Catching up on CD reviews (part 1)

Somehow I never seem to actually get around to writing up reviews of the CDs I buy, so I’m going to try to catch up some. I probably won’t end up writing about everything I’ve bought over the past few months, but hopefully I’ll remember to talk about all of the highlights.

Thea GilmoreAvalanche [4.5/5]

I heard a lot of raves about Thea from people on ecto (and from Neil Gaiman), so I went and listened to some sound samples. I wasn’t blown away, but I thought she was pretty good, so I ordered a copy of Avalanche. Wow. On first listen I thought this album was just good, but the more I hear it, the more I like it. Thea is a really great songwriter, and her pop/rock/folk sound just works really well. For me the standout tracks are “Have You Heard,” “Avalanche,” “Mainstream,” “Razor Valentine,” and “Heads Will Roll.” I highly recommend this one.

Sarah HarmerAll of Our Names [3/5]

I ordered Sarah’s latest album at the same time I was getting Thea Gilmore’s, and the two CDs have sort of gone in opposite directions for me. At first listen, I liked All of Our Names better, but since then I’ve liked Thea’s album more and more, and Sarah’s less and less. It’s not that it’s a bad CD, it just tends to get a little boring after repeated listens, and it’s nowhere near as good as Sarah’s stunningly great You Were Here. If you’re trying out Sarah’s music for the first time, I’d recommend that you start with that one.

LunasaThe Kinnitty Sessions [4/5]

Another brilliant effort by the lads in Lunasa, The Kinnitty Sessions is their first release since escaping the dark clutches of Green Linnet Records (who apparently aren’t big on that whole paying agreed upon royalties to the artists thing). It’s a really great album, and, to my ears, much better than their last one, Redwood, though the problems with that one can probably be laid at the door of their disintegrating relationship with Green Linnet. If you like Irish traditional music, and for some strange reason haven’t checked out Lunasa yet, this would be a fine one to start with.

Kristeen YoungX [4/5]

Kristeen Young is rather hard to describe. She plays an dramatic sort of rock that doesn’t really sound like anything else I’ve heard, and she has this amazing voice that she sometimes uses in kinda odd ways. The version of X (her fourth “solo” release) I’ve heard is a pre-release copy that Kristeen burned onto CD-R herself and then sold at shows this summer, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands in the full version (with an added track or two) sometime soon. For now, I’ll just say that X is really great. When I first heard this album, on the way home after one of Kristeen’s shows in NYC, I wasn’t at all impressed, so I put it aside for a while. Then, when I took it out again recently, I was completely blown away. This is Kristeen in all of her amazing glory, and if you’re someone who tends to like challenging music that falls outside the mainstream, I’d highly recommend getting yourself a copy.

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