This supergroup of sorts features Nigel Godrich, the guy who’s produced the last few Radiohead albums, and Joey Warnoker, the drummer who’s worked with Beck and R.E.M. But the band really belongs to a newcomer Laura Bettinson, a former student at Goldsmiths College in London. The singer effectively channels Stereolab’s Laetetia Sadier on songs such as “Strange Formula” and “Our Song, the latter of which features countless layers of vocals. The music here owes a musical debt not just to the aforementioned Stereolab but also to Cat Power, whose moody rock has a singular sound. And yet, it’s still a confident debut from a band that portends to be more than just a casual collaboration.
Sing the Delta
One of alt-country’s best songwriters, singer Iris Dement must have been suffering from a serious case of writer’s block. She hasn’t issued an album of original tunes in 16 years; her last studio effort, 2004’s Lifeline, was a collection of traditional gospel tunes. So is Sing the Delta worth the wait? Yes and no. The opening track, “Go Ahead and Come Home” is a ramshackle number with good energy, and “If That Ain’t Love” is a gorgeous waltz of sorts. But Dement too often settles for somber on dreary tunes such as “Before the Colors Fade” and “Out of the Fire.”