A nocturnal vibe is palpable throughout Merci Raines’ debut EP. Covering a dark substance with a shimmering veneer, the beguiling five-song record has a full-moon-at-midnight quality. It helps that its dark pop is naturally informed by the mystique of Raines’s hometown of New Orleans.
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Fort Wayne, Indiana’s Left Lane Cruiser has built a solid reputation as an undeniable force of rhythm and raw energy over the last decade. You can hear the band in action on “Claw Machine Wizard”, the title track from the duo’s upcoming LP, due May 19 from Alive Records. A blast of pure, furnace-hot energy, the tune bridges the distance between hill country blues and Black Sabbath. Drummer Pete Dio’s playing recalls the powerful, responsive (and jazz-inflected) work of Sabbath’s Bill Ward. Meanwhile, guitarist/vocalist Freddy J Evans IV reminds us that both blues and heavy rock took long crawls from the back streets to the main street, tracking layers of soulful grit in along the way.
Today we reviewed New York ensemble Red Baraat‘s new album Bhangra Pirates and said “Bhangra Pirates is the most successful attempt to package that energy yet for Red Baraat, ecstatic and frenzied, turning each individual listening at home into a full audience.” In our book, that makes the record a PopMatters Pick as Red Baraat has finally managed to capture their astounding energy and virtuosity as performance artists on record.
Peter Mulvey is a true musical craftsman, developing and refining his approach through genre experimentation and 25 years of hard work writing and playing all over the world. Even after 17 albums, Mulvey’s creative juices continue to flow strong. Noted singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco who has produced Mulvey’s new album says, “Mulvey has been honing his craft for many a decade, and it shows. He can play some badass guitar, sing to touch your heart, and write a song that will knock you down, and by knock you down, I mean lift you up.”
Canada’s Del Bel are known for their downtempo pop-noir that owes more than a small debt to trip-hop. The group’s new album III will release April 7th via Missed Connection Records and Del Bel has a fresh new single in “Only Breathing” to whet your appetite for the full-length. This is subtle, layered, complex music that rewards multiple listens given that it’s nearly orchestral in its scope. Frontwoman Lisa Conway was combating some writer’s block in finishing up the record, and like many artists, she began to question herself and her work. That’s what “Only Breathing” is about, but you wouldn’t ever surmise from the music that Conway struggled with the song as it’s a moody and masterful display of her mesmerizing voice and all of the glorious musical parts that fill in the tune.