Artist: The Starfolk/Typsy Panthre
CD: Lemon-Lime EP
Label: mpls ltd
Just like the title, this EP is a little lemon-lime gem, a box of tangy, crunchy Nerds. With one bite, you get the citrus-fresh Starfolk. With the other, you get the sour zing of Typsy Panthre. Both bands — fronted by the Owls' Allison LaBonne — are composed of veteran Minneapolis musicians. While the Starfolk has a shinier rock edge, Typsy Panthre dabbles in string-accented trip-hop, like a sunny Portishead. The EP serves a double debut, full of LaBonne's breathy vocals and Jacqueline Ultan's trembly cello. My only complaint is that it's four songs long. The Starfolk is more to my liking — the two tracks swoop and swirl with melody and a touch of foreboding — but fans of Confessions on a Dance Floor-era Madonna will enjoy Typsy Panthre's dance-oriented fare.
With the first notes of this album's opener, "Across My Mind," I was immediately reminded of Elliott Smith or A.C. Newman — artists that prove you don't have to be loud to rock. But Austin-based Wiretree's mastermind, Kevin Peroni, stands just fine on his own, without the comparisons. A versatile multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Peroni sings and plays most of the album, including drums, bass, guitar, and Wurlitzer. His smooth, friendly vocals are perfectly suited to catchy tunes like "Days Gone By," the driving "Rail," the minor-key assertiveness of "Information," and the Beatles-tinged "Satellite Song." Wiretree's second full-length album (after 2007's Bouldin), Luck displays a knack for melody and Jeff Lynne-style production.
CD: See You Tonight
Frankly, I was stunned when I popped this CD in my computer. Why? Jackson, Mississippi's DaVincis are kids! The trio — singer/keyboardist Andrew Burke, drummer Gavin Fields and bassist Peyton Randoph — are no older than 17. And it shows — "Friend Request" just might be the first song I've heard about Facebook: "Please accept my Facebook request/ It's really quite simple, click 'accept'/ Cause if you don't my status will be depressed/ And we don't want that." Along with a classy innocence and French pop flair, the DaVincis' songs communicate a wistful joy, whether Burke is lamenting a past he's never experienced ("50's Film") or crooning about a dream girl ("Standing in Line") in his Andy Partridge baritone. With eight songs, See You Tonight moves fast. A fun surprise!
Artist: The Black Hollies
CD: Softly Towards the Light
Label: Ernest Jenning
Some would call the Black Hollies' third offering a blatant rip-off of Pretty Things and Small Faces. And I say they'd be right-it's awesome. While the Beatles, Kinks, and the Who get their due constantly, these are two often-overlooked treasures of the British Invasion. Songs like "Lead Me to Your Fire" and the slower, steadier "Everything's Fine" showcase the band's propensity for echoey Wall of Sound production. From Jon Gonnelli's command of psychedlic organ to Justin Angelo Morey's watery vocals, you'd swear you were listening to an album straight from the vaults of 1966.
Listen to Cristy Scoggins' rock scholarship on Rock Geek FM, Saturday mornings at 8 a.m. on WEFT 90.1 FM (weft.org).