Precious Blood, Monarchs, School Police, Prom Nite, Superhouse, and Don Harvey
Reviewed by Audra Schroeder, Fri., May 22, 2009
Ralph White and Amy Annelle's old-time psychic-twin vision comes alive on Top of the Holler, the pair's new collection of field recordings as Precious Blood. Annelle's guitar and hay-fine gospel voice alone are capable of evangelical Dust Bowl flashbacks, but when combined with White's solitary fiddle and accordion, "Shady Grove" sounds rapturous, as do covers of the Carter Family's "Can't Feel at Home" and Leadbelly's "Western Cowboy." A thread of Annelle's High Plains sigh can be heard in the new Monarchs EP, Those Words, Those Frames. Singer Celeste Griffin names her muse on "The Things You Build Yourself": "I found my voice over Gillian Welch." The slow-burning No Depression feel of opener "Go I'll Go" proves Griffin a true-blue Southern soul in lyrics and voice, and her way with words on the title track points to a long line of nomadic singer-songwriters: "There's joy in my dispatch; new grounds found unmapped are making me turn dials back." The latest from local quartet School Police sounds more poppy than its previous LP. Circles opens with "Birthday Life," an almost carbon copy of Pavement's "Range Life," and Belaire's Cari Palazzolo gives follow-up "Before and After" some dreamy glee. If you're feeling sinister, Prom Nite's pop-punk stays intact on Dressed for Success, the fourpiece sticking to three chords and keys; Superhouse's Fever Medicine is similarly built, a strange four-song collection that includes a bar-band cover of "Long Tall Sally." Don Harvey's A Dance in Red pairs the drummer with local notables Bukka Allen, Graham Reynolds, and Ephraim Owens, among others, for an instrumental tango that gives him room to experiment outside beat-keeping for the one and only Ian McLagan.