taking a listen
reviews of local & state music CDs
CHRISTABEL & THE JONS — Custom Made for You
With all the swagger of big-band swing in a little-band arrangement, Christbel and the Jons’ newest release Custom Made for You runs the gamut of Tin Pan Alley influence. There’s country cabaret, jazz standard, oldtime and even a little bit of doo-wop to be found in this endlessly charming collections built around the mollifying voice of Christa DeCicco. The new songs advance the band’s melting pot of vintage sounds and individually, they are just as catchy and appealing as any modern pop piece. The album opens with an optimistic, yet acquiescent breakup song, with DiCecco sleeping with a pillow between her knees, not totally relishing being newly single at that point. DiCecco manages to infuse plenty of sultry innuendo into a few rather innocuous and innocent lines on “Boy Crazy,” “Last Night’s Dress” and “More Than Friends,” which is way more fun than the garish suggestion that’s all too common nowadays. “The Galaxy Song” closes out a fine album with a quirky little dissertation on the wonders of cosmic figures set to an inconspicuous jazz beat and accented by jaunty accordion. Even when it’s a little weird, this is one great album.
BENYARO — Benyaro
Brooklyn indie-acoustic duo Benyaro’s selftitled debut is what you’d call a strong example of the genre, but it’s a stretch to call it indicative of the Brooklyn music scene as a whole. While the free-wheeling, DIY ethos is alive and well in their hometown, Benyaro takes a more clearcut path in creating thoughtful acoustic music.
The arrangement is pretty simple, with Musser taking over most of the instrumentation and only upright bass provided by additional personnel. Many have been quick to compare the vocal harmonies between Musser and his various collaborators akin to that of Crosby, Stills and Nash’s early days, but the expressiveness lends itself much closer to that of the BoDeans. Musser’s voice is a strange amalgamation of Cat Stevens and Axl Rose, all quivery and emotive and gravely at once. The best indication of the latter comes on “Feelin’ Low,” where Musser throaty tenor dives right into the pseudo-scream without sacrificing a bit of clarity. Between the clear forcefulness of Meg Chamberlain and the strong conventionality of Tucker Yaro, his harmonic accompaniment often provides the perfect complement. The abruptness of opener “Bullet-Like Belief” belies the rest of the album’s modest pacing, but there’s plenty of variety still to be found on this solid debut. Benyaro will perform at the Garage on Thursday, October 15.
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