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Sound Check

May 17, 2012
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By Chad Taylor
soundcheck@dmcityview.com

Alejandro Escovedo

‘Big Station’

Fantasy/Concord

The thing that makes Alejandro Escovedo’s music work is its mass accessibility. “Big Station” is poppy, with a breezy, unencumbered feel. It’s the ease of Tom Petty filtered through the ’50s sentimentality of Roy Orbison. Escovedo has always been one of those “musician’s musician” kind of acts — revered and adored by other performers (Bruce Springsteen, whose influence is also evident, has long been a fan and contributed to Escovedo’s last album, “Street Songs of Love”) — but one for whom huge commercial success has always been elusive. “Big Station” may not be the thing that pushes Escovedo fully into the light, but there’s plenty here to contemplate. Opening track, “Man of the World,” is kind of a milquetoast nod to Escovedo’s punk roots with The Nuns while “Headstrong Crazy Fools” is a direct homage to Petty’s “American Girl” halcyon days. CV

(Alejandro Escovedo plays Wooly’s on Tuesday, May 22. Tickets are $20 advance/$22 door. Show starts at 8 p.m. Jesse Malin opens.)

Cory Branan

“Mutt”

Bloodshot Records

“Mutt” is an apt title for Branan’s first album under the Bloodshot label. Much like the lop-eared dogs you see running through the neighborhood or giving you longing looks at the pound, it’s hard to look at Branan’s body of work and say exactly where it’s coming from. Some of the influences are obvious: He’s got Springsteen’s sense of storytelling, and Mellencamp’s “aw shucks” reverie for days gone by. But like the neighborhood mongrel, there are other influences that are more subtle and harder to pin down. Branan’s approach to his music is languid. Even faster tracks like “Bad Man” (hello, Tom Petty) still have an ease to them that make you think of summer days spent fishing on the riverbank. While Branen’s guitar work is competent, but unspectacular, storytelling is clearly his strength. Luckily, “Mutt” plays to his strengths well. CV

Want your new CD reviewed? Email us a link at soundcheck@dmcityview.com or mail a physical copy to: Cityview, 414 61st Street, Des Moines, IA 50312.



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