Hello Paradise (Friends)
After releasing two discs on a well-known indie imprint (4AD) with major distribution, Celebration split from the label and began posting its music online. Over the past three years, the local art-rock trio recorded an album's worth of material, made each song available as it was completed, and asked fans to pay what they wanted for the new material. Well, it worked for Radiohead, and it's worked wonderfully for Celebration. These nine songs—recently released on vinyl with a free CD enclosed—reflect a more confident group, one that still doesn't sound constrained by much of anything. For evidence of that, go straight to track number five, "Great Pyramid." It opens with a funky clavinet part that ascends into gospel territory (layered voices, tambourines, and all), before vocalist Katrina Ford soars to a Zeppelin-esque crescendo that's more elevator to ecstasy than stairway to heaven. The other cuts are equally impressive, and drummer Dave Bergander's soulfully circuitous beats never fail to amaze. Hello paradise, indeed.
Felicia Carter & Amy Shook
Nothing to Do (self-released)
On her first recording since 2008's excellent Feather/Step Lightly, Felicia Carter brings to mind a sprightly Norah Jones—that is, if the pop singer had embraced her record label's (Blue Note) swinging jazz legacy instead of bland Americana after her breakout debut. Here, Carter quickly establishes an intimate feel on the title track—thanks, in part, to collaborator Amy Shook's nimble and warm bass and Bob Butta's tasteful piano—and casts a sultry spell. And when she sprinkles lilting Portuguese inflections throughout "Winter's Wait (Esperando)" and infuses "You Don't Have to Be Brilliant (to Mesmerize Me)" with a playful, cabaret vibe, the results are similarly charming. But after the first six tracks, four "bonus cuts" undercut that well-executed vibe with a smattering of acoustic folk and classic jazz jams. Closing out the EP with three instrumentals is a particularly odd choice, because, without Carter's vocals, they feel more like strays from some other project.
Felicia Carter and Amy Shook play a CD release party at the Creative Alliance on April 8.
Peer Amid (Thrill Jockey)
It's been a long time since Lungfish singer Daniel Higgs fronted a bona fide rock band, but it was worth the wait. Here, Higgs tunes into this Swedish, post-punk outfit for a set of pounding metallic grooves on the same frequency as his howling mantras. It's a potent pairing, one that brings to mind the likes of Sonic Youth, a more muscular Gang of Four, and, yes, Lungfish.
Skull Defekts play Floristree on April 8, with Zomes, the latest project from Lungfish alum Asa Osborne, opening.