One of mainstream-minded Concord's few so-called crossover projects -- hence the separate label -- this isn't a very successful venture, a hodgepodge of this and that, recorded with a flat commercial sheen. Misleadingly, the CD opens with Flora singing the blues on the Cheathams' "Sweet Baby Blues," upon which Airto plays straight traps. But while "Garimpo" gets the album back on the Latin track, the energy and quirky inventiveness of the Moreiras is mostly out to lunch, buried under the in-your-face sound and dissipated among a variety of instrumental lineups. "Jump" does get some sharp Brazilian funk going, and the title track has some of the old Airto craziness, but the rest is not going to light too many fires.
Baden Powell, a renowned guitarist in a nation of guitarists, here plays both solo and in trio, and which you prefer will depend on whether you more value rhapsodic freedom or focused tightness. Either way this is a celebrated recording by a phenomenal artist, and long unavailable.
The debut full-length outing from Scranton, Pennsylvania-based singer/songwriter/actor Kiley Lotz, who operates under the nom plume de Petal, Shame is an unfussy, brutally honest, and often beautiful blast of early-'90s-inspired melancholic alt-rock that invokes names like Lemuria, Belly, Cat Power, Lisa Loeb, Red House Painters, Rilo Kiley, and Waxahatchee. Subtle yet workmanlike, Lotz spends most of the 12-track set looking inward. Shame is built largely around the artist's struggles with anxiety and depression, but her keen ear for melody and knack for crafting lyrics that skillfully toe the line between wounded and defiant ("Second-hand coffee grounds sit in water/bed sheets with flowers balled up like fists at the end of the mattress") help to keep some of the darker clouds in check. It also helps that Lotz possesses one of those beguiling voices that can go from fragile and plain to goosebump-inducing at the drop of a hat, most notably on the straight-up torch ballad closer "Silly Heart" and the propulsive, yet nearly a cappella "Nature." Lotz enlisted the help of fellow Scrantonians Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins, both of whom play in the like-minded Tigers Jaw, to add some muscle to the proceedings, and they help to elevate her pop/rock tendencies, especially on the muscular, two-part "Camera Lens" and the hook-filled and heartfelt junkie lament "Tommy." Despite its punitive title, Shame is an incredibly likeable record, fueled in large part by the fact that Lotz is as affable as she is admittedly broken, and while its pleasures may be understated and tempered by heartache and the cruel injustices of youth, they are delivered with the shaky and relatable confidence of someone for whom the glass is almost half-full as opposed to bottomless.