CD Shorts

Reviewed this week: Grass Widow; Nimrod Wildfire; and Judas Priest

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Grass Widow
Internal Logic

Featuring layered harmonies and a propulsive beat, the third full-length from this trio of San Franciscan women is a gorgeous slice of indie pop. Opener "Goldilocks Zone" sets the mood. After something resembling an outer space transmission, surf guitar emerges and the three voices glide smoothly over the proceedings. Elsewhere, "A Light in the Static" offers an instrumental interlude that includes a nylon-string guitar solo. And the closing piano piece "Response to Photographers" ends the album with a minute and 40 seconds of obliquely played notes. Though these wordless songs deviate from the rest of the record, the majority of numbers fly by in a rush of airy vocals. Sadly, the pleasant delivery often makes individual words indistinguishable. Still, when everything comes together as it does on "Milo Minute," listeners will have a hard time not singing along. —Michael Cimaomo


Nimrod Wildfire
Corporate Refugee
(Blue Muse)

Corporate Refugee offers a mix of several genres. Pop-rock, country, reggae and jazz mix to form a varied tableau. Strong vocals guide each song, led by Bob Miller, the man behind the name "Nimrod Wildfire." On the rare occasion when Miller isn't leading the vocals, bassist Matt Backer takes over. Lyrics focus on social commentary and love. Miller crafts the lyrics like a bricklayer, building a story block by block. The title track, "Corporate Refuge," tells the story of a man who loses his soul to unethical business with straightforward, compelling lyrics. Though strong vocals and highly original lyrics are Corporate Refugee's greatest strength, the band at times feels relegated to the background, as if it were only there to focus attention on the lead singer. —Patrick Kelley


Judas Priest
Screaming for Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition

Once you've seen the Judas Priest pre-concert parking lot documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot, it's tougher to take the band seriously. And sure, there are plenty of opportunities to find retro humor or pure nostaglia in the buzzing, tapping guitar leads and the leather-clad persona the band fostered. Still, there's something hugely attractive about the irony-free, bull-headed snare pounding and all-out sonic assault of yesteryear. 2012 marks 30 years since the release of this quintessential Priest album. Take the album in its true context—a few years after the comic-book excess of Kiss, and at the very cusp of hairsprayed '80s metal—and Priest seems pretty stripped-down and straightforward in comparison. And, especially if you lived it the first time around, there's an undeniable bit of headbanging pleasure in the band's relatively soft mega-hit "You've Got Another Thing Coming." This time, there's a 1983 concert DVD, too, a heartily recommended follow-up to Heavy Metal Parking Lot. —James Heflin




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