We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.
Gemma Ray (London, UK)
It's a Shame About Gemma Ray (Bronzerat)
Gemma Ray's Mazzy Star-like sheen is an ideal vehicle to tackle a batch of covers, particularly from artists that aren't of a similar sonic-style as her. Her psych-folk interpretations of the selected tunes blend country, goth and fuzzy indie into a pleasing blend that comes out rock, even if it's not ear-busting. Choosing songs from artists such as Sonic Youth and Lee Hazelwood, Ray opted for less obvious choices in favor of tunes that have identities which are more easily altered. More impressive is that she recorded these covers strictly from memory--or so the press materials indicate. Still, while the vibe of the record is cohesively moody and even sultry, it becomes monotonous to the point of it becoming easily predictable.
I made it: through track No. 8, "Everyday."
Sevendust (Atlanta, GA)
Cold Day Memory (Asylum)
Depending on who you ask, these metal vets are nu, progressive or even alternative, as it pertains to the specific style of metal they play. One thing each of the labelers agrees on, though, is that Sevendust is indeed "metal." The band's latest album isn't likely to solve any such subgenre arguments, though--which is a good thing, in this case. Not satisfied with letting the propulsive double-bass handle all of the neck-breaking, there exists here plenty of prog-rock ingredients mixed in with a healthy dose of black concert shirt-appropriate melody. Such a recipe results in a polished sound that doesn't lose a bit of heft or chest hair--just as any metal album worth its weight in Sabbath vinyl should ultimately have.
I made it: 3:58 into Track No. 10, "The End is Coming."
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Mollie O'Brien & Rich Moore (Denver, CO)
Saints & Sinners (Remington Road)
Mollie O'Brien almost succeeds in turning this retro act into something that feels vibrant and relevant. Her sassy vocal performance has strength and a bar-room ballsiness to it that lifts the dusty, thrift store songs into classic, vintage territory. Or so is the case at the beginning of the record, at least. The retro act grows hazier as the record progresses and, instead of Baker Boys-era Michelle Pfieffer, the songs sound more like Airport Holiday Inn Lobby Bar karaoke.
I made it: through track No. 4, "The Ghost of You Walks."