Off the charts: LP, Hamilton Leithauser, Colleen Rennison

2014-06-06T00:15:00Z Off the charts: LP, Hamilton Leithauser, Colleen Rennison The Billings Gazette
June 06, 2014 12:15 am

LP

“Forever For Now”

Warner Brothers

There’s a big swagger to LP’s voice, like a Robert Plant-sized swagger.

And she can move it around, swooping, diving and pushing it into a high falsetto.

Then there’s the ukulele, and the whistling, the Bob Dylan hair and the teenage boy body. There’s the hits she’s written for artists as different as Rihanna, Cher and Joe Walsh.

You can forget about trying to figure her out, but you won’t soon shake her voice from your head.

“Forever For Now” is billed as LP’s debut, although it comes about 10 years after she released two albums under her given name, Laura Pergolizzi.

Of the 12 songs here, three are studio versions of songs she killed on “Live at EastWest Studios,” an EP that had reviewers from the Wall Street Journal and Rolling Stone wetting themselves with excitement.

The songs range from soaring power-pop anthems to throbbing, kick-drum dance floor twirlers, to slightly more subdued orchestral rockers.

“Night Like This” and “Levitator” sound at once new and timeless, borrowing grooves from ‘80s belters like Cindy Lauper and Chrissie Hynde.

You may tire of her made-for-radio lyrics. “I need a change / Let’s make one last mistake,” she sings in one song. But you’ll never tire of how she sings them, or her occasional playfulness. In the title cut, which ends the album, she whistles over her strummy uke, sounding something like Ennio Morricone meets Don Ho.

Hamilton Leithauser

“Black Hours”

Ribbon Music

After finally dialing in their rangy sound for two of the finest albums of

their 15-year career, The Walkmen went on “extreme hiatus,” whatever that is.

Hopefully, the band’s leaders can scratch their solo itch and get back to work together.

Bassist Walter Martin has already released the very un-Walkman-like “Sing To Me” with guests like Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The National’s Matt Beringer.

Now comes lead singer Hamilton Leithauser, whose high wailing croon — and white preppy suits — lent the band its rakish bluster.

Leithauser also piles on the guests, including Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend, Morgan Henderson of Fleet Foxes, Richard Swift from the Shins and the Dirty Projectors’ Amber Coffman. Fellow Walkman Paul Maroon, with his ringing vintage Rickenbacker, also pitches in.

As the title suggests, the songs are a little darker than typical Walkman fare. The track, “5 A.M.” opens with eerie strings. “Do you wonder why I sing these love songs when I have no love at all,” Leithauser howls.

It has plenty of moments of pure glee, however, with lightly swinging cuts like “The Silent Orchestra,” the clap-along first single, “Alexandra” and the jazzy “11 O’Clock Friday Night.”

Colleen Rennison

“See the Sky About to Rain”

Black Hen Music

Colleen Rennison is Canadian through and through, drawing many of the covers on her new album from fellow Canadians like Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell and Robbie Robertson.

But she was also clearly raised on Aretha Franklin, Etta James and Loretta Lynn.

And, don’t get the idea this is a tribute album. With her big, soulful voice, Rennison is foremost an interpreter. “Stage Fright” and “Whisky Whisky,” with their horns and funky keyboards are straight out of Memphis. And, Mitchell’s “Coyote” is a blend of Nashville twang and smoky New York jazz.

Some Yanks also get some love. Booker T.’s “My Crew” becomes a sweet little ballad. Bobby Gentry’s “Fancy” gets a Creedence Clearwater Revival treatment, and Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner” gets a workover.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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