CD Shorts

The Jime
Rockabilly Beat
(Rockabilly Music)

Rockabilly may seem like just another half-dead genre, a relic of the age of pompadours and Bel Airs. In the right hands, of course, old genres stay vibrant and manage to sound contemporary and old-fashioned at the same time. The Jime's Vince Gordon manages that trick on Rockabilly Beat by mixing the usual rockabilly tropes and a modern rhythmic adventurousness. The high points of the disc are Gordon's solos, sure-handed, melodically interesting, and sometimes stunning in their virtuosic contours. Gordon is a stylist who knows rockabilly tradition inside and out, but has clearly lent an ear to non-rock innovators like Django Reinhardt as well. His thundering guitar tone alone is worth a listen.  —James Heflin

Katherine First
Sweet Spot
(Foole First Music)

Maybe you've seen Katherine First kicking rock-and-roll butt with Dicey Riley. Or perhaps you've sampled her music bubbling in an Irish stew at one of the Valley's Celtic sessions. But I doubt you've been prepared for the maturity of her first solo fiddle album. This is almost an anti-Dicey Riley project, as subtle and lyrical as Dicey can be blunt and raucous. Her time studying with Liz Carroll pays dividends in a gorgeous cover of Carroll's "The Island of Woods." She is equally sensitive and controlled in her interpretations of tunes from luminaries such as Phil Cunningham, Dave Richardson, Maurice Lennon, and Peter Ostroushko. Toss in First's own superb compositions, and all signs point to a smoldering talent about to spark.  —Rob Weir

Ray LaMontagne
Gossip In The Grain
(RCA)

Is Ray LaMontagne obsessed with Meg White? How else to explain a song about the female half of the White Stripes? Is Ray still being Ray, or is he on a time warp with a 1920s big band? Or a cool jazz ensemble? Or is he stuck in Muddy Waters? Has he found happiness? Is "You are the Best Thing" a Blood, Sweat and Tears song in disguise? Why is this scruffy, soft-spoken guy such an enigma? But the real question still: is Ray LaMontagne fixated on Meg White?   —Melissa Byron

Hercules and Love Affair
Hercules and Love Affair
(Mute)

Hercules and Love Affair resurrects the spirit of adventurous disco music by mixing vintage textures and hooks with a live horn section and cutting-edge beats. Both Nomi and Kim Ann Foxman add more spark and personality than your typical disco diva, but the real revelation is Antony, the androgynous singer best known for melancholic cabaret-folk songs. Placing Antony's quavering vocals over hyped-up disco grooves completely recontexualizes his dour persona. Tracks like "Blind" and "Time Will" both ignite the dance floor and burrow their way into your heart, offering infectious beats and an undertow of unshakable longing.   —Jeff Jackson

Author: Valley Advocate Staff

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