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Sound Check

March 15, 2012
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By Chad Taylor

Coles Whalen

‘I Wrote This For You’

Wrecking Ball


Female artists have a tendency to fall into the same pool of sugar-pop — heavy on the piano, light on the bass, everything ready to be sung into a hairbrush at a moment’s notice. Whalen really isn’t any different, except that she does it so WELL. There’s nothing on the album that I wouldn’t call radio-ready, and that’s a testament to Whalen’s strength both as a performer and a song writer. But where the album really catches your notice — for better and for worse — are the tracks where she deviates from that game plan. “Cactus” is a sultry six minutes of your life that’s easily the highlight of the LP. Then, for reasons I can’t fathom, there’s “Chasing Cars,” a Snow Patrol cover that sticks out like a sore thumb in skinny jeans and Harry Carey frames. That curious decision aside, Whalen’s fifth studio effort is, by far, her most engaging. CV

(Coles Whalen plays People’s Court on Thursday, March 22. 7 p.m. $10)


‘PermaSmile (EP)’



PermaSmile is like an unfinished thought, sitting on the tip of your tongue, but not quite ready to jump out and meet everybody. What’s there so far is pretty good, though, and the band shows a surprising range in a scant four songs. On one hand, the fact that the East Moline five-piece hops from garage punk to psychedelic to ballads without losing anything in the translation bodes well for the future, especially if they continue to utilize lead guitarist Chad Ramsey as well as they do on “Ghost.” On the other, there’s nothing really tying any of the songs together, something I’m sure the band will address on their full LP, due out this summer. In the meantime, what we’re left to listen to are some tantalizing promises of future potential. And that’s what spring is all about — the promise of great things to come. CV

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