Alexandra Savior — ‘The Archer’
THE GOOD: Pacific Northwest singer-songwriter Alexandra Savior switches labels, broadens her outlook and dodges the sophomore slump.
THE BAD: No.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Ditching Columbia for Danger Mouse’s more artist-friendly 30th Century Records, Savior focuses on the music and creates a dusty cinematic album crossing Lana Del Rey with vintage Lee Hazlewood-produced Nancy Sinatra. The music is ghostly, hazy and entrancing, the pop melodies mixing with the right amount of distortion and Spaghetti Western vibes.
After easing us into the program with the lilting “Soft Currents,” Savior brings on the rest of the band for a series of tight yet dreamy pop/rock gems. Tracks such as “Crying All the Time” and “The Phantom” coat her majestic melodies with a bit of echo and sun-bleached grit.
You show up for the songs, but it’s the mood that brings you back. One easily becomes lost in “The Archer” and all its mysterious twists and turns. You want to see what’s next, even though the reveal may not be pleasant.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Soccer Mommy — ‘Color Theory’
THE GOOD: Singer-songwriter Sophia Regina Allison (stage name Soccer Mommy) destroys the sophomore slump with the cool, confident “Color Theory.”
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Keeping the set at mid-tempo, Allison changes things up by bringing in and taking away the backbeats. A floating track like “Night Swimming” captivates us with layered guitars and her intense yet intimate vocals. After bringing the band back, Allison injects a pop flair into her compositions. Tracks such as “Crawling in My Skin” and “Lucy” find just as much power in plucky melodies as they do lyrical flourishes.
Perhaps my favorite moment is mid-album epic “Yellow Is the Color of Her Eyes.” Here, Allison teams up with producer Gabe Wax (Beirut, Pale Hound) and explores all the studio has to offer, from layered keyboards to echo-coated atmospherics. And when that guitar fuzz kicks in, the drone is divine. However, there aren’t any throw-away moments here. “Color Theory” displays an artist whose possibilities seem limitless. I can’t wait for her next record.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Kate Davis – ‘Trophy’
THE GOOD: Singer-songwriter and bassist Kate Davis re-invents herself on her fourth.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Davis started her musical career studying violin and double bass while picking up a couple of prestigious scholarships in the process. During her late teens and early 20s, she released three jazz/pop albums in quick succession. Then, nothing.
But it wasn’t actually nothing. In addition to performing, Davis started writing her own material and found a new sense of freedom (youthful abandon?) within the confines of indie rock. Now at 29, she finally gets to be a young woman and not just a performer who sounds mature beyond her years.
Past fans looking for further rehashes of old American standards won’t find that here. Davis gives us a dozen originals whose style is closer to Courtney Barnett and Liz Phair. Indie rock fans may mistake “Trophy” as her debut, but it kind of is. This is the NEW Kate Davis, naysayers be damned. She actually pulls off the transition with flying colors.
BUY IT?: Yes.