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Sound Check

June 21, 2012
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By Chad Taylor

The Robbie Michael Band

Self-Titled (EP)


Since they’re rarely long enough to weave a cohesive story, bands can do one of two things with an EP — either they can fill it with songs that sound similar to one another in an effort to show how they’ve unified their sound, or they can release songs that are more diverse and illustrate the group’s range. With their self-titled EP, the Robbie Michael Band has opted for the latter, and not without success. For fans of homegrown country, there’s a well-rounded sampler platter here. From a traditional ballad, to a game attempt at a radio-ready party hit (ala “Friends in Low Places”), to a really solid finish with a country/rock crossover, the EP serves as a great primer for people new to the band. CV

(The Robbie Michael Band plays the Country Blast at Water Works Park on June 24. The concert starts at 12 p.m., and tickets run $40 in advance and $50 at the gate.)

Fiona Apple

‘The Idler Wheel is wiser than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords will serve you more than Ropes will ever do’


Fiona Apple has a gorgeous voice. If you ever forget that fact, all you need to do is queue up 1996’s “Tidal” and hit play literally anywhere on the album. Unfortunately, ever since that transcendent debut, Apple has been a little too busy being Fiona Apple to bother really using it. “The Idler Wheel…” is Apple’s first studio album in seven years, and her songwriting and raw lyrical power are better than ever. Through 10 tracks, Apple’s talent and willingness to experiment are undeniable. The woman is a daring artist. Her songs are as emotionally raw as ever, and she wields that smoky, sultry voice like a truncheon in bitter songs like “Jonathan.” But conspicuously missing are any tracks where Apple just sits down and seduces. There’s no “Criminal” here, not even a “Shadowboxer.” But, then again, Apple has always enjoyed leaving listeners wanting. CV

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