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Sound Check

CD Reviews

3/20/2013

CD BRMCBlack Rebel Motorcycle Club

‘Specter at the Feast’

Abstract Dragon

This is barely the same band as the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club that released 2005 high water mark, “Howl.” Gone is dummer Nick Jago — enter Leah Shapiro — and the band is also clearly still deeply affected by the passing of Michael Been, father of front man Robert, and long-time BRMC sound engineer. As a result, “Specter at the Feast” is kind of a mess. At times it’s a really good mess, to be sure — “Returning” is one of the band’s most emotionally pure tracks to date — but for the most part, the album feels bogged down and half-hearted. The middle of the album (“Hate the Taste” and “Rival”) especially feels like a by-the-numbers rock experience, without any kind of meaning besides “here are some guitars.” BRMC has developed a reputation as a very up-and-down band. This is more of the latter. CV

 

HIV

CD The StavesThe Staves

‘Dead and Born and Grown’

Atlantic

The Staves — English-born sisters Emily, Jessica and Camilla Staveley-Taylor — are kind of the yin to Mumford and Son’s yang. Whereas the latter is all frantic strings and shouted lyrics, The Staves has a quiet, understated approach to its folk. The sisters harmonize so well that any instrumentation is used more as a garnish than anything else. Throughout the album, the vocals sit high in the mix, allowing them the most leeway to make or break each track. For the most part, the results are positive. “Winter Trees” is the most inviting track on the album and is the best showcase for the sisters’ voices. The only real knock here is that “Dead and Born and Grown” features no real changes of pace. The entire album is light as gossamer and never lands solid punches. CV

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