the Platforms, Adrian & the Sickness, Natalie Zoe, and Susan Lincoln

Girlie action

Phases and Stages

That puff of dust when you opened this page came from the "Girlie Action" CD shelf, cleared and dusted off from 2004. The Platforms strut into the spotlight with Kicked Off, 10 punchy, pop-punk tunes produced to perfection by Mike Stewart. The femme quartet's strappy, scrappy sound ("Kick Your Rock Off," "Scorn") and ultra-cheeky lyrics ("Bang Me," "Strange") owes as much to Joan Jett as the Bangles without name-checking the Donnas, and prove style and substance are not mutually exclusive. Four pink stars for the Platforms! Adrian & the Sickness is the self-titled second album from the dreadlocked leader of the all-girl AC/DC cover band Hell's Belles. That's credential enough for a listen, but Adrian's guitar chops cut a merciless swathe through not only classic metal ("Won't Be Me"), but also into countrified rock ("Roommate") and Ramones-like punk ("Trashed"). With one foot in Seattle and the other in Austin, her music is hellbent, the right place to be. Natalie Zoe's Seven Chords and the Truth places the veteran Austin singer-songwriter where she belongs – at the forefront of her estimable genre. Her easy, alluring vocals on "Nocturnal Reverie" and the bittersweet sentiment of "Winter" are testament to the maturation of her craft over three decades, much as her tenure singing with Malford Milligan imbues a soulful Seventies edge to "Do Me Like That," "Judge & Jury," and "Every Teardrop". The concept behind Susan Lincoln's Mother Heart (Dromenon Records) is as impressive as it is exquisitely executed and designed. Lincoln, a classically trained opera singer, adapted the songs of 12th-century composer-visionary Hildegarde von Bingen into nine lush and majestic tracks. Andrea Burden's gorgeous photography and CD art design uniquely illustrate the ethereal nature of this most unusual recording. Mother Heart is a remarkable work, also imminently worthy of four pink stars.

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Adrian & the Sickness, The Platforms, Natalie Zoe

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