Roundin’ Up The Strays: Rhye, Kacey Musgraves, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Alice Smith

Alright, since I only review two albums per month, many more live in danger of slipping through the cracks as the weeks roll by. I mean, I can only do so much. Jiminy Cricket, I’m not a machine!

Time to consolidate.

All four of these records are strong from top to bottom, and the musculature truly reveals itself with repeated plays. Narrowing down which songs to present proved difficult — but I make the tough decisions, so that you don’t have to. Let’s round ’em up.

Rhye - WomanRhye – Woman 

We’ll call it “indie easy listening.” Smooth enough for background music, but too good to ignore, like an extra dry Grey Goose martini with four olives — pouring out of your speakers. Upon release, the album received numerous comparisons to Sade even though Rhye consists of two guys who sound remarkably like early Bronski Beat. However, the songs do share the same sophisticated R&B jazz-pop vibe that was popular in the UK during the 80s. It’s a spoonful of sugar for your ears — and you hardly even notice the medicine go down.

(The videos make the songs sadder. Fair warning.)

kacey musgraves - same-trailer-different-parkKacey Musgraves – Same Trailer Different Park 

If you are not a fan of country, don’t be afraid. Aside from a little twang in her voice, and occasional banjo plucks and pedal steel washes, you wouldn’t know Kacey was country on half of these tracks. She’s a little Sheryl Crow, a little Aimee Mann, a little TaySwift (again, don’t be afraid), and a lot herself — in other words, more singer-songwriter than boot-scootin’ diva.

Embrace the Kace™.

(I hate lyric videos — but they were the only ones available.)

He's My Brother She's My SisterHe’s My Brother She’s My Sister – Nobody Dances In This Town 

The name of the band is a touch too literal—the two lead singers are, in fact, siblings—but they summon forth their devilish blues-rock with surprising swagger and strength for a debut. Rachel and Rob Kolar describe their music as “glam-folk,” “cirque rock,” “garage country,” and “desert pop.” All of those descriptions are fine, but only because “can’t stop playing it” is not a style.

(I used parentheses in this spot for all the other albums, so I’m using them here, too.)

Alice Smith - SheAlice Smith – She 

Alice Smith defies easy categorization. New pop, retro pop, soul, jazz, R&B — she does it all. And wow, can the lady sing.

Smith only has one other album and it came out in 2006. This, my friends, is a travesty. Or a conspiracy. Why did she disappear? Why can’t she release one album a year? Why isn’t she using Skype to sing in my living room every week?

(I had to flip a coin to decide which songs to post — after narrowing it down to seven.)

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