New Recordings: Neneh Cherry; Real Estate; Lake Street Dive
Ratings: **** Excellent, ** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
(Smalltown Supersound ***)
- Dan DeLuca
Real Estate's third album, Atlas, differs little from its two predecessors: It rolls along to gentle waves of strummed acoustic guitars and a latticework of trebly, picked electric ones, and the vocals are wistful, understated, and comforting. Although the sound will be familiar, both to fans of Real Estate and of the Ridgewood, N.J., band's forefathers such as the Feelies, Galaxie 500, or the easygoing side of Yo La Tengo, Atlas still impresses. It's unassuming but confident, dreamy but precise, leisurely but densely textured.
The opening trifecta of the shimmering love song "Had to Hear," the nostalgic "Past Lives" (with soulful keyboards from new member Matt Kallman), and the jangly, perky "Talking Backwards" demonstrates a tight sense of songcraft for a band that still luxuriates in a drifting interplay of guitars. Real Estate may not break new ground on Atlas, but it builds something deeply satisfying. The band will be at Union Transfer on April 3.
- Steve Klinge
Lake Street Dive
Bad Self Portraits
(Signature Sounds ***)
Lake Street Dive is an indie soul/jazz outfit, formed at the New England Conservatory of Music. The band won fans with TV appearances with Letterman and Colbert. During a Manhattan concert for the Coen brothers' film Inside Llewyn Davis, Lake Street stopped the show with a subtly swinging but folksy take on "You Go Down Smooth," with vocalist Rachael Price leading.
There is rich revivalism in what Price, Mike Olson (trumpet, guitar), Bridget Kearney (upright bass), and Mike Calabrese (drums) do, a gutsy post-Beat-Gen sound with hints of Etta James for sass and class. Bad Self Portraits has the brightness of a Mark Ronson/Amy Winehouse pairing, a light into the darkness, as in tracks such as "Bobby Tanqueray," in which Price's purr is at its cattiest. This is not, however, a one-woman show. Each band member writes songs, the instrumentation is magnificently unified, and songs such as "Seventeen" and "Stop Your Crying" are hand-clapping, harmony-filled call-and-response gems.
- A.D. Amorosi
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SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 3/8/14 © 2014
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