wears the trousers magazine


sounding off: july 2009 (v)

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Reverie Sound Revue
Reverie Sound Revue •••½
Boompa

The career path of Reverie Sound Revue doesn’t speak of a band intent on world domination. They released a self-titled EP in 2003 and then promptly split up. But six years later, here they are again, releasing an album which is, confusingly, also self-titled. Their latest Wikipedia entry states, somewhat tersely, that the band “have no plans to play live”. Oh well. The music of Reverie Sound Revue is in keeping with their skittish image. Lisa Lobsinger (who, like most Canadians, is an occasional member of Broken Social Scene) coos serenely over undulating, vaguely Krautrock-y basslines, twinkly, unobtrusive guitar arpeggios and the occasional vibraphone. Imagine School Of Seven Bells with the noisier shoegaze influences shorn off.

Theirs is a crisp, clean, elegant sound. Indeed, older listeners may regard Reverie Sound Revue as more indie-centric successors to the ‘sophisti-pop’ of the ‘80s, as propagated by the deeply unfashionable likes of Curiosity Killed The Cat, Sade and Swing Out Sister. Taken as a whole, Reverie Sound Revue’s eleven tracks take on a pebble-smooth homogeneity, making it hard to pick out individual hooks. But listen closely and they’re there: in, for example, the lapel-tugging chorus of ‘An Anniversary Away’ and the gorgeous swell of ‘Off Rooftops’. Lovely. Is a tour really too much to ask for?

Christopher Monk
UK release date: 22/06/09; www.myspace.com/reveriesoundrevue

 

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Susan Tedeschi
Back To The River ••••
Verve Forecast

Susan Tedeschi may be one of the most unjustifiably overlooked artists of our generation, in the UK at least. It’s not surprising really, since her music falls somewhere between country, blues, gospel and rock, all but the latter not being genres that historically perform well this side of the pond. Released in the US last November, Back To The River is Tedeschi’s first album since 2005’s spiritual covers album Hope & Desire and is thankfully grittier, and certainly has a lot more guitars.

Tedeschi has become a much more accomplished guitarist, exemplified best on the title track. Funk-tinged guitars introduce the song in the manner you might expect from Jimi Hendrix or Lenny Kravitz; however, neither of those artists possesses Tedeschi’s vocal talent. Harrowingly soulful and emotion filled, she can pack a Joplin-esque wail (most closely mirrored by the roaring electric guitars of ‘Talking About’). And while Tedeschi certainly sounds very comfortable with the volume turned up, ‘700 Houses’ works as a much more subdued affair. A sombre, melodic, guitar-driven track, it’s an ode to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and is quietly optimistic such that, while it is certainly inspiring, it doesn’t overpower with a sense to do some giant good.

With Tedeschi’s technical chops and gutsy performances, Back To The River is the kind of album that’s perfectly balanced to appeal to those who are fans of guitarists and those who admire singers, without compromise on either side.

Simon Christopher
UK release date: 20/07/09; www.myspace.com/susantedeschi

 

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Laura Tsaggaris
Keep Talking •••
Overtime

Pronounced ‘suh’ like ‘huh’, ‘gair’ like ‘hair’ and ‘iss’ like ‘hiss’, Laura Tsaggaris’s story is a charming and funny one, with an early love of guitar playing and songwriting pushed to the side for teen tennis scholarships and later a career in finance and law. Unable to repress her artistic aspirations behind all those pinstripes and calculators, she recorded and released her debut album Proof in 2005, a pivotal act which gave her the necessary confidence to pursue music full time.

Tsaggaris lists a number of influences from The Sundays and Suzanne Vega to Tracy Chapman and Lucinda Williams, and there’s a certain Americana lilt to her hearty vocals that give her an imported yet individual style. Keep Talking is the sound of someone who’s reached that sought after assurance and is running with it at full speed, laughing all the way and not looking back. A pop-friendly indie-rock feel predominates across the record, with Tsaggaris’s accomplished, dexterous guitar work ranging incorporating a range of styles on acoustic and electric guitars, flowing from solid, well-placed riffs to some mean, head-nodding solos. All in all, it’s a pleasant record that’s vibrant with energy and eager to get you going.

Charlotte Richardson Andrews
UK release date: 05/05/09; www.myspace.com/lauratsaggaris

 

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Simone White
Yakiimo ••••
Honest Jons

This supremely confident second album finds nomadic, waif-like singer-songwriter Simone White drawing inspiration from novelist Carson McCullers, especially her exploration of the pains and longing of adolescence. Whether interpreting songs by Frank Bango and Richy Vesecky, who also contributed to 2007’s I Am The Man, or singing her own compositions, we’re led by White’s sharp but strong vocal with unobtrusive backing from acoustic guitar, drums, bass and the occasional droning fiddle. To retain the focus on the clever lyrics and storytelling, producer Mark Nevers (Lambchop, Holly Throsby) wisely keeps things sparse.

Nearly every song has a Southern tale at its heart, whether it’s the jaunty, McCullers-influenced ‘Baby Lie Down With Me’ or the bluesy ‘Train Song’ and ‘St Louis Blues’, which boasts a chorus reminiscent of the famous ‘Summertime’ melody. Tracks like ‘Candy Bar Killer’ and ‘Victoria Anne’ dip into a darker mythology, while ‘Without A Sound’ starts off with cute recollections like “I came home from Spain with little jars of tea in my bag” before unravelling into a painful breakup song. The standout, though, is the title track. Based on a Japanese song sung by men who wander the mountains with their carts selling yakiimo, or stone-roasted sweet potato, White pulls out a haunting minor refrain that encapsulates the longing we all carry within. It’s a rich and evocative world that Yakiimo pulls you into, but no matter how melancholy or dark it becomes, you won’t want to leave.

James M Johnston
UK release date: 12/06/09; www.myspace.com/simonewhite

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[…] * * * 99 Rupa & The April Fishes – Este Mundo [our review: 5/5] 98 Tickley Feather – Hors d’Oeuvres [4/5] 97 Girls In Trouble – Girls In Trouble [4.5/5] 96 O+S – O+S [4/5] 95 Starless & Bible Black – Shape Of The Shape [4/5] 94 Dot Allison – Room 7½ [4/5] 93 Diane Birch – Bible Belt [3.5/5] 92 Rykarda Parasol – For Blood & Wine [4/5] 91 Simone White – Yakiimo [4/5] […]

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