Sean McVerry makes sultry blue-eyed soul, a more emphatic and instrumental take on Sam Smith’s chart-topping material. Hourglass Switchboard 2 is about halfway between Smith and The 1975’s energetic pop-rock, part downtempo electronic pop and part crisp guitars. It’s a surprisingly underexplored combination, given the popularity and quality of the two styles, but given McVerry’s adept take it’s nearly inevitable more musicians will follow in the future. If you’re looking for suave, serene pop-rock to carry you through the rest of your Monday, Hourglass Switchboard 2 is your best bet.
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Chris Ingalls: The title track from DJ Shadow’s first album in five years is the sound of an old pro showing the kids how it’s done. He does an admirable job of sounding current in a genre that is constantly evolving. The bed of synths that lies under the entire track provides a soothing atmosphere and blends nicely with the loud, jittery beats that swoop in. Spacey keyboard noodling gives the track a lovely, warm sci-fi vibe. Not the best thing DJ Shadow’s ever done, but a comforting reminder that he’s still with us. [8/10]
Pryor Stroud: Fearless, corrosive, and smoking with Jeff Beck’s singularly expressive flamethrower-riffs, “Live In The Dark” is taken from the guitar icon’s LP Loud Hailer, his first in six years. The track conscripts vocalist Rosie Bones for its lyric, but, throughout, she seems to be grappling head-to-head with the wild electricity of Beck’s guitar. The tension this creates is a spectacle to behold: here, there is not one singer but two, a singer of flesh and blood and a singer of crackling feedback-figures. It may not be sonically inventive or lyrically deft, but its unadulterated, pyrokinetic take on rock is refreshing in a time when genre-bending has become something of a prerequisite for new artists. [7/10]
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