Mary Lou Lord/Sean Na Na (Kill Rock Stars)

SXSW Records

Record Reviews

Mary Lou Lord/Sean Na Na

(Kill Rock Stars)

This split EP functions as a document of a mutual appreciation society: both Lord, from Boston, and Minnesotan Sean Tillmann, the guiding light behind Sean Na Na, plan more collaborations beyond this EP, which merely puts them back to back in a sort of battle of the bands setup. Both singers are raw, spare, and naked in their approaches, although here, on this six-song EP, Lord starts in a place you wouldn't expect the former subway busker to be: fronting a rockabilly swing band. Lord's collaboration with the Raging Teens, "Bang Bang," while intended to be cute, comes off like Jewel fronting the Brian Setzer Orchestra. And although the end result isn't quite as ghastly as that might suggest, it was recorded in a barn. Two other Lord songs are more of the same: part punk, mostly folk, acoustic guitar punctuating frank vocals in a no-frills delivery system. Maybe because of its freshness, Sean Na Na's spunk upstages Lord's name recognition. The songs on the Sean Na Na half are punchier, more clever, and infinitely more hummable. Tillmann's deadpan "Heard any good drummer jokes lately?" is far and away the best line on the album, and his vulnerability -- the kind that makes you want to reach through the CD player and hug him -- comes through in multiple places. (Mary Lou Lord plays Friday @ Hole in the Wall, 1am.)

**

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