The rock/chamber-pop four-piece's debut is a study in being almost there. There's not a song of the seven here that doesn't have its good moments, but there's also not a one that quite reaches the level of greatness. The dynamic and stylistic shifts within songs, and the awkward use of profanity in otherwise pretty songs, belie a band that's still trying to get to know what its nature really is. Masterfully recorded, great vocals, good songwriting chops … be yourselves, Lions, and you'll be on your way.
Alla Luce: Music of Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger
Let's not kid ourselves: I'm out of my league writing criticism of Baroque music -- both in terms of composition and performance. But I appreciate Chatham Baroque's approach; the local three-piece chamber group tends to seek out lesser-known works and composers and give them a fair shake. In the liner notes, theorbo player Scott Pauley explains Kapsperger's story in a nutshell: celebrated in his day, criticized later, largely ignored and swept under the rug until recently. The CD itself is a collection of short, often pleasantly melodic tracks that in a way mimic contemporary pop idioms.
The Drama Montage
Eleven tracks of contemporary pop (synths, layers of backing vocals with a little Autotune, etc.) from a Pittsburgh native gone West Coast. Not a lot that's particularly bad here, but not much that really sticks out from the rest of the emo-gone-pop crowd: some relationship anthems, some synthetic almost-dance beats. The first half is stronger than the second; perhaps the most radio-ready single is, unfortunately, "Dirty Knees." It has to do with … well, you can guess.