This week brings three hot-off-the-presses releases by three very different artists. At press time, none had shows scheduled—all the more reason to tune into their recorded work.
• Buttafliez by bLUE
Neo-soul and R&B artist bLUE (aka AG Blue 6000) established herself in the Atlanta music scene before relocating to Asheville this summer. Her most recent disc is a lush, slick collection of radio-ready contemporary R&B likely to be a hit with fans of Maxwell and Erykah Badu. If urban soul seems out of place among Asheville’s world, folk and fusion sounds, give a listen to bLUE’s track “Wrapped,” a re-envisioning of The Police classic “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” Stripped-down backing music, warm club beats and bLUE’s lithe vocals take the familiar tune into fresh territory. From there, move on to the album’s title track, a supple love song bolstered by the deep groove of a hip-hop beat. This is party music with an eye on deeper emotions—a soundtrack for new trysts and tried-and-true romances that are far from running out of steam.
Learn more about bLUE at www.myspace.com/agblue6000.
• First, Set Fire to the Stars by Night’s Bright Colors
From start to finish, this oversized album (17—count ‘em—tracks) is a near-seamless soundscape deserving of a moody-but-tender Sofia Coppola or Zach Braff film. Was there ever a band that so completely lived up to its name? Night’s Bright Colors wrings velvety blue and cool gray from every post-shoegaze note. Songs reference dreams and space and hint at love without edging into sloppier emotions. There’s a crisp tidiness to each track that balances elements of fantasy: It’s electronic without being cold. On “Blue Eyes/Love in the Asylum,” front man Jason Smith sings, “Stars are drifting brightly shining through the spaces anyway / and I’ll find a way to turn it back in wonder.” Heady stuff, but it’s delivered with singsong whimsy tempered by shimmery mysticism. Thrumming bass and the smack of drums give backbone to occasional ethereal guitar licks. “Woke Up” raises the sonic bar even more with jangly guitars, tambourine and cymbals and doubled male and female voices: It’s Strawberry Alarm Clock-era folk-rock made utterly current. This is an album that requires more than a perfunctory listen, but its complex layers and pleasing alt-pop are well worth the effort.
Listen to Night’s Bright Colors’ new album and view videos at www.nightsbrightcolors.com.
• Fabulous by Aaron LaFalce
Clocking in at a mere seven songs, this sophomore effort by local singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Aaron LaFalce appears slight. Appearances are often deceiving. What LaFalce has done is selected his best work, honed and molded the songs, and produced a definitively complete album. Nods to Billy Joel and Elton John (albeit with much less swish) are apparent throughout, thanks to LaFalce’s competent piano playing. “Deep” is especially infused with Joel references—until an artistic (if disruptive) backward track deposited in the middle of the song reminds listeners that this is LaFalce’s project. Opening track “Let it Go” makes short work of announcing Fabulous’ piano-bar pop flavor. LaFalce goes so far as to rhyme “pain” with “insane”—good enough for Top 40 radio, but I hope the young performer will outgrow such clichés on future projects. Overall, the disc (designed to look like a jumbo condom) is characterized by smooth transitions, themes of love and hope, and some exceptional musicianship.
Find an Aaron LaFalce show date at www.aaronlafalce.com.