each song, and the vocal peaks start to feel predictable and superficial—it’s singing as pressure-washing. Potter’s lyrics are more nuanced, as she nicely unpacks her messy nest of feelings in the wake of her recent divorce and subsequent betrothal and motherhood. And there are rare respites, like the Patsy Cline-ish “Repossession” and Potter’s gorgeous B-3 coda on “Please.” But a little more daylight would have been nice. [6.0]

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