Locals Only: : Disc-O-Fever

A look at some recent locally-spawned CD releases

 


· Electronic duo Hungry Lucy (music man War-N Harrison and singer Christa Belle) was formed somewhat incidentally in 1998 when Harrison (then working as Fishtank No. 9) asked Belle to contribute vocals to the song "Blue Dress" for a Depeche Mode tribute album. The duo quickly gelled creatively and, after a brief move to the West Coast and the release of their debut CD, Apparitions, HL is now on the brink of even wider international notice with the domestic and European release of their fantastic new double disc, Glo. This is cream-of-the-crop stuff, managing to be alternately challenging and accessible, ambitious and modest. Harrison has a good grasp on the Pop aesthetic, with his sonic sculptures always providing what is best for the song and melody. He is the mood setter for Belle's dazzling vocal charisma, which fluctuates from an ethereal, breathy glide (on the chilled "Last October") to more punctuated stylings, like on the up-tempo, single-worthy "Fearful." Electronic-based music still seems to have a reputation for being "cold," but even when sounding a smidgen "icy" and often dark, Belle's intimate, seductive voice and riveting melodies and Harrison's grounded production touch makes the album warm and inviting. The lush atmospherics give tracks like "Fearful" and "Rebirth" a beautifully engaging effect, as string arrangements collide with synth tracers and tender beats. The second disc of Glo is 10 remixed tracks contributed by a variety of knob-twiddlers, including Dreamside, trigger10d and bloodWIRE. Disc 2 is more geared toward dance-floor denizens, and the loving, artistic flair with which the artists tackle Hungry Lucy's music is a testament to how the couple has already been given the seal of approval by its peers. With the strength of Glo, the rest of the world should be along very shortly.

The duo is preparing for a U.S. spring tour and a May date at the Warehouse is being finalized. Check glo.hungrylucy.com for more info on the project.

· While Jam/Rock bands thrive in a live setting, their recording output can be spotty at best. Locals Four Ohms have already built its reputation in concert, steadily touring the region and becoming a favorite on the local club/festival front as well. With the freshly released new CD, Big White Truck, Four Ohms successfully brings its vibe-y, fluid sound to the recorded medium, thanks largely to capturing a live feel while making some of the band's strongest characteristics (like the harmonies, most expressively) stand out thanks to the crisp yet vintage production. But the band's greatest strength — besides their wandering improvisational jaunts — is their ability to mesh unexpected styles together rather seamlessly. That trait is best exhibited on "Milkman," which blends a Ska base with sizzling guitar solos and out-of-the-blue harmonica riffs. Jazz chords, Latin beats, Bluesy riffage and Funk shuffles peacefully coexist in Four Ohms' colorful, open-ended universe. Other highlights on Big White Truck include the jerky, cleverly arranged "Music," more Ska bop in the form of "Don't Touch It," and the epic, groovy sunshine beam that is the closing track, "Road Lotus." Four Ohms plays Saturday at Top Cat's with the Black and Tan Carpet Band. For more, check the band's site at fourohms.com.

· Be it Rock, Blues or Indian Polka Metal, reviewing "cover band" CDs is quite difficult. You can comment on the level of musicianship and the artists' interpretative aptitude, but songwriting chops and originality — key elements — don't factor. Understanding that the majority of Blues acts these days are cover bands, we'll cut Little Juan and the Low Riders a little slack. Even if they do dip deep into the typical standards grab-bag ("Walk the Dog," "Unchain My Heart") on their self-titled promotional CD, the group sounds like an above-average bar band on tracks like the slinky, organ-churned "There'll Be A Price" and, appropriately enough, "Low Rider," on which the band replaces the main horn riff with the nice harmonica of singer/guitarist Billy "Harp" Hamilton. Bassist Juan Allen and drummer Jeffrey Long are fittingly solid, holding down the beat with feeling and verve, an essential element for any Blues/Soul band worth getting excited about. If urbanized Rhythm & Blues is your bag, you're advised to take a little trip with these Low Riders — it won't change the world, but it'll likely brighten your day. The band plays Saturday at Shenanigans Cafe.

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