Tim Easton
Break Your Mother’s Heart
New West Records

Look out, Ryan Adams. On Break Your Mother’s Heart, Tim Easton boasts a sandy voice, consistently solid material, an air of danger and a band of kick-ass musicians (whom, unlike Adams, he hasn’t pissed off yet) to back him. The album is fully realized with the help of drummer Jim Keltner (he’s recorded with John Lennon, Neil Diamond, Rickie Lee Jones, Sam Phillips and Pink Floyd), bassist Hutch Hutchinson (from Bonnie Raitt’s band), lead guitarist Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) and keyboard player Jai Winding (Don Henley, Jackson Browne). On guitar, Easton is both a substantial finger and flat picker himself. Most of the album’s tracks were recorded in one or two takes, often with every musician performing live in the same room. As a result, the CD sounds organic, energetic and immediately comfortable. Lyrically, Break Your Mother’s Heart strives for—and occasionally finds—a Steve Earle-like timbre.

Informed by the American troubadours who came before him, each of Easton’s jangling songs has a life of its own. Every tune is an honest, smart summation of the not-so-tidy human condition. (Caroline Keys)

Tim Easton plays at Sean Kelly’s Saturday, Aug. 13, at 9:30 PM. Cover $2.

Pattern is Movement
The (Im)possibility of Longing
West West Side Music

Repetition is often used in music (as in all art) to amplify the sounds or images that are not being repeated. The (Im)possibility of Longing, the debut concept album by Pattern is Movement, attempts this feat by using variations of harp-like guitar riffs and high-range vocals that seem fit for a Catholic choir. In between these patterns are the more surprising moments: a teakettle whistles, a brief drum solo suddenly erupts and vocalist Andrew Thiboldeaux breaks out from his angelic utterances with strange show-tune flair.

The album appears to trace one man’s journey as he leaves home, experiences revelations and regrets, and finally accepts his life for what it is. Or something like that. The concept is vague and the musical design so abstract that in the end it’s difficult to know why we care about the story, if there really is one, or if we’re cool enough to understand it.

Still, The (Im)possibility of Longing is bold in experimental spirit with its combination of math-rock guitar and classical intonations. Some listeners won’t have patience for the album’s repetition, but others will revel in the eccentricities embedded in the pattern. (Erika Fredrickson)

Pattern is Movement plays the MARS Satellite Room Monday, Aug. 15. Cover TBA.

SisterMonk Harem
Live @ WICA

Tie on that sarong you’ve been using to divide your dining room into a bedroom/meditation space before you press play on Live @ WICA—then prepare to dance your butt off.

These Seattle- and New York-based gypsies, a self-declared “world-funk-fusion” group, can certainly jam, but you will hear not a note of showy noodling from any of these seven musicians. No one instrument outshines the others, but singer Kathleen Dean’s prominent voice asserts enough Ani DiFranco-esque attitude to stand out above the din of didgeridoo, fiddle, organ, bass, guitar and djembe on this concert record. Dean’s aggressive vocal delivery, however, doesn’t quite line up with the moony, enchanted-soul-type lyrics she sings. Nevertheless, the whole package is easy to buy into.

SisterMonk Harem, who has shared the stage with the likes of Spearhead and Zap Mama, pulls off a serious and joyful amalgamation of sounds collected from around the globe. If you don’t feel the groove at first, stop shaving and take off your shoes. You’ll get it. (Caroline Keys)

SisterMonk Harem plays The Top Hat Monday, Aug. 15, at 10 PM. Cover TBA.

Chris & Aurore
To Never Again

To Never Again spills out of the speakers, leaving a sad, beautiful puddle on the floor. Youngsters Chris and Aurore lay down tunes that come off as moody and folky as any Iron & Wine track. But unlike Iron & Wine’s Sam Beam, whose perpetual guitar and banjo allow him to get away with whispering his lyrics, these two call their words out over somewhat stagnant guitar strumming and harmonica.

Chris Keen sings lead and Aurore Ounjian adds conventional high harmonies, and the two weave naïve anti-war songs reminiscent of the Vietnam era. But don’t worry about preachy soapbox songs: these folks would sooner turn on and drop out than call you to any action.  

Recorded at Marcata Recording Studio in Harlem (owned by indie rock band The Walkmen), To Never Again is a diminutive two-song release. The succinctness is Chris and Aurore’s trademark—their first release was a four-song EP in 2003 and their second was a three-song EP in 2004. The two tracks on this album are fine, but add up to a paltry eight minutes—it’s about as satisfying as a stalk of celery. (Caroline Keys)

Chris & Aurore play the MARS Satellite Room Friday, Aug. 12, at 9 PM. Cover TBA.


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