Sugar + The Hi-Lows – Sugar + The Hi-Lows
This is a band comprised of Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup. With only 8 tracks, it’s a short listen. Which is nice. It doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a nice little summer album, full of slick rockabilly/blues/doo-wop inspired songs. The guitars are clean (with more than a hint of Scotty Moore’s influence), the drums provide a nice little backbeat and the vocals are perfect. There’s not a whole lot going on in this album, but I really like it. It’s hard not to smile while listening to it.
Favorite track: “I’ve Got You Covered”
M. Ward – A Wasteland Companion
Ward is amazing at slipping in and out of genres, and yet making it all fit within the confines of an album. That skill is on full display here: from the foot-stomping distortion of “Me and My Shadow” to the toe-tapping pop of “Sweetheart”, to the desolate folk of “Pure Joy”, he sounds equally at home in each of them. As with most of Ward’s albums, this one seems like it was plucked from some distant past. Perhaps not quite as distant as The Transfiguration of Vincent, but distant all the same.
Favorite track: “Crawl After You”
Sharon Van Etten – Tramp
I had heard great things about her last album, Epic, but I never really got it. I tried, but it never took. So, when I heard she was recording this album with a member of The National, and that her backing band would be comprised of members of The National, The Walkmen and Beirut, I was cautiously optimistic.
But, as it turns out, that was setting the bar entirely too low.
This album is amazing. It’s dark and haunting and beautiful and hypnotic and threatening. It is all those things, and often on the same song.
There’s a kind of dark feeling that lurks in the background of each song, and that really helps to tie the album together.
Favorite track: “I’m Wrong”