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1/16/2013

4 pnl 1 CD WalletHolopaw

‘Academy Songs, Volume 1’

Misra

“Acdemy Songs” is, I guess, a concept album. Whether it aims too high, or whether front man John Orth’s songwriting isn’t up to the task, is ultimately immaterial. Either way, it’s not a very good concept album. The Gainesville, Fla., indie outfit has produced some marvelous stuff in the past — I’m thinking specifically of its 2003 self-titled debut — but “Academy Songs” feels like a neutered version of what the band can be. “Golden Sparklers” is the strongest track on the album, thanks in no small part to the work of drummer Ryan Quinney. But the album loses steam in a hurry, beginning with “Bedfellows Farewell,” which is perhaps the most precociously maudlin song the group has ever produced. From there, the album descends further and further into its own navel, until disappearing completely in a whimpering cloud of ennui. CV

 

HIV

CD Alter Egos (2)Sean Lennon

‘Alter Egos’

Chimera

As a solo musician, I think it’s safe to say at this point that Sean Lennon is more Oko than John. “Into The Sun” (1998) was a good-not-great debut, and his 2010 acoustic release was uninspired and forgettable. Where Lennon rather quickly showed himself to excel, however, is in the world of film scores. “Friendly Fire” (2006) was arguably Lennon’s finest work, and “Alter Egos” returns to that familiar territory. Whereas Lennon’s conventional songwriting often feels hogtied, “Alter Egos” is lush and expressive. Lennon experiments freely with genres and sounds, as the score goes from epic orchestral pieces to muted, Angelo Badalamenti-esque tracks. Since the album is a score (to a film by the same name), 18 of the 20 tracks are instrumental, with erstwhile Gorillaz singer Miho Hatori supplying vocals on “Fridge Walks.” Sitting down and listening to a film score may not be for everyone, but “Alter Egos” provides a compelling argument to try. CV

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