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Whitejacket

Hollows and Rounds

(self-released; US: 3 Apr 2012; UK: 3 Apr 2012)

Harrison-esque pop hits the spot.

Ask Whitejacket frontman Chris McDuffie who his favorite Beatle is, and its a good bet he’ll say it’s George Harrison. McDuffie’s lilting, high-pitched voice matches The Spiritual Beatle’s almost too well, and added to his penchant for baroque pop composition, stops just shy of being a total swipe. (The sitar-y guitar on “River’s Song” adds to the effect.) What saves McDuffie—and his band, who offer sounds as diverse as organ, drums, trumpet, French horn and euphonium—are his melodies, which flow effortlessly above the carefully orchestrated arrangements. Is this enough to convince a skeptical listener? Maybe not consistently, but “Those Are Pearls” and “The Modern” offer tasty pop nuggets, and there are plenty more where they came from. With 13 tracks, none of which tops four minutes, you never have to listen very long for something else to happen. At their worst, Whitejacket can sound more like Supertramp than anything else, but there are enough moments of surprise and diversion here to make Hollows and Rounds noise of the generally joyful variety.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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