Compact Capsules for May 20, 2010
by Dan Ferguson
The annual South-by-Southwest confab in March is all about discovery and with a few months to let it soak in, releases from several folks who knocked the socks off are spotlighted this week.
Austin is home to the Strange Boys. Seeing them live, you'd think they're barely out of high school. While beyond those years, that slacker youthfulness adds a playful tone to their scruffy sound. Be Brave (In the Red Records) is the band's newest album. It carries forth the rawness of 2009 eye-opener The Strange Boys & Girls Club. At the same time it draws more from blues and even Dylan-esque folk canon. Think a rootsy Black Lips for comparison's sake with the result a Nuggets-like infectiousness in all its lo-fi quirkiness.
From Kentucky comes the duo of Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore. Their Sub Pop Records debut titled Dear Companion is a marked departure from your typical Sub Pop fare. Playing cello and acoustic guitar, respectively, its music rooted in traditional sounds from Appalachia to bluegrass with an outside-the-tradition undertone. The songs are spare and simple and the lyrics smart and thought provoking. For all its economies of scale on the sound side, Dear Companion strikes with quiet power.
Only in her mid-20s, she goes by the name Lissie and her all-of 6 song debut EP for Fat Possum Records called Why You Runnin' is a stunner. Impressive as it is, the live performance witnessed in Austin scaled heights the EP does not even begin to climb. Diminutive in size, Lissie can belt it with pungency and soul. It gives a better perspective of the EP which only hints at the vocal beauty of this young talent. Simply put, go buy the EP and remember the name. Lissie.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)