Shilpa Ray is a Brooklyn singer songwriter who melds blues, doo-wop, garage and other musical styles often punctuated by her big, booming voice.
On Door Girl, Ray reflects on life — nightlife in particular — in New York. It’s told from the perspective of someone who actually worked the door of a Lower East Side bar in Manhattan. Her music is original and interesting.
I’ve been a big fan of Wand ever since the release of the band’s first album several years ago. The albums are instantly catchy and likable on first listen.
And while there’s plenty of that charm on the band’s latest album, Plum, some of the music demands a little more attention.
The last two songs on the album, Blue Cloud and Driving, clock in at a combined 15 minutes. It’s a departure from the irresistible three or four minute psychedelic nuggets from previous releases but no less satisfying. These two jams show a desire to stretch musically and that’s a welcome change.
As anthemic mainstream punk bands go, Against Me! is solid: Good songwriting, raw emotion and a great sound.
The band has one of the more interesting back stories, too.
Lead singer Laura Jane Grace started performing as Against Me! as a 17-year-old boy in the late ’90s. After forming a full band and achieving some commercial success a decade later, Grace (formerly Tom Gabel) came out as a transgender woman in 2012.
On last year’s Shape Shift With Me, Grace throws down good songs.
The pride of Dayton, Ohio, and former school teacher Robert Pollard, has been rocking hard since the 1980s. Pollard’s band Guided By Voices (lovingly known as GBV to fans) was scarcely heard outside Ohio until the critical acclaim of the early ’90s classics Bee Thousand and Alien Lanes. From then on, a hardcore fan base began to build.
There’s a familiarity Pollard brings to each album. Whether your last listen to a GBV album was Alien Lanes or Isolation Drills (2001) or Cool Planet (2014), you’ll find Pollard’s latest (the soon-to-be released GBV album How Do You Spell Heaven) is like catching up with an old friend. Really, it’s like no time has passed. GBV albums sound far more highly produced than the bare-bones lo-fi recordings from the early years. But, otherwise, the formula is the same. There’s that British Invasion love, an absurd tapestry of unrelated words and phrases and the highly addictive guitar-driven music.
Pollard is just shy of turning 60 but doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Despite twice disbanding GBV, he’s recorded more than two dozen studio albums with a rotating cast of musicians. And that’s just as GBV. As a solo artist, he’s released more than 20 albums. He’s also recorded and performed with multiple side projects. Earlier this year, he announced that altogether he’s released 100 albums. His song count is said to be more than 2,000.
But you can rely on him pulling out a number of well-known, often-performed GBV hits when his longtime band plays Chicago this weekend for a sold-out show at Beat Kitchen Friday and an outdoor gig at Wicker Park Fest Saturday night.
And, by the way, a GBV show is always a blast.
How Do You Spell Heaven is set for release August 11.