CD reviews: Lady Antebellum, Spoon, Beach HouseBy Ricardo Baca | January 26th, 2010 | 2 comments
Lady Antebellum, “Need You Now” (Capitol Nashville)
Leave it to Nashville to make the booty call a sensitive lament. In the well-meant lead single/title track on Lady Antebellum’s sophomore record, the crossover band coos: “It’s a quarter after 1, I’m a little drunk and I need you now.” It’s a unique and modern profession of love, but Lady Antebellum is a modern, if not all that unique, country band.
Taking a cue from megastar Taylor Swift, this soft rock-crossover act makes music that would sound at home on any number of radio stations. From the aforementioned song to this album’s second hit single, “American Honey,” these are radio-ready songs that will intoxicate country, pop and soft rock audiences alike.
That kind of appeal makes Antebellum a desirable act, and it helps, too, that the group relies equally on two distinctly varied and competent vocalists, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley. The singers can hold their own, and they’re even better harmonizing with each other — just listen to “Something ‘Bout a Woman.” – Ricardo Baca
Spoon, “Transference” (Merge)
If Spoon ever escapes the commercial ghetto of mid-level indie rock, it likely won’t be on the back of its latest album. The taut, Pixies-indebted act has become something of a critics’ mistress over the past decade, but on “Transference,” Britt Daniel and crew inch away from the studio sheen that defined their past couple of outings for a looser, more lo-fi approach.
The DIY production makes the album both charming and seemingly revelatory to those ignorant to the concept of home recording. Intentionally messy without being off- putting, songs such as “Trouble Comes Running” and “Goodnight Laura” are as rollicking and melancholy (respectively) as anything the band has released.
“Written in Reverse,” on the other hand, wouldn’t sound out of place in Hollywood’s next goofy- profane buddy comedy, and “Who Makes Your Money” bleeds the kind of effortless cool that’s become synonymous with Spoon. Expect this album to head up a slew of best-of lists this year. – John Wenzel
Beach House, “Teen Dream” (Sub Pop)
What if Marianne Faithfull sang in Mazzy Star? What if Blonde Redhead were a tinnier, less interesting band? And what if scratchy-throated laments were the new buzz-worthy pop singles?
These questions run through the mind as Beach House’s latest album — and first for Sub Pop — plays. The 10-song gut-punch of downcast melodies and compressed, plodding beats is more fun than it sounds but less substantive than most trendspotters have been giving it credit for.
“Lover of Mine,” the album’s best track, sounds like U.K. dream-pop act Bat for Lashes chopped and screwed into the sound system of a retirement home, and while that’s not necessarily a terrible thing, it’s also short on anything resembling thrills. Disorienting but pleasant, “Teen Dream” feels more like a geriatric haze than an adolescent lark. – John Wenzel
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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post. He is also the executive director of the Underground Music Showcase, Colorado’s premier indie music festival. Follow his whimsies at Twitter, his live music habit at Gigbot and his iTunes addictions at Last.fm.
John Wenzel is the co-editor of Reverb, editor of the Get Real Denver blog and an A&E reporter for The Denver Post. His book “Mock Stars: Indie Comedy and the Dangerously Funny” was recently published by Speck Press. He also maintains a Twitter feed of random song titles.